Tip: Synonyms in OneNote

An email came through my inbox recently wanting to know how to get synonyms working in OneNote. The author was used to this being on the context menu from Word and wanted to know how to get the same functionality going in OneNote.

There are at least three ways to get to the thesaurus. They all amount to opening the Research pane which has synonyms from a thesaurus (the default), links to Encarta, company profiles and other services. So one way to get to the Research tools is via the Ribbon – Click Review | Research. The Research pane will open along the right.

You can also get to this via the context menu – this is useful if you keep the ribbon minimized. It’s invoked via the "Look Up" command:


A third way would be to use SHIFT+F7 as a keyboard shortcut. This is what I do since my hands are usually still in position on the keyboard after typing.  For me, this simply is easiest to invoke.

Bonus tip – F6 moves focus over to the research pane from the keyboard.

I hope this helps you out!

Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,


Comments (5)

  1. Arthur says:

    Hi John,

    I read your blogs often… When thing that one note needs is picture tools like in Word or Excel. It seems you can to print to onenote but really can't edit the document unless you take it out and use in Word or the like.

    In my opinion picture tools will make onenote complete. Anything in the pipline for this?

  2. John says:

    I'll pass this along to our design team.  Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. John Garcia says:

    For me what would be a *really* useful feature in one note is the ability to define your own synonyms for searches. For example my main notebook contains lots of medical terms, some of which can be written in several ways. E.g. NFKB, NF-KB, NF-kappa B, NF-kappa beta, NF-κB, Nuclear Factor KB, etc. etc.

    It would be great if the user could define all these terms as synonymous so that when searching at a later date, only one term could be used and all results would be highlighted.  

    Given that Onenote is essentially a knowledge base, being able to have synonyms would be a really useful tool IMHO.

    Many thanks!

  4. JohnGuin says:

    Thanks for the idea – I'll let the designers know!

  5. Rasha says:

    I love One Note!!