Notability: First Impressions for Sketchnoters

There’s no shortage of drawing and note-taking apps that sketchnoters get to choose from, but which is the best fit for us?

In the past the answer for me was Procreate. But now, in connection with a new course I’m developing called Digital Sketchnoting, I’ve decided to branch out and look at the broader landscape of note-taking apps.

Here I’d like to share my first impressions of the app Notability.

A Few Highlights

Two things were appealing right off the bat: the continuous scroll from one page to the next and the ease of tool switching with the icons at the top of the screen.

My favorite individual feature was the scissor tool, and how it allows you to easily select a section of your notes and move it around.

The scissor tool is so helpful for moving ideas around after you’ve sketched them out.

That ease of moving sections of your notes after you’ve already sketched them is something that you won’t find in Procreate, since that is a drawing app first rather than a note-taking app first .

Notability’s highlighter tool made it easy for me to bring some color into my notes, something that I typically don’t do much of.

This app is intuitive to use, and I appreciate the speed of use and the ease of including color.

I like that you can add that behind-the-text highlighting either before or after you make marks with the pen tool.

As you’ll see in my first real-time sketchnotes below (of this podcast conversation between Todd Henry and Chris Guillebeau), I enjoyed using color in a few different ways – sometimes behind words or sketches, other times more as an underlining tool to emphasize certain words.

I enjoyed my first real-time sketchnoting session while listening to a podcast.

Another impressive feature of Notability: you can record audio while taking notes, then play back both the audio and your sketchnotes!

The fact that you can record audio while taking notes, then replay both the audio and your sketchnotes, is pretty darn cool.

That recording feature makes this tool well suited for lectures or conferences, when you might want to listen back to the details.

With all of that in mind, I can easily say that this is a tool that I recommend for sketchnoters.

It’s got a great balance of helpful constraints and useful features.

So if you’re still on the lookout for a note-taking app that fits your sketchnoting style, then do try out Notability!

Digital Sketchnoting

If you’d like a bit more support developing your process for sketchnoting with the tablet-and-stylus tool combination, then join us within our newest course Digital Sketchnoting:

Learn more techniques for sketchnoting in Notability (or your app of choice) in our latest course Digital Sketchnoting.

Throughout that course we’ll explore the most commonly-used sketchnoting apps, and dive deep into how best to use the features that those apps provide.

Come join us!

Happy sketchnoting,


P.S. In the video above I also mentioned The Verbal to Visual Community, which is a great place to tap into regular skill-building activities alongside a supportive group of visual thinkers as we work to master the skill of sketchnoting.