OneNote for Students: Basic Note Taking

I’ve decided that I could probably pull off doing a whole “OneNote for Students” section on my blog. A place where you can get a quick guide on how to use it, what it really does, and how to set up your own Notebook.

I’m actually making an effort to include pictures as well.

Today’s Topic: Basic Note Taking

Notes. Everyone uses them. Everyone needs to take them. It just depends on if you can read them or not. I’m going to show you how to use some of the more basic features in OneNote to get yourself started.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t have the neatest handwriting. On top of that, you’re also probably a quick typist. Combine that with the speed at which your standard professor or teacher goes through a powerpoint or lesson, and you can be left with notes that look a little like:

See that. That’s wasted space. That’s innefiencies. That’s just plain messy. I don’t know what day I took those notes (some people put the date on, but I’m usually forgetful of that fact) and It’s difficult to keep myself from doodling all over the page.

That means that I’m not focused on what the teacher is saying, and more focused on what I’m drawing.

(Here’s a tip when using OneNote: That wireless “OFF” Key will be your best friend.)

Anyways, If you’re reading this, you might be wanting to get some cleaner notes. Ones you can understand, read, edit… even print off as a proper list.

Look no further.

Important things to do:

  1. Depending on your course load, have a separate notebook by year or by semester.
  2. Make a section for each class. Think of OneNote as a notebook on steroids. You can add, edit, move, and arrange pages whenever and wherever you like. Almost like a binder, but with more features. A lot more.
  3. Each section starts blank. You can add both pages and sub-pages.
  4. Each page supports basic text, files, audio, and video.
  5. Recording audio or video while taking either written or typed notes links them

Let’s go into some detail.

1: You have two choices for your notebook location. You can have a local notebook, or a “cloud” notebook (stored on the Internet somewhere).

  • Local notebooks can only be accessed by that computer. To move the notebook, you must back it up and save it somewhere like a flash drive or a blank CD. A years worth of notes will get large. Be prepared to move it. If your computer crashes or you forget it at home\school and don’t have access to it, you don’t have your notes.
  • “cloud” notebooks can be accessed by only those who have permission. There is a local copy on your computer(s) and a copy on the internet. Forget your computer somewhere? The notes are online, accessable only to you. Drop your laptop? Still available online. Laptop get stolen\destroyed by something? Your notes aren’t.

To create a new notebook, click the “File” button at the top of OneNote.

Go to the “New” section and you’re pesented with three choices: Web, network, My Computer. I’ll walk you through a Web one.

Give it a Name.

If you have a Xbox Live account, you’ve got a skydrive. Sign in and pick a folder. Personal Folders are folders shared with just you. Shared folders are those that other people can access as well. As you can see, I’ve already signed into Windows Live and have a few different choices for save location. I’ll be saving in “My Documents” for this.

After you hit “Create Notebook”, You’ll get a lovely bubble asking if you want to email the link to other people. This can be used in 2 ways. 1: If you’ve got more than 1 computer, you can email it to yourself and open the same notebook on multiple computers. If you’re using a notebook as a way to collaborate, save it in a public folder and email the link to those who you want to see it.

Now you have a notebook on the side panel. For the rest of the tutorial, I will be using this and an existing notebook to show you how to use it.

As you can see, There’s a section called New Section 1. By right clicking on it, you can rename it or interact with it. You can also double click it’s name on the top. At the top, you can also create new sections using the little tab with the * in it. You can have as many sections as you want.

The image shows how not only do I have sections, I have Section Groups. You can create those by right-clicking on the top and clicking “new Section Group”. With my own notebook, I’ve got a group for Semester 1 of my Sophomore year on campus here. You can create as many Section Groups as you can any other item in OneNote.

The above example shows that. I have groups within groups, separating my notes from my homework, and homework from test answers. I usually organize the notebooks over an extended break when I’ve run out of homework to do.

Here’s an example of some notes that I’ve taken. See how there’s a drawing, and plenty of text based notes? It’s possible.

On that top bar, you can click on “Draw” and draw to your heart’s content. It helps with hand written graphs and smart board stuff that you can’t normally type out. Also note the little “Audio and Video” section and how it is made to stand out.

Under the Insert Tab, you can choose Record Audio or Record Video. The file is then placed in the document where the cursor is. I do this at the begining of class, and it puts the recording at the top. You can play it back any time.

Those are the extreme basics to get you started with OneNote as a student. There are so many more things that you can do, and I’ll cover them at a later time. For now, Enjoy. It’s an amazing thing to use. You might just even leave your notebook behind and carry your laptop around instead.


About Author
Someone who feels the need to help others using the information that I have discovered. If someone else finds it useful, I'm more than happy to have helped.

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