OneNote Windows 10 Best Practices

Brass Contributor

Hello all!


I am looking to create a list of Best practices / Use cases on why and when you should be using the new OneNote (Windows 10 app)


I am looking for scenarios such as... you need to share your whole notebook or a snapshot of a page with your team.and then talk about how you would do it..or you forget your laptop at a meeting and can use OneNote mobile instead. Or ways OneNote can replace 'old' lesser effective methods such as pen and paper


Does anyone have a list of best practices or referral sites to look at real life work based examples of when you should be using OneNote? People seem to struggle to know when to use certain apps so I wanted to create a PDF/document collecting many different scenarios where OneNote is ideal


Thank you! Appreciate any replies

1 Reply
Here's a few things that I've captured in various sessions with staff.

- If all staff can access/store their Onenotes on a o365 Sharepoint or Hotmail account, then try to move everyone to the Windows 10 version of OneNote. The OneNote desktop 2016 is no longer being developed, and so new features are ONLY available on the Windows 10 version. The primary reason to need the desktop version - is if you need to collaborate on OneNotes through a windows file server share, or need to store the Onenotes locally on your PC. Only the desktop 2016 version supports this.
However the newer Windows 10 version, looks the same across the Web, Windows, Android, Apple versions - so its much less confusing for users to try to stick to this one across all platforms (including Windows).

- OneNote is for capturing and recording thoughts and ideas. Its strength lies in how quickly you can throw notes into (using voice, using screen capture, using the print driver, using the scanner Office lens) - and then how quickly you can find those notes as the Search in OneNote is fantastic. Make sure that everyone fully understands the myriad of ways that notes can be created and how well the search performs. I have a OneNote for my house, with every Room being a section. So this includes photos or repair work, records of the colors of paint used on walls, photos of receipts used when buying shelves etc. I find this a great OneNote to show staff to help them understand how you could use it, as it touches on all of the elements.

- In regards to 'When to use OneNote'. The challenge with Microsoft is often two fold. Firstly there is normally ten different ways to do the same thing, and secondly a lot of Microsoft guidance, tool sets, training doesn't differentiate between a company of 200,000, 2,000 or a company of 200. The primary different in content should consider whether the content is managed or unmanaged. OneNote is unmanaged content.
I explain the difference to staff in terms of car manufacturers. If you're buying a car - you will want various documentation and literature available to you. The manual for the car is going to be very well managed data. That will be well formatted, well checked / approved / version controlled - and there will be only one source of truth when it comes to the cars manual. However another source of information might be community driver - people discussing issues they've had with the car, tips they have about it, ideas for ways it can be improved. This is unmanaged content. This doesnt require any kind of control at all, it doesnt need curating particularly - This is just useful information which people have thrown into a pot which may or may not be useful to others.
If the content in the Onenote becomes extremely important, critical, or part of some production system - then it should ideally be transferred to word documents, where it will have oversight and governance.
So OneNote is ideal for meeting minutes, its great place to capture any kind of notes, or prepare information that someone has asked you or a team to collate together. Use it to record conversations, ideas, capture web pages that you've not had time to visit, throw in paragraphs of text that you find interesting.

Through OneDrive - Its also a very useful way to collaborate with third party contractors. Instead of emailing requirements, status updates and so on - create a shared OneNote which gives you a searchable mechanism to quickly capture and share anything you like.

- I'll mention the Search again, because it's brilliant. I have 30 or so Notebooks spread across work and home and various contractors. Typing in OneNote search instantly brings me to the page despite my having over years of content.

- To get staff using it. I create default OneNote libraries in each departments SharePoint site, and give all staff access to their Personal OneDrive and their departmental one. To hep engagement, training is focused on how they can capture their staff appraisals, reviews, and so on - in the personal share, and capture team and department meetings in the other one. At a very minimum this should be configured as default for all staff.