Tag Archives: OneNote

Thoughts on Leveraging OneNote Folder Structure for Searchability and Business Analysis

If it’s not obvious from my prior posts on this subject, I’m a fan of Microsoft OneNote.  I think it’s a fantastic tool for business analysts, but it definitely has its quarks and limitations.

This post will explore OneNote’s various search functions and discuss two ways you can structure your OneNote content to take advantage of its strengths while working around its limitations.  Specifically, using one notebook per project or effort; and defining a reusable folder structure that enables you to best leverage OneNote’s searching and tagging functions.

The Mystery of the Many OneNote Search Functions

The reasoning behind both of these recommendations has to do with limitations of the OneNote search and tag functions, and the fact that these functions are spread out across multiple access points within OneNote.  For example, the Search function (via the Search box) will let you limit the search results by the following criteria (in OneNote 2010 and 2013, which are the versions I have access to):

  • This page
  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All Notebooks

But the “Find by Author” search (which is accessed only via special button under the History tab) will only let you limit the search by:

  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All notebooks

Meanwhile, the “Recent Edits” function (also on the History tab) will initially let you narrow your results by all of the following options:

  • Today
  • Since Yesterday
  • Last 7 days
  • Last 14 days
  • Last 30 days
  • Last 3 months
  • Last 6 months
  • All pages sorted by date

And once you have selected a time period, the list of “Recent Edits” can be further narrowed by selecting from among the following options:

  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All notebooks

Lastly, there is the “Find Tags” function (discussed in the “Using OneNote Tags” article on this blog).  In that function, you can choose to limit the results by selecting from all of the following options:

  • This page group
  • This section
  • This section group
  • This notebook
  • All Notebooks
  • Today’s Notes
  • Yesterday’s Notes
  • This week’s Notes
  • Last week’s notes
  • Older notes

So depending on what type of content you are looking for, you may be limited by different search capabilities within OneNote.  And this is on top of fact that OneNote will not let you combine search times (no ‘AND’ in text or tag search) or combine search terms with other parameters (e.g. search for all instances of ‘Marketing’ in notes that have been updated in the last 7 days).

Given this current set of limitations, how can you structure your OneNote content best?
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Using OneNote Tags

This is one of a series of blog posts about Microsoft OneNote that I expect to write. To see all the ones I have currently written, click the OneNote tag.

Introduction

Tags are a feature of Microsoft OneNote that are often overlooked by users, but which can have out-sized benefits for Business Analysts, students, or others who use OneNote as a tool for gathering notes and information from a variety of sources.

So what are tags you ask?  Tags are essentially bits of metadata you can apply to anything inside a OneNote page and which you can then use to find the things you have tagged with a specialized search function.  This includes any sort of text (of any size from a single letter in a sentence to multiple paragraphs), images, drawings, and even embedded files.

Tags can also be configured to add custom styling or icons to the content that has been tagged and you can even assign more than one tag to the same bit of OneNote content.  However, one limitation is that you can’t apply them to the page, folder, or notebook structures themselves in OneNote.  Not sure what that means?  See the image below.

OneNote_No_Tags

OneNote comes with some tags predefined, and you can use one by selecting the content to be tagged and applying a tag either by selecting it from the tag drop-down list (show below) or by using a tag hot-key combination.

OneNote_Tags_Menu

In addition to the tags that come pre-configured with OneNote, you also have the ability to create your own custom tags.  This means you can create custom tags for a wide range of purposes.

But the reason why you apply the tags is that once you have content in OneNote that is assigned one or more tags you can then easily bring up a list of those things by tag, quickly hop from one to another, or even copy all of the items with one or more tags from their current location into a new page.

The rest of the article is made up of two sections where I will show you:

  1. How to customize the tag list, and
  2. How to use the Tag Summary pane for finding and summarizing tag
  3. Some thoughts on how to leverage tags as a BA

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Using MS OneNote for Meeting Notes

This is one of a series of blog posts about Microsoft OneNote that I expect to write.  To see all the ones I have currently written, click the OneNote tag.

 

As you may have figured out by now, I’m a big fan of Microsoft OneNote.  I find it to be one of the single most useful tools I have as a Business Analyst.  And I don’t know about you, but as a BA I take part in a LOT of meetings.  Project status meetings, elicitation sessions, stakeholder meetings, departmental meetings, and so many more.  And at a lot of those, I either want to or have to take notes.  So here are three quick tips one using OneNote to make your meetings notes (and maybe a few other things) a little bit easier.

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MS OneNote 2013 – Free version enhanced

NOTE:  I’m going to start posting some blog entries with tips for software I find useful as a BA. They will likely focus on the Microsoft Office suite applications and free / open source applications. This is the first.

I’m a big fan of Microsoft OneNote.  I think it’s a tool I think that every BA that works in a MS Windows and MS Office-focused environment should be using.  It’s something I also leverage a lot at home for personal use.  Unfortunately, not everyone has Microsoft Office on their home computer.  But did you know that you can (legally) get a version of OneNote for free?  On almost any hardware (including Mac)?

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New Wiki Tools Section Added and an Introduction to MS OneNote 2010 page as well

They were low on my priority list, but I have gotten around to migrating the BA Tools content from the prior version of this web site over.  Rather than have an individual page for each application, I consolidated them into single pages for each category in order to make it easier to maintain.  I didn’t see a reason for me to try and maintain separate pages for each tool when the vendor or coder would do a much better job of that than I could.  I also figured the biggest value I could give here would be awareness of what options are out there.  In an exception to that idea though, I also migrated over my “Introduction to Microsoft OneNote 2010 for Business Analyst’s” content as a wiki sub-page under the information management page.  This is a re-structured version of a presentation deck I put together a while back in order to encourage my fellow BA’s at work to adopt OneNote.  It mainly just gives a consolidated overview of the OneNote functions, and tries to throw in a few places where those might be useful to BA’s.

If you are aware of any tools I have left off (I’m sure there are a lot), feel free to send me an email or add a comment letting me know what I missed and I will add it to the wiki.  Thanks!