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How to Use OneNote for School: 10 Tips for Students and Teachers

Microsoft OneNote weighs just a few megabytes. Lugging around a satchel full of books pales a bit in comparison, doesn't it? So, as you head back to school, let's learn a bit more about how to use OneNote for school.

For enhanced collaboration features like Class Notebook and Staff Notebook, students and teachers can also get Office 365 Education for free with a valid school email address.

There are many unique ways to use OneNote for school. Try these OneNote tips if you are a teacher or student.

OneNote 2016 vs. OneNote for Windows 10

The different versions of OneNote can cause you some confusion. There are two main versions of OneNote and you can use both on the same computer:

OneNote for Windows 10 (the Microsoft Store app)

OneNote 2016 (the Microsoft Office desktop app)

Then, you have the ecosystem of OneNote apps for iOS and Android. And, OneNote Online too which can be accessed with any modern browser.

OneNote for Windows 10 gives you a seamless experience across all devices with either keyboard or touch input. Importantly, OneNote for Windows 10 is continuously updated with new features inspired by OneNote 2016.

Microsoft continues to support OneNote 2016 without bringing out a new version or adding new features. This will continue till October 14th, 2025 (in extended support).

Looking to the future and how your note-taking can build up over time, we recommend that you opt for OneNote for Windows 10 as new features rolled out to this version.

And follow our OneNote tips for teaching and studying at school, or even for personal notetaking.

1. Send Documents to OneNote With a Click

The first step of notetaking starts with capturing information. Students and teachers can send any document or webpage snippet to OneNote with several methods. These two below are native for OneNote.

Select OneNote as the default printer in Windows 10 Settings. Go to Windows Settings and choose OneNote as the default printer (or Send to OneNote 2016 if you are using it). You can then send any documents to any notebook or page via the Print dialog of the app.

Thanks to this, the old Send to OneNote tool from Microsoft Store becomes redundant.

Use the OneNote Clipper extension on Chrome. Browsers are research tools and the OneNote Web Clipper can save, annotate, and organize anything you grab from the web.

And there are more ways to add anything to OneNote from anywhere. The tips work for both OneNote for Windows 10 and OneNote 2016.

2. Embed Your Files as Cloud Attachments

OneNote for Windows 10 also has a flexible way to handle your attachments. They can be located on your desktop or on OneDrive.

Cloud attachments is a valuable addition for portability and teamwork as your file always stays updated. The embedded document will show up in your notebook as a live preview.

You can open and edit the files. Changes will show up in real time. and it will automatically update via OneDrive. Any changes you make will be saved to the original file and you don't have to save and re-attach the files again.

It's a pretty neat feature for students when they do group assignments and even teachers for collaborative learning.

3. Draw on Your Notes With Ink

Teachers can create richer instructions with the inking features on OneNote for Windows 10. Microsoft calls it "Think with Ink". As the video above demonstrates, you can handwrite notes and draw or sketch things in your notebook.

Of course, it works best on a touch-enabled device like Microsoft Surface or an iPad, but the mouse too can handle some impromptu annotations.

4. Personalize Your Pages

OneNote pages can be scrolled horizontally and vertically. There are no limits. And there's a way to make them at least appear like real paper.

Personalize your OneNote pages with different colors, rule lines, and grids for the type of content in them.

  • Go to View > Page Color.
  • Go to View > Rule Lines.

You can also give each Notebook and Section its own color to separate the type of notes more visually. Just right-click a Page or a Section name in your OneNote notebook, and then select a color.

Get faster at personalization by using these OneNote shortcuts for Windows and Mac.

5. Use Linked Audio Recordings as Notes

Typing speed cannot keep up with a teacher's lecture. A better way is to just jot down the key point while you record the entire lecture.

The Audio feature in OneNote for Windows 10 lets you type the lecture notes while you record. The recording is linked to what you were typing when you started to record. This ensures you don't miss out on any important information.

To begin an audio recording in your notes, do the following:

  1. Click a location on the current page where you want to start the audio recording.
  2. On the Insert tab, click <strong">Audio.
  3. OneNote begins recording immediately.
  4. To end an audio recording, do the following:
  5. On the Recording tab, click Stop. OneNote ends the recording. If you want to continue recording later, click Record again.

6. Make Information Easier to Find With Color Coding

OneNote gives you multiple highlighter colors to choose from in different thicknesses. You can choose a different color to annotate or color code the learning material.

For instance, choose "Yellow" for key terms or definitions. Use "Orange" or "Red" to follow up on something. A consistent color code across your notes can help you scan and gather feedback on what you need to do next.

You can use highlighters with a right-click on the selected text, use the Home tab, or annotate with the choices on the Draw tab.

