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OneNote: The Ultimate Organisational Tool

OneNote: The Ultimate Organisational Tool

OneNote is by far my favourite Microsoft product. While I use Outlook and tasks to keep me on track OneNote provides the space to keep me organised and collaborate with staff and students.

OneNote is a powerful and versatile digital notepad, which allows you to organise and keep all your notes organised across all aspects of your life. Think of it as that old ring binder folder you use to carry around with different sections, the structure of OneNote is essentially the same, but digital. You have the ability to create multiple notebooks with multiple sections and multiple pages. As with other Office 365 products, your notebooks are stored in the cloud, which makes all you important information accessible across any internet-connected device.

What are the benefits?


The most outstanding feature of OneNote is its capacity to organise all your notes from various areas of your life. The way each person creates and uses their notebooks will be individual so I will discuss my experiences; there is a visual example below to give you an idea. I structure my notebooks (ring bound folders) into specific subjects or area of life, such as “specific subjects” I teach (eg. Grade 10 HPE). From there you break down the ring bound folder into sections, for me, I use unit topics as sections e.g. driver education, sexuality, badminton, golf etc. Then within each section, you can create pages and subpages of content.


OneNote has various iterations that can be used on multiple devices, making it perfect for BYOD schools. The focus for the most part of this blog will be on OneNote desktop application and the mobile application. The majority of functionality you need is contained in these slightly watered down versions. The full version of OneNote has major benefits if you are a O365 tragic like me, the major benefit being it’s integration into other programs such as outlook and tasks.

Collaboration and sharing

OneNote notebooks can be shared with anyone by emailing them a sharable link. The share button is located in the top right hand corner of the screen. Sharing permissions can be set to view or edit, this gives you the ability to control who can see and edit your content. Having a shared OneNote for meetings and curriculum planning is a particularly effective way of giving everyone a voice and gives insight into people’s thinking. As an example a shared department Notebook allows everyone the option of adding agenda items to meetings and centralises where you keep minutes and other relevant information.

Searching and tagging

A particularly useful tool for planning and keeping track on specific types of information is the use of the tags. You can use the inbuilt tags such as important; critical; question; contact; address or phone number. Or even better still create your own based on the type of tags that might be relevant such as Learning Intention; Inquiry Question; specific curriculum standard/objective.

There is also the capacity to search entire notebooks for any text, this is particularly useful when you are trying to find that really important piece of information but you just can’t remember where you put it. In the full version, you also have the capacity to search for specific tag titles.


Page templates

As with searching and tagging you are also able to create your own page templates that can be used over and over again. Microsoft provides a number of templates, which can be download, but again you have the power to create your own to suit the specific purpose you are trying to meet. A couple of the most common templates I use are meeting agenda’s and curriculum planning along with lesson planning templates.  


Linking with other services

Another function of the full version of the OneNote platform is its ability to link in with other productivity tools such as outlook and tasks. From within an email you can send both the body of the email and any attachments to a OneNote page, this is particularly useful for meetings. Communication between the programs happens in both directions and for those people utilising the tasks function within outlook you can set a task from within OneNote, which will appear, in your to-do list.

How to get set-up:

Getting set-up is super easy, you have 2 choices. First, if you are an O365 subscriber head to the Microsoft log in portal and you will see it as one of your application tabs. If you are not an O365 subscriber, go to www.onenote.com an download the software, you might need register your email to set-up your Microsoft account if you haven’t already done so.

OneNote is a powerful tool to get you organised and assist with planning within a department or classroom. If you are struggling to keep all your notes organised and categorised, then make sure you check out the power of OneNote.

Pat Coleman
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