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on December 14, 2012
The Sketchnote handbook is a lovely and useful book. Buy it if you want to take poweful notes and have fun doing so. Rohde shows us how to create powerful, personal notes, infused with feeling, and exploding with ideas visualized. I am a professional visual notetaker and design educator, and I am always looking for fresh approaches to this powerful medium. Mike delivers a fun and useful book in that both professionals and novices will appreciate. Mike shows why Sketchnotes work and he shows a variety of approaches to creating them, showcasing sketchnoters from from around the world to underline his points. The book is an easy read, designed to skim or dive deep. Rohde emphasizes that sketchnoting is about capturing ideas, not about showing off virtuoso art chops, and gives useful tips on structure, quick and easy drawing, and penmanship and lettering. Rohde's tone is encouraging as he urges you to start slowly and build on success. Even adding one little drawing to your notes will help you connect to the ideas in a presentation long after its over. If I were to make one suggestion for a modification in a future edition, I'd like Mike to find some clearer examples of one of the structures he describes, the radial structure. The examples he shows, which are nice works in and of themselves, do not show that radial structure it as clearly as I would like (check out Brandy Agerbeck's "Graphic Facilitator's Guide" for some nice examples of radial structure). This in no way takes away from the overall awesomeness of the Sketchnote handbook. A stellar resource worthy of 5 big, glistening stars! Go add it to your library and change the way you take notes.
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on December 13, 2012
Quick take: great book -- well organized, clear instructions, and, of course, good illustrations. Highly recommended.

I didn't know much about sketchnoting before buying this book. I'd gleaned a bit about it from author Mike Rohde's tweets, and from those by another contributor, Veronica Erb, and I was curious to learn more. Along came this book, and I thought I'd give it a shot.

It's a fun read -- Mike Rohde's enthusiasm really shines through. It's also surprisingly well organized, at least compared to what I expected from a book about doodling. Mike does a nice job of explaining the value of sketchnoting, i.e., why it's a useful technique, and then walks you through different kinds of sketchnote patterns and the how-tos.

The book also contains a lot of examples from other sketchnoters; these give you an idea of other peoples' styles, and offer their take on tools and techniques. It might be mildly intimidating to see so many great-looking examples, and wondering, "Will I ever get this good at it, and if not, is it worth trying?" Fortunately, Mike mentions early and often that a) if you can draw *really* simple shapes, then you can sketchnote, and b) it's more about structure than art. I found that reassuring.

I bought the book+video version, and I'm glad I did. The book is fine by itself, i.e., if you just bought the book, I think you'd be ok. But the videos let you see Mike sketchnoting in realtime, and I found that complemented the book very well.

Suggestions for the next edition:

- Recommended equipment: Mike mentions which pen and notebook he uses, and many of the other contributors do so too, but these are scattered throughout the book. Might be worth pulling this together onto a single page, to help us newbies. Do I go with a Moleskine, or one of the spiral-bound notebooks?...

- Other applications/contexts: Mike mentions sketchnoting while attending conferences (IA Summit, anyone?); it would be helpful to mention other applications if relevant.

In conclusion: if you've ever attended a conference and have taken notes, you ought to buy this book. As for me, I've ordered my sketchnoting pens, and am eager to put Mike's book into practice.
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on January 3, 2013
First of all, this is a beautiful book, having a matte(?) finish, full of illustrations, using the very medium to 'deconstruct' itself. I even love the accent color (orange) used throughout the book. Loved the guest sketch noters. Don't get the Kindle edition. Appreciate the book in its native format as the author intended.

The videos were okay. I felt they added little value, as the author merely clarified the concepts in his book. Given the passion the author has for sketch-noting, I kinda expected him to burst upon the screen like those guys from the infomercials. He had a business-like demeanor in front of the camera. If there was just one chapter worth watching, I would suggest watching the segment where Mike does a sketch note in real time, listening to Mr. Mueller. Oh- the online videos were not captioned. I would suggest that Peachpit require that future video submissions have subtitling and/or captioning.

I primarily bought this book to give me ideas and techniques that i can share with my students. Then, they can make meaningful connections in studying their subject matter, i.e., Math, Reading, Science, in a visual way. It's also nice to undertake some sketch-noting during those professional development workshops. This book delivers for me, full of little tips I can immediately put to use.

I feel that this book was somewhat superficial. It is indeed a quick read. I would have liked more coverage on Dual-Coding Theory, for instance. Little coverage was given to speaker patterns. What about having a 'listening triage', weeding out white noise and capturing relevant ideas? What if someone in the audience has an insightful idea? A heated debate? I'm not asking for a full blown treatise; just better coverage on listening and capturing ideas quickly and effectively.

