Using OneNote for Lecture Notes

OneNote is an addition to the Microsoft Office Suite offered mainly to students. It is a note-taking and organisation program which is useful on a desktop or laptop PC. However, it becomes much more powerful and useful when used on a Tablet PC or mobile.


  • Organisation of Notes – OneNote stores your notes as pages. Pages reside within Sections and Sections reside within Notebooks. A typical scenario for a student is to have a ‘University’ Notebook containing a Section for each module of study. Each Section will contain a page for each lecture and additional pages for projects or coursework.
  • Adding value to your notes with PowerPoint slides– OneNote also includes the “OneNote Printer”. This allows you to “print”, virtually, from any program into your OneNote notebooks. If you can obtain the PowerPoint slides in advance of your lectures, these can be printed from PowerPoint into OneNote, ready for you to annotate on the day. See below for the optimal printing settings:Optimal printing settings OneNote Printer Settings – Paper size: 10 x 7.5; orientation: portrait PowerPoint Printing Settings – Print what: slides
  • But wait, there’s more – Now that you have a set of lecture slides and your own notes stored in OneNote you also have a fully-searchable, indexed revision source. Just type anything into the search box in the top-right of OneNote. The amazing feature here is that it searches not only typed text, but also your handwriting and the text within images (including the slides!). This is great for revision sessions and quick reference.
  • Tagging – The ‘Tag’ button in OneNote provides a standard set of tags you can assign to any item, be it an image, text, handwriting or a recording. These are similar to the tags you may see on Web 2.0 services, especially blogs. For instance, you may tag several items as ‘to do’ during the day. Later on, you can go through these items in a list and check them off. Another useful application is tagging items that are likely to appear in an exam.
  • Clipping – The ‘Clip’ button will take a snapshot of any area on your computer screen and drop it into your current page. This is useful for annotating images or web pages, but don’t forget that you can copy and paste text from anywhere, too.
  • Sync your notes – If you use more than one computer with OneNote, you can synchronise your notes between them. This provides an essential backup of your work. Furthermore, many people find it easier to browse and search their notes on a desktop PC.