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OneNote 2013 can help support corporate initiatives to reduce employee dependence on paper and printed documents. This guide gives you a quick primer on OneNote 2013, so you too can join the paperless revolution!

Get Started with OneNote 2013

You can use OneNote the same way that you use a paper notepad on your desk. Write down detailed notes, jot down a quick reminder, or draw a quick sketch to communicate an idea. But, OneNote provides wonderful advantages that you don't get with a paper notepad. For one thing, you never run out of paper! You can also capture things in your digital notes that you can't capture on paper--like an audio or video recording, or a screen clipping.

OneNote is easy to conceptualize because it's structured just like a physical notebook, with sections and pages.

  • Notebooks are for big things, like "FY2013" or that big project that will keep you busy for the next few months. Use notebooks to group sections. Each notebook can hold many sections.
  • Sections group pages of a similar subject together. For example, you might want to create a section for a smaller project, for meeting notes, for that vacation you're planning, or for a class or seminar. Each section can hold many pages.
  • Pages are where you actually create your notes. Write, type, and draw on pages just as you would on paper, and create more pages whenever and wherever you need them.
    Notebook illustration

How OneNote Is Different

OneNote is different from other applications in a few very important ways.

Open A Notebook And Never Close It

We're conditioned to close files after we're done using them. The best way to use OneNote, however, is to open it and never close it unless you need to reboot your device. It's like always having that paper notepad or sticky pad on your desktop within easy reach.

You Never Have to Save

Anything you add to an OneNote notebook is immediately saved. Likewise, if you make an organizational change, such as moving a page or section, it's automatically saved, so you don't have to think about it.

Send Links Instead of Attachments

We have become accustomed to sending documents as attachments through Outlook, this is changing with the increased use of SkyDrive Pro/SharePoint Online. With OneNote, when you want to share a notebook, or a section or page within a notebook, you just send a link.

Multiple Authors Can Edit the Same Notes at the Same Time

With OneNote, you and your teammates can work on a shared notebook at the same time and see each other's changes in real time. This makes OneNote a great collaboration tool.

Top 10 Ways to Use OneNote 2013

OneNote provides lots of great ways to go paperless. Use this list to job some ideas. Each of these ideas is covered in more detail later in this guide.

  1. Review and comment on a document. If you're asked to review a file (a PowerPoint deck, for example), print the file to OneNote, and then annotate it with typed or handwritten notes.
  2. Go shopping and capture screen shots as you go. For example, search for a new car. Easily capture and send screen shots to OneNote as you do your research.
  3. Organize your work and life. Store and categorize the things that are most important to you in a central location. This information might be in email, different programs like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, in a paper notepad or printout, or even on sticky notes.
  4. Share your notes. OneNote is all about sharing. Share a notebook with your teammates on SkyDrive Pro and then edit together in real time. If you want to share notes in a Lync online meeting, you can start with Outlook or Lync. Or share a notebook (i.e., budget, to-do list, or product research) with a family member on the consumer version of SkyDrive.
  5. Take your work with you. If you upload a notebook to SkyDrive Pro, you can take your work with you and easily access the notebook from another Windows 8, Windows RT, or Windows Phone device.
  6. Create a To-Do list. Add a To-Do list to projects that you're working on, and then mark off items as you go.
  7. Sketch an idea. Use OneNote to jot down anything that's on your mind. Sketch out an idea for a floor plan or a server topology and watch your ideas grow.
  8. Take down random thoughts with Quick Notes. If you have a random thought that you don't want to forget, jot it down as a Quick Note. With a Quick Note, you don't have to think about where to place it in a notebook. You can always move it to a notebook section later. Or not.
  9. Take lecture notes. Sometimes you can't write or type fast enough to take down everything in a meeting or lecture. With OneNote, you can record audio (and video) so you won't miss a beat.
  10. Experiment! There's no right way or wrong way to use OneNote. Organize as much or as little as you like. Jot down an idea and watch it grow and take shape over time.

Create a notebook on SkyDrive Pro

The best way to create a notebook is to create it on SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro. When you create the notebook in the cloud, you can access it from other devices wherever you are. It's also much easier to share your notes with others if you store your notebooks in the cloud. And when your notebook is automatically backed up, you don't have to worry if a device is lost or stolen.

