Microsoft OneNote vs. the Legal Pad

The Microsoft Office Suite is full of some fantastic applications and features that enable users to collaborate and be as productive as possible.  Few individuals take advantage of all the features available with Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.  Even fewer business users understand how SharePoint and the Microsoft cloud tie all of these applications together to make you and your team more productive.

OneNote is one of our favorite applications.  It is one of the least used Office applications, but the use of tablets and laptops is making it catch on like wildfire with our customers.

OneNote is the best way to create and organize your notes, from personal use to strictly business.  We would also like to mention a few new features in OneNote 2016, since the video and transcript below were created prior to this new release.

Microsoft has taken OneNote to the next level with its 2016 version. Users are now able to insert videos into a page, take notes right on the web, send notes to yourself in email, and clip the web with clipper. These are just a few of the new features with OneNote 2016.



The transcription for the YouTube video is below…

Hello again. It’s the folks from Xgility today to give you another tip to help you achieve transformational results in your business. Today, I will be talking about OneNote 2013 to manage project delivery as well as to manage the sales process. If you’re not familiar with Xgility, we provide consulting services around Microsoft SharePoint including migrations, application development, and end user training.

I want to give you a picture of what my life looked like before Microsoft OneNote. Pretty typical, taking a paper, pen, calculator, and many times a backpack with a PC to a meeting. It was something that I was very comfortable with and in fact, it was a little bit difficult for me to make the transition from paper into Microsoft OneNote. Now that I’ve done it, I’m very happy and I’ll talk to you a little bit more about why.

This is what my life looks like today. I’m carrying a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 to every meeting that I have and in fact the Surface Pro 3 is smaller than the notebook I used to take. It’s in fact about the same weight and I typically don’t take a backpack with me to a meeting except to carry a mini display so I can attach my Surface Pro 3 to a projector if necessary. The typical meeting where I’m just taking notes, the only thing I’m bringing is my Surface Pro 3.

Now I want to give you a little bit of a picture of what the OneNote 2013 interface looks like. You’ll notice on the left you’ll see Xgility notes and there’s a drop-down menu for my various notebooks. I’ve got my Xgility notes notebooks, we have various notebooks that we use for our customers in order to share data between various consultants, and of course I have my personal notebook that I store out on my OneDrive personal site. If you notice up in the top, you’ll see various colors and you can think of those as your individual chapters. Also, if you notice on the right, you’ll see the particular pages within the chapter of partner programs that are labeled pink, and you can see we happen to be on the DocuSign Developer license page. One huge improvement over using a paper notebook like a legal pad is up there at the top right, the ability to easily search all of your notebooks. I found that very difficult when I had maybe 5, 6, or 10 legal pads and wanted to go back and find information contained in a note from an old meeting.

I’m going to give you a few of my favorite features within Microsoft OneNote 2013 and I think the first one and many people’s favorite feature about OneNote is the ability to send a screen clipping to OneNote. If you’re familiar with this feature, you know that you can select part or all of the screen and if you don’t want to save that information in OneNote, you can also copy that to the clipboard. Second feature I’ll talk a little bit about is the ability to record a meeting. I mentioned Search already, Search is certainly huge, the ability to easily go and look at all of the information contained in your notes as well as the ability even to search pictures that you might have taken of a document. I mentioned how I use my iPhone to take pictures of whiteboards and have that show up in my OneNote notebook in just a few seconds.

Another huge feature for the Xgility consulting team is the ability to take a OneNote notebook, store it in a SharePoint team site, and then have as many consultants as we need share the information contained in those OneNote notebooks, whether it be meeting notes or screen captures, really all the information that we would need to capture one meeting with a customer. Sharing a page via email is huge. The ability to share the notes with somebody who might have missed the meeting. You may not want to share the whole notebook, but you may want to just email that particular page. The last thing I’m going to show you is how to start a OneNote page from Outlook 2013.

Recording a meeting is very simple. You simply go up to the familiar Office 2013 or OneNote 2013 ribbon interface, click on Insert, and you’ll notice that you can record audio. I have not used the Record Video section, I’m not sure how easy that would be to use with a Surface Pro 3, and I’m sure somebody may try to use that, but for me, I use the Record Audio primarily when I just want to record a meeting and I believe people are going to be talking too quickly for me to take notes.

I mentioned this before, the ability to take a picture of a whiteboard or in this case, a magazine as huge. If you haven’t done it already, I recommend downloading the OneNote application for your iPhone. I believe that you can also do the same with an Android and of course Windows phones are going to work for you as well. You simply take the picture from your phone and 2-3 seconds later, it’s going to show up in OneNote.

The last thing I’m going to show you is how to start an Outlook agenda and have that go into OneNote. You’re simply going to go into your Outlook meeting, click on the Meeting tab at the top, click on the OneNote notebook, say I’d like to take notes on my own, select the particular chapter up there, in this case selecting the partner programs chapter ,and it’s going to show up as a page in that OneNote notebook.

I want to thank you for allowing us to bring you another tip to help you achieve transformational results in your business. If you have any questions around OneNote, there is a free Microsoft training on OneNote that I can recommend to you if you email me at, we can get that out to you or if you should need any help with SharePoint, Office 365, or Azure, you can feel free to also contact us.



Author: Kurt Greening

Editor: Alex Finkel