Back to School with OneNote

Originally posted on the OneNote Blog.

As a college student, Liz Scoble loved using OneNote to keep all of her class notes organized and stay on top of her daily to-do's. She recently joined the OneNote team after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis. Here, Liz shares her favourite OneNote features for staying productive in school.


Keeping my life organized in college was not an easy feat. Between classes, extracurricular activities, and the work associated with each, I struggled to stay on top of everything that I needed to do. Thankfully, once I began to use OneNote to keep track of everything, I felt much more organized and productive. Here are some of the ways I used OneNote in college and features that I relied on to keep my life organized.

Daily task lists

With a busy schedule and lots of classes to keep track of, I found that the best method of organizing my schedule was making detailed daily task lists. I constantly checked, edited, and updated these lists, so I also colour-coded them so I could see at a glance the type of work I had to do. Black was for classes, red was for due dates or exams, blue was for meetings, and green was for individual work. I loved using the to-do tag in OneNote (which you can add with CTRL+1), because it made it easy for me to see when I'd completed a task.


The wiki-linking feature can also be very helpful for keeping track of your notes associated with items on your task list. To add a link to a different page in your notebook, simply type your page title with double brackets on either end (example: [[To Do List]] ) and it will automatically become a link to that page, marked by a dotted underline. This feature helped me organize notes and make my task lists more useful.

Search notes

One of the features that makes OneNote so useful for keeping all of your class notes is that you can search through them, even if they are handwritten. I loved that I could write down due dates and assignments right in my class notes, and then easily find them when it was time to complete the assignment. When I took notes with pencil and paper, I would have to open my class notebook, find the lecture notes, and scan the pages for where I had jotted down the assignment. With OneNote, all you have to do is type a keyword into the search bar, and all of the pages that contain the keyword immediately show up.


Send to OneNote

I received tons of handouts for each of my classes and often struggled to keep them organized. I would usually print files that were emailed to the class or uploaded to the class website so that I could keep track of the content on the printouts and take any necessary notes. As you can probably imagine, my folders quickly filled up, my printing credit dwindled, and my backpack got progressively heavier. Once I started using OneNote to organize my class notes, a solution to this problem quickly became apparent. Using the Send to OneNote tool, I kept all of my handouts organized in their respective section of my OneNote notebook.  Not only did this save me time (and paper), but it also allowed me to annotate handouts and quickly search through my growing collection of class content.

The Send to OneNote tool also helped me take more organized notes in class. If a professor lectured from a PowerPoint presentation in class, I would upload the presentation to OneNote. Instead of taking separate notes and trying to match them up with the presentation after class, I took notes directly on the slides. Drawing arrows to points of the slide that I wanted to associate notes with, underlining key content, and taking notes in the margins of the slide made it so much easier for me when it came time to study for exams.


OneNote on the go

One of my favourite things about OneNote is that I can access my notes anywhere. When I was waiting in line for coffee or at a bus stop, it was easy to access my daily task list using OneNote on my phone. If I wanted to work in a computer lab, I could access my notes on SkyDrive. I love that I never have to worry about forgetting my notes somewhere, because they are with me wherever I go!

Are there any features in OneNote that you love to use? Comment to let us know!

--Liz Scoble

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