A Guide to Mastering the Art of Visual Note Taking

A Guide to Mastering the Art of Visual Note Taking

A Guide to Mastering the Art of Visual Note Taking 1200 900 DRAWS STUDIO

In an age of abundant information, our ability to capture, process, and remember it effectively becomes more crucial than ever. While traditional note-taking methods have their merits, visual note taking is an increasingly popular approach that harnesses your cognitive and creative faculties to create effective resource materials for better learning and understanding.

By blending words with images, symbols, and structures, visual note-taking isn’t just a means to an end—it’s a canvas that paints a clearer picture of complex ideas. Learn how visual note taking can transform your approach to recalling and retaining knowledge with the article below!

Live mind mapping

Visual Note Taking

Visual note-taking, or sketchnoting, is a dynamic method that merges text with visual elements like images, symbols, and flowcharts. In today’s fast-paced world, where information overload is common, visual note-taking is a potent tool to filter and prioritise data. It leverages the brain’s dual coding theory, combining verbal and visual information to enhance memory retention and comprehension.

A 2007 study by Hoppe & Gassner reports that shared visual representations are vital facilitators for creative processes in group learning and working environments. This visual technique also makes note taking more engaging to simplify complex concepts and offer a holistic perspective of a topic.

Types of Visual Note Taking

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all in visual note taking. Your learning style and the nature of the information will guide your choice. Here are some different visual note taking formats you should consider:

Mind maps

Picture a central idea branching into related topics, resembling a tree’s structure. That’s a mind map! Mind mapping is your go-to when brainstorming or trying to understand the complex scope of a topic. The radiating structure of a mind map helps you connect ideas seamlessly, offering a clear view of the big picture.

Concept maps

While similar to a mind map, concept maps are more intricate in connecting multiple ideas to demonstrate each relationship. Concept maps are invaluable when trying to understand the intricacies and interconnectedness of various ideas, perspectives, and expert insights.


Have you ever found yourself lost in a sequence or a process? Flowcharts are your answer. With its step-by-step structure, a well-structured flowchart provides a clear pathway through processes or systems to guide your every course of action and ensure you grasp every phase distinctly.

Venn diagrams

When it’s time to compare and contrast ideas, reach for Venn diagrams. Its overlapping circles’ structure offers a visual treat that helps you pinpoint similarities and differences at a glance. Plus, they serve as an excellent tool for visualising set relationships in logic and math contexts.

Tips for Successful
Visual Note Taking

As you delve deeper into visual note taking, it’s not just about scribbling down images and texts. To truly harness the power of visual notes and make your sketches both practical and delightful, here are some tips to ensure success in your visual note taking journey:

Incorporate images

The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” holds true, especially for visual note taking. Images can encapsulate complex ideas in a glance, reducing cognitive load and making information easier to digest. Simple drawings or icons capture the essence of a concept and make your notes more memorable.

Customise your text

All text is not created equal. Differentiate headings from sub-points or important facts using varied fonts, sizes, or styles. The creative approach not only breaks the monotony but also aids in quick referencing. Customising text ensures crucial information stands out, enabling faster recall and emphasising hierarchical structures.

Follow a structure

Just like a well-written essay, your notes need a coherent flow. Whether you’re using mind maps, flowcharts, or any other visual note taking format, ensure that there’s a logical progression to your thoughts. Structured notes make it easier to trace back when revisiting and act as a roadmap to guide your thought processes seamlessly.

Maximise connectors

Lines, arrows, dotted pathways, and connectors are the unsung heroes that bind your notes. These tools show relationships, sequences, or hierarchies that turn your sketches into an interconnected web of information. Connectors facilitate smoother transitions between ideas, helping your brain navigate the sea of information more intuitively.

Leverage colour codes

Employ a consistent colour palette to categorise ideas, highlight importance, or signify relationships. Over time, you’ll start associating certain colours with specific themes, which, in turn, speeds up your comprehension. Colour coding also acts as a visual cue, helping you instantly identify and classify information, making review sessions more efficient.

Elevate Visual Note Taking Journeys with Ortus Draws

Visual note-taking is more than just an artistic endeavour; it’s a potent tool that melds creativity with cognition, offering a transformative approach to capturing and understanding information. As you refine your techniques and integrate these tips into your note-taking routine, complex ideas become more precise, recall improves, and learning becomes more engaging.

If you’re looking to elevate your routines, presentations, and events with more visual tools, look no further than Ortus Draws. From live sketchnoting to intricate graphic illustrations and immersive video animations, our team and services are nothing short of revolutionary. Reach out to our team today and ensure that your visual endeavours not only captivate but also communicate effectively! 

Ortus Draws is a team of professional sketchnoting artists who specialise in bridging knowledge and visuals with creative and informative mind maps, video animations, and graphic illustrations. Our illustrations capture the key points of virtual events, webinars, discussions, training material, documentation, blogs and internal meetings. Are you looking for illustrators and animators? Contact us now!