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The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
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Entries in Sketchnote Handbook (36)


Custom Moleskine Sketchbooks & Meet-Ups at SXSW 2013

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I'M PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE I've teamed up with Moleskine to produce very cool, custom Moleskine Pocket Sketchbooks to share with fans of Moleskine and The Sketchnote Handbook, in Austin at SXSW 2013!

We're organizing 2 free meet-ups at SXSW Interactive in Austin on Saturday, March 9th, to meet fans and give away a bunch of custom sketchbooks.

Here's a mockup of the custom Sketchnote Handbook branded Moleskine Sketchbooks we're giving away:

Custom Sketchnote Moleskine

We're challenging recipients of these custom sketchbooks to sketchnote panels and other experiences — then share their work with the #mSketchnote hashtag on Flickr, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels.

Here are the details of the meet-ups:

Jo's Coffee Shop - Downtown: 10:30 AM -12 NOON

The first event is a meet-up at Jo's Coffee Shop Downtown (242 W. 2nd Street - between Colorado and Lavaca Streets), giving away 80 of the Sketchnote Handbook inspired Pocket Moleskine Sketchbooks and free coffee to those who want to take the sketchnote challenge.

Mulberry - 7:00 - 9:00 PM

The second meet-up will be at Mulberry on 360 Nueces Street at W. 3rd Street from 7-9. We can share a drink and your sketchnotes together, and have fun meeting others in the Moleskine and sketchnote communities. I'll be excited to see some of the sketchnote challenge work in-person at this event, and we'll have more custom books to give away to keep you sketchnoting SXSW all week.

Go RSVP for these events on Eventbrite, and I'll look forward to meeting you at an event! Come join us!

Follow Moleskine and me on these social media channels for more info and to see this work as it comes in on March 9th and beyond:

Twitter: @moleskine and @rohdesign
Instagram: @moleskine_world and @rohdesign


The Sketchnote Podcast

THE SECOND EPISODE of The Sketchnote Podcast went live today, so it's time to give you a little background on this extension of The Sketchnote Handbook and share what's coming in future episodes for the next few months.

Here's episode 1 - Sketching Concepts:

Subscribe to the podcasts at or over at iTunes to get new episodes sent to you upon release.

Origins of The Sketchnote Podcast

I've been a huge fan of podcasts since 2004, mainly listing to audio podcasts when I drive, walk, mow the lawn or shovel the walk. I've played with the medium a few years back, but it never made sense to produce a continuous podcast without a great topic as the focus.

So, when Peachpit pitched the idea of a video podcast as a way to extend the teachings from The Sketchnote Handbook, I knew I had the right topic, medium and timing to make something really cool. I got Brian Artka, my friend and video master from the book videos to help create the podcasts, and said yes.

Shooting Podcasts

Brian and I agreed to create 10 episodes, featuring three types of episodes: interviews, sketching ideas and critiques of reader sketchnotes.

Sketchnote Podcast with @sachac talking digital sketchnoting workflow!  Sketchnote Podcast - an episode on drawing serif type!
The Sketchnote Podcast Episode 2 using the iPad!

Brian and I wanted to continue the alternative approach started with the Sketchnote Handbook video, by shooting every podcast with a 5D Mk II in a documentary style. On a lark, I decided to include my iPhone with The Sketchnote Handbook logo as a unique way to mark each podcast.

We've also been trying to use different techniques — drawing in a pocket Moleskine with a gel pen, and then a sharpie, doing critiques, interviews and drawing techniques on the iPad as well. As we continue to shoot these episodes, we're improving the details and nailing down the best practices.

Podcast Release Schedule

We've now created 8 of 10 episodes — 2 more to shoot. We've released episode 2 today and will be releasing the remaining episodes every 2 weeks through May. We've shot an interview with Sacha Chua on digital sketchnoting, critiques of 2 more sketchnotes, and 3 sketching concepts and sketching serif type.

Here's the current list of upcoming episodes:

Subscribe today and each episode will appear in your podcasting app or iTunes every 2 weeks through May 2013 — and hopefully beyond.

Podcast Feedback and Suggestions

If you're interested in keeping these podcasts going past the first 10 episodes, let Peachpit know by sending feedback, let me know via email or comments below and rate the podcasts in iTunes.

