In many fields of life, there are terms that can be confusing. Sketchnoting is no exception. There are related ideas that emerged independently that seems to be talking about the same thing. Today we’ll look at two of those ideas. Sketchnotes vs Mindmaps.

What Is a Sketchnote?

A sketchnote is a form of visual note taking that embracing taking notes with visual elements in addition to text. These include using graphical layouts, icons and drawings, arrows, containers and fancy typefaces. Here’s an example sketchnote.

Sketchnotes were coined by Mike Rohde in 2006 when he created a new note taking system to help him take better notes in conferences. These included certain restrictions including, using pen not pencil, using an a5 pocket notebook, and without writing everything down.

You can learn more about what sketchnotes are and why you should use them in this post.

What is a Mind Map?

A Mind Map is a way to visual display information showing the relationship between points, connected to a central topic. Mind Maps can be hand made, or made using mind mapping software such as Mindnode and iThoughts.

Mind Maps have been around for much longer time than sketchnotes with Tony Buzar, a vocal advocate in the 1970s.

Can a sketchnote be a mindmap?

One of the common sketchnote layouts is the “radial” layout. This uses a central point with spokes coming off. This is how mind map are laid out and shows a relationship to a central point. So, in this case, a sketchnote could be a mind map as well (while optionally using the additional elements sketchnotes are known for).


It is, however, possible to make a radial sketchnote layout that isn’t a mind map. A mind map should show relationships with lines and have some hierarchy with sub points, a sketchnote could have single items coming off that are all grouped together.

Does it matter?

Perhaps this distinction is straining the point. While it can be useful to define terms, from a practical point of view it should affect what notes you take. You should do what works for you. If you like mind mapping with some elements of sketchnotes, that’s great. If you like sketchnoting in a mind map format, that’s cool too. If you just do one and not the other, then that’s fine as well. As long as you find the note taking and idea generating system that works best for you.