Setting the A4 page size in OneNote

Let’s take a break from testing Equation support in OneNote 2010 to let me respond to everyone with a tip that is bubbling up.

I can’t really understand why, but over the past two weeks I have received a handful of emails about changing the page size in OneNote and had at least one face to face conversation about the same thing. Then I saw this question on the discussion group and figured I would broadcast the solution more widely. The odd bit about this is that all but one request wanted A4 page sizing.

In general, though, what some users want is to set a page size (of paper) to be the page OneNote shows in the UI. I can understand this pretty well. The default page size for OneNote is infinite in any direction. This lets the page "keep growing" so you can add information to it without running out of room. This is handy when you are quickly taking notes and just need more space automatically so you can keep taking notes. It doesn’t help me when I am trying to visualize what my jumble of notes, ink, images and such will look like if printed.

To change the size, though, can be done very easily. A scenario for this is to change to size of paper you will use for printing to get a feel for how the page will look when printed. The specific questions I have received have centered on the A4 paper size for what that’s worth.

To change the size of the current page, click File | Page Setup (in OneNote 2007) and the Page Setup task pane will open. "Task Pane" is the lingo we use for the column that gets added to let you change these settings. At the top of the pane you can change the size to A4, like this:


I circled a link at the bottom of the pane which may be handy. If you change the page size and want to use the current page to be the default, you can click this link, give the template a name and set it to be the default template to use for new pages in this section. If you do this on a blank page, you will get a new, blank, A4 sized page each time you create a new page in this seciton.


This all leads to an interesting test case. Suppose you have text that is too large for the new page size, or you keep adding text and going outside the page boundary. Does OneNote block you from adding more text? That would seem counter to the goal OneNote has of easily letting you take notes. Keeping that goal in mind, it would seem that OneNote should NOT block you from adding notes "outside the page boundary," and indeed that is the behavior. Here’s what it looks like on my machine:


The white part is the page, and the gray is the area that is not part of the A4 page. Play around with it – make a page in Unfiled Notes and change the page size around to verify the behavior yourself.

And now you should be able to make a reasonable guess about pasting an 8×10 image on an Index Card size page. Go ahead and test this scenario and verify your assumption!

The last question I am puzzling over is why so many comments about the A4 page size just got came up…

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,


Comments (41)

  1. Lauren says:

    I recently discovered the option to change the document size in ON, but was bummed to discover ON only gives you one sheet per "page".  

    It would be SO SO helpful to have the document size outlined in black and have extra space around it in case you run outside the space while working. It would also make my day if there was an option to have more than one piece of formatted paper per ON "page".  I make mega tables to organize my notes and reformatting them to print is a major project.  

    Will this be fixed in 2010 or is a powertoy in the works?


  2. JohnGuin says:

    Not sure I follow you.  It seems like you could set the page size to 8.5 x 11 (or whatever your printer uses) and apply that as a template.  that would let you see a good approximation of the print area.  But it also sounds like you’ve seen this and it’s not working.  Can you describe a little better what you are thinking?  You could even make a little movie and send it to me – there is a pretty simple tool at if you don’t have one.  My email link is in the upper right.

  3. Shawn W says:

    The reason I left MS Onenote for journal was the paper size and split page viewing. While infinite paper is impressive it quickly becomes a huge pain to set the default paper size to letter for every new section. I have used a tablet PC for several years. Professors will not accept work submitted on jumbled up pages (as is the case when printing from infinite paper). When fellow students miss class and you decide to provide them with a .pdf of the lecture notes this is equally cumbersome. This would not be a difficult problem to fix. Simply add a 2nd check box for set default template for all new pages. An application that will not work the way the user needs it to work is not good for the developer or the end user. Why has this issue not been addressed? It is a recurring theme in the previous 2 editions of Onenote.

    Your point of view would be beneficial

  4. JohnGuin says:

    Hmm.  I don’t understand where the second check box should go.  If you check the box in the second dialog I show above (the save as dialog) you should be able to apply the template with the page size you desire.  This gets applied to all new pages in the section.

    Am I missing something else?

  5. Paul says:

    The issue I have, is:

    I often take notes using WIN-N.

    If I then simply click the printer symbol the page gets sent to the printer on Letter paper. Unfortunately our printer only has A4 and stops printing until you give him that size paper.

