12 Things to "Letter" In Your Illustrated Journal
A list of easy word-based content you can treat as visual elements on your pages.
Last week, I shared a list of 12 things you can use, on repeat, in your illustrated journal. As with most everything in the illustrated journal, responses will take varying forms. If you are adopting a “sketchnote” approach to your illustrated journal, then you might be trying to use more illustrations, more icons, more simple drawings, more visual indicators, and even more stick figures. Ultimately, your illustrated journal will hold a combination of illustration and notes, which makes it a wonderful and highly visual record of life that you can "take in" at a glance. Part of the beauty of this format is that it encourages you to find a balance between “illustrating” information and traditional written notes or journaling.
While there is an obvious emphasis on integrating illustrations, words, too, can be used as visual elements on your pages. In addition to how you write the details and notes you include, there are many opportunities to add text to the pages in highly graphic ways.
Letter this List!
This list calls out simple, accessible, everyday elements you can “letter” in your journal and works hand in hand with the previous list of standard elements you might repeat week to week on your pages.
The week itself. Every week, the week number and date can easily be made a visual element on the page.
Quotes. Quotes are one of the simplest and most versatile tools for the illustrated journal.
Jokes. Similar to quotes, jokes can be tucked into your pages to good effect. (I’ve never been one to remember jokes, but I have found adding them to my pages to be a lot of fun.)
Adjectives. You can contextualize this in countless ways, whether you choose adjectives to describe a specific thing, a mood, or the actual day, but adding specific words like this adds an unexpected visual layer to your page.
Affirmations. These appear in the weekly prompt set with some regularity, and adding affirmations is something you might consider a routine part of your pages. These can be affirmations you source from other places, or they can be affirmations you come up with, a way of putting things down on paper. If you choose one or two to add to a spread, affirmations are an easy opportunity for lettering and give added voice to your pages. (When you look back, these statements also help give a sense of what was going on or what you were working through at the time.)
Headlines (from your days). As you add different bits of information to your pages, give them a "heading" (or headline) to help visually separate them from other notes you've included. Using lettering to help create sections within your pages or spread can help give your journal visual footholds which can guide the eye and lead the viewer when skimming pages. These headlines help draw viewers into individual blocks.
Headlines (real-world ones). Adding in breaking news from the world at large helps anchor your pages in time and is a great opportunity for a bit of bold lettering.
Words. That’s right, words, specific words. Make space to include a new-to-you word every now and then! (Be sure to note the definition, too.)
Adages, proverbs, & sayings. These can also be great to illustrate or to think about sketchnote style. You might add just one or two icons or simple drawings to the words.
Metaphors, similes, or other figures of speech. Anyone who follows my Illustrate Your Week prompts knows that I routinely add prompts for this type of item. These are easy ways to liven up your pages. I have some real favorites when it comes to literary things like this, but metaphors and similes are a good way to get started.
Pangrams. These are quirky and fun and a fantastic way to add something a bit whimsical to your page. (What’s a pangram? It’s a sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet. You might be most familiar with the popular "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." People learning to type sometimes practice with sentences like this. In creative circles, fountain pen enthusiasts often have a favorite pangram they write out when testing a pen or trying a new ink. There are some really good examples out there, but you might make up your own, too!
Gratitudes. Recording a gratitude a day (or any number of them over days or weeks) can be a wonderful way to focus on appreciating the good in your life. Lettering these can help give them added significance on the page, and you will likely find the process of lettering them to be mindful, too.
There are so many more things you can letter, too! But I want to keep these lists short and let them give you a starting point as you jump in and work on your own pages.
Which is your favorite thing from this list to letter? Leave a comment to share!
Do you keep a gratitude journal? Does gratitude come easily to you? Is it something you are curious about adopting as a daily practice?
I’ve talked about gratitude many times on the Creativity Matters Podcast - and my own journey from feeling very awkward with this process to fully embracing it. For a recent show (and links to a number of older episodes about gratitude), check Episode 473, which was the first in the November 2022 gratitude series.
Do You Have to Be a Fancy Letterer?
Of course not! Do you not know how to make block letters? You don't have to! Is fancy calligraphic lettering not your thing? It doesn't have to be!
Do you dislike your writing? The way you “write” notes is probably different from the way you write headlines or larger elements.
There are people who truly are lettering artists. But that doesn't have to be your thing, at all, to use "lettering" as an important tool on your pages.
I’ll talk more about the mechanics of lettering - and self-acceptance - in an upcoming post.
Tell a Friend?
Can you help me out? If you have friends who might enjoy trying illustrated journaling or follow along as I reflect on the creative process, writing, and lots of things in between, please consider sharing Illustrated Life with them? They might subscribe here or try an episode of the podcast. Thank you!
Please remember that these posts are mine. They are original work, original words, and protected by copyright.
I like to use quotes and labels. I think I’m going to go down a rabbit hole on lettering, and learn some new styles!
I put a whole poem in last week’s pages. Mary Oliver, coincidentally.