OneNote 2013 For Dummies

OneNote 2013 For Dummies

by James H. Russell


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A quick guide to using Microsoft OneNote on tablets, online, or on your desktop

OneNote is the note-taking-and-sharing application that's part of Microsoft Office. It lets you create notes by hand, as audio, or by clipping items from other electronic formats to create a file that can be indexed and searched. With the release of Office 2013, OneNote has been integrated with Windows 8-powered tablet platforms and offers advanced mobile-enhanced features. This guide includes all the basic information, guidance, and insight you need to take full advantage of everything OneNote can do for you.

  • OneNote is the Microsoft Office note-taking application that lets you make notes and clip items from electronic media to create a searchable file
  • This friendly, plain-English guide shows you how to use OneNote online, on your desktop PC, or on your Windows-powered tablet
  • Helps you take advantage of this highly useful and often-overlooked application

OneNote 2013 For Dummies gets you up and running with OneNote quickly and easily.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118550564
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/20/2013
Series: For Dummies Series
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 589,476
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

James H. Russell is a technology writer and journalist who specializes in PC hardware and software, tablet computing, and social media. He writes for numerous online periodicals, and in 2012 named him one of 101 experts to follow on Google+.

Read an Excerpt

OneNote 2013 For Dummies

By James H. Russell

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-118-55056-4


OneNote Basics

In This Chapter

* Getting started with OneNote

* Making your first note

* Managing your notes

* Becoming familiar with the various OneNote interfaces

Many Microsoft Office suite applications have come and gone over the years, but none became one of the core Office apps alongside Word, Excel, and PowerPoint like OneNote has. Over the course of its decade in the Office suite, OneNote has become a killer application on many levels, and particularly OneNote 2013 with its SkyDrive cloud integration and instant sync. In addition, with versions on critical non-Microsoft platforms such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android, OneNote has been thrown into the spotlight.

In this chapter, I show you how to get up and running with OneNote, including how to sign in to the app with a Microsoft account, how to create new notes and manage them, and how to familiarize yourself with the app's interface.

Setting Up OneNote 2013

Office 2013, and thus OneNote, includes a new sign-in process that allows you to sync your Office settings across devices. Previous versions of OneNote and Office supported only the ability to include your name and initials in the applications' options so that you had a sort of "signature" for comments and tracked changes. By contrast, OneNote 2013, as well as other apps in the Office 2013 suite, includes a Windows-like sign-in interface with which you can sync settings across devices and even run OneNote on computers and devices that don't have the app installed.


If you use the same Microsoft account for Windows 8 and Office 2013, both Windows 8 and Office 2013 settings are synced via your SkyDrive across all Windows 8 or later devices that you log in to. Furthermore, you need to remember only one account name and password for both Windows and Office.

Getting a Microsoft account

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft followed in the footsteps of its competitors Apple and Google and those companies' app stores by creating the Windows Store and tying it to a Microsoft account. A Microsoft e-mail account that functions as a single sign-on to all Microsoft services, including Windows 8, Office 2013, and Windows Store, with which all your downloaded apps will be associated so that you can access them on other Windows 8-compatible devices.


While not required, without a Microsoft account, you won't be able to use cool features like sync and SkyDrive across multiple devices — all of your apps and settings will be tied to a single computer.

Creating a brand-new account

At the same time that Office 2013 and Windows 8 were being finalized, Microsoft introduced a new e-mail service called Outlook. com. In similar fashion to Gmail, with an address you get 7G of free cloud storage via SkyDrive as well as integrated web app versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. (OneNote has a web version tied to the app, not; I discuss the OneNote web app interface in Chapter 9.) In comparison to all other Microsoft e-mail accounts, which come with none of these features, clearly offers far more value.


Designed essentially as a competitor to Google Docs, web apps offer a more limited feature set than the full Office 2013 apps, but these features are nonetheless adequate for casual users.

You can set up an account at — surprise! — Here's how:

1. Surf over to with your web browser and click the Sign Up Now link.

A screen appears with empty text fields.

2. Fill in your name, birth date, and gender under the Who Are You? heading.

3. Fill in a desired account name under the How Would You Like to Sign In? heading and then enter a password twice into the next two fields.

4. In the next section, enter at least two methods for Microsoft to identify you if you need to reset your password.

You can enter your phone number, add an alternate e-mail address, or click the Or Choose a Security Question link and choose a question and enter your answer.

5. Choose your location and enter your ZIP code in the next section.

6. Enter the CAPTCHA code in the field, uncheck the check box below it if you don't want promotional e-mails, and click or tap the I Accept button.

A screen appears explaining a bit about your new account with a video you can watch if you choose to.

7. Click or tap the Continue to Inbox button, and you're done.

Upgrading an existing Microsoft account to

If you have an existing Microsoft e-mail account such as @hotmail,, or, you can upgrade it to an account easily. Here's how:

1. Log in to your existing account at

2. Click or tap the Upgrade for Free link in the ad at the bottom right of your main page.

A screen appears explaining a bit about your new account with a video you can watch if you choose to.

