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Using OneNote with Office

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Todd Carter and Diane Poremsky explain how information from other Office documents can be included in your OneNote notes.
This chapter is from the book

One of the strengths of OneNote is the ability to include information from other documents in your notes. You can include text directly or add links to other documents. Although OneNote lacks true integration with programs other than Outlook 2003, you can move information between OneNote and other programs by using copy and paste or by dragging blocks of text.

You can copy content from any program and use it in OneNote or insert a document file into your note, creating a clickable link to the file on your hard drive. You can also display images in your notes. Content copied from Internet Explorer includes a URL to the full article for future reference.

Although Outlook is the only Office application that is integrated with OneNote, you can copy content from OneNote into any Office program. Outlook integration allows you to create a task in Outlook from selected text in a note. You can send a note by e-mail and include the note file.

OneNote supports the formatting and spelling Smart Tags found in other Office programs and shares the same dictionary. Like all Office 2003 programs, OneNote supports the Research task pane, allowing you to search for information right from OneNote and copy it into your note file.

OneNote's Limitations

OneNote is at version 1, and as a result a number of features found in Office applications are missing from OneNote. OneNote doesn't support XML, which is a hallmark of Office 2003. It lacks OLE support and does not preserve the formulas or formatting when pasting as text from Excel or Word. Spell check in OneNote isn't as full featured as it is in Office; you can't add words to AutoCorrect from the right-click menu, for example.

OneNote also doesn't include the Equation editor or Word Art. It doesn't integrate with any version of Outlook other than Outlook 2003.

Dragging and Dropping Files in OneNote

You can drag and drop files to OneNote, creating a link to the file, unless it's an image file. When you drag an image file to OneNote, the image is displayed in the note body.

To drag and drop a file in OneNote:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and position it to the side of OneNote (Figure 9.1).

  2. Figure 9.1Figure 9.1 Arrange Windows Explorer and OneNote side by side to make it easier to create links to files.

  3. Open your My Documents folder and select the file you want to include in your notes.

  4. Click and drag the selected file to OneNote and release the mouse button. You can click using either the left or right mouse button; both insert the file into the note.

  5. For most file types, dragging and dropping creates a link in your note, using the format <file:filename.ext>, where file:filename.ext is hyperlinked to the file (Figure 9.2).

    Figure 9.2Figure 9.2 Insert files into your notes from Windows Explorer.

    When the file you drag is an image file, instead of adding a link to the image file, OneNote imports the file, and you can view the picture right from your note.


You can set OneNote to remain on top of other applications using the View > Keep Window on Top menu. Keeping OneNote on top when using Windows Explorer will allow you to more easily drag files to your notes.

Instead of opening Windows Explorer and OneNote side by side, you can drag files to the OneNote icon on the taskbar. Drag the file to the OneNote icon on the taskbar, holding the file over the icon. After a few seconds, OneNote comes to the front of the screen, and you can drop the file on the note page.

When you drag an image file into your note, you can resize the image to suit your needs. Select the image to display the blue resize handles; then click any handle and drag in or out to resize the image. To make the image keep its aspect ratio (so it's not distorted), drag one of the corner handles.

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