How to use Microsoft OneNote in a Business

What is Microsoft OneNote for business?

Microsoft OneNote is a highly versatile note taking application that can significantly enhance productivity and collaboration within a business setting. I’ve written this blog to explain why Sussex businesses should use OneNote, how it can be utilised across various devices, and specific use cases such as using it on an iPad with a stylus, capturing pictures, annotating documents, and sharing notes. Additionally, I will delve into how to create and structure notes effectively and provide a detailed overview of the Microsoft 365 licenses that include OneNote.  Note (no pun intended!) that this is not a comprehensive guide but rather how Ingenio utilises this tool to keep myself organised.

Why Use Microsoft OneNote in Business?

OneNote offers several features that make it an invaluable tool for businesses:

  • Centralised Information Hub: OneNote serves as a digital notebook where all your business notes, ideas, and plans can be stored and easily accessed. This centralisation of information helps keep all relevant data in one place, reducing the time spent searching for documents across different platforms. For instance, project managers can maintain all project-related documents, meeting notes, and task lists in a single notebook, ensuring easy retrieval and reference.
  • Collaboration: Teams can share notebooks, enabling seamless collaboration and real-time updates. This feature is handy for projects or departments involving multiple team members, as everyone can contribute and stay updated with the latest changes. For example, marketing teams can collaborate on campaign ideas, track progress, and update plans in real-time, making the coordination more efficient and effective.
  • Organisation: OneNote’s structure of notebooks, sections, and pages helps keep information organised and easy to navigate. This hierarchical structure makes it easy to categorise and retrieve information quickly. Businesses can create notebooks for different departments, sections for various projects, and pages for individual tasks or meetings, ensuring a clear and organised workflow.

How to Use OneNote Across Devices – the Killer Feature!

OneNote is available on various platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. This cross-platform availability ensures that your notes are always accessible, whether you’re in the office, at home, or on the go. I have a Microsoft Windows laptop, an iPad and a Samsung android phone and I access my notes across all of them. Here’s some more detail.

  • Desktop: The desktop version offers robust features that are ideal for detailed note-taking and organisation. It integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft 365 apps, allowing for a smooth workflow. For example, you can link notes to Outlook tasks or emails, ensuring that all relevant information is connected and easy to find.
  • Mobile: The mobile app is perfect for quick notes, reminders, and accessing information on the go. It’s particularly handy for capturing ideas or information during meetings or while travelling. For instance, I can quickly jot down client information and meeting notes while on the road, ensuring they have all the necessary details at their fingertips.  This is very useful for client meetings for not just myself, but our client facing colleagues.
  • Web: OneNote Online allows you to access your notebooks from any browser, providing flexibility and convenience. This is especially useful for accessing notes from devices where the OneNote app isn’t installed or from a Chromebook or even a Linux computer. Employees can quickly access their notes from any computer without needing to download any software, making it ideal for remote work scenarios.
  • Sync Across Devices: OneNote syncs your notes almost instantly across all your devices. Write something on your phone, and by the time you open your laptop, it’s there waiting for you. This seamless syncing ensures that you always have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips, regardless of which device you are using. This feature is particularly beneficial for executives and managers who need to switch between devices frequently.

Using OneNote on an iPad with an Apple Pencil

The iPad, combined with a stylus like the Apple Pencil, transforms OneNote into a powerful tool for handwritten notes and drawings.

  • Handwriting Recognition: OneNote can convert your handwritten notes into typed text, making them searchable. This feature is invaluable for quickly finding information within your notes. For example, during brainstorming sessions, you can jot down ideas quickly and later convert them into text for easier editing and sharing.  Even if you don’t convert your written notes into text, OneNote can still search your written notes. It does, however, mean you have to have neat writing, which is not something I have, so searching is hit-and-miss for me.
  • Annotating PDFs or word documents: You can import documents into OneNote and use the stylus to annotate them, adding notes and highlights. This is perfect for reviewing documents and adding comments during meetings. I use this feature extensively and find that adding notes before meetings invaluable. One situation I use this is to conduct interviews; I drag the CV to OneNote on my laptop, then annotate on my iPad, then bring the iPad to the interview to help with the conversation.
  • Drawing and Sketching: The iPad’s touch interface makes it easy to draw diagrams and sketches directly into your notes. This feature is particularly useful for brainstorming sessions and visual planning. Design teams can sketch out concepts and share them instantly with the team for feedback and collaboration.

