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How to Use OneNote for Business Training: a Student Perspective

4 minute read

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I already wrote about how an instructor, trainer, or teacher can utilize Microsoft OneNote to improve a training. But what about the student?

Students are the focus of any training event, or at least should be. Good news, I’m going to suggest three quick ways that students can use OneNote to aid their learning.

Webster defines training as “a process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job.” Deeply ingrained in this definition is the concept that someone is at the receiving end of this training—a student. Let’s make sure the student is not forgotten.

Replace Paper for Note Taking

With so many sexy features in OneNote, it is easy to forget that at its most basic level, text notes can be typed and saved for future reference. So go ahead and open up a new notebook, section or page for the class you are taking and start taking notes.

When writing your notes, feel free to adjust your view to full screen mode by clicking the arrow in the top right corner of the page. This will give you a blank screen to focus on the material being presented and take notes with fewer distractions. Clicking the same arrow button in the top right will get you back to the normal view.

If you are using a stylus with Microsoft Surface Pro 3, you can simply click on the pen and begin writing your notes. It doesn’t matter if the screen is locked or not. Check it out here.

Record Audio of Training with Linked Notes

Be sure to ask your instructor for permission first, but recording a lecture or training in OneNote can prove valuable as a reference in the future. Just like most features, OneNote spruces things up a little beyond the basic recording devices.

While recording, you can write or type notes just like you would without recording simultaneously. But if you choose to record, whenever you make a note, OneNote will remember that time in the audio recording. This means that after you have recorded a twenty minute training period of the team leader discussing sales tactics, you can go to each line of notes and click the small play button to the left side. OneNote will play the portion of audio, let’s say at the twelve minute mark, exactly when you took those notes (actually a few seconds before so you catch everything). Now you don’t have to listen to the whole twenty minute audio ever again if you don’t want to. You can make a note when something important is said and OneNote will get you back to that spot in the future. This isn’t your parents’ tape recorder device.

To start recording, head over to the Insert Tab and click on Record Audio.

A WMA file will be created, along with the date and time of recording, and you are live.

In the above image, see how the play arrow is made next to my notes? Clicking on this will play the audio at the time the note was made.

When recording or playing back notes, a contextual tab opens with many familiar commands for video and audio.

BONUS TIP: You can also record video with your device’s built in camera. Notes you take will also be linked. Your file will be saved as a WMV file.

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Office Lens

Maybe you aren’t the kind of person that wants to record audio or video during training? Well, I bet you still want to remember a few things from the course that you, or if you are lucky, your employer paid so much for you to attend.

Besides taking copious notes, you could take a picture of the PowerPoint screen, whiteboard, or any screens/pages of writing your instructor has made. With a handy application called Office Lens, created by Microsoft and available on essentially every device including Apple products, you can take a picture of your instructor notes and save to OneNote like magic.

This one is too fun not to try out. Head over to your app store and download it before your next training session. Any notes added via Office Lens will have all the text searchable for the future.

Office Lens can aid in any training, no matter how small. Does your supervisor ever handwrite a concept you are discussing in his/her office?  Just take a quick photo of the paper or screen with the Office Lens app and it will be ready for you in OneNote for future reference.


The secret weapon to OneNote for training, seminars, and education is OneNote Class Notebook Creator. As a student, you don’t have many choices if this app is implemented in your training. But, you can request it of your training institution.  Maybe your industry has a training leader that could benefit from the Notebook Creator?

To find out about OneNote Class Notebook Creator, check out the Microsoft site here and here. For a fantastic article on how to use the notebook creator, see this post on the Office Blog.

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