If we get good feedback on these, there is a great chance Peachpit will extend a contract with Brian and I to make more of them.

Finally, be sure to check out and join the Sketchnote Handbook Flickr Group. There are some great samples of reader work there, which we will be using for future critiques — maybe yours can be one of those!


The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 15 - Good News All Around

I'VE BEEN HEADS DOWN, working hard at getting The Sketchnote Handbook sent to reviewers, communicating with readers and appearing on podcasts these last few weeks. I've wanted to provide an update here, and now I have enough new information to share an update with you.

Before I get into the good news about book sales and impact, I want to share two podcast appearances I've had on the 5by5 Network in a single week — one on Mac Power Users and another on Systematic.

Mac Power Users Episode 120 with David Sparks and Katie Floyd

David was one of my early review copy recipients of the book, so when he got the book and applied the concepts to his own workflow, he was very interested in having me on the show. David, Katie and I had a great time talking about sketchnoting and note-taking in general.

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Mac Power Users #120: Taking Notes with Mike Rohde (1:42)

Systematic Episode 27 with Brett Terpstra

Brett Terpstra's podcast, Systematic was my second podcast appearing this week Tuesday, and we too had a great time talking UX design, drawing, sketchnotes and note-taking. I was also able to share 3 favorite picks with Brett, two of which were coffee related.

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Systematic #27: Mike Rohde, Master of Note Sketching (1:10)

Sales Update

I'm learning that book sales are initially pretty nebulous and that real numbers take a while to filter in. I suppose that's to be expected with a physical object, spread around the world. I've learned that the estimated sales data from the launch on November 30 through December 31, 2012: 1,300 books sold.

Since I have no context of good or bad, I had no idea what to think of that number, until both the Peachpit team and my literary agent told me that sales number is pretty darn good! I think the even better news is that The Sketchnote Handbook appears to be what they call an "evergreen" title in the business — not tied to software versions or changes in other ways — so that it continues to sell, month after month. I love that.

The second bit of good news about the book is that the Video Edition (with a video streaming code) has been sold out at and they've ordered another run of that edition.

Of course, not all 3,000 of those books are "sold" as many are stock shipped to Barnes & Noble or Amazon for reselling. Still, it's really good news when a book sells out and must have reprints created.

I can't wait to sell out of the regular edition!

Positive Amazon Reviews

On the more good news front, the book continues to do very well with reviews on Amazon. As of this writing there are 47 reviews on the US site (40 are 5-star), 6 reviews on the UK site (all 6 are 5-star) and 1 new 5-star review on the German book page.

These reviews are so critical for sales and interest in the book, that I'm always asking people to leave reviews on Amazon (even if you didn't buy the book there). It impacts bestseller status at Amazon, so if you love the book and haven't yet added your review — please take 5 minutes and add one now.

Viral, Word of Mouth Effects

Something you hope for with a book, but can't predict, are how viral it can become. We did our best to create a cool book that feels great and looks great, with great content — but you never know how that will impact readers. Well, preliminary feedback suggests The Sketchnote Handbook has gone a little viral.

I'm pleased to see people on Twitter or in email spontaneously writing me about the book. Very often those notes include stories of showing their copies of the book to other people, who get excited and buy their own copies. In one case, a copy of the book made its way to a co-working space in Brighton and has been making the rounds with the artists and others in the building.

It's very exciting to hear that the book sells itself in readers' hands. I couldn't have hoped for a better reception or word of mouth sharing.

Kindle Issues - Almost There (I Hope)

Not all of the news is good, in particular issues with the Kindle edition on iPad.

The Kindle version issues have been tougher to solve than I think anyone expected them to be. I worked with the Peachpit team to created some modified documents to help troubleshoot the issues, and hopefully that will identify and rectify the problems we're seeing.

I'm pretty sure the issue is only affecting Kindle Reader on the iPad, as I was able to see the entire document on Kindle Reader for the Mac. If you have the Kindle edition on a Kindle Fire or Android Tablet, I would love to hear your feedback. Right now we have the Kindle book pulled while we resolve the issue - hopefully soon. I apologize for this and appreciate your patience.

More to Come

I have more posts in store — one about the events I have lined up for the next several months, one about the workshop I'm exploring and a third post about the sketchnote typeface status. As I'm catching up from everything going on, I will write and post those here, so keep an eye out!

