Unlock the Potential of Microsoft OneNote

Unlock the Potential of Microsoft OneNote

Dennis Snider

426 Posts



Microsoft OneNote is often overshadowed by its siblings Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but it is the hidden gem in the MS Office Suite. If you know how to use it, it can be your digital notebook, pulling together text, video, audio, and other visual resources.

Compared with other notetaking apps, OneNote always wins the race. Let’s talk about the best ways to use it:

Customization: You may not like the default pages but that’s not really a problem. Customize paper styles with lined sheets or a yellow background by going to View > Page Setup > Rule Lines. The View tab has other options such as Full Page View for a no-distraction workspace and Dock to Desktop for web browsing with your notes in the background.

Organizing: Use tag options in the Home tab to find content with ease. You can get lost in your digital notebook so use the advanced search feature to find text, recent edits, and other important information faster.

Sourcing: Automatically add hyperlinks to keep track of sources when you’re copying and pasting from the web.

Embedding: Improve your notes by inserting multiple media sources and file types. Embed math equations, scan handwritten notes, and take audio recordings. Add in the ability to search within a video or audio recording by clicking on File > Options > Audio and Video.

Handwriting: OneNote’s built-in optical character recognition (OCR) technology recognizes handwriting and converts it to text. This is particularly useful for stylus users. For instant conversion click on the Ink to Text feature for handwriting or Ink to Math for equations.

Shortcutting: We all know how hard it is to bold, italicize, or bullet notes in the midst of a conversation. But with OneNote’s keyboard shortcuts, it is easier and faster than ever. You can add tags, format notes with headings, or insert tables without having to use your mouse. Detailed lists can be created in one step by highlighting text and selecting Ctrl+1 to pair it with a checkbox. You can add an asterisk with Ctrl+2, a question mark with Ctrl+3, or a check mark with Ctrl+Shift+3.

Accessing: For times when you just want to jot something down, use Win+N to open a quick note or Win+S to take a screenshot. Both actions automatically save to OneNote. The OneNote icon in the taskbar provides quick access. Even easier may be sending your notes to yourself by emailing to your dedicated @onenote.com email address.