The exercises in these tutorials ask you to produce argument maps.
Also, you might want to produce arguments maps of your own, for study, work or
just out of interest. So how do you go about actually creating an argument
There are basically three approaches:
- By hand. You can always take out pencil and paper, ruler etc. and
produce maps by hand. This is easier if you have one of those clear
plastic templates which give you squares, rectangles, straight lines, arrows
etc.. Producing maps by hand is easy and convenient for simple maps.
However for more complicated maps it soon becomes impractical - especially
when you need to make changes. (You always need to make changes!)
- Generic software. You can use generic software with drawing
or diagramming features; examples include Powerpoint, Visio, Inspiration and
ConceptDraw. However this is a bit of a trap, compared with the other
two methods. First, unless you use a very sophisticated package such as
Visio, there are certain kinds of structures in argument mapping which it will
be difficult if not impossible for you to create. Second, generic
packages require that you have a high level of understanding of what you are
trying to achieve, and even then producing even moderately complex maps is a
very time-consuming business.
- Argument Mapping Software. In general, the best approach is
to use software built specifically for argument mapping. Currently
available packages include Athena, Araucaria, and Rationale™. Using
specialised argument mapping software will help you construct and modify
professional-looking maps quickly and easily. An added advantage of
using such software is that it provides strong "scaffolding."
That is, the only structures you can build are argument maps. If
you use generic software, you have more flexibility, but this increases the
chance of mistakes. As with most tasks, the right tools help you get the
job done faster and at a higher standard.
||Almost all the diagrams in these tutorials were all created
using the Rationale™ software (though many were edited further using
a graphics program). Rationale™ is
a general purpose argument mapping software package.
Rationale™ is inexpensive and can be
obtained from www.austhink.com.
Printing Argument Maps
Arguments can get complicated, and a map of a complex argument can be very
large. Simple maps can be printed on normal A4 or US Letter paper; you
might find it helps to print in landscape mode.
As maps get more complicated, printouts need to be larger. An A3-size
printer, if you can get access to one, is very useful. (I have an A3
colour inkjet printer on my desk, used for little other than printing argument
maps.) For maps that are larger still, you can either print on multiple
pages, then stick them together by hand; or send your map to a specialist