Thanks again for your support everyone. I couldn't do this without you.



The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 14 - Maintaining The Momentum

THE SKETCHNOTE HANDBOOK will be 30 days old on Sunday. It's hard to believe almost a month has passed since the book was released. In that month, the book has been well received and is getting some great Amazon reviews.

To understand how to maintain the momentum of the launch, I've documented my observations, so I know what to emphasize going forward:

The Physical Book Experience

The paper version of the book is impactful. I've heard report after report from buyers and reviewers that the combination of heavy cover stock, fingerprint-resistant coating, rounded corners, cream-colored matte paper with orange and black inks make a great impression.

Nathan Reading The Sketchnote Handbook

Peachpit editors Nikki, Katerina and I had the feeling these elements would work well together, but we never really knew until they were brought to life in the actual book. Lots of credit for the details goes to the Peachpit team — I am very thankful for their guidance on the printed book.

LESSON: don't forget the physical experience of a project. How a thing feels and looks can have a huge impact on the person interacting with it. This suggests I should strongly recommend the physical book over the digital versions, because the physical object is so integrated with the book's message.

Clear, Encouraging Ideas

Having a great looking book which also shared a clear, encouraging message about sketchnoting was another key goal. The effort put into making sure that sketchnoting was approachable by non-artists is paying off. I've heard stories of readers who didn't feel artistic, giving sketchnoting a shot because of the approach and examples made drawing approachable and easy.

Sketchnote Handbook: Chapter 1 Illustration Sample

I intentionally repeated the encouraging message of "you can do this" throughout the book and video (which drove my editors nutty). But I felt that unless this message was repeated over and over at different points through the book, it wouldn't be strong enough to encourage non-artists.

LESSON: work hard to communicate your message clearly. It may feel repetitive, but constant reassurance might be just what someone experiencing the work needs. This also clarifies the core group to focus the book toward are regular, non-artists who want a way to become more visual.

Embrace Emerging Customers

In the last month, I've discovered groups I wasn't anticipating would dig the book so much. The first group — kids. At the launch party several kids were excited to be at the event to learn sketchnoting techniques and my own 10 year old son immediately grabbed an early copy and claimed it for his own.

Nathan Reading The Sketchnote Handbook

I've had personal experiences showing the book to a variety of kids and in every case they immediately gravitated to the book and wanted a copy of their own. In fact, Nathan brought his own copy of the book to school and several of his friends and teachers wanted a copy!

Teachers also seem very interested in sketchnoting, because they see their students having a new way to engage in the topics they're learning. I've heard positive feedback from grade school through college educators and am excited about opportunities to positively impact both students and teachers.

Finally, I saw how much physician Bryan Vartabedian loved the book in a review on his blog. His perspective was that of a pediatrician explaining concepts to young patients and parents. His review has generated quite the discussion in the comments of the article.

LESSON: be open to readers of all kinds and embrace those you aren't expecting might love and resonate with your work. Knowing how much kids, students, teachers and physicians are embracing the book's ideas encourages me to reach out to those groups more intentionally.

Momentum Focus for 2013

I'm trying to find ways to keep The Sketchnote Handbook momentum going, using the observations above and opportunities that are opening up now that the book has launched. Here are a few I can share:

Amazon Reviews

Amazon reviews are a huge benefit to my book. They determine how buyers see and consider the book and can influence how books appear on Amazon bestseller lists. If you've bought The Sketchnote Handbook, please take 5 minutes to post an Amazon review. As of this writing there are 30 5-star reviews. I would love to add yours.

Remember: you do not have to buy the book at Amazon to leave a review.

Speaking and Presenting

I'm lining up several events to present at, including Portland Oregon in mid-February, San Antonio and Austin Texas (SXSW) in mid-March, Judson College in Chicago in early April and a few more (including Minneapolis/St. Paul) in the pipeline. More details here as they are finalized.

The Sketchnote Workshop

Still in the early stages, I'm seriously considering a Sketchnote Workshop in Chicago, for 100-150 people in May or June of 2013. I'm working on a venue, speaker and presenters and a curriculum that builds on the book, since I think attendees will have already bought and read the book.

