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Effective Use of Hyperlinks in OneNote

When you're taking notes in OneNote some of your notes may be entirely self-contained - just a list that came into your head or an idea you wanted to jot down. What really takes your notes, especially research notes, to the next level however is when you have links in those notes to other content. 

There are several kinds of content that you can link to in OneNote and in this article we're going to explore that a bit.

Linking to Other Notes

First and foremost you may want to link to other notes on other pages or even in other notebooks. That way you can use the hyperlink to jump to those related notes whenever you want to.

Maybe you have a client that uses a particular piece of equipment in their business and elsewhere in your notebooks you have notes about that piece of equipment. By hyperlinking to it in your notes you always have an easy way to get to those related notes.

There are a couple of ways to accomplish that.

Wiki Style

If you happen to know the name of the page those other notes are on you can automatically have Microsoft OneNote 2010 create a link to that page simply by typing the name of the page and enclosing it in double brackets ( [[ ]] ) like this:

The client requires 3 Dell [[PowerEdge 2950]] Servers.

That will automatically create a link to your page titled "PowerEdge 2950" even if that page is located in another notebook.

If the page doesn't exist OneNote will underline "PowerEdge 2950" with a broken blue line (rather than the solid blue line that indicates a valid hyperlink) and clicking that link will cause OneNote to create a new, blank, page for you titled "PowerEdge 2950".  That's handy when you know that you WILL create a destination page for that link but you just haven't created it yet.

Wiki Style links work great for pages and not badly for section names. It sort of works for notebooks though it's hard to predict what page it's going to take you to within that notebook so its utility is really pretty limited. It doesn't work at all at the paragraph level.

Pasted Hyperlinks

The more precise way to create a link to another note in OneNote is to right-click the destination - whether it's a notebook, a section, a page, subpage or even a paragraph (right-click the handle that appears to the left of the paragraph when you select it) and choose "Copy Link To..." from the context menu that appears.

Then go to the text you want to hyperlink from, select it and press CTRL+K (Or Insert | Link from the Ribbon), and paste (CTRL+V) the copied link into the Address field.  Click OK and your link is established.

Create a Link in Microsoft OneNoteYou can also select the hyperlink text, press CTRL+K and then navigate in the "Pick a location in OneNote" box at the bottom of the dialog box. 

You can select right down to the sub-page level - but not to the paragraph level.

Link To Files

You can also create hyperlinks from your notes to files on your computer or in a network location.  One way to do that is from the same dialog box we see at left. 

Just select the text you want to link from, press CTRL+K to get the Link dialog box then click the File Folder icon next to the Address field.  Navigate in the Link to File dialog box to the file you want to hyperlink to.

Link To The Web

Another popular option is to link to web content. Frequently that's used when doing research. You find an article on the Internet that is related to your notes and want to save some relevent piece of information. The easy way is to select that text (and/or images) in your browser, press CTRL+C to copy, then go to your note page in OneNote and CTRL+V to paste it where you want it.

OneNote will paste in the content, generally preserving the original formatting as it appeared on the web page, AND will automatically create a hyperlink back to the original page for you.

I have a page for web sites that I want to review later.  When I find a site I want to read but don't have time I quickly pop up my "To Read" page in OneNote, highlight the headline of the page and copy/paste it to OneNote.  Later, when I have time, I'll go to the To Read page and click on the first page linked there.

If the content is compelling I might copy/paste some of that content onto its own page in OneNote - either in a relevent section or, if it doesn't seem to fit anywhere, I have a catch-all section called "Interesting Things" that I review from time to time.

Summary

Linking in OneNote is powerful.  You can use it to create indexes or tables of contents to other content. You can use it to interrelate your content to other notes, pages, sections or notebooks.  You can link to other documents in your system and you can create links to web content.