To determine where to store a notebook, keep in mind that SkyDrive is a consumer service appropriate for personal files and notes. If you want to store business information, store it on SkyDrive Pro (no HBI or PII data though!), not your personal SkyDrive. Be careful about which notebook you're working with so you don't accidentally upload personal information to SkyDrive Pro or confidential information to SkyDrive.

Customization note: The highlighted guidance above should be updated based on policies specific to your organization.

Create a notebook on SkyDrive Pro

  1. Select FILE, then select "New."
  2. On the left side of the New Notebook screen, select the SkyDrive Pro portal name, and then on the right side of the screen, select "Documents."
  3. In the Create New Notebook dialog box, select a location for the notebook, enter a name in the Notebook Name box, and then select "Create."
  4. You'll be prompted to share your notebook with others. It's probably best to add your notes first, and then share it, so select "Not now" in the Microsoft OneNote dialog box.

Note: You can password-protect a section if you don't want to share it with others. For more information, see "Share a notebook" later in this guide.

Take Notes

After you've created your notebook on SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro, you're ready to create sections and pages, and start taking notes.

Create sections and pages

You can create a section for anything you want in your notebook. For example, you might want to create a section for each of the projects that you're working on, and then create another section for personal items. There's no right way or wrong way to organize a notebook. Just create some sections and pages and see what makes sense. You can always reorganize later.
Create sections and pages

When you create a new notebook, the notebook contains one section called New Section 1. That section contains one untitled page. Add and rename actions as you see fit. To rename a section, right-click the section tab, and then select "Rename." To add more sections, tap or click the plus sign at the end of the section bar. If you add more sections than will fit on the section bar, OneNote hides some of the section names, but you can select the down arrow next to the last section tab to see the hidden sections.

To rename the untitled page that's included by default, just select the page title on the right side of the screen, and then start typing at the top of the page. OneNote automatically inserts the date and time that the page was created.
Renaming an untitled page

To create a new page, on the right side of the screen, select "Add Page," and then type a name for the new page.

To insert a page between already existing pages, just select the + sign that appears when you hover the mouse over an existing page.

Type notes on a page

When you're ready to start taking notes, place the insertion point anywhere below or to the right of the page title, and then start typing. When you start typing, OneNote creates a note container for the text. Note containers are only visible when you type or format text in them, or when you hover your mouse over them.
Typing notes on a page

You can type as much or as little text as you want in a note container. After you finish typing your text, you can move the container anywhere on the page by dragging it. When you want to add a note elsewhere on the page, just select and start typing.

After you type notes on a page, you can format the text in much the same way that you would format text in any Microsoft Office application. For example, you can create a bulleted or numbered list, or align text within a note container.

Write notes or create a sketch

If you prefer to write notes instead of type them, or if you want to create a sketch, select the DRAW tab. The DRAW tab includes several different pens and highlighters. Just choose the pen or highlighter you want, and then use your finger or a stylus to start writing or sketching.
Creating a sketch

When you're ready to start typing again, select the "Type" button on the DRAW tab.
Writing notes

If you want to draw a shape, select an item for the Shapes list (Select the "More" arrow if you don't see the shape you want), and then select and drag to draw the shape.


  • If you're using your finger to write or sketch, you can add more space between buttons and commands by selecting the Touch/Mouse Mode button. You can add this button to the Quick Access Toolbar.
  • OneNote can convert handwritten notes to text. Just select the handwritten notes you want to convert, and then on the DRAW tab, select "Ink to Text."

Add links

Whenever you type text that OneNote recognizes as a link, OneNote automatically formats it as one. You can also create a link manually. Just select the text you want to use as the link, and then select "Link" on the INSERT tab.

Attach files to your notes

OneNote can keep all of your information about any subject or project together in one place--including copies of related files and documents. Inserted files show up as icons on your notes page. Double-click any icon to open its file.

Tip: As an alternative to attaching a file this way, consider printing a file to OneNote as a static image. For more information, see "Capture information" later in this document.

To attach a file:

  1. In your notes, go to the page where you want to insert a file or document.
  2. Select INSERT, and then select "File Attachment."
  3. In the Choose a file or a set of files to insert dialog box, select one or more files, and then select "Insert."