If I decide to do a workshop, I'll write about it here on my blog and on Twitter as well, so stay tuned. If you are interested in an advanced techniques sketchnote workshop in Chicago this summer — let me know!

The Sketchnote Podcast

We've already released the first of 10 podcasts at and have 8 of the 10 already shot and in production. We plan on releasing those every 2 weeks, starting in January 2013. You can subscribe to these video podcasts so you're alerted when new ones appear. We're also publishing these to YouTube.

Sketchnote Fonts

In 2013 I plan to finalize and add items to the font family I created with the help of my friend Delve Withrington of Delve Fonts. We're aiming to release a family of body and headline typefaces in the spring of the year — I want to perfect the characters and add some fun dingbats. More here when those are released.


A big thank you to all who have bought and mentioned the book. It's your hard work that's helping The Sketchnote Handbook reach those who may not hear of it another way. Keep sharing the book and if you haven't left an Amazon review yet, please add yours to the list!


The Sketchnote Handbook: Update 13 - Launch Party, Video Preview and Press Mentions

ON A COLD DECEMBER NIGHT, I stepped to the front of a room full of people at The Sketchnote Handbook launch party, amazed to see the turnout for my book.

Soup selection at The Sketchnote Handbook launch party. Aga Artka's pickle soup was a huge hit! Photo by Mark Fairbanks.  Signing books at last night's launch party. Note Linnea's little hands - she signed too!
Drawing lessons at the Sketchnote Handbook launch party. I'm using Penultimate and a stylus with my iPad 2.Len Kendall holds the mic. Photo by Mark Fairbanks.  Drawing people exercise at the Sketchnote Handbook launch by Mark Fairbanks.

In the back of the room, a table was lined with crock pots of soup (Aga Artka's Pickle Soup was a hit), fresh bread, Milwaukee Brewing Company beer, water and sweet treats. At the front of the room, I and Len Kendall presented an evening of sketchnoting fun for 60+ people at Translator.

After an hour of mingling and signing books, I kicked off the evening with words of welcome and a brief drawing lesson for the crowd. Len Kendall took the floor after me, sharing his story of using social media to propose to his girlfriend Katie. Many captured sketchnotes while Len presented.

We ended the night having volunteers come up to share their sketchnotes with the group, using my connected iPad as a document camera. It was great fun for everyone on Thursday night.

Thank you Mark, Cindi and Katie at Translator for making everything so easy.

The Sketchnote Handbook: Video 2 (Overview)

Just last week we were able to get video 2 from the 20-part, 70 minute video edition released for the public to see. I love this, because it introduces the video and shows tidbits of the entire series:

I think this preview shows why The Video Edition is a great value.

Press Mentions and Interviews

The Sketchnote Handbook is being very well received. I've read many positive tweets from those who have received a copy as Amazon began shipping their stock on Friday. The book printing and paper have exceeded my expectations, and I think readers notice those details too. It's exciting!

There have been a bunch of great interviews, articles and podcasts around the book launch, so I've gathered those here in one convenient place. Eventually I'll create a press page for the book where media mentions will live.


The Sketchnote Handbook: A brilliant new guide to visual note taking
Chuck Frey, The Mindmapping Software Blog

The Sketchnote Handbook
Ben Brooks, The Brooks Review

Visual book review: The Sketchnote Handbook
by Sacha Chua,

Writing scripts for 'Sketchnote: the Video'
by Gabe Wollenburg,


Mike Rohde on CMD+Space (Audio Interview)
I speak with Myke Hurley about sketchnoting and the new book.

Mike Rohde's Interview on Author Talk (Audio Interview)
I talk with Nancy Runzel, of Peachpit Press about my book and writing process.

On Failure: Mike Rohde
by Ben Krogh,


Check out more of my favorites on Twitter

Kindle Edition Issues

This week I found that the Kindle Edition of the book has a swath of blank pages, right in the middle of the book. I've alerted Peachpit and there is a new version being pushed out to Amazon, so if you get this edition, hold on for the updated document coming soon before canceling or leaving reviews.

Love it? Leave an Amazon Review!

If you have a copy of the book and you love it, the most valuable action you can take for me and the book is to leave an Amazon review.

It can be brief - just 5-10 minutes does the trick. Reviews help amazon determine popularity and drives more book sales. So, go review the book!

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