A Fab Tech Tool for Students Everywhere

By Jenny Hansen

technologyI’d have given a lot for a tablet and a Smartphone “back in the day.” And a Livescribe pen. And OneNote, the note-taking nirvana from Microsoft.

My pals at Microsoft invited me to take a look at OneNote and share my favorite features, and I realized…

I am completely jealous of today’s student gadgetry.

OneNote did not exist when I was going to college. Nor did iPads (or anything “i”) or Smartphones or most of the cool tech I see on college campuses. I’d have probably given up hairspray for OneNote, which is saying a lot for the time period. We were packing hair spray like today’s students pack cell phones.

This was the late-Eighties, when girls’ bangs were shellacked to their highest height with extra-hold spray. (As in, five-foot-six-with-the-hair-five-ten.) The late-Eighties, when Michael Jackson topped the charts with BAD and The Simpsons first aired on TV.

The late-Eighties, when most of us were still using typewriters.

We had to do it the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper, and the dreaded microfiche. (I bookmarked “microfiche,” for all of you who have never heard of it.) We used Post-Its for our reference points, so we could find that perfect quote for later.

I’m telling you, college was primitive “back in the day.”

The five features I’d have fawned over in my university days.

1. Searchability

I know this isn’t a real live word, but I’m telling you, OneNote’s search feature is the biggest time saver in the world.

You just tap the search box in the upper right or use the Ctrl+F (Command + F on a Mac) shortcut key and you can search through everything. That’s text, OCR images… EVERYTHING. And the results list includes your notebook and section names.

One thing to note: if you’re using OneNote Online, your search only extends to the open Notebook and section. However, once you open the full app, you can search across all notebooks.

2. Microsoft Office Interaction

Whether it’s a “Send To OneNote” from Outlook or the ability to link Powerpoint slides to any notebook, the push and pull between the Office Suite programs is amazing. And a huge time saver.

Tags Summary.pngNote: Here’s a link for how to import Powerpoint into OneNote, using the 2010 version (in case you don’t yet have Office 2013.

Office 2013 offers new fun with the ability to embed Microsoft Excel tables or edit OneNote’s native tables with Excel.

Also, flagging any line in OneNote allows you to turn that line into an Outlook task with a right-click. You can also email any page in your notebook and the formatting will hold in the Outlook message.

3. Tagging (and Tag Summaries)

OneNote’s ability to do Tag Summaries is rocking my world. I’m not what you’d call a neat note-taker (and I never was). I might star, arrow or tag anything on any page.

And then forget where I put it.

In OneNote, I can go to the “Find Tags” button on the Home Ribbon and search for tags. In the search results in the right sidebar, there is a button that says “Tags Summary.” (see example to the right)

If I click into the body of a notebook page, clicking this button will give me a summary of all the tags I’ve flung around everywhere.

Like I said: Rocking my world. I’d have genuflected over this feature in college.
4. Templates

There are all sorts of templates in OneNote, but the student-based ones are fantastic. Here’s a sample:

From www.free-powerpoint-templates.com

From www.free-powerpoint-templates.com

Just go to the Insert tab and explore the Templates section in the right sidebar (this is in OneNote 2013). The Academic section has groovy templates for students.

There’s also Business and Planners, or you can make anything your heart desires from a Blank template. I can think of a million uses.

5. One-stop Shopping

I love the idea of being able to make a binder for each book, or each class. Not only do I adore that the Hubs and I can share our shopping lists in OneNote, I can embed any file into my notebooks as either an attachment or a printed page.

But my favorite part, especially now that I’m doing more article writing? When OneNote is installed on a computer, Internet Explorer gets two buttons — Send to OneNote and Link to OneNote.

When I use those clippers to send to OneNote, I get the source URL, a date and time stamp, and the formatting of the original webpage. It’s been invaluable for holding my research until I’m ready to write the article.

Note: For my non-IE friends, the Send to OneNote option will show up in the Print menu of your browser after you’ve opened OneNote the first time.

P.S. If you want to hear about five MORE of my favorite features (including the magnificent “Ink to Text”), head on over to the Microsoft blog.

For those of you like me who are long-graduated, what do you wish you’d had back in your college days? If you’re currently in school, what is your best tech tool? Do you use OneNote? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2014 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me

photo credit: teachingsagittarian via photopin cc

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