Thursday, 19 August 2010

OneNote Part Three

As promised, today I will discuss some of the more specific features of OneNote. This will include:

  • Hyperlinking
  • Linked notes
  • Outlook integration
  • Subpages

Bear with me with the long articles I’m posting. I’m aiming to be quite detailed with explaining features and their uses and I hope by doing so it will make the features easier to use and help inspire you to use them for your own purposes.


Many people see OneNote as a piece of note-taking software, which is not true. We take notes for the purpose of memorization and future reference and it’s this latter one which should be remembered whilst we make out notes.

OneNote’s hyperlinking (Link) feature allows you to create links between text, images and other media to other paragraphs, sections, pages and notebooks. When taking your notes you should actively be thinking about when you’ll need them in the future, creating links between relevant information. This will make it much easier to find information when you need it. For students (like myself) I highly recommend you spend time at the end of each note-making session to re-format your notes effectively and create links between them.

OneNote links can be created by selecting the text or media you wish to link from and clicking “Insert” and then “Link”. Alternatively click “Ctrl-K”. From here you can select where you wish the link to take you. OneNote also allows you to link to external sources such as websites, files and even applications.

OneNote Link

Another way to create hyperlinks to areas of your notebooks (including text, sections and pages), is to right click on what you wish to link to and then clicking the “Copy Link to Paragraph” menu item. You can then go to the item you want to link, choosing the “Link” button on the Ribbon and then “Ctrl-V” to paste the link into the “Address Field”. This is especially useful for when you want to link to a particular item on a page.

I’ll be using this feature regularly to link methods, equations and definitions to further information on sub pages such as examples of the method, and more detailed explanations. When it comes to revising, I can then click a method or equation to go straight to some examples without having to find them manually, or cluttering my notes with them.

Tip: A little “secret” I came across on the internet, might be useful to some. Once you‘ve copied a link using the “Copy Link to …”, you can create a shortcut on your desktop or in a folder etc and paste the link as the location! You can then jump straight to somewhere in your notebook straight from your desktop, taskbar, a link in an email or document – the ideas are endless.

Linked Notes

“Linked Notes” should not be confused with the “Link” feature. “Linked Notes” allow you to take your notes in-situ to their source. For example if you are taking notes from a website, OneNote will remember that you did this if you make use of the “Linked Notes” feature. You can then refer back to the source in the future (provided it is still accessible). Other examples of sources you can take linked notes from include Word documents, PowerPoint slides and other OneNote pages.

To create linked notes, click the “Dock to Desktop" (Ctrl+Alt+D) button. OneNote will then dock to the side allowing you to view the document or website (must be from Internet Explorer). Once you return to normal view, OneNote will display the “Linked Notes” icon in the top left hand corner of the page to allow you to go straight to the linked files or websites.


If you select text or other items in the source as you take notes on each item, a small OneNote icon will appear next to the linked notes, allowing you to hover and see the particular source or clicking to go to source. This additional feature is useful for taking notes from large sources or PowerPoint slides.

One of the most important times that I’ll be using this feature is when I am making my more detailed “Course Notes” based on previous “Lecture Notes” that I’ve taken. The lecture notes will be OneNote pages, consisting of annotated PowerPoint slides and handouts, so by using the “Linked Notes” feature I can make my course notes easily whilst having my lecture notes open. Another time I may use this feature is when taking notes from websites that I refer to during my note-taking. However, I would be cautious when using this feature, as online sources may change, turning your linked notes into just normal notes. Instead, I’ll probably copy these sources to separate pages in my notebook and create linked notes from their.

Another idea that may be useful, although I haven’t yet tried this, is hooking up a second monitor and stretching your desktop between them. If this works correctly, you’ll be able to take linked notes with the bonus of having a display of the source and a separate one where you take the notes.

Outlook Integration

If like me, you’ll be given “To-Do’s” whilst taking your lecture notes i.e. homework or reading assignments, this little feature is extremely useful. Instead of having to open Outlook separately in the middle of note-taking, simply select the text that forms the task and click the “Outlook Tasks” button in the ribbon or by right clicking. If you choose the “Custom…” option the task creation form will then appear, allowing you to continue to set up the task, or you can right click the task flag and “Open Task in Outlook” to do the same.

Outlook and OneNote will synchronize the status of the tasks, so you can quickly click the flag to set the task as complete just as you can in Outlook. What’s more because the tasks created in OneNote are “tagged” you can use the “Find Tags” feature explored in my previous post to quickly view your tasks.


