Get more from the notes you take every day and everywhere
If you’re like most people, your notes can be essential parts of virtually any kind of project. You may take notes for brainstorming, planning, research, or reference. Essentially, your notes represent your ideas. But do you still take notes on a legal pad or type them as a simple text file?
You probably would not send an urgent letter by horseback messenger or crunch numbers using an abacus. So treat your notes like the powerful tools they can be, and you might find that they start doing more of the work for you.
This article shows you how to save time and get better results by turning simple notes into powerful reference and collaboration tools.
Note: The examples in this article use Microsoft OneNote 2010. Find a link for working with applicable features in Microsoft OneNote 2007 at the end of each topic.
Keep your own meeting minutes without learning shorthand
Your meeting notes are incomplete. Something important was said that you forgot to write down. It happens to everyone, but how do you reconstruct the missing information? Actually, there is no need.
The task: You need to get the details of something important that you neglected to write down during a meeting, conference, or class.
The challenge: Trying to reconstruct the missing information from the notes you took, or from your colleagues' notes, will take too much time and may not provide the answer.
The solution: Use contextual audio or video notes in OneNote to record meetings, conferences, or classes in real time, and then play back exactly what was said at precisely the time you took any given note.
Note: Before making an audio or video recording, be certain to let those present know that they will be recorded. Also note that your computer must have an installed microphone to record audio (or the audio track in a video recording) and an installed video camera to record video.
How to record audio or video:
Click the location on the page where you want to place the audio or video recording object—for example, beside a paragraph or photo that you are commenting on.
On the Insert tab, in the Recording group, click Record Audio or Record Video.
The Audio & Video Playback tab opens, and your recording begins automatically. Notice that an audio or video object appears, with a time stamp, at the insertion point.
When you are finished recording, on the Audio & Video Playback tab, click Stop.
How to play back your recording in context:
Rest your mouse pointer on any note that you took during the recording.
A playback icon appears to the left of the paragraph.
Click the icon to play back what was being recorded at the time you took the selected note.
Note: On the Audio & Video Recording (or Audio & Video Playback) tab, click Audio & Video Settings for the option to Enable searching audio and video recordings for words. This option is on by default and enables you to use OneNote search tools, discussed later in this article, to find specific terms in the audio of both audio and video recordings.
Get help for working with audio and video in OneNote 2007.
Organize your notes for follow-up, and save time and effort
There were four items you needed to follow up on from last week's meeting. No problem, except that there have been six meetings since then, so the notes you took about those four items could be anywhere.
How can you find the items you need without scouring through all of your notebooks? You might be amazed at just how easy it can be.
The task: You need to compile a task list from meeting notes.
The challenge: Notes for each meeting are on different pages—or perhaps in different sections or notebooks—and you do not have enough time to sift through and compile them all.
The solution: Use the tags feature in OneNote to create a dynamic task list for any or all of your projects.
You can tag notes that require follow-up, things you need to remember, questions you have, or any of several other categories of tags, including those you create. You can then get an instant, organized summary of all tagged notes at any time. Find tagged notes for a given page group, section, or notebook—or for all of your notebooks. Or search for tagged notes by when they were taken.
How to get it done:
Place the pointer in the paragraph that you want to tag.
On the Home tab, in the Tags group, click the More button in the lower-right corner of the Tags gallery to expand the gallery.
Click a tag type to apply it to the active note. When you do, the symbol associated with the tag you selected appears to the left of the paragraph.
Notice that symbols which include a box, such as “To Do” or “Discuss with,” are check boxes. You can click the icon to add a check to the box when the action is complete.
Note: You can customize tags to change the associated symbol, the tag name, or the text color (as illustrated with the green text in the first tagged note in the preceding image) or to add or change the highlight color. You can also delete tags from the gallery, add your own, or reorder the gallery to put your favorite tags on top. To do any of these tasks, at the bottom of the Tags gallery, click Customize Tags. Or right-click a tag in your notes, and then click Customize Tags.
