Saturday, 7 August 2010

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.


  1. Hey there!

    OneNote surely is a nice piece of software. I'm anxious to try it out too, but I'll still have to wait a bit till I can fetch my free copy.
    The Setup looks nice - gotta get used to crammed ActionBars - but thats the best way to access the functions touch-style ;)
    Looking forward to your Outlook setup - I'm wanting to try to organise myself the GTD way and haven't found the fitting software yet - I'm hoping Outlook can help me out ;)

  2. Have you tried downloading the free 60 day trial of Office from Microsoft? That way you can try out the software, and then upgrade when you're ready without losing all your settings :)

    Can I ask what is the GTD way?

  3. The "Getting Things Done"-Method. It's a way of self-organising one's tasks and Projects. As I am a rather unorganised personality at times I hope it helps a bit ;)
    Hm, good idea, I might try it - unfortunately I'm on a 384kbps-UMTS-line at home which really is not that fun :-| Some places in Germany are not that great in terms of broadband communication ;) Still - I can let it run overnight and see, thanks!

  4. Oh cool, I'll have a look at that method. That's a shame about your broadband but the download is definitely worth the wait :)

  5. @Der Pfleger

    Although the articles are for onenote 2007, there are a collection of posts over at 7breaths that detail how to setup onenote for GTD.

    I've been using it for a year, and I have to say that it is the most painless and frictionless system I've come across.

    Using GTD with onenote is fantastic because of it's integration with outlook + tasks (for a tickler file of sorts), and the fact that you can store project information, reference documentation, and everything else all in one place.

    Adding a task to onenote is easy enough, and you can use the "send to onenote" feature to start up a project based on an email you receive.

    Doing some research on a project? just open up a side note, or take some screen-clippings. it is painless to sort things into the right folders. Much faster than fumbling with a physical inbox or filing system.

    Add the online aspect of Office 2010, the fact that you can share notebooks among computers using shared folders, in addition to it's rich inking support, and you can start to see how great it is.

    Now you have a nearly perfect paperless GTD system with ubiquitous capture, processing, projects, next actions, and reference.

    The only thing I'm missing is an ultra mobile way to access my notebooks, but that is because there is no cellphone service where I live. And perhaps a Wacom Bamboo so I can have ink support on all my machines (I currently have an hp tablet PC for inking)

    Check out the article here