Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Tutorial: Sketchnoting, A Practical Toolkit to Improve Your “Scribing” Skills



“Sketchnoting” is the ability to make fast and useful visual notes. It has become a recognized contemporary visual practice in different disciplines. Visual note taking can be a powerful skill for anyone in any role where one needs to absorb and share information.

In this tutorial you will exercise your “scriber” muscles and understand how the simple act of sketching and even “doodling” can help you think and even stimulate your thoughts in a new, unanticipated directions. It can improve your ability to remember information packed into your notes and to communicate ideas to team members with clarity and precision.

We will review what science has to say about the act of note taking as a way to listen and focus your attention, achieving connection and training your brain to understand visual grammar by weaving words and pictures into your own visual processing powers.

During the session you will practice capturing content from lectures or articles as visual notes in real time. This form of rapid visualization forces you to listen and synthesize what’s being expressed and visualize a composition that captures ideas as you see and hear them.

Finally, you will learn a technique to break content into simple elements to transform your note taking practice into generative scribing. This will give you the ability to translate ideas concepts and processes them into images simple enough to be sketched on the back of a napkin.

No artistic skills are necessary to practice and benefit from sketchnoting.


Nora Morales is a research professor at the Department of Design Theory and Processes at UAM University in Mexico City. Her research interests center in participatory processes and visual language, particularly on how to open new ways of thinking about communication and the transmission of information through data and narratives. She has been an active “scriber” at EPIC conferences since 2010. Nora holds a master’s degree in Information Design at UDLA Puebla and currently is a PhD candidate in social sciences. She also collaborates with Insitum Consultancy.

This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2019 in Providence, Rhode Island.