10 reasons to use OneNote


  • OneNote allows you to create many organizer diaries. Each diary can have many sections (topics) and any number of pages.
  • You can type anywhere, draw anywhere. No saving required.
  • Record audio or video while taking notes. Notes are auto-linked to the audio/video.
  • Amazing, multi-lingual OCR (optical character recognition) even for scanned documents
  • Works in shared mode with SharePoint (or SkyDrive)
  • Live, automatic updated on a single shared page while taking notes in a meeting
  • Links automatically to web pages, Word paragraphs or PowerPoint slides while taking notes
  • Synchronizes across devices
  • Available for free on Android, iOS and Windows platform
  • Tags allow notes to have more meaning

Usage scenarios

Many scenarios listed here. Just scroll. Look at the titles.
If you like it, then read it. Else, skip it.

How many notebooks to make?

  1. Analyze your work. Divide it into broad areas. Each area needs a separate notebook
    1. HR example: You handle Recruitments and Reviews. So make two notebooks to start with. Recruitments and Reviews. Recruitment notebook will have one Section for each department you work with. Each page will contain one position to be filled.
      Reviews notebook will also contain sections for each department. For each employee, create a new page in the respective department.
    2. Sales example: You handle sales for 5 large customers and 15 small customers.
      Create one notebook for each large customer. Create one notebook for small customers. Each customer gets a section. Every activity you do with them becomes a page
    3. CEO example: Create separate notebook for key strategic initiatives. Another one for research. One for competitor information. One for Shareholders. One for key partners (distributors, suppliers)

How to manage meeting notes?

  1. If you have the meeting in Outlook calendar, right click on the meeting and choose Meeting Notes. OneNote will show you all your notebooks. Choose which notebooks the meeting should go into. Now a new page will be created. That page contains all the meeting details and link to the meeting item.
  2. If it is an important meeting, take permission from all attendees and start recording – Insert – Record Audio.
  3. Type few, important notes. These will be linked to the audio automatically.
  4. If the meeting contains visual information, like brainstorming, whiteboard usage, physical objects, artwork, etc., then use Insert Video and adjust the webcam to capture the visual activity (and audio).
  5. If something confidential is being discussed, you can pause the recording.
  6. Audio recording is very lightweight. 10 min audio is usually just 1 mb in size.

Managing To Do items and Tasks

  1. While taking notes, mark action items as TO DO from Home – Tags
  2. If it has a deadline, then choose Outlook Task – and select the deadline. If you want more details – then choose Custom Task
  3. Delegate work while taking notes by choosing Outlook Task – Custom and Assign Task – specify name of the person
  4. This way, before you leave the meeting the work is already created and is easy to monitor as well as execute!

Easy way to manage visiting cards

  1. Create a new notebook called Contacts
  2. Whenever you get cards, take a photo using a simple mobile camera and put all images in that notebook
  3. You can use sections for customers, events, occasions, etc.
  4. You can now search for any name automatically
  5. You can right click on a card and choose Copy Text From Picture and paste it anywhere.

Checklists and Standard Operating Procedures

  1. Create a list of things. Add the To Do tag to all the items. Now it is a checklist.
  2. Now choose Insert – Page Templates – Separate window will open on right side showing all existing templates. At the bottom, choose the option Save current page as a template, give it a name
  3. Next time you want the same checklist, go to Insert – Page Templates – My templates – choose the template

Working with a team on a common project

  1. Create a new notebook on SharePoint. It will automatically create a local copy of the notebook as well.
  2. Send a link to that notebook to your team
  3. Ask them to go to the web page and choose Connect to OneNote
  4. Now let everyone keep typing everything related to the project in that notebook
  5. This works even when you are offline
  6. When there is internet connectivity, OneNote automatically synchronizes all changes with each other
  7. This way, you eliminate the need for sending hundreds of mails with CCs to each other!

Annotating artwork received in PDF files

  1. Usually we use Print Screen to capture the image, annotate in Paintbrush (or similar editor) and send the changes back
  2. Now, open the PDF, choose File – Print – choose the printer Send to OneNote
  3. It will ask you which notebook to print to
  4. The document will become images in the new OneNote page
  5. Open the Drawing tab in OneNote and use pen, highlighter, text to annotate the artwork
  6. When you finish, choose File – Export (or Save As) choose PDF format and send the file to the agency

Take photo notes while reading a book

  1. Take photo of important paragraphs using mobile camera
  2. Same thing works with magazines, newspaper articles, any printed matter
  3. Put photos in OneNote. Add additional notes if required.
  4. Very good idea to capture PR coverage, Competitor advertisements, useful snippets, ideas for writing… anything.

Different style of writing used here

In this article, I tried a different approach. Only Text, quick and easy steps, no graphics.

Do you like the style? Take few seconds to answer this poll. This will help me write more effective articles. Thank You!

10 thoughts on “10 reasons to use OneNote”

    1. Hi Darryl
      Yes. It is a good idea. OneNote offers a rich and flexible content capture mechanism. Availability on all platforms makes it easy to capture content anywhere anytime.

      The only issue I see is the lack of strong taxonomy.

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?