Use Dock to Desktop to keep your note on the forefront

Docked notes allows you to keep your note front-and-center while you work.

Using the docked notes, I can research and review what I am doing, or keep notes of the steps of a process.

I often use the Windows + Arrow keys to split the screen in two so I can view OneNote and the browser side by side, but using the docked notes option removes all the application clutter that comes with that.

To show what that looks like, here are the screen shots for both options. You can see how using a docked note can be a much cleaner way of working in your OneNote.

To activate the docked notes option:

  • Go to the View tab
  • Choose Dock to Desktop from the Views section

OneNote: Dock to Desktop Option

Example of “side by side” view

OneNote - Side by Side View

Example of “docked to desktop” view

OneNote: Docked Note

The docked note stays in the same place, no matter which applications you’re using elsewhere on the screen so it saves quite a bit of time switching back and forth between OneNote and other programs.


Changing Paper Sizes in OneNote

Microsoft OneNote notes are created with default sizing, but you can adjust this:

  • Go to View tab
  • Choose Paper Size from the page setup section
  • On the right size of the screen, a menu will pop up with various options.

OneNote Paper Size Dialog Box

If you save the current page as a template, then you’ll be able to set that template as the default when creating a new page, so if you want to have a recipe book with index card sized notes, then you can set the Index Card as the default template and any new page you create will look like an index card.

OneNote: Paper Size Index Card

Another place this might be helpful is if you use your tablet or smartphone with OneNote on a regular basis, you can set the width of your note to match that of your smartphone and you’ll always be working within the confines of that space.

For the most part, this is not necessary: if you’re using one text box, the text will automatically wrap, but if you’re using multiple text or graphic boxes, the info won’t automatically wrap and the page will be as large as it is on the desktop. Having the pages sized to the smartphone ensures it will always be accessible to you when using that device.

OneNote: Paper Size - Postcard

Change the default font settings in Microsoft OneNote.

OneNote comes with the standard font of Calibri, size 11, in the color black.

If you would like to see a bit of variety in your text, you can always modify each paragraph the way you like, or you can set a new default, and thereby give OneNote a slightly more animated personality that better reflects who you are.

To change your font,

  • Go to FILE
  • Options
  • General

OneNote: Change Default Font

Just a note – the new font won’t apply in the current page, but when you use Ctrl+N or the Add Page button to create a new page, you will see your new font choice.

Use ruled lines or gridlines to help organize your notes

OneNote: Page Rule ColorsBy default, OneNote’s interface is a plain, white background, which is great for normal notetaking, but if you work with images or like to handwrite your notes, it can be helpful to have ruled lines or gridlines on your page. The ruled lines and gridlines don’t print, but they do help with lining things up while your create and design your notes.

Find the rules and gridlines by going to the VIEW tab, and choosing Rule Lines

Once you have gridlines or rules in place you can change the line colors, and you can then have all future notes feature your custom line settings.


Change your page colors in OneNote

The standard OneNote setup has a blank white page, which personally, I am perfectly fine with. There have been times though that I like a little bit of variety with my page. Especially when I need to write on it with an actual pen using the stylus on my phone. I thought you might find it helpful to have a few tips on how you can customize your OneNote experience.

Change your page colors in OneNote

Switch up your notetaking experience in OneNote by changing the page colors. Page colors options are pastel colors in various rainbow colors with pastel pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and purples.

Changing your page colors is very easy:

From the VIEW tab, choose Page Color to pick your color.

OneNote: Page Color showing various pastel colors

Using colors can be helpful when you’re working in multiple pages at once using multiple OneNote windows – to help you keep track of which page you’re working on.

Or, you may just prefer a default page color over another because it helps your text feel more readable

Take screen clippings using OneNote

OneNote has a quick shortcut to allow you to take screen clippings from your screen. It works similarly to the snippet tool that comes with windows, and it gives you an option to clip directly to the current page, or you can save your clipping to the clipboard and paste it in your favorite program.

In Windows 7, you can use the WINDOWS key plus the letter S to generate the screen clipping tool.

In Windows 10, the WINDOWS key plus S pulls up Cortana, the Windows search tool: Windows’ version of Siri, so in Windows 10 you need to use the SHIFT key, the WINDOWS key and the letter S to activate the screen clipping tool in OneNote.

Thankfully, this combination also works in Windows 7, so you don’t need to worry about remembering the difference.

I used to use the print-screen function that comes with Windows but that tended to generate a full screen shot of my two monitors, and then I have to go through the process of cropping the image, so I now prefer to use WINDOWS + S to take care of my screen clipping needs, and I love how OneNote just places those screen clippings directly into the current page.

If I later want to save out that image to my desktop, I can right-click on the image and choose SAVE AS… to do so.

Such a simple tool, but so incredibly versatile, I suspect the screen clipping tool will become a much-used function in your arsenal.

Organize your OneNote: Using Notebooks

In the past few posts we’ve discovered the different ways you can organize your OneNote documents, using pages & subpages, sections, and section groups. The next – and final – level of course is a new Notebook.

Some people create a new notebook for every topic, and while that is ok, I caution you against having too many notebooks when you can organize much of your content in one Notebook. So when should you step out and create a new Notebook?

Here are a couple of criteria I use for making that decision.

  • Sharing needs: While you don’t have to create new notebooks; you can create password-protected sections, I generally create a new notebook when I need to share the information with other people.
  • Distinct topic differences: If the subject matter is completely different from anything else you’re working on, it might be worth creating another notebook.
  • Topic content outgrows capacity: Sometimes a topic that used to be in a section or section group of a more general Notebook just outgrows the ways to keep track of the topic inside that Notebook. Perhaps you already have a section group for that content, and you find you’ve outgrown that. It might be worth to create a Notebook to hold that topic.

Creating a New Notebook

When you create a new Notebook in OneNote, make sure you choose to place this file either on your SharePoint site or in your OneDrive. My preferred method for creating OneNote Notebooks is to go to the location within SharePoint or OneDrive and choose to add a New OneNote notebook from the dropdown.

OneDrive Dropdown showing Word document, Excel document, PowerPoint presentation, OneNote notebook, Excel Survey

Once you’ve created a file, then use the EDIT IN ONENOTE link to open this new document in your desktop version of OneNote.

OneNote: Edit in OneNote

Your notebook will then appear in your notebooks list on the left hand side of your OneNote application. If you don’t see the list as shown below, click the dropdown arrow next to your notebook’s name, and then use the PIN icon to pin your notebooks list to the left.

Notebooks: My Notebook, Projects, DSA OneNote

I prefer creating OneNote notebooks online and then linking them to the desktop application because then I don’t have to worry about knowing the path to which I need to save the document.

You can also create OneNote notebooks using the application. If you do that, please make sure you choose either Sites – YourCompanyName or OneDrive – YourCompanyName as your location, and then use the Browse button to find the path to your folder on your SharePoint site or in your OneDrive.

OneNote: Create a new document from OneNote