With as few as two handwritten fonts, your visual notes acquire a level of hierarchy and uniqueness that traditional note taking lacks.
In a recent post I encouraged you to spend just a bit of time developing a core handwritten font to use as your default writing style while taking visual notes.
In this post I’ll be sharing a process for developing your secondary font and incorporating that font into your sketchnoting process.
Step 1. Select A Secondary Font
The first step is to decide what you want your secondary font to look like.
One common way of using a secondary font is to add emphasis to words or phrases within a string of text. With that in mind, going with an italic font (by writing the letters at an angle) or a bold font (by writing over each letter to add thickness) are both good options for a secondary font.
I also like the idea of double line letters that I learned from Mike Rohde’s book The Sketchnote Handbook.
And if your core font is lowercase, then you could simply use uppercase for your secondary font.
Or you might have some other font in mind that you’d like to use. So long as it stands out from your core font and doesn’t take long to write, you’re good to go.
Step 2. Practice Your Secondary Font
Before you jump into using your secondary font in a sketchnoting session, you might want to practice writing in your core font and then switching to your secondary font so that you get used to what it feels like to switch back and forth between two different fonts within one line of text.
I’m a fan of stream of consciousness writing (simply dictating the thoughts in your head), which is one way you might practice – listen for those important words in any given thought and use your secondary font on those words or phrases only.
You could also listen to song lyrics, pull a passage from a book, or transcribe your favorite poem with the same idea – use your secondary font on words you want to emphasize.
Step 3: Decide How You Want To Use Your Secondary Font
You got a bit of practice with this in the last step, but I think it’s worth it to think about how you want to use your secondary font while taking visual notes.
The whole reason for developing a secondary font is to add emphasis to the words you want to stand out, but remember that there are no rules – YOU get to decide how you want to use this font based on your circumstances and your goals.
Just try to make a few decisions about how you’d like to use your secondary font before you jump into taking notes with it.
Step 4: Use Your Secondary Font While Taking Visual Notes
Here’s the fun part!
You’ve selected a secondary font, you’ve practiced it, and you’ve set a few constraints on how you’re going to use it. Now it’s time to take it on a test run.
Pick up a book, find a podcast, pull up an interesting talk, or head to class and try incorporating your secondary font into your visual notes.
Go easy on yourself if it feels clunky at first. That’s normal :).
Step 5. Reflect: Does Your Secondary Font Meet Your Needs?
When you look back at those notes that you took in the last step, the only thing you need to ask yourself is this: did the use of your secondary font meet your needs?
If it did, then great, you’re good to go.
If it didn’t, then think about why and in what way it didn’t meet your needs, and then use your responses to those questions to guide whatever shift you need to make in your secondary font and how you use it.
. . .
You’ve now got two fonts to play around with, and maybe even a solid visual vocabulary as well. Even with those three things, I bet your notes are getting pretty darn interesting. Keep rockin’ it.