This post is the first in a series of articles covering useful and new features within Microsoft’s OneNote application. OneNote comes as part of the Microsoft Office suite, and is sometimes overlooked by people looking to use better-known software in the suite such as Word or Outlook. However, OneNote is a powerful application in its own right that allows you to store, organize and share information in multiple media formats. OneNote could serve as any of the following things depending on how you choose to use it:
- Replacement for one or several physical paper notebooks.
- Place to organize text and pictures together in a flexible manner.
- Making multimedia study notes for a course or exam.
- Preparing for a presentation, or writing a blog post like this one!
In this post we will focus on information management with OneNote. The OneNote application is organized around the concepts of notebooks, sections and pages. Just like a physical notebook, each OneNote notebook has tabbed dividers that split it into sections, and within each section you can have hundreds of pages. However, a page in OneNote can hold much more data that a physical page, and can stretch over several screens. Another advantage is that you can gives names to individual pages if that helps you with organizing your data. For example, I have one notebook that I created to track my daily tasks: it has just one section, but within that section are several hundred pages corresponding to the last four years, with each page named for a different date.
Here are some other great features of OneNote:
- Flexible pages – just click anywhere and paste a picture or start typing. It will appear in a new “box” that you can move anywhere on the screen – just like arranging papers and items on your desk.
- It saves your work automatically – no need to remember to save changes, just open OneNote and start using it.
- You can attach another document, such as a spreadsheet, to a OneNote page. In just the same way you might paperclip two documents together to keep them organized and connected.
- As well as pasting a video or audio file into a OneNote page you can also use OneNote to record audio and video itself. When you use OneNote to record a video of a meeting, the notes you take in OneNote are linked to the time during the recording that you made them.
Another way I use OneNote is to store screenshots that I will later use for creating documentation for colleagues or clients. It is very easy to take screenshots by using the “Screen clipping” option from the Insert tab in the OneNote toolbar. Due to the flexible pages in OneNote I can easily drag and reposition pictures on the screen. This allows me to compare them to each other and arrange them in a coherent order. I can also add text notes next to any screenshot, wherever it is on the page. I find this approach much more flexible that storing the pictures as JPEG files in a file folder, plus it allows me to keep my notes right next to the screenshots. At the end of this post is an illustration from the OneNote help file showing you other ideas for using the software.
Due to its flexibility in storing and organizing multi-media data OneNote can be an ideal place to gather all the information related to a project or contract. Add to that the fact that you can easily share it out to colleagues and others in a secure manner via Office 365’s OneDrive functionality, and you have a very flexible tool at your disposal. We’ll be covering OneNote in further detail in some future posts. However, if you are looking for more formal training, we have Microsoft Certified Trainers on staff who can assist you; please contact email@example.com for more information.