How to Format Notes in OneNote 2013 - dummies

How to Format Notes in OneNote 2013

By James H. Russell

The process of formatting notes in OneNote for Windows 8 is a little different than it is in OneNote 2013 — okay, it’s way different. Here’s how to perform the major formatting tasks in OneNote for Windows 8.

How to modify and manipulate text in OneNote

Because OneNote for Windows 8 has no Ribbon, you work with text a little differently than you do in other apps, namely via the Text radial menu. Selecting text summons the menu’s button, which you can click or tap to view the typical options for formatting your text. Note that the appearance of some items on the menu is a little misleading; more’s there than meets the eye.

From the top item, moving clockwise around the menu are the following main items:

  • Font color: Choosing this item results in a very cool-looking submenu that allows you to select your font color from a spectrum. Simply tap or click the Font Color item, choose a color submenu item, and select an item. Choose black and you see a submenu with multiple versions of gray, including black and white; choose red and you see multiple versions of red, and so forth.


    To the left of the Font Color item on the Font Color submenu (this item does nothing when you tap or click it) are the Fill item to the left and the Highlight item to the right. Choose the Fill item (it’s grayed out unless you’re in a table cell) to fill a table cell with a color, and choose the Highlight item to see and select highlighter colors.

    The Highlight option here is the only method to highlight anything in OneNote for Windows 8 as of this writing. Although you do have up to four custom pens available to you, none of them can be highlighters. This limitation is certain to change in the future.

    In the meantime, you can highlight text much like you can in Microsoft Word: simply select text and choose from the highlighter colors on the Text radial menu to apply the highlighter color to the selected text.

  • Font: This menu is literally just a list of four fonts with a More link that loads up an extensive list of other available fonts.

  • Bold: Although the submenu item here shows Bold, which may lead you to believe the submenu is all about bolding text, this submenu is in fact a text-formatting menu with bold, italic, subscript, strikethrough, and similar text-formatting options.

  • List: Here you find a few of the more popular bullet list types to turn the selected item into a bullet. As is standard with the app, there aren’t nearly as many choices as there are in OneNote 2013.

  • Copy: Select this item to see Copy, Paste, and Cut items on the submenu.

  • Tag: Choose here from the more popular tag types.

  • Undo: In addition to Undo, you also see Redo, which will be grayed out if you have nothing to redo. If you tap Redo, it will gray out, and the Undo item will become accessible indicating you can undo what you just redid. The Clear Format item also allows you to remove formatting from the current selection.

  • Font size: This submenu is really a radial dial with the smaller font sizes at the upper left and the larger sizes at the lower left; tap and hold or click and then drag clockwise to increase font size; drag counterclockwise to decrease size.

How to add or remove lines in OneNote 2013

By default, note pages are blank, white pages, but if you prefer some background lines, you can easily have them. Although OneNote for Windows 8 doesn’t have nearly the options for page backgrounds that OneNote 2013 does, it does have two very important options: graph paper and ruled paper.

To add lines to your page, access the options bar by right-clicking or swiping up from the bottom of the screen, selecting the Paper button, and choosing either Show Rule Lines or Show Grid Lines.

To remove lines, access the Paper button by right-clicking anywhere on the screen or swiping up from the bottom of the screen; then choose Hide Lines. Note that you cannot have both rule lines and grid lines.

How to change a section’s color in OneNote

To change the color of a section, press and hold on or right-click the name of the section and tap the Section Color button that appears in the bar at the bottom of the screen. You have 16 colors to choose from.