    So I have to tell the printer to kill the job (mostly a reset) go back to onenote and get into print preview, change paper size there and print again …

    Is there a default print paper size setting in onenote?

  6. JohnGuin says:

    I think I understand now.  WIN+N opens a new note in the Unfiled Notes but bypasses the template settings.  So if you apply a template to Unfiled Notes, it gets bypassed by WIN+N, but does get applied if I open the section and create a page.  Is this what you mean?

  7. Paul says:

    hmmm, not quite.

    I very much like the way Onenote handles unlimted screen size, so that I can draw what I want and how big I want it.

    So in the page setup I have set the size to automatic (as it was after installation, which I did not do myself).

    Regardless of section or unfiled notes, when it comes down to printing, I want Onenote to use A4 paper. Somehow Onenote always uses Letter for printing, and I do not know how to change this ‘default’ behaviour to A4.

    (Some of the following button / menue names will not be correct as translated form German)

    Therefore everytime I want to print something I need to use the printer popup (file, print), click settings, click further options. There I am shown the size set to Letter and I can change the size to A4.

    Oddly when I do the same in the properties of the printer queue it comes up with A4.

  8. RobHills says:

    I think that what is needed (from a comment above) is the ability to have a OneNote "Page" be set up as an infinitely long letter (or legal, 14, etc.) physical page so that it can be printed or PDF’ed as needed. I constantly lose time by needing to resize my notes to be within the width of a standard printer.  

  9. JohnGuin says:

    I’ll pass that idea along.  Thanks for the succint summation!

  10. paul says:

    I found a solution to my issue.

    I have two printers:

    Printer A a PDF converter

    Printer B a laser printer

    Printer A has letter as the default page size

    Printer A also was the default Windows printer

    Printer B has A4 as the default page size

    Now when I wanted to print in OneNote and changed from the default Printer A to Printer B the page size Letter was kept.

    I have change the default printer to B and now all is OK.

  11. Elliot says:

    I’m relatively new to OneNote and I like it in general, but I’ve been running into some issues lately.

    First off, page setup doesn’t really work like it should. I usually set my paper size to letter and all print margins to 1" but once it’s printed out, the right margin is always greater than the left. That is, there’s always more space on the right side.

    Also, like someone mentioned before me, it would make things so much easier if you could add writing space (a blank page) after specifying page size. Having to make multiple subpages just because there’s only one page allowed is just a pain.

  12. John says:

    For the first point, this may seem odd, but can you photograph or scan a printout so I can see exactly what you see?  And what type of printer do you have?  You can email this to me – the link is in the upper right, and I’ll reply so you can get my email address.

    I’ll pass the other feedback to our designers.  Thanks!

  13. Rob Pilgrim says:

    I am looking for what seems a simple solution, but cannot find it – maybe it doesn’t exist.

    When I open a new notebook or section in ON 2007 the default page size is ‘auto’ and I have to set up a new page template every time.

    How can I set it so that the default is A4 Portrait width as this is the size that I wish to use?

  14. JohnGuin says:

    create a new page in A4 size, then click File | Page Setup.  You can save the page as a template and just check the box that says to use it as a new page template for pages in that section

  15. Rob Pilgrim says:

    Obviously I didn’t explain myself very well; what you suggest is what I am currently doing every time I create a new notebook, or a new section – what I want is to have the default do it for me instead of having a whole series of identical templates, one for each section, or notebook.

  16. David says:

    Hi, just discovered your blog and enjoying the tips. I’ll ask something here that I asked on the community page but didn’t get a reply.

    When printing ON pages must each page go on a new sheet of paper or can you get multiple ON pages to a physical page? It would be a terrible shame if the former as often you have a collection of notes on different ON pages or journal entries and there would be an awful lot of paper with blank parts for just a small bit of writing.


  17. Rob Pilgrim says:

    It would appear that I’m not the only one looking for a way to constrain the width of ON pages – this explains what I’m after better than I do.

  18. JohnGuin says:

    Unfortunately, there is not a way to lock the page width but leave the height infinite.  I’ll pass this along as a request to our designers, though.