Taking Pictures Using an iPad

OneNote’s integration with the iPad’s camera allows you to capture images directly into your notes.

  • Document Scanning: Use the camera to scan documents, receipts, or whiteboards. OneNote’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) can extract text from these images, making them searchable. This feature is invaluable for quickly digitising and organising physical documents. Finance departments, for instance, can scan receipts and invoices directly into OneNote, ensuring they are easily accessible and organised.
  • Adding Context: Pictures can be annotated with notes, making it easy to add context and details. This is useful for capturing and commenting on visual information during site visits or client meetings. Project managers can take photos of site progress, add annotations, and share updates with stakeholders in real time.

When I attend conferences or seminars, I will have the same Note open on my iPad and also on my smartphone. I take pictures on my smartphone (as it has a better camera) they appear almost instantly on my iPad!

Dragging Documents into OneNote and Annotating Them

OneNote supports dragging and dropping documents into your notebooks, where they can be annotated and shared.  As I mentioned before, I do this regularly on my Windows laptop.

  • File Integration: Simply drag documents such as Word files, PDFs, or images into OneNote. This feature allows you to keep all related documents and notes in one place. For example, HR teams can maintain employee records, performance reviews, and training materials in a single notebook, ensuring easy access and organisation.
  • Annotations: Use the drawing tools to highlight, underline, or add notes directly on the documents. This is useful for collaborative reviews and ensuring all feedback is captured in one place. Teams working on proposals or reports can annotate drafts, make suggestions, and track changes directly within OneNote.
  • Collaboration: Shared notebooks allow team members to view and contribute to these annotations, facilitating collaborative review processes. This ensures that all team members are on the same page and can access the latest information. Marketing teams, for example, can collaborate on campaign materials, ensuring that all feedback and revisions are captured in one place.

Sharing Notes

Sharing notes in OneNote is straightforward and facilitates collaboration and communication.

  • Share Notebooks: You can share entire notebooks with colleagues, allowing them to view and edit the contents. This is particularly useful for project management and team collaboration. For instance, project teams can maintain a shared notebook with project plans, timelines, and task lists, ensuring everyone is aligned and informed.
  • Real-Time Collaboration: Multiple users can edit the same page simultaneously, with changes visible in real-time. This feature enhances teamwork and ensures everyone has the most up-to-date information. Teams working on collaborative projects can make updates and see changes as they happen, improving efficiency and coordination.
  • Permissions: Control who can view or edit your notes by adjusting the sharing settings. This ensures that sensitive information is only accessible to authorised personnel. Managers can share project notes with their teams while restricting access to confidential sections, ensuring security and privacy.

Using OneNote as a Shared Wiki

OneNote can function as a shared wiki for your team or company, centralising knowledge and resources.

  • Creating a Wiki: Use sections and pages to organise information by topic. This makes it easy to maintain and navigate a comprehensive knowledge base. Companies can create a knowledge repository with information on company policies, procedures, and best practices, ensuring easy access for all employees.
  • Linking Pages: Create links between pages to connect related information, making it easy to navigate. This feature is particularly useful for creating a structured and interconnected knowledge repository. For example, technical departments can link troubleshooting guides, software manuals, and user FAQs, making it easy for employees to find solutions.
  • Collaborative Editing: Team members can contribute to the wiki, ensuring it stays up-to-date with the latest information. This ensures that knowledge is shared and accessible to all team members. New employees can quickly get up to speed by accessing the shared wiki, reducing onboarding time and improving productivity.

Using OneNote as a Second Brain

OneNote can act as an extension of your memory, helping you to keep track of tasks, ideas, and information.

  • Task Management: Create to-do lists and set reminders for important tasks. This feature helps you stay organised and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. Managers can maintain a task list for their teams, setting priorities and deadlines to ensure timely completion.
  • Idea Capture: Quickly jot down ideas and thoughts as they come to you, ensuring nothing is forgotten. This is particularly useful for creative brainstorming and capturing spontaneous insights. Business development teams can capture ideas for new products or services and develop them further over time.
  • Information Storage: Store important information, documents, and resources in one place, making them easy to find when needed. This centralised storage makes it easy to retrieve information quickly and efficiently. Executives can maintain a notebook with strategic plans, meeting notes, and key contacts, ensuring they have all the necessary information at their fingertips.

