The Sketchnote Handbook: The illustrated guide to visual note taking

George Drivas BWR Leave a Comment

Full Title: The Sketchnote Handbook: The illustrated guide to visual note taking, by Mike Rohde, (1st edition), Peachpit Press, 224 pages: Introduction, 7 Chapters, Index; December 3, 2012, Paperback

Author: According to his official bio note on Peachpit Publishers, Mike Rhode is a user experience (UX) and a user interface (UI) designer. His passion for simple and usable design solutions together with his lifelong habit of recording concepts and observations through sketching and doodling, inspired him to develop two bestselling books: The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Workbook.  Sketchnotes refer to his method of capturing information visually, a practical art that translates simple and complex ideas into easily recalled bits of information. As a sketchnoter, Mike provides live, real-time sketchnotes of events, meetings, and experiences in venues across the United States.

Rohde turned to experience design after 10 years as a successful print graphic designer where he first developed his sketchnote approach and technique. Because of his sketchnote work, Rohde has been hired to illustrate REWORK, the 37signals business book, collaborate on the illustration of a TEDMED notebook, and he has been hired to create live sketchnotes for a variety of conferences and events.

Community and sharing are important cornerstones of Mike’s philosophy, as evidenced by the creation of The Sketchnote Army, a website dedicated to finding and showcasing sketchnotes and sketchnoters from around the world. Mike has also shared his thinking, design process, and samples of his design and illustration work at his personal website,, since 2003.

Mike lives with his wife, Gail, and three children, Nathan, Linnea, and Landon, just outside of Milwaukee.


  1. What are Sketchnotes?
    • Sketchnotes Were Born of Frustration
    • How Are Sketchnotes Created?
    • Can I Create Sketchnotes?
    • Ideas, Not Art
    • One Step at a Time
  2. Why Sketchnotes?
    • Sketchnoting Engages Your Whole Mind
    • Sketchnoting Creates a Visual Map
    • Sketchnoting Helps Your Concentration
    • Sketchnoting Taps Your Visual Language
    • Sketchnoting Is Relaxing
    • Creating Sketchnotes Is Dynamic and Fun!
  3. Listen Up!
    • The Keys to Listening
    • My Listening Approach
    • Practice Your Listening Skills
  4. The Sketchnoting Process
    • Research
    • Gather Materials
    • Arrive Early
    • Create a Title
    • Sketchnote
    • Photograph
    • Scan, Tune and Post
    • Anatomy of a Sketchnote
    • A Sketchnote from Start to Finish
  5. Types of Sketchnotes
  • Style Plus Thinking
  • Structure, Then Style!
  • The Art and Structure Scale
  • Sketchnoting Patterns
    • Linear
    • Radial
    • Vertical
    • Path
    • Modular
    • Skyscraper
    • Popcorn
  • Patterns Are Starting Points
  1. Sketchnoting Approaches, Hierarchy and Personalisation
  • Real-time Sketchnoting
  • Two-stage Sketchnoting
    • Two-stage Pencil to Ink Approach
    • Two-Stage Rough to Refined Approach
  • Creating a Hierarchy
  • Personalisation
    • Commentary
    • Humor
    • Whimsy
  1. Sketchnoting Skills and Techniques
    • Skills and Techniques
    • The 5 Basic Elements of Drawing
    • 5 Basic Elements Exercise
    • Drawing People
    • Drawing People Exercise
    • Drawing Faces
    • Drawing faces Exercise
    • Drawing Type
    • Drawing Type Exercise
    • Penmanship
    • Drawing Visual Elements
    • Build a Visual Library
    • Visual Library Exercise
    • Drawing Metaphors
    • Tools for Sketchnoting
    • Sharing Sketchnotes


Why this one?

To begin with, this book is all about Visual Notetaking. VN is defined as a process of representing ideas non-linguistically. In layman’s terms: drawing pictures. Visual Notetaking can include concept mapping, but also more artistic ways of visually capturing and representing ideas. On the simpler side of the visual notetaking continuum, visual notes can be used to create narrated art. On the complex end of the spectrum, some visual notetaking applications support the creation of whiteboard animation videos.

In this book, Mike Rohde has taken his original, fun, and smart approach to visual notetaking and has broken it down into simple, clear steps so that anyone willing can use his approach and before he eventually develops his own. No reader should shy away from attempting Sketchnoting since it is not artistic prowess that the user should be aiming for. It is Ideas. Sketchnoting provides everything you need to know about the creative, mnemonic, and professional benefits of this brilliant method of visual notetaking. Sketchnotes are a great way to capture an idea in a way that naturally works for your brain. Drawing pictures can activate the brain, alleviate boredom and improve retention regarding the collating of notes. Sketchnoters, also, increase their overall creative potential.

Mike Rohde practices what he preaches. This book has everything you need to sketchnote. It takes you from novice to professional level in careful, realistic steps, while developing this art form into a practical, and innovative discipline. The book is user-friendly (as you would expect from such an expert). The reader is encouraged along as the various secrets are revealed. These tricks are not pieces of advice engraved in stone, they should be viewed as solutions that they have been found to work; and the reader is encouraged to adapt them to match his own style.

The Sketchnote Handbook is an informative, hands-on book designed to quickly share the principles of sketchnoting, so you can get right to creating sketchnotes for yourself. It is a toolkit for learning a new and superior way of capturing and understanding information.

Doodles are no longer a dirty word! Mike Rohde is a magnificent blend of storyteller and artist. He takes a children’s art form and changes it into a professional skill: rely on a blend of visuals and words to communicate great ideas. His approach is about receiving and processing the world in a more complete and insightful way.

In conclusion, think of three of the process steps listed in Chapter 4: Research (the speaker and the topic of the talk), Arrive Early (to secure the best seating available in order to avoid distractions) and Scan, Tune & Post (work on your sketchnotes at home, change them into electronic media that you can correct and modify to secure the best result, and share them with other colleagues. Their feedback can be beneficial and rewarding.

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George Drivas

George Drivas

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I consider myself as innovative and strategic, motivational, discreet and amicable, thorough and effective. Sometimes I think I try too hard!

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