Tag Archives: OneNote

Some tips for using OneNote as a research journal


Tips by Joanna Paterson, Attribution-NonCommercial License

As I have mentioned before I use Endnote a lot, including for keeping a research journal. I like it a lot because it is flexible, searchable, automatically backed up on the cloud, and I can access it from my computer, ipad and phone so its always with me. OneNote can take a bit of getting used to, because it does not have all the features of writing software like Word, or table software like Excel. But it does do lots of things they don’t and links in well with them to make my life easier. Here are some tips I find particularly useful:

  1. Use your notebook as an alternative brain. You have enough to remember without cluttering your mind with where things are and what you did. Over a long project it gets hard to remember. Write it down in your notebook instead.
  2. Use the search function to find things. Once your notebook starts to get a lot of stuff in it, it can be hard to find things. But its much easier than a paper notebook because you have a search function.
  3. Rearrange pages and sections if you need to. OneNote will automatically put a date stamp on your entries so I tend to generally just enter them in sections by month. But sometimes I need to gather up all the pages that are on a certain topic and I move these to a new section on that topic. OneNote pages can be dragged and dropped to move them around easily.
  4. Make use of links to other parts of your OneNote notebook. Its easy to link to other pages and other notebooks in OneNote. Use this feature to refer to relevant previous entries like magic. Create organizing pages which summarise where things are.
  5. Use your notebook as one place to store information from all sorts of files, emails and webpages. You can create links to folders, spreadsheets and documents stored on your computer, send copies of emails to the notebook (including their attachments) and send copies of websites to your notebook. You can also insert photos of your fieldwork or photos of drawings/diagrams you have done. This way you have everything in one place where you can find it.

Docking OneNote


OneNote has a fantastic feature which helps you take notes on other documents you are working on. I find this fantastic when I am reviewing the literature as I can take notes easily as I read. I also find it useful when I am writing my research journal as I can quickly take down notes as I am working. See here for details about how to use this feature of OneNote. And see here if you are not already keeping a research journal – you should be!

using OneNote for OCR

If you have Office on your computer you probably also have a programme called OneNote. I really like OneNote for a lot of things, but did you know that you can use it as a quick and handy OCR (optical character recognition) tool? What is optical character recognition? It’s when you convert an image to text.

Here is some things I use it for when I need the output to be text rather than an image

  • Copy a list of files in a folder
  • Copy the error message that comes up when something crashes (if I turn it into text I can then search for a solution in Google)
  • Copy a list displayed in software like Nvivo (often quicker than exporting them!)
  • Copy text from pdf scans (how well this works depends on the quality of the scan though – sometimes its quicker to retype than correct!)

Here is how you do it.

Here is a list of files in a folder I might want to have as a text list.


Press the windows button and S on your keyboard at the same time which is the keyboard shortcut to open the OneNote screen clipper. If you have never opened OneNote before, you will need to open it first, but after that it should launch automatically.

Then drag the mouse to select the area you want to capture the text from and then when you let go the mouse, a dialogue box will open. Either Copy to clipboard and paste into OneNote or Send to selected location if you know where in OneNote you want to put it already.

Try to get just the text (without any icons or images) like this:


Once pasted into OneNote, right click on the image and select Copy text from picture. This will capture the text into the clipboard and you are then ready to paste it anywhere you like.


And this is what you get

Johnson 2011.pdf
Golden 1992pdf
Wanner 2001.pdf
Armstrong 2008.pdf
Bland 2005.pdf
Comm 2003.pdf
Toutkoushian 2003.pdf

Just like that – neat hey?

You need to check it for accuracy. As you see above it missed off one full stop and sometimes it gets the odd letter wrong.