Graphic Organizers: Characteristics, Types And What They Are For

The graphic organizers are diagrams through which concepts are presented in a purely visual way. Through these organizers it is possible not only to explain a certain notion, but also to unravel the links between that concept and other related ones.

Thus, graphic organizers can be defined as content structures that contain specific and very diverse meanings, although all must be related to the central concept that is intended to be explained.

These structures are used to facilitate the understanding of notions, especially those that are more complex. Graphic organizers allow you to summarize the information and present it in a more friendly way.


They explain the general idea quickly

A good graphic organizer should be able to lay out the basics of the central theme quickly and efficiently.

The idea is that people who access the organizer understand the main notions with just a review, they should not need an additional explanation to what is exposed in the structure.

They are clear and precise

Due to the above feature, when creating a graphic organizer it is very important to be quite selective as to the information that the structure will include.

These organizers are characterized by having clear and concise explanations, so the entire structure must have only the information necessary to understand the most important of the topic developed.

They present relationships between concepts

The concepts associated with the central idea are interconnected with each other. The main function of this type of organizers is to facilitate the understanding of all the factors that influence a certain scenario; therefore, it is not possible that there are isolated notions within a graphic organizer, they must all have clear links.

Present ideas organized according to hierarchical criteria

There are different types of graphic organizers, but each one is important that the information is structured considering the principle of hierarchy.

In this way, it will be much easier to understand the scope and characteristics of the concept that is being broken down through this structure.

They should facilitate understanding

As we have said before, the primary function of graphic organizers is to allow a much easier approach to a particular topic.

For this, it is necessary that the structure in general be sufficiently explanatory, and that the information is presented in the most concise way possible.

They use connectors

To link the ideas together, the organizers make use of connectors or terminals. These tools allow expressing the relationship between concepts in a very efficient visual way. Instead of explanatory phrases, graphic organizers use these connectors.

May include supporting images

Depending on the nature of the organizer, it may contain different types of images that help to understand with more precision all the concepts that are expressed there. Of course, these drawings must have a direct link with what the structure poses.

Images must be conventional

In case of using images, it is recommended that these be of conventional use; that is, that the general public is familiar with said graphic and its meaning.

Remember that graphic organizers must explain the concepts as accurately and quickly as possible, so the images to be used should not generate doubts in the people who will study the structure.

What are graphic organizers for?

Graphic organizers are used to facilitate understanding of a certain topic. The main intention is to explain a concept and its related notions in a visual way that is easy to understand quickly.

This type of organizer is often used especially with topics that are complex in nature, or have a large number of associated concepts. Internalizing topics with these characteristics will be much easier through an explanatory visual structure.

Educational institutions make use of these organizers in the different phases of learning. Specific structures are used at each stage, adapted to the level of knowledge of the students.

Likewise, organizations and companies use graphic organizers to a great extent. Through these they can explain how campaigns are developed, how a production wing works, what is the subordination relationship and other notions of interest, both for those who work there and for those who have an external relationship with said company.

Types of graphic organizers

String of sequences

The chain of sequences is used when it is necessary to explain notions that imply a chronological criterion. For example, historical events tend to rely on this type of organizer when they want to be presented visually.

In order to use the chain of sequences it is imperative that there is a chronological order; otherwise it will not be possible to present ideas with this type of organizer.

Conceptual map

Concept maps are ideal for representing relationships between concepts in a very clear way. The notions are usually enclosed in circles or boxes and the connections between each concept are represented with connectors, usually in the form of a line.

These lines can be accompanied by short explanatory phrases, but they must be very short so that the user can understand the information effortlessly and quickly.


The scheme is characterized by the fact that it presents the information in a hierarchical way: the primary ideas are placed first, and then the secondary, tertiary and those that follow, if applicable. It can be horizontal or vertical.

This type of graphic organizer allows not only the main aspects of the developed topic to be understood from the outset, but also the hierarchical relationship that exists between each of its elements.

Character map

The character map is widely used in literary creation. For example, through this organizer it is possible to visually characterize the characters of a certain plot.

In the character map, the central value is placed in the middle of the space (for example, the name of the character in a story) and around this new boxes are created with the most important characteristics and / or events of the character in question.

