3 quick ways to create stickier Post-It Notes



I love Post-It Notes for their versatility, size, colour range and ability to convey information succinctly. However, I see a number of Post it notes in my current work that I can’t always immediately understand. Perhaps they fall off a wall and they lose context, the handwriting might be a little difficult to read or there’s too much content packed on one tiny paper square. Pun intended - they don’t quite stick with me.

The good news is that with some practice, there are ways to make Post-It notes visually clearer and stickier for yourself and others.

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Take a look at the three post it notes above and their implied comments.

  1. A Post-It note is only 7.5cm wide and long. That’s not very much space.

  2. Sharpies and Post-It notes, though not always necessarily linked, are like cookies and cream. They just go well together.

  3. Single ideas on a Post its work because (see point 1) - a Post-It note isn’t very big.

This segues into the first lesson for today.

  1. Be succinct and pay attention to spacing and content

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In these three Post-Its above, the number of words on a post it from left to right are 10, 18 and 25 words. Notice the difference between the three versions around how cramped (or un-cramped) it looks to your eye.

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I personally wouldn’t be venturing into the 8 line territory.

If I was aiming for what I think fits nicely on a regular Post-It, it would be as single sentence between 7-13 words.

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These examples above integrate some illustrations along with the text. Note the placement of shapes as a layout ‘grid’ that exists behind the content as shown below.

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2. Use sharpies and try to be neat

Where possible, try and use sharpies to write on Post-Its. What may seem like a trivial detail, actually has an impact on the way in which you approach putting pen to paper.

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Functionally speaking, the Post-Its above can be understood, even if the handwriting might err towards ‘messy’ rather than ‘neat. The question to ask yourself however is - “Will I remember or pay attention to what I have just seen?”

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For some, the cosmetic improvements above might feel marginal, but for others, this may be the added attention to detail that can create more stickiness.

Additional points include:

  • Introduction of a second colour to provide more contrast

  • Shortening and lengthening content in the name of clarity.

3. Codify your content

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I see some researchers aiming to preserve the authenticity and context of a quote or insight by cramming as much as they can onto a single Post-It. My challenge is - There are better ways of doing this.

Codifying content is one way to get around the need to put everything on a Post-It. By creating themes and tags, content can be indexed, themed and linked. You can do this by:

  1. The colour of the Post-It you choose

  2. Logos in the corner of the Post-It to signify theme

  3. Additional codified elements to trace back to research participants


Post-It notes are one of the great inventions in my lifetime, and I think its uses are so wide, varied and wonderful.

Recognising that the format has its limitations is important. It’s not an A4 piece of paper, and neither is it a cell in an Excel spreadsheet. When you have more awareness of how to take advantage of these limitations is key to creating Post-It notes that stick a little bit longer in people’s minds.

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