3. Click or tap the Continue to Inbox button, and you're done.


If you later decide to switch back to your old Microsoft account, select the gear wheel icon in the upper-right of the page and choose Switch Back to Hotmail. You cannot switch back to an account; Microsoft is actively disabling the domain.

Logging in to OneNote

As mentioned earlier in the chapter, logging in to OneNote allows you to customize your Office 2013 experience as well as sync settings across any device you use Office on. After you have a Microsoft account as described in the previous sections, follow these steps to log in:

1. Open OneNote 2013.

A small window appears.

2. Click or tap the Sign In button.

3. Enter the e-mail address and password for your Microsoft account and click Sign In.


Click or tap your name in the upper-right corner of the OneNote window to find links to change your profile photo, account settings, and profile information.

Creating Notebooks, Sections, and Notes

To understand notes, you need to understand the basic organization of notebooks, which include sections and pages within those sections. The OneNote interface hails somewhat from Excel's multiple workbook tabs — the three or more tabs at the bottom of an Excel spreadsheet — except that in OneNote, each of those tabs would have an unlimited number of subtabs within it called pages.

Picture an actual notebook — not a cheapie knockoff with just paper in it, but an actual notebook with tabbed sections in it. As shown in Figure 1-1, you would write the title of the notebook on its cover, names of sections on the tabs interspersed between the pages, and then write your notes in the notebook on the actual pages between those section tabs. See Figure 1-2 to see what this translates to when looking at OneNote.

As an example of how this structure can work for a notebook, I'll use a notebook I created for this book. I named the notebook (surprise!) OneNote For Dummies. Within this notebook I have the following sections — I can add more, but for illustration, I've kept it simple with three main sections:

[check] Table of Contents: Books begin as proposals, and one of the key pieces of a proposal is a proposed table of contents (TOC) that outlines the book's structure. In this section, I include the first proposed TOC on its own page as well as all major revisions of it on subsequent pages so that I can see the progression of the book's content as it's developed.

[check] Research: All research done for the book, including web pages, help documentation, and so forth go in separate pages in this section.

[check] Chapters Completed: In this section, I include a page with check boxes, one for each chapter by its number, so that I can check each off as I finish it and see at a glance how complete the book is at a given time. I include a separate page for each major process, including writing, technical editor revisions, copy edit revisions, and proofs.

Creating a notebook

You can create a notebook in OneNote easily; the process depends to some degree upon the destination folder or drive. Follow these steps to create a notebook:

1. Open OneNote 2013, click or tap the File tab, and select New.

The New Notebook pane appears, as shown in Figure 1-3.

2. Choose the place where you want to store the new notebook.

By default, you have SkyDrive and Computer as places. You can also add more SkyDrive accounts or Office 365 SharePoint accounts; see Chapter 2 for information on setting up a new place.

If you choose SkyDrive but haven't signed in to SkyDrive yet, you'll have to click or tap the Sign In button and sign in with your Microsoft account.

3. Type a name for the notebook in the Notebook Name field.

If you chose "Computer" for your place, the notebook opens, and you're done. If you chose another place, go to the next step.

4. Click or tap the Create Notebook button.

OneNote asks whether you want to share the notebook with other people; if so, click Invite People and see Chapter 10.

5. Click or tap Not Now to create the new notebook.

The new notebook opens in the OneNote window.

Creating a new section

After you open a notebook, creating a section is simple; here's how:

1. Open OneNote, click or tap File, and open the notebook you want to add a section to.

2. Click or tap the New Section tab to the right of the notebook's drop-down menu in the upper-left corner of the window (it's a blank tab with a + symbol on it).

A blank page appears below the section tab. At the right side of the window, you can see the page is titled Untitled Note.

3. Click or tap the name on the tab — by default it's New Section #, where # is the number of the new section; for example, New Section 1.

The section's title is highlighted, indicating you can enter a new one to replace it.

4. Enter the section's new title via physical or onscreen keyboard and press Enter.


You can also right-click, or press and hold on a section tab, and choose New Section.

Creating a new section group

If you right-click or press and hold on a section tab or on a blank space on the section tab bar, you'll see a Create New Section Group item. Use this to create a totally new group of section tabs underneath the existing one. When in another section group, you'll see an up arrow to the right of the notebook name; click or tap that arrow to go up a level to the parent section group. Figure 1-4 shows a section group with the up button and a new section group being created.

Creating a new note page

When you create a new section, a new note page is automatically created, called simply Untitled Page. Follow these steps to add a new page:

1. Open the notebook and section you want to add a new page to.

2. Click or tap the Add Page item in the sidebar at the right side of the OneNote window.

3. Right-click or press and hold on the page's name and choose Rename to rename the page; use the physical or onscreen keyboard to type.