  • Use the right-click menu. Select the words and then right-click for the highlighter tool with a choice of colors.
  • From the Home tab. Select the words you want to highlight, and then click the Text Highlight Color button.
  • From the Draw tab. The highlighter here is freeform and doesn't let you annotate in a neat straight line. It is more natural to use with a stylus.

7. Learn Math With OneNote

The Ink Math Assistant is one of OneNote's best features. It's a digital tutor that takes a handwritten math equation and solves it step by step. Use it to learn or teach everything from basic math to advanced Calculus.

The Math Assistant can even draw interactive graphs of your equations, thus helping you understand difficult math concepts. For instance, you can go to the interactive graph and change a few variables to see how they affect the final solution.

You can save a screenshot of the graph to your notebook and revise it later. This Microsoft Support article is a complete OneNote tutorial through this fantastic feature.

Note: The Math Assistant is only available with the Office 365 subscription.

8. Use Immersive Reader for Reading Comprehension

The Immersive Reader is a part of OneNote Learning Tools. The full screen reader makes it easy for students of all abilities to read and comprehend any document.

For OneNote for Windows 10, Mac, or iPad, open OneNote. Select View > Immersive Reader.

On the Immersive Reader, you can change text properties, line spacing, fonts, and background color. A feature called Parts of Speech helps readers understand complex sentences by highlighting nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. in a sentence.

Voice options read aloud sentences and improve accessibility. This includes a Picture Dictionary that explains a word with an image and its audio pronunciation.

It can even read out the step by step solutions from a math problem solved by the Math Assistant.

The Immersive Reader is available on OneNote for Windows 10 OneNote 2016, OneNote for the web, and OneNote for iOS.

9. Find School Homework Material With Researcher

The Researcher uses Bing to find relevant information for your homework or academic paper. But it is more than a simple search engine.

It is a serious time saver as you don't have to jump back and forth between the browser and OneNote. You can use the research tool to search for material with keywords, create outlines, and add sources without leaving the OneNote page you are working on.

  1. Go to Insert > Researcher and type in the keywords for your topic.
  2. The Results pane shows a list of sources from books, journals, and the web.
  3. Choose a topic in the Results pane to explore in detail. You can add the text or images to your notes by clicking the "+" sign in the upper-right corner.

The Researcher is part of the Office 365 subscription plan.

10. Teach With the Class Notebook in OneNote

The Class Notebook is the perfect online collaboration space for teaching. Educators can ask for a Teacher license with the Office 365 subscription. Teachers can use it to interact with one student or the entire class.

The OneNote Class Notebook is a part of OneNote for Windows 10. And it is available as an add-in for OneNote 2016.

You have to enable the Class Notebook from the Settings. Go to Settings > Options, and set Class Notebook tools to On.

Now, Class Notebook is visible with all its controls in a separate OneNote tab.

The Class Notebook can become the core digital folder for teachers that contains all their resources like lesson plans, class assignments, grading templates, etc. The Notebook also integrates with over 40 third-party services that include several learning management systems (LMS).

Get the Most Out of OneNote at School

We have scratched the surface. There are loads of OneNote tutorials, tips, and tricks you can learn from once you start using it in class.

For instance, we haven't spoken about the OneNote Staff Notebook which is another collaborative workspace for teachers. We also haven't seen how you can use polls to gauge feedback in OneNote.

Microsoft is adding features with every update and most of them are something you can't duplicate on old-school paper and pen. For instance, try the utility of OneNote templates that can save you a lot of time with note-taking in school.

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The 20 Best Apps for Students Going Back to School | MakeUseOf

Are you in high school? Maybe you are entering college as a freshman or going for an advanced degree? For every academic challenge, these apps for an easier school life should be at the top of your back-to-school shopping list.

There are tons of websites and apps that can enhance your education rather than hinder it. So this collection of twenty apps and websites that can be repurposed for school is here to help you get through an entire day at school.

You can get ahead of the day when you feel rested, know your plan for the day, and are up to date with current information. Here are three apps that help you on any school day.

Let's face it, getting enough sleep when you're in school is hard! Between late-night study sessions and early morning classes, it can be impossible to get the amount of sleep you should.

Make waking up as easy as possible to feel refreshed with SleepCycle. There are a lot of effective alarm apps that make sure you'll get up in the morning. But SleepCycle takes it one step further with its intelligent sleep tracker and alarm.

SleepCycle will monitor your sleeping patterns---only waking you when you are in a light sleep stage. SleepCycle ensures that you will always feel well-rested when you wake up, even if you fall short of sleep hours. The app also gives you premium features like a library of sleep stories, relaxation guides, and calm sleep sounds.