Subpages are identical to pages, in that everything you can do with pages works exactly the same with subpages. The difference is with subpages, you can collapse and expand them. This makes them an ideal place to put less important things, such as copies of handouts relating to a particular page of notes, or a subpage of examples (which you can link from the main page as explained above).

An additional bonus with OneNote 2010 is that you can create subpages of subpages, to make things even more organised.

You can make a page into a subpage or vice versa by right clicking its tab and clicking the “Make Subpage” or “Promote Page” buttons. If you collapse a page and its subpages, you can easily move the page around without messing around with its subpages.

That about sums it up for today. In my next OneNote post I’ll be talking about ways to make your notes look more exciting!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

OneNote Part Two

Today I’m going to talk about the following things:

  • Custom Tags
  • Microsoft Mathematics Addin
  • Notebook sharing using Windows Live Account
  • MobileNoter for iPhone and iPad

Custom Tags

One of the most important reasons for me to move to a Tablet PC was so that I can quickly, easily and more efficiently manage my study notes. OneNote’s Tag feature allows you to tag various types of information from “Things to Read” to “Questions” and “To Do”. Best of all OneNote allows you to customize and create your own tags, including their names, highlighter colour, font style and an icon. As well as this, you can assign “Ctrl + Number” shortcuts to quickly tag information.

The tags you choose to use entirely depend on what you intend to use OneNote for, and if you’re a student, your field of study will influence what tags you require. Below is a screenshot of mine.

OneNote Tags

Further still, OneNote provides a fantastic feature called “Find Tags” which searches your notebooks for a specific type of tag and lists the information that has been tagged using it. You can then create a summary page of these tags for a quick overview of them. This will be especially useful for me as I will be able to tag formulae and definitions and then generate a summary page of these with one click. In the past I’ve spent days during revision going through my written notes, rewriting these on my own summary sheets so this will save me lots of time in the futures.

Microsoft Mathematics Add-In

Over the weekend I stumbled across a fantastic new OneNote Add-in. The Microsoft Mathematics Add-in is the perfect tool for students in Mathematic, Science or Engineering fields. It allows you to perform calculations, draw graphs and solve equations. With this easy to use but feature rich tool, you’ll no longer have to sketch graphs or spend time checking your calculations and I’m sure I’ll be using this tool a lot over the rest of my time at University.

Click here for more information and to download the add-in

Notebook Sharing Using Windows Live Account

Although I already plan to use Dropbox to synchronize my notebooks and other files between my computers and other devices, I will also be using my Windows Live Account to share my notebooks. This feature is easy to setup once you have a Windows Live Account by using the Backstage View in OneNote 2010 (Clicking “File”). After typing in your Live Account information, OneNote will sync your notebooks to your account, allowing you to quickly access them using the new Office 2010 Web version of OneNote as well as providing an easy way to share your notebooks with other Live Account users.

Using this feature will also provide peace of mind in case one of your other backup and sync methods such as Dropbox fails.

MobileNoter for iPhone and iPad

If you’re lucky enough to own an iPhone or iPad you’ll probably be interested in this app. MobileNoter allows you to synchronize your OneNote notebooks to these devices for viewing and editing. This is perfect for those who won’t always have their Tablet PC with them but want to have access to their notebooks.

MobileNoter comes in two versions, either a Cloud edition ($1.25/month) that synchronizes over your mobile network or a WiFi edition($15 one off fee) that uses your WiFi network. I’ve chosen the WiFi edition as I don’t plan on using OneNote on my iPhone and iPad on the go too often, and therefore syncing my notebooks once I’ve finished updating them on my Tablet PC will suffice.

MobileNoter is easy to install and use and is currently the best option available for OneNote users requiring access on their Apple devices. Click here for more information.

Next time I plan on talking about specific features of OneNote including links, custom stationery and templates, Outlook integration and linked notes, so stay tuned.

Monday, 16 August 2010


Up until now I've been using the online disk space I have as part of my Apple Me account to sync my files between computers. Although this is quite simple, I still had to use syncing software on my windows PC's to sync my files. However, over the weekend a friend pointed out Dropbox to me.

Note: Use the link to Dropbox on this article to create your account and we'll both receive an additional 250MB of space.

Dropbox is a simple to use online syncing service with native support for Windows, Mac OS and Linux aswell as mobile devices. What's more, it's entirely free unless you need more than 2GB of space. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Installation of Dropbox is easy and intuitive. After installing, Dropbox places a Dropbox folder in your Documents folder where you can drop files and folders that sync automatically online and to your other Dropboxes. "syncing", "up to date" and "unable to sync" icons let you know the status of your files in the Dropbox.

