OneNote and PowerPoint: Better together!

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 is for presentations and Office OneNote 2007 is for notes. Since you can't have a presentation without notes, it always amazes me how few PowerPoint users think to use OneNote to help them organize and share their information.

One of the new features in OneNote 2007 is the ability to "print" your documents and files to your pages in OneNote. You can do this from just about any Windows program by using the "Send to OneNote" printer. The power of the combination comes in what you send over to OneNote and what you can do with what has been sent.

In this article


OneNote and PowerPoint for the participant

At the most basic level, you can send your PowerPoint slides to a section in OneNote. Open the presentation in PowerPoint and select Print. At the bottom of the Print dialog, select Slides from the Print What drop-down, as shown below.

Printing to OneNote from a Windows program

Callout 1 Select Send to OneNote 2007 as the printer.
Callout 2 Choose what to print.

If you click OK, you will get a full-sized copy of each of the slides in your current presentation. If you are the presenter, you may want that size of slide. If you are getting ready to take notes on the slides, however, you'll probably want a smaller version. I find that the Handouts option (4 to a page) works well. It gives me a big-enough picture of each slide to see what it says and still leaves plenty of room to take notes, and the images aren't so big that I have to scroll through several pages.

Click OKand let the computer buzz and whir a moment or two. OneNote creates a new page in Unfiled Notes that contains a page with images of your slides. This, my friends, is the beginning of a whole new note-taking experience for you.

 Tip   What if I want my printout in a different section? On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click Send to OneNote. Pick one of the last two option buttons to have the notes go into the current section, or select the first option button and an existing section to put all your printouts together.

Change OneNote default settings in the Options dialog box

Now that the slides are in OneNote, you can annotate over the top of the slides as the presenter speaks. Have a Tablet PC? Great — you can also use handwriting features to write your notes. Don't have a Tablet PC? Don't worry! You can create notes just as easily with your keyboard as you can with ink. Just click where you want the notes to appear and start typing.

Your slides will have come to OneNote in full color. This is great for seeing what is on the slides, but potentially not so great for taking notes over them.

I solve this in two ways:

  • I change the text color to something that contrasts with the background of the slides. If your slide backgrounds are simple, this will be enough to allow you to see your notes.
  • I change the text highlight color to yellow or grey and make sure my text color contrasts with that. The yellow and grey backgrounds stand out against most of the slide backgrounds I have encountered, so the notes stand out.

 Tip   You can also choose to print your presentation to OneNote in grayscale and then use color text to annotate your slides. In the Print dialog box, click the Color/grayscale drop-down list and choose Grayscale.

Since you can create notes anywhere on a page, you now have a virtual handout that you can carry with you after the presentation.

Take it to the next level and audio record the meeting or presentation. Make sure you get permission from those in the meeting to do the recording. OneNote will automatically put markers within your notes that determines where to start the audio (or video) when you click a marker. By audio recording a presentation, you not only have the slides and your notes, you have exactly what was said, too.

After the presentation, there are three other things you can do with the slides and notes that you may never have thought about: Searching, copying, and sharing the slide text and the notes.

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Searching your notes

Once you have printed the slides to OneNote, the content of each slide is automatically scanned and processed by OneNote so that you can search for the text on the slides. To show how this works, I created a simple presentation and printed it to OneNote. Once the slides were in OneNote, I made a couple of notes over the top of the slide.

After the annotation, this is what the slide looks like:

Highlighted search results in the text and the image

Once this slide has been printed to the notes, type the word "annotate" in the search box in OneNote and it will find it in that slide. The search will find that word twice on this slide: once in the slide graphic and once in the notes:

Notes added over a printed PowerPoint slide

Notice that the copy in the notes is highlighted in yellow, but the copy on the slide is in pink? This is just to make sure that you can see both highlights. Nice time saver!

Slide content and notes all in one place and searchable. If you audio recorded the presentation, your audio notes are automatically searchable also. OneNote will do its best to find the search words in the audio file and highlight the note whose marker is closest to the point in the recording where the word was spoken.

