How to Use OneNote Templates: Everything You Need to Know

Rahul Saigal Updated 08-05-2019

A good note-taking structure relieves you from the burden of remembering and keeping track of everything. When you develop a proper system, you can start focusing on the content, argument, and ideas. Creating a template from scratch gives you similar benefits.


They give pages a consistent look, gives you flexibility in structuring different types of documents, and saves time. Here is everything you need to know to get started using templates to fulfill your note-taking potential in OneNote.

What Are OneNote Page Templates?

OneNote 2016 has a large variety of page templates. They offer you preset layouts with various formatting options to help you create clean and structured notes. By default, OneNote lets you choose from five template categories: Academic, Blank, Business, Decorative, and Planners.

They all come with a unique style and design. For example, the Academic category offers templates for note-taking tasks in various subjects. The Decorative list includes photorealistic backgrounds to make pages more attractive. Many of the templates also include placeholder text. You can add your text to start building notes.

Adding a OneNote Template

To add a template, go to the Section of your choice. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon. Then, click the Page Templates button. From the menu, choose Page Templates option.

choose the page template command in OneNote


From the Templates pane, click a category to expand the list of templates. Click a template to create a new page based on the design.

choose a template from the pane in OneNote

Page Templates Menu

OneNote keeps a list of recently applied templates. This option comes handy when you want to use the same template on a new page. Click the Page Templates button to see this list. Note — You won’t find any templates listed when you click this button for the first time.

recently applied templates in the page templates menu


Setting a Default OneNote Template

If you plan on using the same template over and over again, you can assign it as a default template for every new page you create in a section. Just beneath the Always use a specific template field, click the dropdown menu and select your template from the list.

always use a specific template option in OneNote

How to Edit a OneNote Template

Once you find a template that fits your needs, you can customize them as per your needs. With the powerful built-in tools, OneNote lets you modify the content and appearance without any effort. At first, create a new page based on the page template.

We’ll edit the History Class Notes template to make it suitable for printing. We have to remove the background image to reduce ink costs. To do this, right-click anywhere in the background and uncheck Set Picture as Background. With that done, delete the image.


uncheck the background image in history notes template

To change the paper size, navigate to the View tab via the Ribbon. Click the Paper Size button, and from the pane that appears change the size and margins. If you’re planning to print your notes in the future, tweaking these options beforehand can help keep your layouts in check.

change the paper size and margins in OneNote

In the last step, re-open the Page Template menu and click Save current page as a template. When you do this, it creates a new page template and does not overwrite the existing template.


save current page as a template

Where OneNote Stores Page Templates

OneNote store the page templates at

C:\Users\<Your Username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\My

You can open this notebook directly from OneNote through File Option or double-click My to open in OneNote. You can also share the page templates with other users. Copy the template file and share through the OneNote interface.

How to Create a OneNote Template

Once you’re comfortable with using and editing built-in templates, you can start creating your own from scratch. The basics are mostly the same, but think beforehand about these aspects:

  • Goals: Your goals should be clear. What you want to achieve with the template. Is it for project management, event planning, cliff notes, or more?
  • Details: A template should include all the necessary details. You can always delete less-important data later on, but adding more might complicate the template structure.
  • Customization: Templates should also make customization areas clear. If you’re collaborating this template with other users, then highlight the critical areas with visual clues.
  • Naming: Use a standardized naming system for templates. You can add labels with a revision number for simplicity. Don’t forget to create a master page of all revisions.

Designing a OneNote Template

I’m going to create a project planner to sum up all the projects, client details, expectations, and tasks. We’ll add the company logo to make template look professional.

To insert an image, click the Insert tab and choose Pictures. From the dialog box that appears, navigate to the folder containing your photo. Position your image to fit in your template.

Then, right-click the image and check Set Picture as Background. This will prevent you from accidentally moving the image around when you’re setting up the template.

insert a company logo in your template

Tables are excellent vehicles for the presentation of information. They create visual interest and bring order to ungainly note lists. To create a table, click the Insert tab and choose Tables.

Drag the mouse over the boxes to select how many rows and columns you want in the table. Then, fill the table with text, numbers, files, and more.

creating a table in your template

With the built-in simple wiki system How to Create a Personal Wiki Using Microsoft OneNote A wiki is a great way to store and share large amounts of information. Here's how easy it is to create a wiki with OneNote. Read More , you can link the client details to another page in a notebook. In this way, you can keep all the information together without cluttering the template.

