What is Sketchnoting?

Sketchnoting is a form of note-taking that involves a combination of words and visual elements. The idea behind this is to improve cognition by utilizing graphics and colors.

You could either keep it simple by using a pen on paper or go all out and create it digitally. Either way, the best part about Sketchnotes is that you can customize it to your learning style and comfort.

Benefits of Sketchnoting

  • They say a picture speaks a thousand words and that holds utterly true in the case of sketch notes.
  • The act of writing down helps one remember better. This is a popular study technique followed by a lot of students and educators across the globe (including me). While it helps to take down simple notes, words along with some visuals are a great value add.
  • Sketchnoting help you simplify rich data, highlighting key takeaways easily. One glance at these notes and you’re done revising! It saves time and let’s face it, they are fun to make! :D

Basics Elements of Sketchnoting

Keep in mind that the elements mentioned below are just the basic ones I use and the beauty of a sketch note is that you can always make it your own! Use the variations of these elements or new ones on your own as per your comfort and understanding.

Containers

Use these to write your key takeaways or pointers. Think of it as your personal post-it.

Containers- Sketchnote Elements

Speech Bubbles

Use these to depict a conversation or quotes. You could use a different bubble to depict the emotion in the conversation.

For example, you could use the cloud-like bubble to depict a thought/dream, the one with pointy ends to depict anger, and so on.

Speech Bubbles- Sketchnote Elements

Banners

Use these for headers, phrases, quotes, or to highlight important words.

Banners- Sketchnote Elements


Connectors and Dividers

Use the connectors to guide one through the sketchnote, to depict hierarchy or steps to follow. The dividers can be used to separate the sections within a note.

Overall, connectors and dividers can be used to tidy up your sketch note and add personality to it.

Connector and Divider- Sketchnote Elements


People

Use simple stick figures to depict humans. You can use the arms to make them more expressive.
Note: It’s a good practice to use gender/race-neutral stick figures to make your note inclusive

People- Sketchnote Elements


Emotions

Couple these with quotes and sentences to add more depth and emotion to your note.

Emotions- Sketchnote Elements


Lettering

Use different styles of lettering to maintain a hierarchy of the content on your note.

For example, you could use one style for a happy sentence and another for a sad/angry sentence. One style for important phrases and one for simpler notes. The choice is yours!

Lettering: Sketchnote Elements



Graphs and Charts

Use charts and graphs for data or statistics. Adding a visual element to complex numbers makes them easy to remember.

Graphs and Charts- Sketchnote Elements


Miscellaneous Elements

Miscellaneous- Sketchnote Elements

How to Create Sketchnotes: A Beginners Guide

First thing that you should know is that you don’t have to be a skilled artist to create sketchnotes. Your sketchnotes technique will get better with volume and time so don’t shy away from a lot of imperfect notes.

Sketchnotes are usually made for personal use or studies, so feel free to experiment to suit your style. As per biology, the human brain processes and retains information better when it’s a sketchnote/doodle instead of a highly verbose content.

So let’s begin and make one for ourselves!

One thing you have to keep in mind is that you cannot put all the information into the sketchnote. Only the key information that helps you give a gist of the topic needs to be included.

Starting with the headline, ensure that it needs to be on top and highlighted. The header should stand out and look distinct from the rest of the content. It is essential that you make the important points stand out. If you observe newspapers or magazines, a couple of sections have a different colored background or a header with a different font to highlight.

You can use the containers and banners around phrases and key points.

Add the content and decide the hierarchy
Prioritize Information- How to create Sketchnotes

Try to not use too many colors and go for two or three at the max. Choose colors that have good contrast with the background that you’re using. Here are a few color combinations that have worked for me

Keep the visuals simple. A car doesn’t have to be detailed but just needs to look like a car. The goal is to convey the message and not make an art piece.

Colors and Visuals- How to create Sketchnotes

You could add shadows and darken the words you want to highlight. You might end up with a few white spaces at the end, but remember it isn’t necessary to completely fill up the space. The sketchnote should capture the significant pointers and you can ignore the rest

Final touches- How to create Sketchnotes

Sketchnotes Tools & Software

Sketchnotes Example

The Product Folks- Sketchnotes Example 1
The Product Folks- Sketchnotes Example 2

Resources to Learn Further