How many of you know OneNote?

How many of you know OneNote?

One of the more useful but least known tools in the office suite if called OneNote. This tool that was first presenting in Office 2003 has gone through an impressive evolution in the following versions of 2007, 2010 and is a strong contender in the personal productivity tools category in my opinion. OneNote is used as an electronic notebook and is most useful for mobile computer users.


What does electronic have to do with a notebook?


Teacher: “Amir, why are you not writing?”

Amir: “I listen and remember…”

Teacher: “Don’t remember, just write!”

Since our early school days we’ve been taught to write in our notebooks, to this day it’s very rare to find a meeting where at least some if not all of the participants carry a notebook. Weather you write the meeting summary and distribute it later, take personal point from the discussion for your own use or just scribble – the notebook has been with us for years. The electronic notebook can be used for the same purposes and more:
  • The electronic notebook, unlike Office Word does not require you to SAVE. They say the paper can absorb anything you write on it, so does the electronic notebook – every word an change are immediately captured and saved, you can close your computer and once you reopen it you’ll the content is just as you left it.
  • You can enter text by typing on your keyboard or by writing directly on a touch screen for computer that support this functionality.
  • You can highlight (just like you would using a marker) any text or picture
  • You can add pictures / sound / video as well as manual doodles and drawings using a mouse or pen on a supporting touch screen.
  • Just like all Office suite tools you can of course add tables, tags for important sections, edits styles just as in Word or PowerPoint to give the final draft an organized, professional look.

Additional benefits:

  • You can quickly link between pages in your notebook
  • You can run fast search on all the notebooks
    • Search in English also covers words that appear within images you save on the notebook!
  • You can record a meeting (sound / video) while you summarize the meeting, OneNote will keep sync between the recording and the typing process so when you later point a section of text the recording can jump directly to the right place (that way you can hear what was said exactly when the note was taken).
  • The tool also supports synchronized shared work between several participants using a particular notebook while everyone can see the same page, each in his own computer, every update appears for the others next to the name of the person who made it.
  • The final draft can be quickly sent by mail (meeting summary for example) or you can create tasks with reminders as well as subsequent meetings directly from the notebook with direct link to the decision that was made and noted in the summary.
There are many other benefits to the electronic notebook, but I’ll leave them for your find out for yourselves… I’ve been using OneNote for over 5 years in work and in my studies mostly and you can safely say I am a big fan. The only problem is with people who don’t know or unused to it who can’t understand why someone would participate in a meeting, keep his laptop open and type during the meeting… you can try to explain or demonstrate but while some may understand and even appreciate it, others will still see it as a sign of disrespect (I’ve met a few that were sure I was switching to play Tetris whenever they weren’t looking instead of listening) so you should be sensitive to that and maybe keep a real notebook near Just in case.
Beyond my own personal little contribution to the green trend, the electronic notebook saves me time (no need to copy notes from the regular notebook for the meeting summary of for future reference), saves space (drawers with past notebooks for historic record) and allows me to easily find every detail I document in it (I’d like to see you find a decision from a projects kickoff meeting that was held last year or some good tips that were given by the professor in human resources course you took back in college, regarding employee evaluation when you get down to do this task every year…).
OneNote is included in all office 2010 packages, I urge you to give it a try.

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