Saving Files ... or Not

If you've used Office apps before other than OneNote — or, for that matter, any word processor, image-creation application, or spreadsheet application (among others) — you're probably used to having to save your files every so often by selecting File-Save or pressing Ctrl+S to ensure you don't lose your work.

Throw the concept of manually saving out of your head when thinking about OneNote; you won't see a Save option on the File tab, although you will see an Export option that lets you save a copy of the current notebook, section, or page under a different filename, in a different file format, or to a different place. See Chapter 2 for more info on exporting in OneNote 2013.


OneNote calls saving syncing and does this automatically for you as you make changes as well as when you close OneNote.

Getting to Know the OneNote 2013 Interface

OneNote is an Office app, but, other than having the Ribbon, it doesn't resemble other apps in the suite very much. The following sections get you up to speed with the various pieces of the OneNote interface.

Identifying parts of the OneNote window

The OneNote interface is broken up into several major sections, as you can see from Figure 1-5, and as described in the following list:

[check] Quick Launch bar: A staple of Office suite apps, this bar comes by default with three command icons on it: a Back button that works much like a Back button on a web browser, Undo that lets you undo the last action, and Dock to Desktop that places the OneNote interface as a sidebar to the right side of your desktop.

[check] Ribbon: Office has had a Ribbon since the Office 2007 suite. The OneNote 2013 Ribbon has changed significantly in the latest version of the app, and I discuss it in the next section.

[check] Notebook drop-down menu, section tabs, and Search bar: Use these items to change notebooks, switch between sections, or search for content within your notebook.

[check] Current Page pane: This pane shows the page you're currently taking notes on.

[check] Pages sidebar: All pages within the current section are listed here with an Add Page link at the top. New pages are appended to the bottom of the list.

Acquainting yourself with the revised Ribbon

The Office Ribbon was introduced in Office 2007 and was modified somewhat in Office 2010, mainly to replace the Office button with the File tab. The Office 2013 Ribbon has been modified in more dramatic fashion, not just visually but also to make it easier to use the suite on touchscreens. The following sections show you how the Ribbon is organized by tabs and gets you up to speed with what's different this time around.

Checking out the OneNote tabs

Later chapters discuss the actual tabs on the Ribbon in depth, but the default tabs are as follows:

[check] File: File-related options, as well as app options, are accessible here. This is where you share, export, and otherwise manage notebook files. See Chapter 2 for more info on the File tab.

[check] Home: Here you'll find the most-used options, including clipboard-centric options, the Format Painter, formatting options, and tabs. See Chapter 3 for more info on the Home tab.

[check] Insert: From this tab, you can insert non-OneNote objects into your notes. See Chapter 4 for more info on the Insert tab.

[check] Draw: Touchscreen-related options live here, including pens, highlighters, and other ink-related options. See the "Drawing in OneNote" section later in this chapter for more info on the Draw tab.

[check] Review: Options related to document review, such as tracking changes depending on who made them, are housed on this tab. See Chapter 10 for more info on the Review tab.

[check] View: Change the view of your notes on this tab. See Chapter 2 for more info on the View tab.

Seeing what has changed on the Ribbon

The Ribbon has changed a lot in OneNote 2013. Note the following new features of the OneNote Ribbon:

[check] A more minimalist look: Microsoft decided that the Office 2010 interface — and the Windows 7 interface, as well — were too shiny, colorful, and distracting. As a result, the Office 2013 Ribbon was redesigned to simplify icons, gray out options not currently usable, and remove color from all Ribbon tabs except for the File tab and the text of the currently selected tab.

[check] More space between Ribbon command icons: Although it was easy enough with a mouse cursor to pick out the correct icon on the Office 2010 Ribbon, using a touchscreen — and thus your fingertip — doesn't give you the precision that the tiny mouse cursor does. For this reason, command icons on the Ribbon are now farther apart than they were in earlier Office versions, making accessing them on a touchscreen much easier.


Excerpted from OneNote 2013 For Dummies by James H. Russell. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I: Getting Started with OneNote 2013 5

Chapter 1: OneNote Basics 7

Chapter 2: Managing Notes and Configuring OneNote 23

Chapter 3: Formatting Notes 41

Chapter 4: Inserting External Data and Taking Quick Notes 59

Chapter 5: Securing and Managing Notes with SkyDrive 77

Part II: Taking Notes via Other OneNote Versions 89

Chapter 6: Taking Notes with OneNote for Windows 8 91

Chapter 7: Taking Notes on Android Devices 107

Chapter 8: Taking Notes on iOS Devices 121

Chapter 9: Managing and Taking Notes with OneNote Web App 131

Part III: Putting OneNote Through Its Paces 141

Chapter 10: Sharing and Collaborating with OneNote 143

Chapter 11: Taking Notes in the Real World 155

Part IV: The Part of Tens 171

Chapter 12: Ten (or So) Resources and Add-Ins for OneNote 173

Chapter 13: Ten Killer Tips for OneNote 179

Index 185

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