OneNote Linked Notes – with Word and PowerPoint

OneNote linked note - Word and PowerPoint by Dr. Nitin Paranjape

Part 2 of Recruiters, Sourcing, Researchers – Use OneNote Linked Notes. This article explains how OneNote can be used to take automatically linked notes with Word and PowerPoint documents.

The need

There are various scenarios where we read or review a Word document or PowerPoint presentation and take notes ABOUT the document. The notes are not taken WITHIN the document in the form of comments or tracked changes. Here are some common scenarios where this situation arises:

  1. You have received a tender document or Request for Proposal (RFP) and you want to note down important things about what is mentioned in the document.
  2. Some new regulation is released from some statutory body and you are trying to note down the impact of each clause on your business.
  3. Your teacher / professor has given you notes about some subject in PowerPoint. That itself has embedded notes. Now you are looking at each slide (not in presentation mode) and want to take notes about each slide.

Of course,  there are many more scenarios like this. I am sure you are already thinking of similar situations in your context.

Linked Notes

Concept is similar to what we did earlier with Internet Explorer. I am not going to repeat all the details here, please refer to the previous article mentioned above.

Click on the Dock to Desktop button on the QAT. You can also go to View tab and choose Dock to Desktop.


Now the screen will split and OneNote will occupy only a third of the screen. Open the Word document now and maximize it.


Read the Word document as usual. Note that IRM protected document cannot be used for this purpose.

When you want to note down something, click inside the OneNote page and type your notes. No Copy paste is required. You will notice that a Word icon appears automatically. This means Linked Notes are active.

If you want, select some area in the Word document and then type notes in the OneNote page. Make sure each set of notes are started on a new paragraph in OneNote.

If you Copy Paste – Linked Notes are NOT created.

When you finish, click on the Normal view button to stop taking Linked notes. There is also a dropdown below the link icon. This allows you to be in docked mode but stop taking linked notes. This may be required if you want to do some other editing in an unrelated Word document and you don’t want OneNote to capture those linked notes.

Close the Word document.

Retrieving the context

If you just want to remember which paragraph was the current one while you wrote something in OneNote, hover the mouse on the Word icon.


Now you can see the document name and the sentence where the cursor was at the time of capturing this particular note. If you want to actually see the document, click on the Word icon.

Now great things happen – like Internet Explorer – OneNote will open the Word document. OneNote remembers the path. Of course, if the path has changed, OneNote cannot find it.

But unlike Internet Explorer, OneNote goes one step further. It will not only open the document but also move the cursor to exactly the location where the cursor was at the time of capturing the notes.

If there was a selection, it will even select that area automatically.

Truly Amazing, Unexpected and Powerful.

Of course, if the document has been edited in the mean time and the context has changed, OneNote may not find the correct spot. But there is no technical solution to this issue.

Exactly the same concept works with PowerPoint. However, specific objects or text is not selected in PowerPoint. It remembers only the slide.

Linked notes do not work with INK – things you draw with mouse, finger or stylus.

Combine audio notes with Linked notes

This is a great way to take voice notes about a document, web page or presentation without typing too much.

Scroll to the area of interest – say, in Word – click inside OneNote (in Linked Notes mode) Press enter – type some short description and start talking about it. Instead of typing notes, you can just speak them out.

Continue like this for all areas of interest.

Now when you finish taking Linked notes, remember to stop the recording also.

Later you can go to any paragraph and get the audio notes as well as automatic linkage to the Word document. Extremely powerful idea. Try it out.


This feature works only with desktop version of OneNote. Linked notes do not work with Excel or other Office files. It does not work with PDF files either.

How to manage linked notes?

Now you have just learnt about linked notes. I am sure you will love this feature and end up using it extensively. Read this article for details on managing existing links.

Try this out and show off to your friends

This is a great demo to impress people around you. Try this out, use it and show it off. Make sure that everyone you know understands the importance of this feature and that they use it effectively.

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3 Responses

  1. What is this linked notes – Dock to Desktop of which you speak? I should find it very useful if I could find it on any menu or QAT hidden command in O365 E3. Has it been retired in the intervening 7 months, like the public-facing Sharepoint?

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