How to Use Microsoft OneNote for Project Management

Tina Sieber 09-02-2016

OneNote is more than a note taking program. It’s the ideal collaboration tool for managing simple projects 6 Project Management Tips You Can Use to Organize Your Life Project Management is the profession of getting things done. Our tips will help you apply a project manager's perspective, skills, and tools to organize your own life. Read More  in small teams. And unlike Evernot How to Migrate from Evernote to OneNote, and Why You Should Do you think that Microsoft OneNote is better than Evernote? Or maybe, it just suits your project management style. Either way, here's how you can migrate all your notes from Evernote to OneNote easily. Read More e, OneNote is completely free OneNote Is Now Truly Free With More Features Than Before Evernote no longer rules the roost of note taking apps. Microsoft recently announced OneNote would be more free than ever before. Let us show you what this means in terms of features and functionality. Read More .


We’ll show you how you can use OneNote for project management, either by yourself or with your team, and we’ll demonstrate basic and advanced OneNote features along the way.

1. Use Notebooks, Sections, and Pages

With OneNote, you can create as many notebooks as you want. Within each notebook, you can keep multiple sections (tabs listed on top). And within each section, you can create sub-pages (listed on the right-hand side). This structure is ideal for collecting and organizing information.

I recommend creating separate notebooks for all your projects. You can use sections to keep track of each project’s major deliverables or phases How to Organize Any Project with a Work Breakdown Structure A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Every complex project consists of multiple components. The Work Breakdown Structure can help you identify all the steps and put them into sequence. Read More . Pages allow you to further sub-divide each section.

OneNote Project Example

Let’s say one of your projects is to organize an event and you need to find a venue, a caterer, and a band. Each of these are deliverables — i.e. sections.


When you do your research for each of these items, you can store your results on a page of the respective section. Other pages under the same section may be dedicated to lists of your next steps, contact information, booking details etc.

2. Share Notebooks

OneNote is cross-platform 5 Reasons You Should Take Notes with OneNote Anywhere Few things are as important as the ability to take good notes, especially for students. OneNote is perfect for notes on coursework. We think you will find it's great for organizing other information, too. Read More . It’s available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and on the Web. Chrome users can use OneNote Clipper to capture material from any website.

Want to capture and share anything on your Windows desktop screen? Use the convenient Windows + Shift + S shortcut key for the Screen Clipping feature on OneNote.

Information can easily be shared and accessed from almost any device.


When you’re working in a team, you can share notebooks and let the whole team contribute. Staying with the event example from above, several members of your team could help research the venue, caterer, and band, while others might use the finalized information to get in touch with the potential candidates to request quotes, discuss the details, and make bookings.

When you create a new notebook, OneNote will ask you whether you want to invite people.

Invite People to OneNote

To share an existing notebook, go to File > Share. Here you can Share with People individually or Get a Sharing Link, either for viewing or editing the notebook, which you can send to your team.


Share OneNote Notebook

3. Organize Data in Lists & Tables

Everything is easier to digest when it’s presented in a structured way. You can use lists to collect ideas or outline project goals. Tables can help you keep track of stakeholders, resources, or schedules.

Insert a Table

To create a table, go to Insert > Table and select the size. You can add additional rows and columns later: right-click the table and go to Table > Insert… Here you will find more table formatting features, such as sorting, shading, or hiding borders.

OneNote Insert Table


Create Lists

OneNote supports three types of lists: bulleted, numbered, and checklists. The specific formatting of bullets and numbers can be customized. Checklists can be combined with bulleted or numbered lists.

To create a list, type out some items, and highlight them. The floating formatting menu should show up. If not right-click the list, then select Bullets, Numbering, or Tag as To Do (aka checklist).

OneNote To Do List

OneNote keyboard shortcuts How to Find Every Microsoft Office Keyboard Shortcut You Could Ever Need Finding a complete list of keyboard shortcuts can be a chore. Let Word automatically generate a list of all of its shortcuts! You'll find keyboard shortcuts for other Office applications, too. Read More :

  • CTRL +1 = checklists
  • CTRL + . = bullets
  • CTRL + / = numbers

Note: While you can create To-Do lists with OneNote 6 Tips for Using OneNote as Your To-Do List Are you making the most of your OneNote to-do list? Apply our tips for better OneNote checklists. Read More , it’s a poor tool to keep track of time sensitive tasks, unless you link OneNote with Outlook Turn Outlook Into a Project Management Tool With OneNote Integration OneNote can do more than you think. We'll show you how to turn your Outlook to do list into a powerful project management tool using the OneNote plugin for Outlook. Read More .

As Ryan’s article shows, OneNote offers seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook. For example, you can create “to-do” items from meeting minutes in OneNote. Linking OneNote to Outlook enables you to organize all these daily to-do items in one place.

Tasks can be collected in Outlook from all project pages in your OneNote notebooks. When you complete a task in Outlook, the corresponding task is marked as completed in the respective OneNote page.