Creating and Structuring Notes

Creating and structuring notes effectively in OneNote can improve your productivity and ensure you capture all the important details from your meetings and projects.

Meeting Notes Template

A well-structured meeting notes template helps capture all relevant information during a meeting and ensures that nothing is missed. Here’s how you can set up an effective meeting notes template in OneNote:

  • Meeting Title: Begin with the meeting title and date. This provides context and makes it easy to locate specific notes later. For instance, use titles like “Project Kickoff – 12 May 2024” or “Monthly Sales Review – June 2024”.
  • Participants: List all the meeting participants. Knowing who attended the meeting is crucial for follow-up and accountability. This can also help identify who contributed specific ideas or who is responsible for action items.
  • Agenda: Outline the meeting agenda to stay on track. A clear agenda ensures that all important topics are covered and the meeting stays focused. This section can include bullet points such as “Budget Review,” “Project Timeline Discussion,” and “Next Steps.”
  • Key Points Discussed: Summarise the main points discussed during the meeting. This section helps in capturing the essence of the conversation without having to sift through detailed notes later. For example, you could write “Discussed potential vendors for the new project” or “Reviewed last quarter’s sales performance.”
  • Action Items: List any action items with due dates and assigned team members. Clearly specifying what needs to be done, by whom, and by when, ensures that tasks are tracked and completed. For instance, “John to contact vendors by 20 May” or “Sarah to prepare sales report by 15 June.”
  • Decisions Made: Record any important decisions made during the meeting. This helps in maintaining a clear record of what was agreed upon. For example, “Decided to extend the project deadline by two weeks” or “Approved budget increase for marketing campaign.”
  • Next Meeting: Note the date and time of the next meeting, if scheduled. This ensures that all participants are aware of when they will meet again and can prepare accordingly.

Tips for Taking Better Meeting Notes

Effective meeting notes are clear, concise, and well-organised. Here are some tips for improving your note-taking skills:

  • Prepare in Advance: Review the meeting agenda and prepare your notebook before the meeting starts. This helps you stay organised and ready to capture all relevant information. You might create sections for each agenda item in advance.
  • Use Bullet Points: Bullet points help keep your notes organised and easy to read. This format makes it easy to distinguish between different points and action items, making your notes more structured and accessible.
  • Highlight Action Items: Clearly mark action items to ensure they are easily identifiable. Using tags or different colours can help you quickly locate tasks that need follow-up.
  • Review and Edit: After the meeting, review your notes and make any necessary edits to ensure accuracy. This step helps ensure that your notes are complete and clear, and it also allows you to fill in any details you might have missed during the meeting.
  • Share Your Notes: Distribute your notes to all meeting participants soon after the meeting. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can refer back to the notes for follow-up actions.

What Microsoft 365 Licenses Include OneNote?

OneNote is included in various Microsoft 365 plans, making it accessible to many users. Here is a table of the Microsoft 365 licenses that include OneNote:

License Plan OneNote Availability
Microsoft 365 Business Basic Yes (Web and Mobile)
Microsoft 365 Business Standard Yes
Microsoft 365 Business Premium Yes
Microsoft 365 E3 Yes
Microsoft 365 E5 Yes
Microsoft 365 F3 Yes (Web and Mobile)
Office 365 E1 Yes
Office 365 E3 Yes
Office 365 E5 Yes

These plans ensure that you have access to OneNote across different devices and platforms, enhancing your productivity and collaboration capabilities.


Microsoft OneNote is a versatile and powerful tool that can enhance productivity, collaboration, and organisation in a business setting. By leveraging its features across various devices, businesses can streamline their workflows and improve their overall efficiency. Whether you’re using it on a desktop, mobile device, or iPad, OneNote offers the flexibility and functionality to meet your business needs.

Ready to integrate OneNote into your business? Contact Ingenio Technologies for expert IT support and guidance on getting the most out of Microsoft 365 and other productivity tools.


  1. Can OneNote be used offline?

    • Yes, OneNote can be used offline. Your changes will sync automatically once you’re back online.
  2. Is OneNote secure?

    • Yes, OneNote uses encryption to keep your data secure, especially when stored in OneDrive or SharePoint.
  3. How can I learn more about using OneNote?

    • Ingenio Technologies offers businesses in Sussex or beyond training sessions and resources to help you master OneNote and other Microsoft 365 tools.  Clients also get access to our learning university Ingenio Lightbulb which has Onenote and other Microsoft 365 training courses.