Download: Sleep Cycle for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

It's important to start the day knowing what's in store for you as the day goes on. Any.do makes sure you stay on top of all important tasks and chores always.

Use the lists to break tasks down into smaller sub-tasks, sort by priority, and share them with others. Synchronize all lists across several devices, browsers, and the web to stay aware always.

Download: Any.do for Android | iOS | Mac (Free, In-App Purchases)

No matter what your major is, it's important to stay up-to-date on current events. A feed reader can be one of the best apps to help with school work.

Feedly lets you curate feeds from any website, blog, or online newspaper that you like to follow. Quickly scan your top sites over breakfast (or while you're still in bed, no judgment) without visiting each site individually or getting distracted browsing the web.

Feedly is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It also integrates with over 200 third party apps.

Download: Feedly for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

The many apps on your phone bring their own distractions. Here are three popular productivity apps that help with school work too.

Forest can quickly become one of your favorite focus apps. Forest encourages you to stay on course by growing a virtual tree. It doesn't lock you out of websites and apps but pricks your conscience with a warning.

It takes a minimum of thirty minutes for your tree to grow and be added to your forest. But if you check your phone or visit a blacklisted site within that time frame, the tree will die.

You are awarded virtual coins when you grow a complete tress. These earned coins go towards planting an actual tree in problem spots around the world. This app is perfect for avoiding your phone and its distractions while working on your school projects.

Download: Forest for Chrome (Free)

Download: Forest for Android | iOS ($1.99, In-App Purchases)

When your professor is highlighting a key point in the class, you may want to be sure that you can get down exactly what they are saying word-for-word. While the most effective method of notetaking is certainly not to take down everything your professor says, it can come in handy for short bits of information.

Why not use the Dragon Anywhere mobile speech to text apps do most of the work for you? Converting speech to text can be an incredible timesaver and Dragon can be one of the best school apps in your toolkit.

Dragon Anywhere is subscription-based and is available for purchase in the U.S and Canada only. Apart from this, there are other good speech recognition apps you can use in the classroom too.

Download: Dragon Anywhere for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

An important diagram on the board? Not enough copies made of an important handout? Use CamScanner to immediately transform an image into a PDF file that can be easily integrated into your documents for future use.

Not only that, but CamScanner also has several features that allow you to interact with, share, and edit your files more efficiently than other existing apps.

Download: CamScanner for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

There is nothing more frustrating than group projects. However, they will be a part of your educational experience, so it's best to make the process as easy as possible. Use these three apps to keep your grades intact no matter who is in your group!

Probably the most infuriating part of any group project is trying to establish a time when all members of your group can meet. Calendly is a web app that makes the impossible possible by automating the entire process to find the most convenient time for everyone. The video above shows how it all works.

Calendly offers a basic free tier. The Premium and Pro plans are priced for larger teams.

Want something just as clever and free? Use Cortana and Calendar.help for painless scheduling.

8. Google Docs

The universal and free Google Drive is by far one of the best apps for school.

Google Docs is just one of the apps within the suite that removes any worries about software incompatibilities, people having different operating systems, or sharing files back and forth through email. Instead, it provides a hassle-free collaborative workspace. It's an added bonus if your school uses Google Classroom.

Plus, you use the free Google apps to help with schoolwork while on the move.

Download: Google Docs for Android | iOS (Free)

Another huge component of group work is making sure that everyone knows their role and gets their tasks done on time.

Instead of sending constant reminder texts or hoping that everything comes together in the end, Kanban Flow is a great, visual way to increase personal and team productivity.

This visual representation of a multi-user to-do list allows real-time collaboration (with mobile support and easy methods for attaching documents) that is structured enough for people to know what they should be doing, but flexible enough to adapt to any custom changes you may want to try.

Visit: Kanban Flow for Mobile Web (Free, Premium)

Health apps should be an essential part of your school apps to download list. It's common for students to stop taking care of their health, especially when things get stressful. Staying healthy allows you to be more productive, happier, and to perform better in school.

It's a challenge to find time to work out when you are a student with assignments and deadlines. But it's not impossible to carve out five minutes for working out. Sworkit is one of the best ways to make the most out of any little time you have.

Enter the amount of time that you have into the app and your preferred kind of exercise (Strength, Cardio, Yoga, or Stretching), and the app will then guide you through a selection of exercises taken from 400 unique workouts and over 800 exercises.

Download: Sworkit for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

It's important to exercise, but it's even more important to fuel your body with healthy, nutritious food. While MyFitnessPal is best known as a calorie counting app for the sake of weight loss, it is also a great way to make sure that you are getting all the nutrients that you need.

