OneNote: A Harmonious Tool

The most interesting new member of the Office family is OneNote, an application designed for taking notes and doing research, as well as organizing, accessing, reusing and sharing free-form information from a variety of sources and in diverse formats. Unlike, say, Word, where the expected goal is a finished document, OneNote is intended as a preliminary tool for taking rough notes and assembling content from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats, including sound, graphics and Web-based information.

OneNote presents you with a blank page. You can click anywhere on the page and start typing; if you're using a Tablet PC, you can write anywhere on the screen using "digital ink." You can create new folders, accessed via tabs at the top of the screen, and new pages within folders, accessed with tabs on the right of the screen.

When you enter copy onto a OneNote page, it recognizes bullets and numbered lists. It understands outlines and offers several outline modes. You can highlight all or part of a Web page, a PowerPoint slide or an Excel spreadsheet and just drag it into OneNote, including any graphics. Finally, OneNote automatically saves everything all the time.

If your computer has a microphone, you can record sound at the same time you're taking notes—you can take a OneNote-equipped laptop to a meeting and take notes while recording the whole meeting. Afterward, you can review your notes and e-mail follow-ups. During this review, you can click on any part of your notes and have the audio replay what was recorded at the time you made that note.

The synchronized recording is optimized for speech, using very high compression that needs about 8MB of storage for an hour of recording.

At the time of this writing, Microsoft had not yet decided whether OneNote would be an integral part of any of the standard Office packages or whether the application would have to be purchased separately.

OneNote: A Harmonious Tool

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Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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