Another example; I rely on sign language for communications. In a meeting, I just can't look down and start doodling (or jotting) away. I have to watch, and retain as much as I can before there's a lull in the meeting, then I furiously scribble down my notes. At least, sketching images may be an acceptable substitute in writing notes during lulls as they're quicker to make and i can get back to the presentation at hand. In this book, Mike describes a 'brain cache' area, but doesn't really explore it. I would have liked to acquire better memorization techniques so I can hold ideas until I put them to paper.

Mike Rohde is correct that sketch noting is an invaluable addition to a person's toolset in acquiring, retaining, and making meaningful connections between ideas. Not only Dual Coding Theory helps us understand why we retain and make meaningful connections between ideas in a visual manner, it is also kinesiology, the very act of sketching, that helps tie it all together. Thus, sketch notes have the most value to the person who did the notes; it truly helps him/her retain and understand what was presented at that workshop, meeting, etc. Even sketch noting while digesting a heavy treatise helps an individual better grasp and utilize the ideas being learned.

However, I find an odd disconnect in treating sketch notes for wide distribution via social media. Sketch notes have little utility in communicating ideas to other people who were not present at the meeting, workshop, etc. I've looked at a couple of sketch notes in the wild and really couldn't understand them. I may grasp bits and pieces, but i get the feeling that I had to be there to understand these sketch notes fully. That said, sketch notes have some utility for communicating ideas with people who actually attended the meeting, workshop, etc., but didn't do any sketch-noting.

I may be missing the point, but why would sketch noters share their sketch notes on social media, when they are ill-equipped vehicles in communicating ideas? Is it because they may have some intrinsic artistic merit? Just treat sketch notes as a tool that a person can utilize in capturing and synthesizing ideas in a visual form, and not for any intrinsic artistic value they may have. Overall, a good book.
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on January 24, 2013
The book itself is beautiful. The illustrations are cute and whimsical. The author is clearly talented and imaginative. And, being somewhat on the creative side myself, it was fun to learn about the different pens, paper and styles the various featured illustrators featured in the book favored.

But, those positives are also the negatives about this book. The main message of the book is that you don't have to be an artist to do sketchnotes. The author provides plenty of examples of basic drawing techniques using common shapes like squares, circles, and triangles. Again and again, the author declares that you do not need to be an artist, you just need to capture basic concepts using limited drawing techniques to create effective sketchnotes. On the surface, his claim is correct: anyone can draw basic shapes to capture the big concepts gleaned from a meeting or conference. The reality is that virtually no non-artistic types will bother to doodle concepts instead of writing down important details. This is proven by the book itself; all of the great examples in the book were drawn by professional graphic designers and other graphical design specialties.

Therefore, the book's message is really just a self-celebratory pat on the back for illustrators and other creative types (myself included). The mistake of this book is to assume that right-brainers and left-brainers think alike. It has been my experience that, metaphorically speaking, right-brainers and left-brainers have almost completely different thinking styles. The financial quantitative analyst with a PhD in Mathematics is not going to sit through a conference on applied linear mathematics drawing cartoons about the key concepts of risk management algorithms.

I have not yet viewed the author's video of live sketchnoting. The reason for this is another reason I can only give this book two stars. When I purchased the video edition of this book on Amazon, it was not apparent to me how I would be able to view the author's video. Only after receiving the book did I learn that the access code embedded in the back of the book requires an account on I am still debating whether or not to give yet another company my email address.

If you are an artist (graphic design, illustrator, UI expert, or just an avid doodler), this may be for you. Although, you probably will not learn anything new.
If you are not an artist, do not attend many meetings or conferences, or simply work in an environment where every detail counts, this book is not for you.

If the book were $10, I'd give it a three star rating. At $25, I give it a two.
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on June 24, 2014
The writer sincerely believes that people who can't really draw or sketch can practice his techniques… but he's largely wrong. For me, someone with minimal artistic ability, the book spends much too much time showing cool examples of sketch notes from the author and his cool friends, and not nearly enough time on techniques and resources for those of us with little to no experience sketching. I don't need to be shown how I can lay out a page in a cool way… I need to know how to easily and quickly represent objects, faces and people. The book spends some time on this, but for me it was much too little. Also, one of his techniques for drawing people (box shape with lines) ONLY CREATES MALE FIGURES - I finally realized I could change it into 2 intersecting triangles to make a woman, but, dude… expand your world view, huh? 50% is female, yo.

I've searched Amazon, Art Stores, and other sites for a decent book that can show me how to draw clear, fun line drawings such as Mr. Rohde's and there's NOTHING out there. Books are either too simple and for children or too sophisticated, already for trained artists. The best middle ground I've found is books for cartoonists, but even those lean towards sophistication… or at least time consuming.

