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How to Take Notes with OneNote on Your Surface

On your Surface, you will find a computerized three-ring tabbed binder, Microsoft’s OneNote. It’s not picky, letting you add notes in any form: typed by hand, copied from websites, recorded as audio, captured as a photograph or video, or even handwritten with a stylus on the Surface’s screen.

Many students embrace OneNote because it lets them open a section for a class, such as a Chemistry section, and then create a new tab for each new lecture or subject, filling it with freeform notes, including photos of the blackboard or hand-written equations.

OneNote organizes your notes in three main ways:

  • Notebooks: Everything starts with a notebook, which holds all of your notes. You can create as many notebooks as you want, each designed around its own theme. OneNote starts with two notebooks: The Personal notebook contains notes dealing with you and your home; the Work notebook helps you track your work-related projects.

  • Categories: Each notebook can have several categories to separate your projects. The Home notebook could have a Remodeling category, for example, as well as a Shopping List category.

  • Pages: Here’s where you break down your categories even further. The Home notebook’s Recipe category could have a page for each recipe.

Follow these steps to create a new Notebook in OneNote, add new categories, and add pages to the categories:

  1. Open OneNote, tap File from the top menu, and tap New. Then choose a location and name for your new notebook.

    Tap the OneNote icon from the desktop’s taskbar along the bottom, or tap the OneNote tile on the Start screen.

    To create a new notebook, begin by choosing a storage location, usually OneDrive, so it can be accessed from any of your computers. Then type a name for your notebook, for example, Shopping List.

  2. Choose whether to share your notebook with others.

    When the Microsoft OneNote window appears, you can tap the Invite People button to give others access to your OneNote file. That’s handy when you’re creating projects at work, for example, or creating a shopping list that can be on every family member’s phone.

    To keep it private, tap the Not Now button; you can always share it later.

  3. Type notes into your project, adding Categories and Pages as needed.

    OneNote appears, letting you add Categories and pages to organize your notes. If you want, save time by starting from a template: Tap Insert from the top menu, choose Page Templates from the drop-down menu, and choose from the templates offered on the screen’s right edge.

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  4. To add a category tab, tap the plus sign to the right of the last tab and then type the category’s name.

    To change or delete a tabbed category, rest your finger on its tab until the pop-up menu appears and then choose your option.

  5. To add a page to the currently viewed category, tap the words Add Page atop the right column and type in a page name.

    For example, the 99 Ranch category lists some recipes for favorite dishes, making it easy to look over the ingredient list while at the store.

When you’re through taking notes, simply stop and close the program with a tap on the X in its upper-right corner. The program automatically saves your work with the name and location you chose in Step 1.

Microsoft offers its OneNote program for desktop PCs, Apple computers, and every smartphone, letting you access your notes from nearly any location. As soon as you make a change in a OneNote document from any device, it’s automatically updated for all of your other devices.

One caveat: The RT version of OneNote won’t let you record audio directly into the program. But you can record audio with a different app and embed the audio file into the program.

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