To find tagged notes, on the Home tab, in the Tags group, click Find Tags.
The Tags Summary pane opens, showing a summary list of your tagged notes. The text associated with each tag shown in the summary pane is hyperlinked so that you can quickly go to any tag to read related notes.
Notice that, in the pane, you have options for how tags are grouped in the page, the scope which you want to search, and whether you want to display checked items (for those tags, such as to-do list items, that include check boxes). If you click the Create Summary Page button, the search results are inserted on your active page as text with tags for easy printing.
Get help for working with tags in OneNote 2007.
Access and compile the notes you need in no time
You need to find a specific date, a name, or some project details that you wrote down at some point. But you have many notebooks, each of which has several sections, so those notes could be anywhere.
Perhaps, in a perfect world, you could just click a button to automatically see every related note without digging through notebooks and reading through files. Well, the world just got a bit more perfect.
The task: Find an important note that could have been taken at any time.
The challenge: The note you need could be on any page, in any of your notebooks.
The solution: Use the OneNote search feature to provide an automatic list and links to every related note throughout your notebook. OneNote 2010 even prioritizes search results based on your past searches, for even faster access to the information you need.
How to get it done:
In the search box at the top-right of the OneNote page, above the page tabs, type your search term.
OneNote 2010 shows you search results as you type with the new flyout pane that appears when you click the search box. By default, OneNote searches all of your notebooks. Notice the option in the upper-left corner of the flyout pane to change the search scope. You can also click the arrow on the right edge of the search box to change the scope.
Search results include typed notes, written notes taken using digital ink (such as with the pen on a tablet PC), images that you make searchable, and (when enabled, as noted earlier in this article) even audio recordings. Right-click a picture for the option to make text in the image searchable.
Click any result in the search flyout pane to move to that location in your notes. Or, at the bottom of the flyout pane, click the option to open a Search Results pane in which you can sort and filter all results.
Get help for searching notes in OneNote 2007.
Take, access, and share your notes from virtually anywhere
Today’s connected world can often mean working with others in different locations or needing access to your important information when you are away from your own computer. So, while features like tags, dynamic search, and contextual audio or video notes can turn your notes into more powerful tools for your own use, you may still need a way to share and work effectively when and where you want.
With OneNote 2010, you can access the notes you need virtually wherever, whenever. Share your notebooks with others, and edit the same notebook simultaneously with people in other locations—even if they don’t have OneNote 2010 on their computer.1
Explore Microsoft OneNote Web App: Save your notebook to a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 site or a Windows Live SkyDrive folder, and then access, edit, and share your notebooks from virtually any computer with an Internet connection. Learn more about Microsoft Office Web Apps.
Edit your notes in a browser with OneNote Web App, using many of the same features you know from OneNote 2010.
Create a shared notebook: When you save your notebooks to a SharePoint 2010 site or a SkyDrive folder, you can edit the same notebook—at the same time—as people in different locations who are using OneNote 2010 or OneNote Web App. Your shared notebooks automatically sync so that you always see the most current information, whether you open the notebook in OneNote 2010 or in OneNote Web App. And you can take advantage of additional features, such as the ability to see at a glance who wrote what and when they wrote it or to access previous versions of notebook pages. Learn more about working with shared notebooks in OneNote 2010.
Note: OneNote 2007 enabled you to share and simultaneously edit notebooks with others inside your computer network. Learn more about working with OneNote 2007 shared notebooks.
1Microsoft Office Web Apps require an appropriate device, Internet connection, and supported Windows Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari browser. Both Office Web Apps and the ability to share notebooks with others outside of your computer network require either SharePoint Foundation 2010 for business or, for personal use, a free Windows Live ID to save and access files via SkyDrive.
This article has shared just a few key tips to help you get more from your notes. For more information about working with OneNote 2010, including additional new and improved features, check out the OneNote home page on Office.com.
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