Sunday, March 10, 2019

Book Review: The Art of Visual Notetaking

Title: The Art of Visual Notetaking
Author: Emily Mills
Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group — Walter Foster Publishing
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: 5 out of 5
Most people take notes at some point. Whether they are students in a school lecture, business people at conventions, worshippers at church, it’s something they do to retain information. Most are dense words on paper, taken frantically, forgotten quickly. So, how do we take notes that stick? Emily Mills gives us an answer — take visual notes.
I was fascinated and intrigued by the title and the concept, despite not being an artist or even very artistic. Mills defines visual notes as “an artistic and creative expression of information”. That would seem to rule out those like me who are inartistic, yet she spends a significant part of the book showing us how to draw. She focuses on people, demonstrating how to draw heads, faces, hands, bodies, etc. She shows us her work in these areas and supports her argument that anyone can do this. The product does not have to be perfect. She gives plenty of exercises and leaves space in the book for them, although I suspect most readers would prefer to practice in their own blank journals.
Probably the most important point Mills makes is this: "If there’s one thing to remember about keeping your visual notes looking good, it’s this: keep it simple. Go for memorable over masterpiece. Don’t get carried away trying to create a work of art when the whole point is to make the information stand out.” 
I liked seeing her finished notes. As a professional notetaker we would expect her notes to be good, and they are. But she shows how they looked before refinement and afterwards, and the simple touch of adding color, for example, clearly makes the critical points jump off the page.
If you are an artist, a budding artist, someone who wants to make your notes more memorable, or just someone who likes to experiment with your note taking, this book is for you. It is a very quick read but the information and drawing examples are worth the price of the book. I recommend this book. I will certainly give this a try in my own notetaking!
My thanks to the publisher Walter Foster Publishing and to NetGalley for giving me a pre-publication copy in exchange for my honest review.

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