  19. Adrienne says:

    My difficulty is that I'm a teacher (math); who uses one note for class notes; and then post them online.  However using the auto feature (at least during class) makes a lot of sense. However when I go to post it on the web, some of my problems can be on two different pages (like continues on).  Is there a way to set it so its a letter size; but add a page directly underneath when you run out of room – so you can chose to go to the next page?

  20. Michael Hayward says:

    Hi I have been using ON since 2003 on tablets and am a great fan.

    However I would very much like to stop having to set the default template each time I create a new section.

    Can someone tell me how I set my saved custom page template for all new sections ?

  21. JohnGuin says:

    templates have to be set per section.  I'll forward this along as feedback for a new feature – you want to apply a template to a whole notebook, not just a section.

  22. eran says:


    is there a way taht one-note will beahve like word. i mean that when i go outtside of bunderres(A4 page size) it will atumaticlley start new page?

  23. JohnGuin says:

    No, sorry.  This layout exists just to help see what will print.

  24. Ana says:


    I'm using ON 2010 on my tablet and i have one very annoying problem.

    I write my homework on A4 template, when i switch to another page and come back

    part of the writing scrambled and goes outside of the boundaries.

    I write mostly math. I switched off snap to grid, and made A4 a default template.

    I would be very grateful for your help 🙂

  25. JohnGuin says:

    Did you install the patch to help with ink shifting?

    Links are here:…/ink-shifting-patch-released-today.aspx

  26. Julesy_Q says:

    I am having a problem where even if I set the print margins to 0" and uncheck the Show Page Title box, I still get header space at the top of my OneNote page when I print something to ON. Can you please help me with this? I built a whole workflow solution for users with custom buttons and everything and the users are rejecting it because they don't want the page margins. They want the ON page to be exactly what they see on the Word Doc or screen or whatever. We are using ON 2007 on Vista.

  27. JohnGuin says:

    I don't think there is anything else you can do.  If you want, can you email me the page that you are using (the email link is in the upper right, you have to wait for my reply) and I can check to see if the page is causing this.  But I think you have hit the limit of our printing…

  28. Katcando says:

    Is there a way to apply the A4 page setting to pre existing pages in 2010? It seems that once you set templates you can only apply them to new pages.

  29. JohnGuin says:

    No easy way to do that.  It would be a minor task to convert my page expander toy to make page size A4:…/a-powertoy-to-make-using-adapx-pens-for-onenote-a-little-easier-for-me.aspx

    But other than that you will need to change the page size on each page.

  30. Jose says:

    I am attempting to alter a .Doc (word) into an Image (.jpg, etc.)

    I am attempting to print it to Onenote and then send it back to Word.

    the process should save each page as an individual images.Which i can then save from the word interface into individual image files. See link below.

    Only problem i am having is that Onenote automatically loads in Portrait orientation and no matter what I do (save as template, etc.) it defaults to Portrait.

    How can I change the default orientation or have it accept a page in Landscape orientation?


  31. John says:

    When you print to OneNote you should see a "Preferences" button on the Choose Printer dialog.  Click it and the (only) option on the Preferences page is portrait or landscape.  Does this help?

  32. Ayman says:

    Thanks for sharing this ..

    But how to have unlimited page length .. like some webpages?

  33. John says:

    Hi Ayman,

    Once you change the width, you have to change the height as well.  There is no capability for fixed width and infinite height.  I've heard this request before so i will let the design team know.

  34. Jimi says:

    The beste solution would be to be able to out New A4 Pages directly und er the the lage linke in journal

  35. Fil says:

    I don't see why you are surprised about people wanting the size A4 since it's the most common papersize used in the civilized part of the world.

  36. John says:

    Right – got it, Fil.  My phrasing was poor.  I meant to say that I did not understand why I got all the emails about paper size all at once.  I would have expected a more steady flow rather than all of a sudden having several folks contacting me all at the same time.

  37. Linda says:

    It became a concern of mine when I e-mailed it.  I often e-mail just sections or pages to myself or students, but when opened in Outlook they are huge.  

  38. Jimi says:

    Hey John,

    do you know if the team made any neu progresses?

  39. nigel russell says:

    where On the screen are the page size settings?

  40. Kudos says:

    I know this is gonna sound like a really dumb question but I dont feel like reading at the time. Is this the format to make one note into a word document? To have everything fit and look like how it is on the one note to a word doc? Pls let me know ha.