Study Skills: Sketchnoting


There are an array of study skills, which may tackle the process of organizing and taking in new information, retaining information, or dealing with assessments, tests or exams. They include mnemonics, which aid the retention of lists of information, effective reading, and concentration techniques, as well as efficient notetaking.

Notetaking is the focal point today. Note-taking is the practice of recording information captured from another source (oral discussion, lecture, class note or textbook). By taking notes, the writer records the essence of the information, freeing their mind from having to recall everything.

The person taking notes must acquire and filter the incoming sources, organize and restructure existing knowledge structures, comprehend and write down their interpretation of the information, and ultimately store and integrate the freshly processed material. The result is a knowledge representation, and a memory storage.

Many different formats are used to structure information and make it easier to find, and to understand, later. Today we’re focusing on sketchnoting as a visual notetaking study technique.

It’s the latest study technique fad! Did you even know? I’ve taken up sketchnoting recently, and I love it! So much that I’ve got my students going crazy about it too!

What is sketchnoting?

The answer to the first question is pretty straight-forward: Sketchnoting is a way of note taking that involves not just notes, but also sketches. Mike Rohde, the godfather of sketchnoting, defines it as taking rich visual notes, mixing handwriting and drawing to create a more appealing set of notes, and that’s exactly what it is! What stands out most about sketchnoting is that it’s not just a note taking method, you’ll be also using all the other study techniques when you sketch note. You can still use mnemonics, short notes, mind maps, effective reading and concentration techniques, as well as efficient notetaking.

To me, sketchnoting is appealing, because as it turns out I’ve been doing it for the past decade, and it dawned on me that what I’d been doing had a name, was not as strange and uniquely “me” as I’d previously thought, and it is gaining momentum as a cool thing to do. And now, I’m hooked. I’ve developed the sort of passion for sketchnoting that keeps you in a continuous flow. I love to sketchnote, and feel like I have to do it.

Now, the fact that I think it’s fun and cool, is probably not enough reason for you to try your hand at it. So what is?

The main reason to start sketchnoting, in my opinion, would be that it allows for true active learning, where you engage with a topic that you’re studying in a holistic way, allowing you to focus your attention and fully immerse yourself in a subject. There is something about converting text into image that captures people’s imagination and holds their attention in a way that just doesn’t seem to happen with a normal short note or mind map.

So, how do you start?

That’s the beauty of sketchnoting: You’re probably ready to start right now. Just get some paper and your favorite pen and you are ready to go. Just start looking for metaphors and models in the note that you’re studying and draw those images combined with lots of funky text/ typography.

Any way you structure your sketchnotes is fine, let your creativity run wild! The best part is that you don’t even have to be the best artist! If you can hold a pen/pencil and write and scribble, then you can most definitely sketchnote! I’ve taught a bunch of my students how to sketchnote, and they are having way too much fun! But, that’s exactly what I want it to be, studying should be fun, and sketchnoting is such a great way to make studying interesting and help to bring your textbook note alive!

So that’s kind of it for today. For the moment, I’ll leave you with a youtube link about visual notetaking, which is basically the same thing, so you see what I’m talking about. There’s nothing much to it actually, just text and drawings. Give it a go, the first sketchnote might take you a while, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see what the hype is about.

Have fun sketchnoting! xoxo