This app is a great way to track the foods you eat (MyFitnessPal has one of the biggest food libraries on the internet). Make sure that you're eating your vegetables and drinking enough water---these will help you function better at school too!

Download: MyFitnessPal for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

Staying active isn't just about working out---it's also about making sure that you don't sit at a desk all day, which is all too easy to do when you are studying all day! There are a lot of GPS fitness trackers, but Runkeeper is one of the best ways to use GPS and see what your activity looks like day-to-day.

Runkeeper can track your runs, hikes, walks, or just about any physical activity in real time. You can set fitness goals or just let the app nudge you to get more active if you have been sitting around for long.

Download: Runkeeper for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchases)

Writing papers can become an overwhelming part of your coursework. Here are some of the best apps for school to keep your information organized, your citations correct, and the whole writing process as painless as possible.

Researching a paper can be one of the most frustrating experiences possible, especially if you're left with a bunch of disorganized PDFs scattered all over your desktop. Instead, download Mendeley---a reference manager app and social website intended for researchers and students.

Follow researchers whose work you are interested in, store and save PDFs in a centralized location, annotate them with any notes you may want, and create automatic citations that conform to any style guide with the handy Citation Manager.

Basic Mendeley is free with 2GB of shared space. You can upgrade for more space with the Premium plan. Mendeley is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux with companion apps for Android and iOS.

Download: Mendeley for Desktop | Android | iOS (Free, Premium)

It's fantastic to have a friend on hand to read over your papers before you submit them---but what if your essay-reading friend is busy with their own assignments?

Enter Hemingway, a website that will give you a detailed breakdown of your writing and give you hints on what you should be paying attention to in your edits. It isn't a perfect substitute for an editor, but it's a great way to recognize bad habits in your writing and any typos or spelling mistakes that you may have made.

Download: Hemingway for Web (Free)

Download: Hemingway for Windows | macOS ($19.99)

These apps will make sure that you are always equipped to handle any kind of surprise--whether it's a threat to your safety, an unexpected purchase, or a health emergency.

Patents exist for phones to also work as panic buttons to ensure your personal safety. Till those become mainstream, personal safety apps are filling the gap.

Noonlight is a popular app that can give you peace of mind. It uses a combination of a panic button and a pin to get emergency help to your exact location. The app has also partnered with Tinder to ensure your dates go safely.

Download: Noonlight for Android | iOS (Free trial, subscription required)

Related: The 5 Best Self Defense Apps for Personal Safety When Walking Alone

Student loans are part of an academic life these days. Learn how to budget from an early age and life will get easier.

Managing your money with Mint is easy to do. Connect the free personal finance manager with all your bank accounts for accurate and current financial information and use it to set (and stick to) a budget.

Download: Mint for Android | iOS (Free, Premium)

It goes without saying that studying will take up a big part of your time this school year. These apps can help you study more efficiently, helping you to boost your marks, retain more information, and free up some time for activities outside the books.

The Pomodoro Technique requires you to work for a set amount of time (generally 25 minutes), before taking a short break (generally 3-5 minutes). After four sets of this (two hours total), you can take a longer break.

You will be spoilt for choice with Pomodoro timer app for all platforms.

But if you are a student, go for a simpler one. Clockwork Tomato is one of the free options available for Android that is uncomplicated, but it also provides handy stats to track your efforts.

Download: Clockwork Tomato for Android (Free)

While they don't work with every subject, Flashcards can be invaluable. This app is a great option for flashcards because it synchronizes across devices, allows you to embed media, and enables you to customize your card layouts and timing.

Anki has combined all the best parts of creating flashcards by hand with some of the best parts of technology, and the combination makes this app a studying essential.

A note of caution---the iOS mobile app does require a purchase, so try the desktop version alone before deciding whether you need a mobile version of your flashcards as well.

Download: Anki for Desktop | Android (Free)

Download: Anki for iOS ($24.99)

Struggling with a complicated concept or a course that doesn't seem to have any coherent outline? Create one yourself using the web-based mind map program MindMup.

This program is effortless to use, with an interface that allows you to work on your mind map in real time with other users, save your mind map to Google Drive or Dropbox, or use its "completed" notice to mark off the branches that you no longer need to study.

Download: MindMup for Web (Free)

No list of study apps would be complete without a shout out to the huge number of free language learning apps available for those studying another language at school.

There are many (with frequent updates making them nearly as good as any paid language learning programs!), so take the time to pick out the one that best fits your learning style and language of choice!

Instead of letting apps become a distraction, it's far better to use these well picked apps for school as powerful sources of information and motivation.

Want more choices for acing your subjects on the go? Look into some incredibly useful Android apps for students.