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Inspiration 8

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By Tom Nelson and Mary F. O'Connor

Inspiration 8 - Review of Inspiration 8

Inspiration 8

Courtesy of Inspiration Software

The Bottom Line

Inspiration 8 is the digital version of doodling on the back of a napkin. It’s not as quick as doodling (although it’s quicker than you’d expect), but it has plenty of strengths to make up for that. You can pile on ideas and move things around at will, without worrying about running out of napkins. You can also quickly switch between Diagram (doodle) and Outline views, for two very different yet closely related views of the same concepts.

With a library of more than a million symbols (including free symbols available online from Inspiration Software), and the ability to add your own, the possibilities are endless.


  • Easy to use.
  • Switches quickly and easily between Diagram and Outline views.
  • Includes a collection of templates, examples, and training materials.
  • Includes a large symbol library; additional symbols are available free for downloading.


  • A little expensive for student use.
  • No drawing tools.
  • Concept mapping isn’t an intuitive process for everyone.
  • Slightly non-standard interface.


  • Mac and Windows versions are available
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Includes a collection of templates in several subject areas
  • Includes examples in several subject areas
  • Includes training videos
  • More than a million free symbols are available for downloading
  • You can import your own symbols
  • Free on-demand training videos are available online

Guide Review - Inspiration 8

There are few things worse than staring at a blank page that’s staring back at you. You could hang around and wait for inspiration to strike, or you could let Inspiration 8 inspire you.

Inspiration 8 belongs to a category of software known as mind or concept mapping, which is just a fancy way of saying ‘brainstorming.’ Although it’s primarily designed for students in grades 6 through 12, Inspiration 8 is useful to anyone who needs to plan and organize a project, whether it’s a thesis, a novel, a new product, or a business plan.

There are two views to work in. Diagram view is the brainstorming side; Outline view is the organizational side. You can work entirely in one view, or switch between them with the click of the mouse.

Diagram view’s interface is similar to a drawing or painting program, with a palette of basic shapes and a searchable collection of symbols on the left side of the screen, and a large workspace on the right. The workspace has a collection of icons across the top, for switching between views; creating, arranging, and linking items; adding notes; and adding hyperlinks. The tool/formatting bar is located at the bottom of the workspace, which is a little disconcerting, because nearly every other software program puts it at the top of the page.

You can add shapes, symbols, and text by dragging and dropping the appropriate items, then adding labels. You can rearrange things on the fly by clicking and dragging, as well as make them larger or smaller (or wipe them out of existence), something you can’t do when you’re scribbling on a piece of paper. You can create links between related items or to web pages, as well as add sticky notes.

Outline view is a flashback to the text-based hierarchical outlines of high school English classes. You can add, edit, or rearrange entries, and the changes will be carried over to Diagram view.

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