Microsoft OneNote 2010, a note taking application, is really gaining a wider reach as more enterprises upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010. Including OneNote 2010 as part of Office 2010 is a great move by Microsoft to get this simple yet elegant productivity application into the hands of more users.
Getting started with OneNote 2010 is quite easy. This post lays out some of the basics for getting started with the application.
Creating a New Notebook
There are many schools of thought about creating OneNote notebooks. I fall into the keeping things simple and manageable camp so I recommend creating a notebook for each major project or facet of your personal/work life. My personal OneNote setup in my home office includes notebooks for personal projects, Thyroid research, and freelance projects. While my OneNote setup at work is just work-related project notebooks. Since I work on a federal government site, I don’t synchronize notebooks between my home and work PCs though I do synchronize the OneNote notebooks on my home office PC to my iPhone and iPad.
Click File to open the Backstage View. Click New. You now have the option to store the new notebook you are creating on the Web on Windows Live; Network on a SharePoint site or shared network drive; or My Computer. Go with my My Computer to store your notebook on your local PC. Enter a name for your new notebook in the Name: field. Make it descriptive and it also helps if you stick with a standard naming scheme especially for project notebooks. The Location field should specify the location for your default OneNote notebooks, typically C:\Documents\OneNote Notebooks. You do have the option to specify another location for the notebook. Click Create Notebook.
Setting up your New Notebook
After creating a new notebook, OneNote opens the new notebook and presents you with a barebones notebook that just has a section marked New Section 1. I always tell new OneNote users to spend some time upfront to organize notebooks instead of just going the pump and dump route because the temptation is there to never go back and organize notebooks because there is always something else to do.
Creating sections. Sections sit a level beneath notebooks in the OneNote organizational schema. Click on the New Section 1 tab. When the text appears in blue, you can rename it. Now you can do the same for the tab that appears to the right of it. Use section tabs for natural section dividers in your OneNote notebook. Think of this as the modern day equivalent of the loose-leaf binders that many of us carried in high school.
Creating pages. Each section starts with a blank page by default. Click on the New Page tab (on the right side of the OneNote notebook) to create a new page. Enter the name of the page in the field at the top of the blank page to fill in the name on the right tab.
Creating sub-pages. Depending on your own organizational skills and ambitions, you also have the option to create Subpages which are additional pages with smaller tabs than the primary OneNote pages you typically create. By adding several subpages to a page, you can create groups of pages, taking your organizational options for pages down another level. Click the down arrow on the New Page tab. Select New Subpage. A new and pristine clean blank sub-page appears underneath the page where you are currently working.
Formatting OneNote pages. There is a whole slew of formatting options available if you want to use them in your OneNote notes. The Home Ribbon includes a Styles section that includes the following styles for text formatting:
- Headings 1-6
- Page Title
Tagging OneNote pages. OneNote 2010 gives you the option to tag your OneNote notes and pages for later reference. From the Home Ribbon, go to the Tags section. Select the tag you want to insert into your OneNote page. Unlike other tagging methodologies, I recommend inserting the tag first, then start writing your note. I plan to write another post about tagging in OneNote 2010 at a future date. Click Find Tags to open the Find Tags sidebar where you can search for tags by Tag Name, Section, Title, Date, and Note text.
Using templates. OneNote is a very flexible note taking application that has found a home with a lot of users. This has driven Microsoft and some third-parties to create OneNote templates for professional and leisure uses Click the down arrow on the New Page tab. Select Page Templates. The Templates sidebar appears on the right side of OneNote that includes templates for Academic, Business, Decorative, and Planners. Select the template you want to insert into OneNote and it inserts a blank page in that format at the end of the current section in your OneNote notebook. There are also OneNote templates available for download on Office.com, which I will cover, in a future post.
In Part 2, I’ll delve into some more advanced OneNote features you need to know to get your OneNote setup humming for maximum productivity.