Jumpstart Note-taking with OneNote Templates

I discovered OneNote back in 2004, and it has been my primary content creation tool ever since. You could say that I am officially a #fanboy of the product. One of the (many) things Microsoft got right with the launch of Microsoft Teams was to incorporate OneNote into the platform on Day 1, IMHO. As with many of the other core Microsoft Office products (Excel, Word, etc) there is a tremendous depth to the product, and I am continually finding new features and ways to use it.

Organizations are increasingly using OneNote as a shared note taking resource for meetings and team-based collaboration. Whether creating new notebooks with every Microsoft Team, or leveraging individual or shared notebooks for Outlook-based meetings, OneNote usage is growing. With most of my clients, all meeting notes are captured and shared in a uniform manner, allowing stakeholders to quickly review and act upon those shared notes.

If you’re like me, when I’ve created a format for meeting notes, I’ll often cut-and-paste that notebook layout between projects. But rather than re-create the layout of your meeting notes each and every time, did you know that you can insert a quick and easy format for notes using OneNote templates? The benefits of using a template are that it creates consistency, supports teaM and company branding, and makes it easy to convey other essential, repeated information (spaces for project names and owners, resource links, and other key metadata).

I shared this tip in the August 2019 Productivity Tips webinar, but wanted to expand on the feature here in the blog. As always, you can watch the entire episode, download the slides via SlideShare, or jump to the specific tip in the recording by clicking here.

Adding an Existing Template

Right out-of-the-box Microsoft offers a number of templates that you can use to jumpstart your note taking, from project overviews and meeting notes, to personal to-do lists and decorative layouts.

To open a template, simply go into Insert > Page Templates and open Page Templates to expand the template menu.

Adding page templates to OneNote

If you regularly leverage these templates, the menu will provide the last few templates used.

Adding page template to OneNote

Within the template menu, you can quickly search through existing templates and insert them into an open notebook, and even set a favorite as your default template.

Selecting from OneNote templates

The result is a new page, beautifully formatted and ready for your note taking. Of course, every aspect of this template can be modified, branded, and personalized to meet your needs — and then saved as your own template.

Formatted OneNote page with template

Creating a Template

And yes, you can create your own templates from scratch. If you have spent countless hours building a format that you reuse for new projects and meetings, simply open the template console and select Create new template and save your format as a template. It’ll prompt you to give your template a name, and give you the option of saving this new design as the default template for the current OneNote section.

Add your own templates to OneDrive

In subsequent sections and notebooks, you’ll need to manually setup this new template as your favorite, as there is no global setting for default templates.

Leveraging OneNote templates is quick and easy, and hopefully you find this tip useful!

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, and the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Lehi, Utah, through which he provides fractional-CMO for partners in the Microsoft ecosystem.