Because I plan to use my iPad and iPhone as part of my organisation, I've also installed the free Dropbox app on these devices.

In terms of file organisation, I've placed my "University" folder inside my Dropbox so that all my Uni files go everywhere with me. On a side note I've also created a shortcut to this "University" folder in my Documents folder and assigned it as a library folder using the Win7 Library Tool I found online. This tool also allows you to customize the icon for the library (fantastic for a self-confessed geek like myself).

Dropbox screenshot

PIease return soon for some more of my Tablet PC adventures.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Outlook Part One

If you’re lucky enough to have access to an email account on an Exchange Server, then Outlook performs at its best. I’m lucky enough to have such an account via my university. After following a simple setup guide all my emails, calendars, contacts and tasks are synchronized online and on any other computers that I setup my Exchange Account on.

In terms of organising my Outlook, I’ve setup categories for each course that I’ll be completing at university (in colours to match the associated notebooks in OneNote). I also created categories for other items to help me organise emails and calendar items that aren’t related to my courses.

Outlook Categories

To make it easier to assign categories to emails and calendar items, I also assigned shortcuts to the categories. This allows you to hold down “Ctrl” and one of the function keys to quickly assign a category.

I also found it useful to go through the Outlook settings to change some of the defaults, specifically removing the “Default reminders” setting, setting the “Work Hours” and creating an email signature. All this settings can be found by clicking “File” and then “Options” in Outlook 2010.

Another useful function of Outlook (and most other email clients) is the ability to create folders and “Rules” to organise your emails. You can create various folders for your courses, shopping, general university emails etc. As you receive these emails you can setup “Rules” which can automatically move emails based on criteria such as “Sender” to a specified folder. After a few weeks your mailbox will have grown into an efficient and automated “Sorting Box”. This is very useful for those who receive dozens of emails daily.

In terms of the Outlook Workspace, I find it most efficient to have a monthly calendar and a list of upcoming tasks on the main Outlook screen. This can easily be setup by right clicking on the right hand side of the Outlook screen and then choosing the appropriate options.

Outlook Sidebar

Just as I did with my OneNote setup, I also customized the Ribbon in Outlook. Please see my "OneNote Part One" post for a quick overview of doing this. Below is a screenshot of my custom Outlook Ribbon.

Outlook Ribbon

These simple changes along with Outlooks built in calendar, tasks and email features provide most of the functionality I require from Outlook. In the near future I will be looking further at the integration between Outlook and OneNote.

This concludes my short overview of Outlook's most basic organization features.

OneNote Part One

Now that I've setup my Tablet PC I've started to play about with Microsoft OneNote. Athough I’m using Office 2010, I expect many things I do should be possible in earlier versions, although earlier versions do not have the easy to use Ribbon.

To begin with I wanted to customize the menus (Ribbon) so that all the functions I plan to use can be accessed from a single tab. This is easily done by right clicking on the menu and choosing the "Customize the Ribbon..." option. Below is the setup I have come up with, but it will likely change as I use OneNote and the setup you decide on should focus on the functions that you will use most often.

OneNote Ribbon

You'll notice that I also customized the quick access bar (The small buttons) directly at the top.

As we all have our tastes in pen colour and thickness, I’ve also customized my “favourite pens” and placed these on my custom tab. You can customize the pens by going to the “Draw” tab and clicking the small drop down button next to the pens and choosing “More Colour & Thickness Options…”. You can then rearrange the order of the favourite pens by right clicking the pens on the “Draw” tab and using the “Move Up” and “Move Down” options. Doing this will allow you to change the “Favourite Pen 1”, “Favourite Pen 2” etc options that you can add to your customized Ribbon tab.

On a side note, one thing I dislike about OneNote is the fact the eraser only has a square head. If anyone knows of a way to make the eraser round, please let me know.

Other than customizing the menus, I’ve also setup my notebooks for my new year at university. My setup consists of a separate notebook for each course module that I’ll be doing, and sections within each course notebook for “Lecture Notes”, “Class Notes”, “Course Notes”, “Homework” and “Course Info”. I plan to annotate the PowerPoint slides and other handouts from lectures and place these under the “Lecture Notes” section. I will then write up my own notes based on these which will go under “Course Notes”.

OneNote Notebooks

I’ve also created an “Examples” section for the courses where I will have lots of examples. I plan to create links next to equations and methods we’re provided with in lectures and classes, that link to a page where I will keep examples of how to use them. This should come in handy when it comes to revising. This idea could be extended to create links that jump to “More Info”, “Background Info” so that your notes aren’t cluttered.

