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Sketch Dev: Benoît Decomble
Oct
12

Make The Most Out Of Your Office Whiteboard

Ryan takes visual notes on the office whiteboard

Chances are, your office has some type of whiteboard in a meeting space or conference room. Are you making the most of this vast blank space of possibilities? At Ink Factory, our whiteboard is a place for gathering, sharing, and refining ideas. The five whiteboards in our space are constantly scribbled on, erased, and scribbled on again.

As graphic recorders, our team takes whiteboard notes a little more seriously than your average expo-marker wielder. Our largest whiteboard, created with help from IdeaPaint, is over 20’ long, and is seldom seen without scribbled notes, in-progress projects, and our crazy ideas. They might seem rudimentary, but implementing these whiteboard practices and tips will help solidify and share ideas in your meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Use the right tools

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve cringed as someone goes up to the whiteboard and starts drawing with a dried up, dying marker. Sometimes they have no choice because the four dry eraser markers available are six years old. A marker with dried out ink is not only hard to write with, it’s hard to read. Delight your co-workers with a fresh supply of black dry erase markers for those extra-long brainstorming sessions.

A clean dry-erase board equals a clean mind. We have spray bottles filled with IdeaPaint’s Cleaner Spray scattered throughout our studio so we can quickly and efficiently clean off our dry erase boards. We also have plenty of reusable microfiber cloths on hand, which are the perfect material for wiping off that unique dry-erase ink. Make sure you keep an eye on these wipes since they’ll build up ink residue and need to be laundered.

Tools for taking notes on dry erase boards

Our top five favorite dry-erase markers are classic chisel-tipped Expos, Expo Clicks (smaller, bullet tip markers), Quartet Enduraglide which come in a range of beautiful colors, Neuland refillable dry erase markers, and IdeaPaint dry erase markers.

Write slowly for better handwriting

If the point of taking whiteboard notes during a meeting is to represent everyone’s ideas and make visual connections between them, writing illegibly may counteract the intent. Whiteboards have a slippery surface, and many people are not used to writing vertically, which can lead to a drastic decline in penmanship. Pair that with the need to write quickly during a meeting, and at the end, all you’re left with is chicken scratches. Check out our LinkedIn Post on improving your handwriting, and next time you are at a whiteboard, make a conscious choice to slow down and focus on keeping your handwriting legible. Filtering what you hear and writing down the core of what’s being said, rather than recording everything word for word, will also give you more time to write neatly.

Write legibly on your office whiteboard

Save space

Blow dried

White board notes can get messy. If you’re going into a meeting with a clear goal in mind, or need for action items, save an area of the board to recap those important points with everyone at the end of your meeting. At Ink Factory, everyone has an assigned color. If an action item on the board has a blue dot next to it, Lindsay knows that task has been assigned to her.
Don’t panic! If you make a mistake on whiteboard, have patience and let the ink dry before trying to erase it. If you try to erase wet ink, it will smudge and become hard to erase. We often blow air on any mistakes to help them dry faster so we can quickly erase. It’s also a great trick when you’re creating dashed lines or sculpting the dry ink into a solid shape (more on that, below)

 

Have patience when writing and erasing on whiteboards

Avoid the yellow snow (ha!)

Think negative

Maybe you can see bright yellow when you’re standing six inches away from it, but light colors like yellow, orange, and light green are simply not easy to read for the rest of the room. Plus, lighter colors are more difficult to photograph if you need to share or archive the content. Try keeping with darker colors, such as black, purple, dark green or brown to write important information. Use lighter colors to embellish. For a slick and clean look, use black for the majority of your notes, and pick one other color to embellish with.
Instead of using ink to draw, consider doing the opposite. Pencil erasers, or a pink pearl eraser, can be great for refining any drawings, or erasing small areas. Sometimes we like to color in a large area with dry erase, and then use the eraser on the end of a pencil to draw in white text inside the colored area.

Don't use yellow ink on dry erase whiteboards

Use a pencil eraser to create negative space on whiteboards

Size matters

When writing on a whiteboard, think about who is farthest away in the room. One inch letters tend to be the right size for an average meeting, but you may need to increase the font size if there are people farther than 15 feet away from the whiteboard. Focus the room on what’s important by writing key concepts and ideas LARGER and bolder.  Write supporting details a bit smaller. Perhaps one segment of your meeting will be focused on brainstorming outfit ideas for kittens. Write “Kitten Outfit Ideas” very large, then the team’s ideas around it in a smaller scale. Any supporting and miscellaneous details, like what kind of buttons or fabric you might need for different outfits can be the smallest in scale, since it’s not what you’re immediately focusing on.

Use scale to organize content when taking whiteboard notes

Finger pointing

Say cheese!

If you want to add BIG BOLD lines and arrows, start by making a super wide layer with your marker. Then, once it is dry, use your finger to clean up the edges. One simple way to emphasize the lines and arrows you create is to repeatedly swipe your finger along them to create a dashed line.Enhance your finger swiped bold lines by creating a fun gradient using a few colors to make the initial layer. If you’re fast with your strokes, you’ll be able to blend the inks and make a smoother transition between the colors. Then, once you have your gradient set, take your finger and clean up those edges. Your office mates will be impressed!

Since whiteboard turnover is so fast at Ink Factory, we’ll take a quick snapshot so we don’t lose any of our work. Taking a photo will also allow you to reference your notes later, and even print them out if you have a follow up meeting. The camera on your phone should be adequate and makes sharing the work easy.

We will be sharing some tips and tricks to getting your hand drawn images in tip-top shape using Photoshop. Stay tuned for more to come!

Use your finger to create details in whiteboard inks

You can create beautiful gradient effects using Expo and other whiteboard markers


Do you take whiteboard notes on a frequent basis? Let us know some of your dry-erase tips and tricks in the comments. If you’ve experienced any whiteboard related challenges you want us to address, we would love to hear them and help out!

*We were not paid to promote any of the brands mentioned in this post! These are the tools we love, rely on, and use on a daily basis.

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