Sketchnotes for Beginners

On January 11th, I took to Periscope to talk about World Sketchnote Day 2017.  I had so much fun teaching others about sketchnotes that day.  In case you could not catch the “scope” I have summarized some of the key points.  The link to the live Periscope is also below so you can watch.


So, what exactly is a sketchnote? To me it is a visual way to take notes. One thing I have learned is that to take good notes you don’t need a word for word dictation. Let me tell you I really wish someone would have told me this in school.  I always thought I needed to write every word down! Instead you highlight the important concepts and the key points.  It is a great form of reference to go back and remember an entire presentation.

When most people think of taking notes, you think of jotting down words on a page, and maybe even numbers.  Well, with sketchnotes you make the same ideas look interesting on the page. At any time in our lives we are placed in a situation where we want to take notes; school, board room, Continuing education (you know the dreaded but needed CLE), PTA meeting, doctor’s office, church, while reading or listening to a book.  The list can really go on and on.  It usually equates to you being the listener and someone else doing the presentation.  How many times in the past year have you been in a situation like this?

You don’t need anything fancy to start. Any piece of paper or pen will do. Even an old receipt or napkin on the table will work.  I have added some of the tools in My favorite things, found under products and services to help get you started, if you prefer to skip the napkin!

But lets review the basics and what you can add to make your boring word notes into something you actually want to look at again.


Use different Fonts; All Caps, small caps, block letters, Sans serif

Use bullets shaped like stars or books, pencils or squares

Since you probably are not aware of the points of the presentation decide a layout for your notes. Left to right, Circular, or maybe columns

Add a frame to a word or title. Use speech bubbles.  Or how about the comic book “BAM” emphasis to make it look like it is exploding.

Arrows and different line connectors help build your ideas and connect them together

Add faces. We all connect with people and emotions so add them to your notes.

Last, but not least is color!


Add this to your sketchnote


So now you’re asking WHY, should I take the time do this.  The great part is that it really doesn’t take any longer then writing down words on a piece of paper.  Plus, visual communication does not stop with the spoken language you are fluent in.  Everyone can understand a picture even if they don’t understand the written words.


Engage your audience or ensure you are actively listening

Remember what is being said

Organize your ideas in one place and summarize the key points

The human brain sees and thinks in pictures not words

Connect different ideas together

Learn something new

Collaborate with others and share ideas


Why Sketchnote


The most important thing to remember is to have fun. And who cares if you wanted to draw a dog but it looks more like a cow! If your only taking notes for yourself, YOU are the only one who needs to understand your pictures.

Check out Periscope TV to watch the broadcast.

The next time you are in a situation to take notes, try using sketchnotes instead of just words.  I would love to see and hear how your experience went.



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