At some point I may create “Section Groups” to separate different modules within each course, but this can easily be done as and when you begin new modules.

So this is what I’ve done so far in OneNote. I hope you’ve found some of this useful. Next time I’ll be writing about my Outlook setup.

Now It’s Time to Play :)

My Dell XT2 arrived late yesterday afternoon, so I’ve had just over 24 hours to play with it. It is amazing! It definitely beat my expectations.

The laptop is much more stylish than I thought it would be after seeing the limited number of pictures and videos on the internet. The slate effect chassis cannot be seen to well in pictures on the internet, but it looks and feels extremely nice and durable.

The display is much brighter and clearer than I expected, having used a tx1 in the past. True, the display is not as sharp and clear as most glossy screens, but that’s the trade off you get for a touch screen. There is also not the speckled effect I was expecting that some users of other touchscreens complain of. However, there is a very faint grid that can be seen on black backgrounds or when the machine is off, so the XT2 likely won’t be very good for those who like to watch movies etc. Nonetheless as a touchscreen computer, it’s display is pretty much perfect.

The feel between the felt (blue) stylus tip is the best for writing on this screen. After an hour or so I became used to writing on it, and now after 24 hours it feels natural. So for those of you eager to have a natural pen-paper feel, you won’t be too disappointed. When I ordered the XT2, I ordered some screen protectors from which haven’t arrived yet, but they should further improve the pen-on-screen feel and I’ll write a short review of them once they are here.

As a laptop, the keyboard is a fantastic keyboard, especially for such a compact (and light) laptop. The keys are large, have a good grip and the keyboard leaves ample room for you to rest your wrists. One thing that is a slight disappointment is the trackpad and buttons. They are both pretty small, and the trackpad is not as smooth and responsive as many laptops (this may be because I’ve been used to MacBook trackpads).

The performance of the 128gb Solid State Drive is outstanding. The machine literally boots up in 10 seconds, even after installing all my software. I therefore recommend that everyone considers an SSD over a Hard Drive if their budget allows.

All in all, this is an excellent machine and if Dell was to give the XT2 better speakers, graphics and trackpad it would be perfect.

If anyone is considering purchasing this machine, please contact me with any questions you have and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be discussing how I plan to use software such as OneNote and Outlook to help me study this year, so stay posted.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

On Its Way!

Well earlier today I checked on the progress of my Dell XT2 (ordered on the 29th July 2010) to find it's been shipped for delivery on the 5th August! This is despite an original estimated delivery date of 17th August, so I am extremely impressed with Dells service so far.

Now that my Tablet PC is on its way, I've begun to think about how I'm going to use all my technology to improve my second year at university. I'm also lucky to own an iPad, iPhone 4, HP TouchSmart Desktop PC and MacBook Air so I plan to use all these to organize myself this coming year.

I've started by making a list of ways I can use this technology, and although we all have different needs at college or university, I hope that the techniques I'll be discussing over the coming weeks will be of use.

Here are some of the things I'll be discussing shortly

  • Microsoft Office, particulary OneNote and Outlook
  • Synchronizing between different technology
  • Organising desktops, folders and the like
  • Using various education software such as flash card applications
  • eBooks
  • Applications aimed at my areas of study (Economics, Accounting and Finance)
If there are any other things you think I should write about, please contact me.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Paperless Student

Well, after years of admiring the potential of Tablet PC's and despising the folders of notes and paper that I never make use of as a student, I finally decided to do something different this year. I've ordered a Tablet PC! On its way is a Dell XT2 and here's the specification I chose.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 (1.40GHz, 800MHz, 3MB Cache)
  • LED LCD Multi-Touch Display
  • 4GB DDR3 1333MHz RAM (Actually received 5GB of RAM*)
  • 128GB Solid State Drive
  • 2x 6-Cell Batteries
  • Intel WiFi Link 5300 (802.11 a/b/g/n 3X3) Wireless Network Card
  • Windows 7 Professional
* I wasn't advised on the phone that the 4GB of RAM I ordered didn't include the 1GB of integrated RAM. So this was a little added bonus.

I admit that at over £1900, this isn't suitable for many students, but during my second year at university I hope it proves its worth. I decided to create this blog after spending hours and hours on the internet looking for the information I needed to do just that - Prove a Tablet PC is priceless for any student. 

The answers to my questions about Tablet PC's were scattered across forums and blogs. I wanted somewhere aimed at people like me, where ideas and methods for organising myself and maximizing my grades using technology were easy to find and discuss. Over the coming months I'll regularly provide updates on my progress and hope to convert more students to what should be a better and more exciting way to study.