4. Track Emails & Share Information

Email is an effective communication tool for projects, but it’s a poor way to keep track of important information or files. Moreover, not everyone needs to be CCed while a conversation leading up to a decision is taking place. How then do you keep everyone informed?

To share information, you can use Outlook’s Send to OneNote Ribbon button or you can manually drag emails into a shared notebook. This way anyone can catch up on the conversation or find details when needed.

Send to OneNote

In addition to Outlook emails you can share content from other sources. To customize how OneNote handles incoming content, go to File > Options > Send to OneNote. You can choose custom settings for Outlook Items, Web content, Print to OneNote, and screen clippings. The default setting is Always ask where to send.

Send to OneNote Settings

You can even forward emails or email content directly to OneNote using from an authorized email account. Head to your OneNote Email Settings page to add and select email addresses and choose the default destination for incoming content.

5. Set Up a Team Wiki

Whether you want to keep track of team contacts, record your lessons learned across multiple projects, or offer an outline of specific processes, OneNote works incredibly well as a shared and collaboratively edited wiki. One feature you’ll need to make this work, is linking to notebooks, sections, pages, and paragraphs.

Right-click on a notebook, section, page, or area on a page and select Copy Link to… Now paste the link anywhere in your notebook. Alternatively, you can highlight and right-click an item, select Link…, choose the notebook, section, or page you would like to link to, and click OK to add it.

OneNote Internal Links

A quick way to link to a page is to type [[name of page]]. If the page doesn’t exist, it will be created instantly.

6. Make Meetings More Productive

It’s impossible to work with a team and not have meetings. To get the best out of your meetings, prepare an agenda and take meeting minutes. This will help you make best use of the meeting time and keep track of everything that was said and decided.

The benefits of keeping meeting notes in OneNote are manifold:

7. Use Project Templates

For iterative projects with recurring processes, it can be a huge help to have tried and trusted templates to work from. When you make things like checklists or work schedules available as a template, your team will save time. It’s less likely that an item will be missed, and consistency across your team will increase.

OneNote comes with a selection of preset templates, including several different ones for meeting notes.

Find them under Insert > Page Templates… > Business. Whenever you’re planning a meeting, use one of those templates to create the agenda and base your meeting notes on it.

OneNote Meeting Notes Template

To create a custom template, prepare your preferred layout in OneNote, then go to Insert > Page Templates… and click Save current page as a template at the very bottom.

OneNote will ask you to add a template name and if desired, you can set it as default template for new pages in the current section.

OneNote Meeting Agenda Template

Next time you need your template, fetch it from the list under Insert > Page Templates… > My Templates.

Are You Joining Team OneNote?

OneNote won’t be able to replace professional project management software like Microsoft Project. However, it can be a powerful tool for simple projects and small teams. And it’s free.

And if you’re looking for a project management app specific to Mac 5 Easy-to-Use Project Management Tools for Mac Looking to manage projects on your Mac? Here are the easiest project management apps on macOS for any size tasks. Read More , check out these options.

Please share your experiences in the comments so others can benefit!

Related topics: Collaboration Tools, Microsoft OneNote, Organization Software, Project Management, Task Management, To-Do List.

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  1. Elaine
    June 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I love OneNote! I have notebooks for travel, hobbies (gardening, photography, knitting, etc.), recipes, quotes and remodeling projects. I scan receipts and put them in a notebook also. I hate keeping all those miscellaneous pieces of paper of things I want to save like copies of warranties or a program from a special ceremony or play I have attended - I just scan and save in OneNote then I can throw away the hard copy.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 1, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Elaine, sounds like you have found all the best ways to use OneNote! Congratulations. :)

  2. elwood
    March 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    very interesting, thank you very much for this article. It makes me want to try out OneNote. :-)

    However, there is one important aspect missing: can I keep all information locally on my computer or on a server in my own network?
    If I want to share information or sync information with other devices, is it automatically saved on any cloud storage from Microsoft or others?

    Especially if used for business projects, this is IMHO a very important question.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      If you're a Windows users, you can store a local copy and use OneNote without a Microsoft account. Mac users can not store a local copy I think. If you log in with your Microsoft account, a copy will (by default) automatically be stored on OneDrive and synced in regular intervals. You can turn syncing off under File > Options > Save & Backup.

  3. Chandan
    February 10, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Nice article, It helped me in thinking about How onenote can be used for other purpose.

    I am planning to use onenote for Journal writing purpose, There will be different notebook for each year, Months can be organize into section and days will be individual pages.

    A full page for a single days allow me to attache as many thought i want including images.

  4. John
    February 10, 2016 at 5:42 am

    I use one note for my modified project management or tasks tool. I have static pages titled inbox, short term and long term. The inbox is set up last of the three and all of my emails that I send to OneNote from Outlook go to that section and add a new page at the bottom of the page list and under the inbox page I have built. Then as I sort through the tasks I sent through the day I can slide them to short term or long term sections manually. Or to other tabs as necessary. I share my notebook with my coworker and it allows me to keep organized with who is doing what. Love one note for these things.