10 great ways for teachers to use Microsoft OneNote

Submitted by Fiona Beal

Teachers, have you tried using OneNote? Once you do you’ll be hooked! OneNote is a digital tool from Microsoft that allows you to type, write or draw your notes and store them in an organised fashion in a digital notebook. You can access your content from anywhere on any device. I am a keen OneNote user and this year I plan to explore all the possible features of using OneNote in teaching. In this post I will discuss some of the the benefits of OneNote to teachers. Really, it is a must!

Which version to use

My school doesn’t subscribe to Office 365 but we do have a licence to use Microsoft products at school. We have Windows 10 desktops so OneNote is available to use. The OneNote 2016 version of OneNote on the desktop has so many incredible options to use. At school I let the learners use OneNote online and I use that too for demonstration purposes. It doesn’t have as many features as OneNote 2016 on the desktop, but it syncs with my home version of OneNote 2016 which is great! In the features that could help teachers, mentioned below, I’ll note which version of Onenote this refers to if it is only found in one of the two versions I am referring to.

1. Make a TO DO list for the day

If you
go to
Home >To Do tag you can easily create a TO DO list. This can
be created on a separate page or it can be added to any page of notes. 

2. Use page colours and lines if desired (OneNote 2016)

You can choose different page colours (Go to View > Page colours) and you can also add a variety of line templates in OneNote 2016. (Go to View > Rule lines). Since you can write anywhere on a OneNote page the your typing fits beautifully into the lines.

3. Insert documents or add saved files into your notebook

You’ll see that you have a place for SECTIONS and PAGES in your OneNote Notebook so that your OneNote Notebook is always clearly laid out. In OneNote online these pages are stored in OneDrive. In addition to taking notes on the page you can also insert documents such as PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint slides etc.

a) Insert documents
If you just wish to add a downloadable version of a document stored on your computer you can easily do so. Click on Insert > File Attachment

Add the document of your choice from its saved location. It
will be added to your OneNote as shown. 

b) Add notes in the form of print outs

In a Word document use the PRINT icon and then select SEND TO ONENOTE. You’ll notice a message comes up in OneNote asking where you would like to add this. In OneNote 2016 these open when you click on them. In OneNote online you have to download the document and then open it. 

Select where you would like to add the notes. Below is an
example of a Word document that I have added. I cannot make any changes to the
wording but I can write on the page. 

4. Use inking (OneNote 2016)

Inking (drawing) is a great feature to use. You’ll find this feature under Draw in the menu bar.  Any touchscreen device or a computer with a mouse can take advantage of OneNote’s inking feature. Hand write notes, draw diagrams, or annotate notes and images with the freehand drawing tools. You can also annotate on a page of existing notes.

5. Easily capture your web research (OneNote 2016)

I love this feature in OneNote. I have created a SECTION called RESEARCH in on of my notebooks and as I surf the net and find interesting articles I would like to keep I send information to OneNote. This could be a whole page or part of a page sent directly to OneNote. Click Ctrl +P on your keyboard (or choose File > Print), select Send to OneNote 2016 from your list of printers, and your page is sent to wherever you wish to file it.

6. Clip from the web with the OneNote Clipper (OneNote online)

Since I often use the Chrome browser, I have installed the OneNote Clipper extension

The OneNote Clipper can be used to save any page directly to OneNote without the clutter. All of your clips are saved to the Quick Notes section of your default notebook. You’ll need to install OneNote Clipper and sign in.

 Once you have clipped something it appears in your OneNote. Here is an example:

7. Use Templates (OneNote 2016)

OneNote has a a selection of templates which can help teachers (and students) create better class notes. Go to Insert > Page Templates.

You can also create your own templates as follows:

  • Design your template on a blank page. Select the Insert tab.
  • Click the Page Templates button. The Templates pane appears on the right side. 
  • Select Save Current Page as Template on the Templates pane. Name the template in the dialog box.
  • Click Save. A new category called My Templates holds all your templates.

8. Use Voice Notes to capture thoughts about learners’ work 
(OneNote 2016)

OneNote’s recording facility is a great advantage. You can combine it with text on the page. To start recording on the web, click Insert > Record Audio. Once you’re finished recording, click Stop. You can play the file by selecting it and then clicking the Play icon that appears.

9. Use video with OneNote (OneNote 2016)

Click a location on the page in OneNote where you want to place the recording. Click Insert > Record Video.

Recording starts as soon as OneNote adds a media icon to the page. When you want to stop the recording you press Pause or Stop on the Video tab. To play the recording, click the media icon on the page and then click Play.

10. Prepare
lessons and keep organised

a) Create lesson plans on OneNote

This video shows how to use OneNote to record lesson plans using the LEARN format, including how to insert a table, hyperlink to a document, and insert a screen clipping.


b) Use OneNote as a Classroom planner

OneNote Planners can be individualised, adding a page (or starting a new workbook) for items such as a term calendar, your weekly work program, student comments, assessment schedule, curriculum documents or meeting notes. Take a look at this video:


c) Use OneNote as a Digital daybook

The following video shows you how to create a teacher’s daily diary of lessons and notes using OneNote.


OneNote is a must for all teachers who want to go paperless with many aspects of their teaching.  Give it a try. Visit http://www.onenote.com/ and download OneNote today!

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