Manage random information with a Quick Note

If you want to just take a random note and don't want to think about where to put it in your notebook, use a Quick Note. A Quick Note is like an electronic sticky note. Quick Notes are stored in Unfiled Notes or the Quick Notes section at the bottom of the list of notebooks.
Quick Note

You can move quick notes to other sections in the notebook later, or you can leave them in the Quick Notes section. You can search for information in a Quick Note like any other note, so you don't have to worry about finding the information later.

Create a Quick Note with the Send to OneNote tool

You can create a Quick Note even when OneNote isn't running by using the Send to OneNote tool. The Sent to OneNote tool is automatically installed and runs whenever you start your computer.

  1. Press the Windows key icon + N, and then press N again.
  2. Type your note in the small note window. If you want to handwrite your note or format it, select the three dots at the top of the note window, and then select from the different options on the ribbon. You can even add pictures or sketches to a Quick Note or record audio or video.


  • To review your Quick Notes, select the down arrow next to the notebook name, and then select "Quick Notes."
  • If you're using Quick Notes to keep small reminders and important information visible at all times, you can pin them so that they stay visible. To pin a Quick Note, select the VIEW tab, and then select "Always on Top."

Capture Information

The previous section showed how to take notes in your notebook. You can also use OneNote to "capture" information in a number of different ways.

Record audio and video

Recording audio or video notes is a great option when you can't write or type fast enough to take down everything word for word. Audio and video recordings in OneNote are directly linked to any notes you take while recording, so you can search your notes for specific notes associated with a particular part of a recording. When you play back the audio clip, OneNote automatically moves the cursor through your notes.

NOTE: You can search audio recordings for spoken words. For more information, see "Search your notes" later in this guide.

To start an audio or video recording:

  1. Select a location on the page where you want to place the recording.
  2. Select the INSERT tab, then in the Recording group, select "Record Audio" or "Record Video." OneNote displays the AUDIO & VIDEO tab on the ribbon.
    Audio & Video ribbon
  3. The recording starts as soon as OneNote places a media icon and date and time stamp on the page, as shown in the following illustration.
    Recording started
  4. While OneNote is recording, you can type notes that will be associated with the recording.
  5. When you're finished recording, select the "Stop" button in the AUDIO & VIDEO tab.
  6. To play back a recording, select the media icon on the page, and then select "Play" on the AUDIO & VIDEO tab.

NOTE: If you select the "See Playback" button on the AUDIO & VIDEO tab, OneNote will automatically position the cursor within any notes that you took on the page while the recording was made. For example, if you're recording an interview and you took notes two minutes into the clip, OneNote will jump to that exact part of your notes when you play back the clip and it reaches the two-minute mark.

Capture a screen clipping

  1. Go to the screen you want to capture. For example, open a particular web page.
  2. Switch to OneNote, and select the spot on the page where you want to place the screen clipping.
  3. Press Windows key icon+ S.
    OneNote is minimized and the screen is dimmed.
    NOTE: Press Esc if you want to cancel the screen clipping.
  4. With your mouse, select and drag in any direction to create a rectangular selection over the area you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, OneNote captures your selection as a picture and inserts it into your notes page. If you're capturing a screen from the web, OneNote also inserts the URL for the webpage (and the date that you captured the screen) so you can get back to it easily.

Print a document to OneNote

This is particularly useful if you want to annotate the text with typed or handwritten notes. For example, you might want to annotate a co-worker's PowerPoint presentation with handwritten notes.

To insert a document or file as a printout:

  1. Select the INSERT tab, and then select "File Printout."
  2. In the Choose Document to Insert dialog box, navigate to the file that you want to insert, select it, and then select "Insert."
  3. Depending on the type of file you are inserting, OneNote will attempt to launch the source program for the selected file, and then digitally print its contents to the current page in your notebook.


  • By default, each page on an inserted document or file is placed in your notes as a separate picture. You can move it wherever you want, like any other picture in OneNote.

Organize Your Notebook

After you've created a number of sections and pages, you'll probably want to reorder and combine elements to organize your notebook. Use the following table to learn how to do common organizational tasks.

