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Formatting Your Handwriting

Often when you take notes, you may pause or lift the pen. When you do, OneNote interprets your next entry as a new paragraph. When you convert these notes to text, the lines will be different lengths (Figure 5.27). You can merge these lines together using the Continue Previous Paragraph command.

Figure 5.27Figure 5.27 When you pause or lift your stylus, OneNote often adds a line break. When the writing is converted to text, the lines are different lengths.

In addition, you don't have to convert your handwriting to text to format it. You can choose a pen style and color for your writing, and you can have OneNote make your handwriting darker or lighter depending on how much pressure you apply to the Tablet PC surface. You can also highlight your handwriting, change its color, and apply some other formatting options available for regular, typed text. In addition, you can set the width of your handwritten paragraphs.

To continue the previous paragraph

  1. Select a line that is supposed to be part of the previous paragraph.

  2. Right-click and choose Continue Previous Paragraph (Figure 5.28).

  3. The lines are combined (Figure 5.29). You can use this command before or after converting handwriting.

Figure 5.28Figure 5.28 Right-click the line you want to move back and choose Continue Previous Paragraph to merge the line with the one before it.

Figure 5.29Figure 5.29 Merging lines makes your notes look nicer.


Use Continue Previous Paragraph before converting handwriting to text and the lines of text will wrap nicely.

To select a pen type and color:

  1. Click the Pens toolbar button and select a pen type (Figure 5.30). You can also open the Pens menu by choosing Tools > Drawing and Writing Tools > Pens. Select a thin or thick felt tip pen or a highlighter.

  2. Figure 5.30Figure 5.30 A variety of pens and highlighters are available.

  3. Select a pen color.

  4. Felt tip pens are available in black, blue, green, and red. You can choose from yellow, turquoise, green, and pink highlighter pens.


The Pens toolbar detaches from the button, so you can keep it visible as you work with OneNote. Grab the dots above the first pen with your mouse or stylus and drag. Dock the toolbar at the left or right edge of the OneNote window for easier access to the pens.

To choose pen pressure sensitivity:

  1. Choose Tools > Options > Handwriting.

  2. Check the box beside Use Pen Pressure Sensitivity (Figure 5.31).

  3. As the option notes, enabling this feature increases the size of your OneNote section file.

    Now when write, your writing looks lighter or darker depending on how much pressure you apply to the Tablet PC's writing surface (Figure 5.32).

Figure 5.31Figure 5.31 You can turn pen pressure sensitivity on and off from the Options > Handwriting dialog box.

Figure 5.32Figure 5.32 The top example shows handwriting created with light stylus pressure. The bottom example was created using greater pressure.

To change your handwriting formatting:

  1. Select the text you want to format. It can be one or more notes or a word or phrase.

  2. Do one or more of the following:

    • Use the Font Color button on the Formatting toolbar to choose a new color.

    • Use the Highlight button on the Formatting toolbar to highlight the selection.

    • Use the Underline button on the Formatting toolbar to strike through the word.

    OneNote applies your formatting choices to your handwriting (Figure 5.33).

Figure 5.33Figure 5.33 You can change the color of your ink, apply highlighting, or use underlines to mark out your handwriting.

To set the width of handwritten paragraphs:

  1. Choose Tools > Options > Handwriting.

  2. Under Set the Width That OneNote Suggests for Handwritten Paragraphs, select one of the two options (Figure 5.34).

    • If you like to write the entire width of a OneNote page, select the first option. OneNote will wait until you're on the right side of the screen before expanding the writing guide vertically to make room for your next line (Figure 5.35).

    • If you want narrower handwritten paragraphs, select the second option. OneNote will expand the writing guide to the next line before you reach the right side of the screen (Figure 5.36).

    Figure 5.34Figure 5.34 In the Options > Handwriting dialog box, you can adjust the width of your handwritten paragraphs.

    Figure 5.35Figure 5.35 If you use the first option, you write to the edge of the OneNote screen before OneNote expands the writing guide to the next line.

    Figure 5.36Figure 5.36 This container shows a narrow writing guide, and a new line begins long before you are near the page edge.

  3. Click OK.

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