How To Use Arrows While Taking Notes - Verbal To Visual - Doug Neill - sketchnoting, visual note-taking, doodling, graphic recording

Adding Arrows To Your Note-Taking Toolkit

One of the most versatile tools that you can add to your note-taking toolkit is the arrow, that simple-to-draw line with a pointy end that tells the eye how to follow the set of ideas on the page.

Let’s explore that tool.

NOTE: This is a sample lesson from the resource kit Sketchnoting In The Classroom. If you like the style of this video lesson and want to see more like it, check out that resource!

Where Have I Seen That Before?

You no doubt have seen arrows before, most likely on signs while driving, walking through an airport, searching for a restroom, biking along the street, or making your way to the nearest exit.

Throughout the rest of your day, I want you to pay attention to how many arrows you see.

Look at your surroundings right now. Do you see any?

How To Use It While Taking Notes

Let’s explore how you can use hand-drawn arrows while taking notes.

First, you might use arrows to help capture a step by step process.

If you’re learning something that has a specific order to it, you can use arrows to connect each step to the next.

This could be helpful when learning a specific experimental process in science class or a way to plan and write an essay in language arts class.

Next we’ll look at a flow chart, similar to a step by step process but a bit more dynamic.

Flowcharts allow you to connect ideas in a more freeform way, using paths that diverge depending on how the specific ideas are related.

For example, in biology you see evolution diagrams and in history you might see family trees, both of which are examples of flow charts.

Arrows are also great for depicting a journey of some sort, maybe that of a fictional character you’re reading about or the actual life path of a real person or group that you’re studying.

Those are just a few examples of how you could arrows in your notes.

How else might you use them?

How To Make The Marks

Here are a few of the arrow styles that I most frequently use:

What’s nice about using different arrows with different styles is that you can give each style a specific purpose within your notes, depending on what you’re taking notes on and what you hope to get out of the learning experience.

For example, you could use bold arrows to show the primary path through a set of ideas, and then quick and easy arrows coming off of those main ideas to share some useful details.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn!

Use (and build on) these ideas for incorporating the use of arrows into your note-taking process.

Good luck!


P.S. If you enjoyed this lesson style be sure to check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom, where you’ll find a lot more like it!


Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

If you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.

And if you want to create new personal and professional opportunities by sharing the authentic journey of your skill development online, check out Learn In Public.