Mind map

Image result for mind map lifeder

Mind maps help to have a global vision of a topic that can contain several edges. The main characteristic of these organizational structures is that they seek to synthesize the information as much as possible.

The mind map requires a lot of creativity to be able to include all the aspects of a central theme in the most logical, entertaining and synthesized way possible.


Key systems are widely used when dealing with topics whose subtopics contain various elements that can be broken down; braces allow the hierarchical structure related to the topic to be visible.

T-shaped graphic organizer

This organizer favors the comparison between two elements. Each one is placed on one side of the structure, which generates two well-differentiated columns.

By listing the characteristics on which we will work later, it is possible to detect very clearly which are the points in common and where there are differences.

Cause-effect map

It is also known as the Ishikawa map or herringbone diagram. The function of this map is to reflect what are the causes that generate certain scenarios.

By having a clear vision of how and why the processes occur, it is much easier to make important decisions, with the intention of improving the productivity and efficiency of the procedures in general.

Hierarchical diagram

The hierarchical diagram uses a tree-like shape to break down information. The data is placed according to predetermined levels, and each level has specific characteristics and complexities.

Through the hierarchical diagram it is possible to quickly understand what type of relationship exists between different elements, especially in terms of the hierarchical link.

This structure is widely used in organizations, since it is possible to expose which are the departments of a company and what is the subordination relationship.

Sequence of events

The sequence of events is used to chronologically order all the events that are related to a certain event. This makes it easier to understand how many events are part of a scenario and in what order they are arranged.

Thanks to this information, decisions can be made that have to do with a specific area of ​​the process, without having to affect the entire line of events.

Comparative chart

The comparative tables display the information in columns. The main functionality they have is that they allow you to quickly visualize the differences and similarities between the selected values.

They can have several columns, this number will depend on the number of elements to be broken down. The characteristics of each value are placed in each column, generally in the form of a list.

Graphic script

It is also known as a storyboard . Through the storyboard, the passage of time can be expressed within the framework of a story or a process.

Its structure focuses on posing sequences and each sequence is differentiated from the others graphically through squares or circles; this way it is much easier to understand each element without being distracted by the others.

Persuasion map

Persuasion maps are used with a particular goal: to train in the art of persuasion. In these organizers, the objective to be achieved is proposed first, and from this the specific number of reasons that can convince the interlocutors to achieve said goal is broken down.

In turn, each reason has broken lines in which specific arguments can be placed that will help to reaffirm the base reason. Mastering the persuasion map will make it easier to prepare for a situation where you need to persuade a specific audience.

Circle of ideas

Idea circles allow concepts to be explained concentrically. The main topic is located in a circle in the middle of the structure, and then new circles emerge outside the first one in which the information is broken down taking into account a hierarchical order.

In the circle closest to the central circumference it is possible to create divisions that are relevant to categorize the information. The further from the center the circle, the more detailed the information it contains.

Attribute wheel

This organizer is used when you want to characterize a certain element as much as possible. The structure consists of a first circumference or oval located in the center of the space.

From this, new circles arise that are joined to the central one through connectors, and express different characteristics directly related to the central theme.

Organization chart

Image result of Organization chart

This type of organizer is the most used in companies, since it is versatile enough to clearly outline the different dependencies, functionalities and even people responsible for specific tasks that make up an institution.

Through organizational charts you can quickly understand how a company is structured as a whole, as well as what subordination relationships exist between each department.

Main idea table

The main functionality of the main idea table is to clearly reflect the relationships that exist between certain ideas and the data associated with them. The metaphor of the table is taken as the basis for the construction of the structure.

In the area corresponding to the table of the table the main idea is located, and on the legs of the table are located the elements that are related to it and that, in some way, directly influence its nature.

It can be said that the information located on the legs of the table corresponds to the argumentation that supports the main idea, which is in the upper part of the structure.

Tale map

Through story maps it is possible to divide a narrative into specific chapters, which are arranged chronologically.

The structure can include such specific details as the place of the events, the time of the narration, the names and characteristics of the characters, how the story unfolds, what problems arise and how they are solved.

Spider webs

In cobwebs a central idea is taken and placed in a circle in the center of the structure. From this center other circles or ovals emerge that present secondary information related to the main topic.

This information is connected to the central theme through connecting lines; these lines should not be accompanied by text.

