Using Microsoft OneNote
for Writing Research and Notes

by Marg McAlister

I've been meaning to write about Microsoft OneNote for some time, because I've found it to be so incredibly useful for taking notes and keeping them organised. It's got to the stage where I take it for granted, but I can still remember when I didn't use it at all – simply because I didn't know what it was for!

Microsoft One Note

So just what is OneNote, and why do I think it's such a useful product?

  1. I don't have to save files - it's done automatically
  2. I can save notebooks to a USB to use on other computers with OneNote installed
  3. Tt saves URLs, date and time from the sites I visit when I copy and paste material
  4. You can create unlimited notebooks, sections and pages
  5. OneNote is simple enough to just start saving stuff right away, but you can learn more about it as you go.

You can also draw notes in the form of graphics or scribbles whenever you want, if you have the capability of doing that on your computer (e.g. with a pen-based program.)

I also like the way you can drag things around on every OneNote Page. For example, if you're collecting a whole lot of information about a certain topic, you can copy pictures or whole web pages as well as cut and paste paragraphs of text or just words and phrases. Move these things around in any way that makes sense on the page.

Get Organised Easily

Writers can organise their notes by subjects or by new projects/books/series... whatever fits in with the particular writing hat you're wearing.

  • Researching a family history? Organise notes by family branches, years, or family location. Drop in relevant web pages or email addresses; copy an email right from your email program by clicking on the OneNote icon... it puts the email into "Unfiled Notes", ready for you to drag into the appropriate notebook whenever you're ready.
  • Hunting up forensic details for a crime thriller? Paste in details of weapons, entymology,effects of poisons... along with appropriate sketches or photos that you find on the Internet.
  • Writing a new novel? No worries. Open a new notebook for the novel, and create sections for characters, setting, plot, research... anything you need.

Follow the OneNote Guide

For a visual overview of OneNote and its main benefits and features, the OneNote Guide is the best place to start.

To view the OneNote Guide, do the following:

   1. Start Microsoft Office OneNote.
   2. In the Notebooks navigation pane, click OneNote Guide.
   3. Click the Getting Started with OneNote section tab at the top of the note page.
   4. In the side margin, click the tabs of the pages that you want to read.
Online Help: Geting Started with Microsoft Office OneNote:

Microsoft Office Oline - Information about OneNote

When you go to the Microsoft guide to OneNote, you'll find a video explaining how it works, and a list of topics that you can dip into whenever it suits you.

Although OneNote comes packaged with Microsoft Office Home and Student, you can buy it as a standalone program if you have a different version of Office. If you haven't tried it before, it's well worth a trial (especially if you already have it installed on your computer, and you've simply never tried it!)

© Marg McAlister


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