Friday, July 6, 2018

Sketchnotes: Visual Note Taking

What are sketchnotes?
Sketchnotes are visual notes that are created from a variety of handwriting, drawings, shapes, images, and visual elements (e.g., lines, boxes, arrows). A sketchnote is the physical or digital artifact created by the sketcher, while sketchnoting is the skill that produces the note (Dimeo, 2016). Sketchers can create sketchnotes to summarize information into a one page document from meetings, lectures, personal thoughts, books, and much more. Sketchnotes are meant to highlight important information into a visual representation and usually do not contain detailed information that is rich in text (Dimeo, 2016). They are personal, as the sketcher recorded the content they believe is most important. The skill of sketchnoting takes time and requires practice to improve. Sketcher must listen and analyze content, while writing and doodling the information presented to them.  

Why create sketchnotes?

  • To help make sense of new information
  • Synthesizes important information
  • Helps create meaning for students
  • Makes learning more personal
  • Assists in verbal and nonverbal processing
  • Visuals and texts are more effective than only text
  • Presenting information in pictorial form rather than words benefits memory (Hockley, 2008)

Tips for Introducing Sketchnoting to Students:

  • Remind the students that they do not need to be an artist to sketchnote
  • Show your students examples of sketchnotes
  • Practice reading and understanding how to extract meaning from sketchnotes
  • Model how to begin creating a sketchnote
  • Provide the students various opportunities to sketchnote (e.g., during reading, instructional videos, and study sessions)
  • Begin with using paper and pencils for easy erasing 
  • Have a variety of different tools for sketchnoting and encourage students to try a computer or tablet
  • Do not use sketchnotes for assessment purposes, as should be introduced as cognitive tools to assist in understanding and recall (Hernandez, 2013)

How could students use sketchnotes?

  • A tool taking notes and studying
  • Increase focus and retention during lectures
  • Create presentations and videos
  • Present their thinking in a visual way
  • Collaborative drawing for brainstorming (Randles, 2017)

Sketchnoting Applications: 

  • Adobe Photoshop Sketch: For beginners and beyond with pens, pencils, and watercolours that easily transfer to other Adobe applications
  • Concepts: For professionals with infinite canvas with movable menus and fluid pens
  • Microsoft One Note: For beginners with an easy cloud-based system to transfer notes to all devices 
  • Paper by FiftyThree: For beginners with auto-correction and drop-in templates 
  • Procreate: For professionals with the complete artist toolbox for sketches, paintings, and illustrations 

Educators on Twitter that Sketchnote:


Delfin, C. (2012, January 7). Sketch Frenzy: The Basics of Visual Note-taking [Video file]. Retrieved from

Dimeo, R. (2016). Sketchnoting: An analog in the digital age. ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society, 46(3), 9-16. doi:10.1145/3024949.3024951

Hernandez, A. (2013). Get Started with Sketchnoting. Retrieved from

Hockley, W. (2008). The picture superiority effect in associative recognition. Memory & Cognition, 36(7), 1351-1359. doi:10.3758/MC.36.7.1351

Randles, J. (2017). Use sketchnoting in the classroom to get ideas flowing. Retrieved from

Wilson, C. (2017). Brilliant Digital Sketchnoting Tools to take your Sketchnotes to the Next Level. Retrieved from

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