  • To reorder sections, pages, or notebooks - drag the section, page, or notebook to a new place within the section bar, page list, or notebook list.
  • To move a page to a different section - drag the page tab and let the pointer rest on the destination section until the section options, and then drop the page in the desired location within the pages in the new section.
  • To move a section to a different notebook - drag the section tab and let the pointer rest on the notebook list. When the list opens, drag the section to the appropriate notebook.
  • Delete a section or page - Right-click the section or page, and then select "Delete."

NOTE: If you need to recover a section or page that you deleted from a shared notebook, open the shared notebook, select the HISTORY tab, and then select "Notebook Recycle Bin."

Combine multiple sections into a section group

If your notebook has more sections than will fit on the screen, consider combining sections into section groups. A section group keeps related sections together and can hold as many sections as you want. For example, if you use your notebook to store a large collection of recipes, you could create section groups for alphabet ranges like A - D, and then include a separate section for each letter of the alphabet in that section group.

To create a section group:

  1. Open a notebook that contains at least two sections.
  2. Right-click any section tab, and then select "New Section Group."
  3. Type a name for the section group, and then select "Enter." You'll see the new section group to the right of the section tabs near the top of the page.
  4. To add an existing section to the section group, just drag a section tab to the section group icon. When you select the section group, you'll see the sections you added.
  5. To go back up a level, select the green arrow to the right of the notebook name.
    Section group

Create subpages to create a page group

Create subpages to group related pages together in a page group. A subpage is the same as any other page, but its page tab is indented. The visual indentation makes it easier to keep information separate. The following graphic shows subpages grouped under the Productivity page group.
Create subpages in page group

To create a subpage:

  1. On the right side of the OneNote window, above the page tabs, select "Add Page." A new page is added at the bottom of the other pages.
  2. Type a page title for the subpage, and the press "Enter."
  3. Drag the page tab to the right. You can also drag the page up if you want to place it under a different page.

NOTE: To promote or demote a subpage after you create it, right-click the page tab, and then select "Make Subpage" or "Promote Subpage."

Share a notebook

If you share a notebook on SkyDrive Pro, you can work simultaneously with team members and track changes in real-time. If team members are viewing the shared notebook while you're typing, your notes will automatically appear on their screen and vice versa. The notes are refreshed every few minutes to everyone can see each other's changes. You can even edit the same paragraph of notes on the same page without having "note collisions."

Share an existing notebook on SkyDrive Pro

  1. Open the notebook hat you want to share.
  2. Select FILE, and then select "Share."
  3. On the left side of the Share Notebook screen, select SkyDrive Pro portal name, and then on the right side of the screen, select "Documents."
  4. If prompted, sign in to Office 365.
  5. If you want to start sharing immediately, in the Share Notebook screen, on the right side of the screen under Invite People, enter the names or email addresses of the people you want to share with, specify permissions (Can edit, or Can view), include a personal message to include with the invitation (optional), and then select "Share."

NOTE: You can assign a password to a section if you don't want people to be able to access that section. To add a password to a section, right-click the section tab, and then select "Password Protect This Section." In the Password Protection pane that appears, under Current Section, select "Set Password," and then enter and confirm your password.

Use the HISTORY tab

When you're working with a shared notebook, use the HISTORY tab to determine who has made changes, what changes have been made, and so on.

The following table describes the buttons on the HISTORY tab.

  • Use the "Next Unread" button to move to the next unread section in the notebook. If the Next Unread button is not available, there are no new unread notes.
  • Use the "Mark as Read" button to mark a section that you've read (to narrow down unread content).
  • Use the "Recent Edits" button to specify a time period to review recent edits.
  • Use the "Find by Author" button to search for changes by a specific author.
  • Use the "Hide Authors" button to display or hide author initials.
  • Use the "Page Versions" button to view a previous version of a page (select the page tab for a page to see a list of versions).
  • Use the "Notebook Recycle Bin" button to restore a deleted page or section from a shared notebook.

Take notes in an online meeting

OneNote is fully integrated with Outlook and Lync, so you can take and share notes easily with others.

