How to use Microsoft 365: OneNote

In this blog Dan May demonstrates how to use Microsoft 365 OneNote.

OneNote is a great application for helping you to be more organised, both at work and at home. It allows you to create multiple notebooks with sections and pages to help sort content more effectively. It also allows to you highlight can’t-miss notes with Important and To-Do tags. You can draw and annotate your notes, using a stylus or finger and it allows you to record audio notes, insert online videos, and add files. Finally it gives you the ability to share notebooks with your colleagues or friends and family as appropriate.

Find out more about Microsoft 365


OneNote Video Transcript

Hi this is Dan May at ramsac and welcome to my blog looking at Microsoft OneNote. This is part of a series of blogs that looks at a number of the applications that sit within the Microsoft 365 suite, that are really aimed to increase productivity, collaboration and mobility. But, are perhaps the applications that you’re not quite so familiar with, within Microsoft.

So, what is OneNote? OneNote is a tool that for me personally has really changed the way I work. So, using OneNote, I’ve been able to completely ditch the notepad. So, I take all of my notes, both relating to my work at ramsac, but to be honest in all avenues of life. I use OneNote to store documents and record my notes, pretty much everything I’m involved with and it means I’m no longer a slave to a pad and pen. Why is that important well, A) it just suits me, I’m definitely somebody that enjoys working with digital tool rather than a pen. But also, it enables me to ensure that all my notes are all in one place. So, I never turned up at a customer meeting, for example, only to discover that the notes from my previous meeting are in a notepad that I finished a couple of months ago and is back in the office. It also means I can access these notes across all of my devices.

So as with most of the Microsoft 365 applications this is available via a web portal installed on my desktop, which is how I’m using it today, and also as an application on my smart phone. So, I’ve got notes across all devices or any Internet enabled device and it means I can also share notebooks with colleagues. So, I’ll show you how I use that as we go through this short vlog. So, it’s a bit confusing when you first go into OneNote and I think a lot of people open it, look at it don’t really understand it and walk away.

So, let me just explain the architecture of the screen that you see in front of you. Essentially down the left-hand side you’ve got all of your different notebooks. So, I’m just in a demo notebook that I’ve created at the moment. But I have one for a team I’m part of, I have one for personal notes, I have one for my department etc etc. So, if you think of the screen in terms of a big filing cabinet, the notebooks down the left-hand side essentially represent draws in the filing cabinet. So, there’s sort of the sections that you want to break your work down into. Within that draw, just to keep that filing cabinet analogy going, you would have a number of folders. Well those are represented by these tabs along the top, so once again. I’m in my demo notepad. I’ve got tab here for example, I could create another tab here called Subject 2 and so on, and so forth. And then within each tab, you get a number of pages. So, these are the files that you would put within the hanging folder within the draw just to really take that analogy to its full extreme.

So, I can add new pages, so as an example, I have, I’m not going to open it, for obvious GDPR reasons. But I have this relationship management tab over here, this relationship management notebook (sorry). Is the shared notebook that we have across our entire relationship management team here at ramsac. And within there we would have a tab for every single customer, that we work with. And then when we’re working on a project, when we are working on meetings, we can record pages per meeting. Really, really useful because then if for example, a client has to be moved from one relationship manager to another, those notes aren’t lost in a notepad. I can simply right click on the tab and I can move or copy it to another person’s notebook and also it means we’ve got a full history and there have been times where 3 or 4 of us have been sat in the client meeting and we’ve all been able to make notes on the same page depending on who’s speaking and who’s recording actions as we go. So it is really helpful.

So, let me talk about that client meeting situation as a scenario where I think OneNote is really useful. So over here, in my demo notebook, I’ve created a tab called ‘Example’. This is just my notes for a meeting with Sam Smith, the Operations Director of Example Client. So down here, I’ve got a free type box, so I might say in my case, if I’m working with a new prospective customer, I might have gone out to see this client for the first time. Before I go I might add a phone call, or I might have done a little bit of web research. And I can record all of those notes here and then whilst I am sat in the meeting I might make notes as we go as well. So, this is my example meeting with Sam Smith, from Example Client Limited and I could say, ‘Needs to take up some references, send contact details of 3 similar clients’ So I can record all of my notes as we go.

And if you’re somebody that uses outlook tasks, you’ll particularly like this function. I can just quickly convert that into an outlook task there and set it as being due for say tomorrow. For example, and what I’ll see there is a little red flag, which means this is now become an outlook task. When I go into outlook tasks and I will see a new task called ‘Needs to take up some references’ there will be a hyper link back to this page so that I can remind myself what the meeting was about, and if I mark the task as complete in outlook It will mark it as complete this little red flag will turn into a green tick,. So really useful, if you’re somebody that uses tasks regularly.

