OneNote: The Hidden Treasure in Office 365

Join the Webinar: OneNote - Mastering Organization of Your Notes & Correspondence

By John Higgins

Many years have passed since I began my journey to go paperless, both personally and professionally.  It has been like getting into a fitness routine, the hardest part was getting started.

However, once I began to see the benefits of my efforts, the journey transitioned from a challenge to a very positive experience. Yet, there was always that last mile that was nagging me. What I mean is that it felt like I had ended up with my own personal silos of information. Email messages stayed in Outlook, letters and correspondence stayed in Word, spreadsheets stayed in Excel and so on.

There is so much you can do with OneNote. If want to learn about every nook and cranny feature, please join our webinar: OneNote - Mastering Organization of Your Notes & Correspondence

Then I discovered OneNote. I had actually seen the OneNote icon in my Office applications menu for a few years before I began to explore it. That is when everything changed for me.

OneNote is included in the MS Office suite, so if you use Office then you already have access to the OneNote application.  I like to describe OneNote as my document desktop. I now have a place where I can combine direct access to all of the emails, appointments, documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoints, web sites, etc. that relate to a specific project, customer or event.

OneNote has enabled me to tear down my personal information silos. Or, maybe it is more effectively described as my personal drone that provides me with a bird's eye view of the information in my silos, with the ability to swoop in and access the information I need. If you have not taken the time to explore the OneNote application yet, follow me on this brief tour and give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

A picture is worth 1,000 words

Let's take a quick tour of the OneNote interface. It starts by creating a notebook. You can create as many notebooks as you want. You can also share access to a notebook with others, as long as the notebook is stored on a shared access file server or in the cloud. In the picture above, my notebook example is named "CPAs for Athletes, LLC." Within the notebook, you create sections to organize your content. Think of these as being similar to dividers in a three-ring binder.

On the right-hand side you will see a list of page titles. You can create as many pages within a specific section as you want. The title for the page above is "Revenue Projections." You can drag and drop a page title to rearrange the sequence if desired.

The final component is called a "container." You can have as many containers as you need on a page and you can use drag and drop to place them anywhere on the page. In the example above I have a container with the revenue projection spreadsheet. This model of organizing your OneNote content makes it extremely efficient for organizing all of your information for quick retrieval.

OneNote Content

The feature that really drives the value of OneNote is the wide variety of content types that you can insert into OneNote.

The screenshot below of the insert ribbon gives you a sense of the options.

As you can see, you can insert just about any type of content you can imagine. You can also use the File Attachment button to create a direct link to any file. For example, you may want to reference a PDF file in your notes. The hyperlink will launch Adobe Acrobat (or whatever PDF viewer you use) and open the file from within OneNote.

The File Printout button lets you print from any application directly to a OneNote page. A good example is if you have an A/R aging report you want to make collection calls from. Simply print the report to OneNote and then the caller can annotate the report based upon the results of the. Very easy and very practical.

Get started with OneNote today and you will be glad you did.