Can you sketchnote without drawing?

Short answer? No, but it IS possible to have drawing-free visual notes! Let’s talk about why:

What are sketchnotes?

Sketchnotes (aka visual notes) are hand-rendered visual records of information or an experience using drawings and written text.

Drawings and Written Text:

Sketchnotes are not just drawings…. that’s called illustration.

Neither are they just words… that’s standard note-taking.

Sketchnoting uses both elements to create something new and powerful! Information and Illustrations work in tandem: The illustrations help you understand the text, and the text helps you understand the images.

Sketchnotes without drawings are just…. notes. but they can still be visual!

The different types of notes:

Sketchnotes have it all: words, drawings, structure, and design elements. 

Visual notes are like sketchnotes but without illustrations. They can still be highly visual, using design elements, structure, and maybe even some word drawings, but they lack imagery. 

Notes are what you might have taken in a class- you just write what you hear, from the top of the page to the bottom, in the order presented. Maybe you have some kind of structure or hierarchy like headlines and bullet points, and maybe you use highlighter, but that’s it! 

So, if your “sketchnotes” don’t have any illustrations, but you do use typography and lettering, hierarchy, maybe some word drawings, and design elements like color, connectors, and containers, you might just have visual notes instead!

If your “sketchnotes” are mostly just words on a page, you just have notes. 

Sketchote Example

Has relevant illustrations, text, hierarchy, layout structure, and design elements.

Visual Notes Example

Amazing typography, great layout structure, and design elements like arrows and dividers and containers. No illustrations so it’s more Visual Note than Sketchnote.

Notes Example

Mostly text with some minor structure. No illustrations, typography, or design elements.