So, I can make all of my notes If I’m using this on my tablet, I could also draw notes, using the drawing tools and my sort of digital pen. I can take photographs. One of the things I use this for quite a lot is if I’m in a conference or seminar and there’s a screen put up on the display that I really want to capture as part of my notes I take a quick photo of it using my iPhone and from iPhone using a tool called Office Lens. I can just insert it directly into my open page or indeed any page within my OneNote. So, I can create an image and sort of annotate my notes as we go. So really useful. So, in our case, if I’m in a new client meeting, when I come back from this meeting, I might have recorded a number of actions and I just use a little actions table and sometimes I share this note page with Gemma, and she provides me with some admin support. So I might record an action and make it known that that’s for Gemma to do and when I leave the message, when I leave the meeting, I can quickly message Gemma, send her a text message or send her a quick message in Skype for Business, saying, I just finished in the meeting with Example Limited, can you just pop into the notebook and you’ll see the some actions in there for you, and she could be working on perhaps putting a proposal together or checking some availability dates or checking hardware prices with one of our suppliers for example. So that by the time I get back to the office or to my home office, that data is all in there and ready for me to progress, so I find that really useful.

In our case, once we’ve had an initial meeting with a client, I might send them a proposal, totalIT is our managed service offering, so I might have sent the clients a proposal. And then if the clients happy with the proposal, the first stage that we go through with our clients is that we offer them a free IT health check, and again one of our network consultants would have gone out, carried out a health check and produced a written report, so, let’s just say that both things of those steps have happened and then I’m going back a couple of weeks later to meet with Sam Smith again, I want to make sure that I’ve got all my notes ready, but rather than turning up with files of paper. I just inserted the proposal here in the documents. So here is the proposal that I sent over and the health check report that the Network Consultant had completed for me. Again, I’ve just inserted into the document there, so I’m going to print out of it, so I can see all of the notes. And then if I want to, I could annotate this, so I could. I could say for example, where we got an example here about antivirus and I could just quickly make a note next to it, saying ‘remember to highlight this in the meeting’.

So, you can see what I mean, mine is an example of a new client meeting. But you can see whatever you’re involved with there’s a real opportunity here to collect all documents together in one place. Another way that we use this, here at ramsac is we use this for all of our Leadership Team meetings. So, we have a notebook called Leadership Team, that notebook is shared out amongst every member of our leadership team and you can create these tabs as being a template. So, every time we are due the next meeting. We just insert, the template meeting. Everybody knows that it’s there. They go into the November meeting. For example, within there. There will be a page called Commercial Directors report, so I’ll click on that I write my report live into OneNote, which means everybody, so all of our Leadership Team will do the same. So, before the meeting. I’m not having to collate 9 or 10 different emails from different members of the Leadership Team, that have all submitted a report, prior to the meeting. I just go into my meeting notes and I can click through the pages. I can read everybody’s report, I can see the agenda. If people have got documents that need to be discussed, again there inserted and everything is there, and I don’t have to gather a whole load of paper or flip between lots of different documents and lots of different emails trying to find the most up to date version.

So, it really, really helpful meeting tool. I just wanted to quickly show you as well. A quick easy way of inserting documents into OneNote. So, I’m just going to open up a word document, so this is a word document that I’m working on and if I wanted to add this into OneNote so that I’ve got it to discuss for the next meeting. One of the things you’ll notice if you’re using OneNote is if you go to file and print. You have a new printer installed in the printer is called send to OneNote, so these are my normal printers. And here I’ve got send to OneNote so if I click send to OneNote. And click print and it just takes a moment and what I’ve got here. Where do you want to insert it?

So I can just go back to that demo I can say yeah that was my meeting with Example and I want it to go under the meeting actions and just click OK, and it takes a couple of moments to do back in my in my page here, you can see if I click on meeting actions is a copy of the word document that I just printed. So again, a very personal application of this, but I use this when I’m going on holiday. I get a lot of my holiday booking confirmation for perhaps different hotels, I’m staying at maybe tickets that I’ve booked. Those often come into my personal email accounts, again rather than printing them out and taking them with me. I’ve got a notebook called personal and within there, a section called travel. I just print everything straight into OneNote. I don’t take my laptop with me when I’m going on holiday, but of course this is all synchronized across all my devices. So, I’ve got my iPhone and all of those documents are there ready for me to quickly search for and use as we go, so there you go.

That’s Microsoft OneNote in a flash, takes a little bit of practice and a bit of getting used to. But if you’ve got any questions when you have a play, then feel free to contact us, either via our website at or feel free to give us a call on 01483 412040 as I said at the top, this is just one of a number of blog posts that look at the applications in Microsoft 365 and how they can be used together. You can find all of those on our website at Just click on the blog section and in particular, I point you towards the Microsoft Teams vlog because that will show you how you can integrate OneNote with some of the other great tools all in a single pane of glass. Many thanks for your time today, I hope this was useful for you. Thank you.

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