I know he's got a follow-up book coming out. I really hope its to help those of us who need to practice and improve our drawing skills.
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on December 9, 2012
Mike Rohde does fantastic work. After talking with many talented artists, I hired Mike to create the interior artwork for The $100 Startup. He did an excellent job and I continue to hear positive comments (almost daily!) on how the illustrations mesh so well with the text.

But this review isn't about my book; it's about Mike's. In The Sketchnote Handbook, Mike takes us behind-the-scenes, documenting the process and workflow he uses in his unique method. Learning about how Mike does it is interesting enough to me, a non-artist, to justify the purchase of the book. However, Mike goes further and makes the case that *everyone*--even you and me--can use visual note-taking to improve the way we capture and retain information.

It's a no-brainer: This book deserves a wide audience! I've purchased multiple copies already and will continue to buy more as I hand them out as gifts.
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I met Mike at an impromptu #CoffeeChat in Portland, Oregon while more than 3,000 people were visiting for the World Domination Summit (a conference conceived of by author and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau). Mike and I are "social-network" connected through ANOTHER author and big-time thinker, a guy named Mike Vardy.

During a quick conversation over a soy latte (me) and an espresso (Mike), I realized that I wanted to know more about what Mike Rohde does - so we decided to exchange books. (As an author, it's one way that I've been able to keep my book spending down...I offer to trade books with folks.)

A week later, I got the "Video Edition" of The Sketchnote Handbook, and within 3 hours over a 2-day weekend I went through all 20 videos and read the book, cover to cover. To make things that much more "real," I filled in 14 pages of what I'm calling "My First Sketchbook."

Why I'd STRONGLY recommend this book, and who'd I recommend it to...are you ready?

1. If you are at all responsible for listening to, thinking about, managing and presenting information, you're going to want to go through this book. Get the video edition, and jump DIRECTLY to video #s

3: the Value of Sketchnoting
5: Prepping for an Event
9: Sketchnote from Start to Finish
13: Drawing Simple Objects

I can already say my "notes" are different; on the white board behind me here in my office, I've already drawn the "5 basic shapes" so that I can refer to them as I'm idea-ting.

2. There's a three-step model I teach to "being productive;" and, I think Mike Rohde and I share a common philosophy. The way that I say it is a bit different (Focus, Ignore, Do) than Mike, but we both believe in the same end result. A series of tactics and specific tools make it easier to be open to the information available to us.

As I was reading through the book, I also had the feeling that Mike was inspiring, not just educating, me to want to get better. There, he introduced me to other authors, and showed his sketch notes of conferences that he'd attended. (Conferences that are now on my "to look at list" for next year.)

Thank you, Mike, for delivering something we can use. You did good work.
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on October 20, 2014
I've read a few books on conveying ideas through drawing (Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam & Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown) that were good and full of information, but neither really captured the gravity of using the ideas within to convey the ideas themselves.

Throughout the entire book, Mike uses sketchnotes on every page to give the reader a pragmatic, well laid guide for how to take notes visually. He shares examples of other sketctnoters (giving them a platform to be seen and providing real-life examples of other sketchnoters), teaches you the basics of "formatting" your sketchnotes and the basics of drawing, which I've found incredibly helpful for making sure I'm capturing information as fully and clearly as I had hoped.

I've gone through this book multiple times, and because of his ability to break the ideas down into digestible chunks and provide a rich wealth of information, I've started taking sketchnotes in meetings, at church and at conferences.
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on December 13, 2012
Mike Rohde does an outstanding job! His work is amazing and he shares exactly how he does it. His techniques are easy to follow and carefully laid out. Best of all, I now am taking far better and more interesting notes!

I would suggest getting the printed version because the book feels like a Moleskin. The quality of this book is beyond superior from it's carefully thought out content to it's overall construction. It's certainly a must have for any book collection.
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on January 27, 2013
I've been following Mike Rohde's blog and social media for a couple of years now, and have been looking forward to The Sketchnote Handbook since he announced it in March of 2012.

My expectations were high--which has often lead to disappointment in the past.

Not this time, though: The Sketchnote Handbook is like a breath of fresh air, a detailed introduction to the advantages of visual note taking and a step-by-step guide to getting started.

It's also a visual treat; no 2 pages are the same, and the combination of concise, conversational text and engaging graphics makes for a great reading experience. If possible, I encourage you to get the print edition, which is beautifully printed on a heavy matte paper with heavy covers.

One of the surprises in the book were pages produced by other sketchnoters. Their contributions add interesting voices, perspectives, favorite tools, and a variety of note-taking styles.

In terms of the "total package," The Sketchnote Handbook is one of the 2012's most interesting books.
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