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Copying text from the slides

OneNote 2007 search is great. But the next step takes it from great to amazing. Once you have the slide in OneNote, you can also tell OneNote you want to extract the text content of the slide and copy it to the clipboard.

Copying text from a graphic is as easy as right-clicking. Right-click any image in a PowerPoint printout, and then click Copy Text from this Page of the Printout on the shortcut menu. Doing this will cause OneNote to take the text content from the picture and place it on the clipboard.

Now I can paste the text anywhere I want, either on another notes page, in an e-mail, in a document, or into another program.

In my slide example, OneNote's conversion realized that each of the shapes in the piece of SmartArt was a unique item on the slide and split the content accordingly. This amazed me the first time I saw it work. I had figured it would just read right to left, regardless of shape. But OneNote is smarter than I expected!

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Sharing your notes

You have all this great information at the end of a meeting — the presentation, your notes, you might even have an audio recording. You can find anything you need related to that meeting. But what about a co-worker who had to miss the meeting?

No problem! You can share your notes with others by e-mailing your notes page. Click the E-mail button in the OneNote toolbar, enter the recipient(s), add an introduction, and then click Send a Copy. Just like that, they get all of the same great information that you have in your notebook!

If your notebook is stored on a shared drive, you don't even need to send any notes. Just give your co-workers a link to the notebook and they can open it themselves. They see your notes, and can mark them up with comments and questions they might have.

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OneNote and PowerPoint for the presenter

If you are the presenter, you have even more power. When you print your PowerPoint presentation to OneNote, you can print not just the slides, but your presentation notes as well. This allows you to create a section in your notebook that has the slides and your notes, in any of the standard formats.

One of the tricks I do is to print my slides to a OneNote section and then add my notes there, instead of in PowerPoint. I can have the slides and the outline in a single section, then add the notes to each slide or outline bullet as I need to. By creating a OneNote section with this information, I can also create a roadmap of when and where the animations in my presentations are scheduled to happen.

I don't often do linear presentations. I tend to do presentations where slides link to each other and to external resources. After I print my presentation to OneNote, I also create a table on one of the pages that shows which slides contain links and triggered animations.

On extremely complicated presentations, the table can end up with three columns:

  • The slide number
  • The object that is clicked to jump or start the animation
  • The destination or the object that will animate

Since OneNote 2007 lets me link between notes and pages, I can even set the destination description to be a clickable link to the note or page. The table allows me to not only learn my content, but also provides a quick study guide to use for learning the roadmap of my presentation.

If I have external documents that I need to reference during the presentation, I drop those documents into OneNote as well. On the Insert menu, click Files to insert either the document itself or a link to the document into your notes with little effort.

Not going to be presenting on the same machine as where you develop? Not a problem! You can either place the notebook file on a USB drive and take it with you, or save just the section as a .onepkg file package. These are special files created by OneNote 2007 that contain the entire section, along with any embedded documents so that you can easily move them between computers.

When running my presentations, I almost always set up to show one set of information on my screen and a different set of information through the projector. I have always been a fan of PowerPoint's "Presenter View." With OneNote, I run the presentation on the projection screen and OneNote on my laptop screen. Great for seeing what is going on. A tip: If you are going to do this, be sure to bring a real mouse to the meeting. It makes things much easier!

View our Best Practices demo

For a hands-on demonstration of how easy it is to work with PowerPoint slides and other Office files in OneNote, check out our free video demo, OneNote 2007 — An Executive’s Best Practices.


Kathy Jacobs is a Microsoft MVP. Her blog, Vitamin CH, is a top OneNote tip resource. She still has the transparencies from one of her first presentations, which she created in the early 1990s on a Macintosh. Her computing days go back even further than that. Kathy's most recent book, "Microsoft Office Excel 2007: The L Line, The Express Line to Learning," is available at most major booksellers.

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Applies to:
OneNote 2007