10 Basic Tips and Tricks for Microsoft OneNote Beginners

Start capturing text, images, and files quickly at home, work, or on the go

Screenshot of Quick Notes in Microsoft OneNote.
(c) Screenshot by Cindy Grigg, Courtesy of Microsoft

OneNote can be a powerful way to organize your projects and ideas. Many students use OneNote for academics, but you can also take advantage of it for work or personal projects.

Think of Microsoft OneNote like a digital version of a physical notebook.

This means you can capture digital notes and keep them organized. It also means you can add images, diagrams, audio, video, and more. Use OneNote with other programs in the Office suite, on your desktop or mobile devices.

These easy steps will help you get started quickly even if you are a complete beginner. After that, we'll link you to more intermediate and advanced tips to make sure you get the most from this useful program.

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Create a Notebook

Just like physical notebooks, OneNote notebooks are a collection of note pages. Start by creating a notebook, then build from there.

Best of all, going paperless means you don't have to haul around multiple notebooks. Win!

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Add or Move Notebook Pages

One advantage of a digital notebook is the ability to add more page or move those pages around within your notebook. Your organization is fluid, allowing you to arrange and rearrange each piece of your project.

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Type or Write Notes

Enter notes by typing or handwriting, depending on the type of device you are using. You actually have even more options than these, such as using your voice or taking a photo of text and having it converted to editable or digital text, but we will start with the basics first!

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Create Sections

Once you get going taking your notes, you may find the need to create topical sections for better organization. Sections help you arrange ideas by topic or a range of dates, for example.

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Tag and Prioritize Notes

Prioritize or organize notes with dozens of searchable tags. For example, including tags for To-Do action items or Shopping items could help you get items from multiple notes while at a single store.

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Include Images, Documents, Audio, Video, and More

As mentioned, you can include all sorts of other file types and information to clarify your notes.

Add files to a notebook of several notes or attach them to a specific note. You can capture some of these other file types such as images and audio from right within OneNote.

These additional files and resources can be useful for your own reference or to convey ideas more effectively to others. Remember, you can share OneNote files like you would other Office files.

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Add Blank Space

At first, this may sound like an overly-simple skill. But with so many items and notes in a notebook, inserting blank space can be a good idea, so make sure you know how to do this.

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Delete or Recover Notes

Always be careful when deleting notes, but if you do accidentally remove one, you should be able to recover it

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Use the OneNote Mobile App or Free Online App

Use OneNote on the go with mobile apps made for your Android, iOS, or Windows Phone devices.

You can also use Microsoft's free online version. This requires a free Microsoft Account.

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Sync Notes Among Multiple Devices

OneNote can sync among mobile and desktop devices. You can also opt to sync between online and offline use. OneNote 2016 offers the most options in this regard.

Ready for more OneNote tips?