Visual Note-Taking 101

I stumbled across this site the other day, which was a presentation from SXSW, which is an awesome conference over in the states (USA). As you all know, I used to do a lot of IA and UX work in the past, plus I love to draw too, so I found this particularly cool. All the people that went to the session got these cool  free sketch books, which I wish I had one. The panelists were as follows; KleonSunni BrownMike Rohde and Dave Gray.

So yeah, each panelist took a turn offering basic tips to get started taking visual notes:

  • Use bullets, frames and dividers to break up the page and organize information. My favorite qoute was “Bullets are for guns AND sketch notes”
  • Tie your bullets to the theme of the talk. Taking notes on healthcare? Use little red crosses for your bullets.
  • Look at comic book pages for ideas on how to frame a page and call out dialogue.
  • Adding a shadow is a simple way to enhance your drawing and “make it look like you know what you’re doing.” – yeah Sunni, like that works.
  • Take notes for yourself–don’t worry about what other people think.
  • Use font size, underlining, etc. to emphasize certain text and create information hierarchy within your notes.
  • You can “sketch” text, not just pictures. Make your words visual. Rohde is a master of this.
  • “Slow down” when you’re drawing. This helps you filter out the crap you don’t need to write down. I totally agree with that.
  • Practice! When you’re sitting at the bus stop or the airport, just start drawing the alphabet or straight parallel lines. One established artist the panel mentioned practices drawing the alphabet every day.
  • Develop your own key to call attention to portions of your notes. For example always use an asterisk to note that something is an action item.

All in all, I think it was an awesome session that I would have loved to go to. For those interested in watching it yourselves, have a look.

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