Microsoft Office OneNote 2003

by Margaret Fuller

One NoteOneNote is a documentation tool for taking notes, creating, organizing and sharing ideas and information. OneNote is a valuable adjunct to Office 2003, but can be used independent of Office. Anyone who deals in a variety of information and would like to capture and organize it for themselves or to share it more easily, will find it useful. Use it on your laptop, desktop or Pocket PC - more than a simple note taker.

I selected the complete install and let it install in all the default locations. No other choices to make. It took less than a minute to load on my PC. When you first execute the program it comes up in the option to Start a Tour of the program.

 This is a product you will grow into as you use it. But you must first understand the basic way it is suggesting you organize your information. There is a very flexible structure and each person will have to both discover and resolve for themselves as to how they can get the most benefit.

All your information is searchable. If you search for a word or phrase it will give you all the pages that contain the word and even highlight it in yellow so it is readily seen. You can also have side notes, which are very much like the "yellow stickies" that we all create endlessly. All of the pages have a list of "stationary" samples to help you get started.

In the discovery process I found a very helpful set of tips unlike any I have seen in previous office products. They are very graphic, simple and focused. They don’t send you in five different directions.

This program is yet to become well known by users, but I think it is well worth trying out. It has a lot more functionality than I was able to explore. It is intended to be a tool that interacts with many other applications such as Outlook to schedule or implement ideas and to send messages. It also has many additional capabilities such as voice recording, and other media.

It also has many unique features such as:

  1. Note flags - a flag that will be logged for you to return to resolve as an open issue, see item to left. When resolved, just check it off.
  2. Automatically adds header and footer to documents to print. These include the Folder and Section names as well as the date and time the page was initiated, and page number. (Not easy to modify, however.)
  3. Automatically saves files on hard drive. Default options are set to keep two backup copies in a separate folder.
  4. Special icons and highlights for a line of text - as a “note flag”.

For me, on a practical level, I have found it to be very useful to capture images of any area of the monitor. It puts them right in the clipboard so it can be used in any other program. This is great for training programs I create and also creating images in PowerPoint.

Support: Online updates are available from Microsoft web site. Power Toy “add-ins” are also available on Microsoft web site. They are third party add-ins offered through Microsoft, but not supported by Microsoft. For special problems or idiosyncrasies, Microsoft’s Knowledge Base is invaluable. Search and enjoy. OneNote files cannot be read by Office XP, only Office 2003.

Technical System Requirements: Pentium III is a recommended minimum, WinXP or 2K (with SP 3). It would be helpful to have a microphone, speakers, digital camera/scanner and Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC or Smartphone.

In summary: OneNote is another very functionally rich product from Microsoft. It doesn’t replace any of the other tools out there in office or any other product; it just takes you to another level of using your PC desktop, laptop or better yet, tablet or other mobile device. I can picture the home or office of the future having a PC of some sort next to each phone with OneNote running continuously on the network. I strongly recommend OneNote. For more info and updates go to

Margaret Fuller is a HAL-PC member and instructor for the Microsoft Office classes in the Learning Center. Margaret has worked as a project manager, consultant and instructor primarily in software development and implementation projects for a variety of industries around the world. Contact her at margaret@hal-pc.orgor her web page:

Review Editor’s note: Microsoft Office 2003 was reviewed in the June 2004 issue.