In the cobwebs a hierarchical organization is produced according to which the most relevant aspect is in the center and all the elements that surround it are considered secondary.

Time lines

Image result for lifeder timelines

Timelines allow you to view a linear and chronological sequence related to specific events. It is used to a great extent in historical subjects.

The most important thing in the structure is that it is very clear what are the relationships that exist between the different events considering the moment in which they occur.


It is also known as an activity diagram or flow chart. Its main function is to reflect a process in the most detailed way possible. The idea is that the procedure is explained progressively and giving importance to each stage.

The shape of the information boxes varies depending on what you want to express; This structure uses conventional shapes to facilitate understanding. It also uses arrows between one box and another to indicate the correct direction of the process.

Venn Diagram

The primary functionality of the Venn diagram is to expose what relationships exist between various concepts. Ovals or circles are usually used.

These figures are superimposed on each other, so that it is possible to see what they have in common and what new notions can be generated from the union of the main concepts.

Constellation of words or ideas

Through the constellation of words (or ideas) it is possible to start from a central concept and begin to link it with other related notions, always respecting a hierarchical order.

It is called a word constellation because the resulting structure is similar to that of a constellation. The notions related to the main idea are organized around it within ovals.


This organizer also uses circular shapes to create its structure. In fact, the base of the mandalas is circular and can be divided as many times as necessary, taking into account the categories of the main topic that you want to break down.

These divisions can be represented by lines within the circle, or circles can also be created within the main circumference. The structure can be a bit complex, but it is believed that this model corresponds more closely to the way our brain processes information.

Idea or problem tree

The structure is based on a large box in which the main theme is written, and from this box are hung strips to which squares of paper or cardboard written by the participants are attached.

It can also be represented as a tree: the roots and the trunk represent the main theme, and on each branch the ideas that seek to solve or respond to said theme are placed.

Summary table

The summary table allows incorporating a large amount of information distributed in the categories that are necessary. To create it, a central element is taken and, from this, the desired classifications are determined.

This type of organizer can use tables, circles, ovals, connectors and other very varied elements. It is also possible to include descriptions, comparisons and listings.

Hair comb

The comb is characterized by being based on a single main theme. The function of this organizer is to break down all the possible variants that this central theme may have.

This organizer encourages creativity: the more variants that can be detected, the more information can be obtained from the root topic.

Temple of knowledge

The temple of knowledge seeks to relate a concept to those who hold it. This organizer is similar to the main idea table, but is based on the figure of a temple.

The roof of the structure represents the main idea and its columns correspond to the supporting concepts that are related to it. There can be as many columns as necessary.


It is characterized by being very visually striking, as it usually includes a large number of images. It can offer very diverse information related to the historical, geographical, social or biological fields, among others.

Among the disadvantages of this organizer, it stands out that it does not usually deliver very deep information given the amount of graphic resources that occupy most of the available space.

Cartoon graphic organizer

This type of organizer allows the breakdown of information to take place within the framework of a comic strip or cartoon. They are based on consecutive boxes in which the information will be broken down, always considering a chronological order.

These boxes are usually divided into two fractions, one larger than the other. In the upper one, which is the largest, a drawing or shape associated with the theme to be developed is represented; a description related to the drawing made in the upper part is placed at the bottom.

Graphic organizer of analogies

Through the graphic organizer of analogies, the aim is to understand the relationship between newly learned concepts and others already known.

This type of structure is widely used in the classroom, as it allows students to get closer to notions new to them and, at the same time, to be able to relate them to other known ones in order to understand them even better.

For this, this organizer uses comparisons and the detection of differences and similarities, among other tools.

Star diagram

This graphic organizer is used mainly to organize the characteristics of a chosen project or theme. It is very practical especially in teaching.

This method is based on having the subjects to be studied or studied at each point of a star. The star symbolizes the central theme. 

For example: if you are going to study a World War I syllabus, the main topic would be ‘Main battles of World War I’ and each point would be one of these battles (Battle of the Marne, Battle of Verdun, Battle of Cambrai , etc.).

SWOT matrix

This tool is typical of the business or personal field to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that can be found in the face of entrepreneurship in a project.

It basically consists of placing these aspects in a graphic divided into four equal parts differentiated by colors.

Themes of interest

Cognitive map .

Comparative chart .

Double entry box .

Synoptic table .

Attribute wheel .


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