Take notes in a scheduled Outlook meeting

  1. In the Outlook calendar, open the meeting you want to take notes on.
  2. On the ribbon, select "Meeting Notes."
  3. In the Meeting Notes dialog box, do one of the following:
    a. To share your meeting notes with others, select "Share notes with the meeting."
    b. To take notes for yourself only, select "Take notes on your own."
  4. In the Choose Notes to Share with Meeting dialog box, pick a section and page for the new notes, and then select "OK."
  5. OneNote creates a page linked to your Outlook appointment so you can always keep the meeting details and your notes from the meeting together in one place.

Take notes in a Lync online meeting

  1. In Lync, send an instant message, start an audio or video call, or select "Meet Now" to start an online meeting with someone.
  2. In the meeting window, select the "Manage Presentable Content" Manage Presentable Content Icon icon.
  3. In the pop-up window, select the OneNote tab and then select "My Notes."
    My Notes
  4. In the Select Location in OneNote dialog box, pick a section and page for the new notes page, and select "OK."
  5. The new page is linked to your Lync conversation, so you and other participants can contribute notes in real-time.

Search your notes

One of the great things about OneNote is that you can just start adding notes to your notebook without worrying much about organization. OneNote has very powerful searching tools so you can always find your notes instantly.

Search for text in your notes

By default, OneNote instantly searches all of the notes in all of your notebooks. To start an instant search:

  1. Press Ctrl+E, and then enter your search keywords in the search box. As you type, OneNote displays the search results in the pop-up window below the search box.
    NOTE: If you want to change the search scope to the just the current page, select "find" on page (Ctrl+F). You can also narrow the search to a section, section group, or a notebook by selecting from the search list.
  2. Select an item in the results list to go to the page that includes those search terms. The search terms are highlighted on that page.
  3. When you're done, press "Esc" or select the "x" in the search window.
    NOTE: By default, OneNote searches for text in pictures and screen clippings as well as note text. You can turn this off if you want. You can also choose to search audio (You can't search audio if you're using a Windows RT device, however.) Audio search is turned off by default. To turn these options on or off, select the FILE tab and then select "Options."

Tag notes to categorize and prioritize them

You may want to tag your notes to categorize or prioritize information. For example, if you're writing a paper, you might want to highlight information with the "Important" tag. When you tag a note, OneNote places an icon to the left of the tagged text or other object. You can search on tags to instantly categorize your notes by those tags.

For example, the following graphic shows a line of text marked with the "Important" tag.
Important tag

Examples of other built-in tags that you can use include: To Do, Question, Highlight, Definition, Contact, Phone Number, Idea, Web site to visit, Critical, and so on.

To tag a note:

  1. Select the text or other object you want to tag.
  2. Select the HOME tab, and then in the Tags group, select a tag. For example, to create a To Do list, select "To Do."
    To Do Item
    NOTE: You can customize the built-in tags to suit your needs. To customize a tag, select the small, downward-facing arrow at the bottom of the tags list box, and then select "customize Tags" in the list.

Search for tagged notes

  1. Select the HOME tab, and then in the "Tags" group, select "Find Tags."
    Find Tags
  2. In the Tags Summary pane on the right side of the screen, OneNote displays a list of all the tagged notes in the notebook. To go to a tagged note on the appropriate page, select the entry in the list.
    Tags Summary
  3. If you want to customize the display of the results list, in the "Group tags by" list, select a different grouping. For example, you might want to display the results by section name.
  4. If you have a lot of notes and a large number of tags, you may want to narrow the search scope. To do this, select from the Search list at the bottom of the pane. For example, you might want to narrow the results to a particular section or to a particular week or day.

Use OneNote on your Windows Phone or Windows RT device

After sharing a notebook on SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro, you can easily access the notebook from a Windows Phone or Windows RT device.

Access a notebook from your Windows Phone

In Windows Phone 7, OneNote Mobile is included as part of Microsoft Office mobile. In Windows Phone 8, OneNote is a standalone app that you can pin to Start to get to your notes in one tap. You can take a note with just your voice, search the contents of notes, and get around your notebooks more easily. To learn more about OneNote on Windows Phone 8, go to:

Access a notebook from your windows RT device

Windows RT includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT, which includes OneNote 2013 RT. You can access a notebook on SkyDrive Pro using OneNote 2013 RT or you can install and use the OneNote Windows Store app.

For more information

What's New in OneNote 2013?

Microsoft Office OneNote

OneNote on Windows Phone 8

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