You can also add a to-do list with tags and even embed files to keep in track of the project. OneNote offers you some unique ways to manage tasks. Use these tips to create an actionable list in 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 .

Best Practices for Creating OneNote Templates

  • When you’re setting up a template, turn on View > Rule Lines to make it easier to align text boxes, pictures, and other content. Toggle of this option before saving the template.
  • Keep your styles, headings, font types, and sizes consistent. Although Onetastic can create custom styles, avoid using them while making the template.
  • Make sure placeholder text is clear and easy to identify. If you’re collaborating with another user, then add labels for clarity.
  • Keep headings separate from other content like tables and pictures. Text boxes often expand when they’re filled with content, making your template cluttered.
  • Don’t use a picture as background unless it’s essential for your template. Background images affect the file size, adds complexity, and increases printing costs.

Templates in OneNote for Windows 10

OneNote 2016 has full-featured support for page templates. But what about OneNote for Windows 10? Microsoft is making a lot of progress to bring back useful features. At some point, they’ve added template related features.

Set up a note that you want to use for a template. Right-click your note in the navigation pane and choose Set as Default Template. A dialog box will pop up for confirmation.

set as a default template in OneNote app

To remove the default template, right-click on the section and choose Remove Default Template. If you don’t see this feature yet, turn on the Experimental Preview in Settings or join the Insider build to get the latest updates. It’s a great time to switch from OneNote 2016 Why You Should Switch From OneNote 2016 to OneNote for Windows 10 OneNote 2016 is being phased out. We'll explain what's happening to OneNote 2016 and show you the great benefits of switching to OneNote for Windows 10. Read More .

remove default template for the section in OneNote app

Where to Download OneNote Templates

Templates take time to build, and it’s easy to wonder if they’re worth the investment. In my view, it’s worth your time. You’ll never forget to leave important information and also guarantee a consistent look. Just be aware of the goals, best practices, and tips discussed in this article.

Developing a template from scratch requires structure and workflow adjustments. It may or may not fit your needs. To help you save time and generate inspiration, here are some best sites to download OneNote templates for your use in different projects The 6 Best Sites to Download Microsoft OneNote Templates A Microsoft OneNote template can help you organize your life. Grab these ready-made OneNote templates from these websites. Read More .

Related topics: Microsoft OneNote, Note-Taking Apps, Office Templates.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Rick
    June 22, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Even after create a template there is no way to insert template in OneNote for Windows 10. Really crappy!

  2. Bill Baker
    August 21, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Crappy web page, long delays for ads, kills browser history.

  3. Nicole Campbell
    March 9, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    I would like to be able to input the meeting details in my template without everything moving around .

  4. Michal
    September 26, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    When I create template like that:
    - Menu
    header1 ( link to section1 )
    header2 ( link to section1 )

    Section 1

    Section 2

    And use that template, all links point to the original template page. They should link to the section in newly created one.

  5. Kuroneko
    February 9, 2016 at 4:13 am

    No templates in my menu. What a crock!

    • Martin
      June 21, 2016 at 7:05 am

      I guess it is only available in OneNote 2016 that comes with the MS Office package, but not in the free version that comes with many restrictions. Additionally, from my experience all Mac versions of Microsoft applications have their limitations by design - compared to their relatives that live in Windows.

  6. Anonymous
    September 21, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I have a question -

    Where are the templates in OneNote?

    My Ribbon doesn't have a Templates tab at all, like the one in this article.

    I have looked at three different versions of OneNote - Android, Online and Windows 10. None has a Templates tab.

    What am I missing?

    • Martin
      June 21, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Compared the free OneNote desktop client with the OneNote 2016 that came with my MS Office I can confirm, that many (if not most) features are missing in the free version. Unfortunately.

      • Martin
        June 21, 2016 at 7:20 am

        Anyway, there could be a workaround for the free version: Use a separate notebook for your custom page templates. After everything is set up, just right click the desired page and choose "copy" to copy it to the target notebook whenever you need it. It is not that convenient than the template feature, but at least it helps to solve the task.

  7. Anonymous
    August 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Really useful article, Brad.

    I have just created a Notebook pkg using various templates to help in planning a novel, if anyone is interested.

    All the best

    CC Hogan

  8. Anonymous
    June 27, 2015 at 3:48 am

    Its too bad there are no templates in the MAC version. I hope they make that a feature someday. The MAC version will see templates that were created in the Windows just can't implement a template in the MAC version.

  9. Anonymous
    June 25, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Great article! Thanks!