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Planning to do a lot of audio recording in OneNote? It's worth it to invest in a decent external microphone. This is the one I have.

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Using Templates

OneNote is the kind of application that seems ripe for templates and there IS some capability to create templates - standardized notes pages - within OneNote.

It's not obvious how to get to the Page Templates feature. You have to click the "New Page" drop down above the page list and select "Page Templates".

Accessing OneNote templatesOnce you do that you'll get the Templates task pane on the right side of the screen where you can choose from among several dozen built-in templates (in 5 different categories), create your own and set a default template for new pages, if you choose.

Templates task pane in OneNoteApplying a template is simple and intuitive, just select the template you want from the Templates list and click on it.

If you don't like that one, just select another. 

NOTE: Once you've typed some text on the page if you try to change to a different template OneNote will create a new page with the different template. You can't change the template an existing page uses. If you really NEED to change the template used by a page you've already typed on you'll have to create a new page with the new template and then copy the typed content from the old page.

How Do I Turn The Template Off Again?

If you've selected a template and decided not to use it, just open the "Blank" category and select the "Default" template to reset your page back to a clean one.

Or delete the page and click "New Page".

As above, though, once you've typed something in the template you'll have to create a new, blank, page and copy/paste that content in order to preserve it. You won't be able to remove a template from a page you've typed in without losing the content otherwise.

Create Your Own Template

To create your own template simply create a new page (or modify an existing one) to be exactly the way you want it. Then go to the Templates task pane and, at the very bottom of the taskpane, select "Save current page as a template".


Can I Create Multi-page Templates?

Not in the traditional way, but the way WE do it is to create a section and set up or template in that section. We even name the section "New Client Template".  We create all of the pages we need (we have 6, currently) in there and set them up the way we like it. Then we locate that section in a shared notebook so everybody can access it.

When they need to create a new client section they copy that section and change the name of that copy to the name of the client.

What Other Limits Are There Are On Templates?

OneNote is designed for unstructured text. There are some kinds of templates that don't tend to work that well.

Calendar templates are sort of a mixed bag. You can create some beautiful calendars, but the problem is setting the calendar overlay so that you can type in them. OneNote doesn't enforce read-only text within an otherwise editable page. So you can create the calendar overlay with boxes to type in, but it's not hard to accidentally (or deliberately) modify the calendar boxes and get your template all out of whack.

You can put your calendar overlay in the background as an image, that would protect the calendar, but images in the background aren't enforced. Which means that just like a paper calendar there's nothing to prevent you from just writing all over the calendar without regard to where the boxes are. And since text on a OneNote page isn't really anchored down it wouldn't be hard to accidentally push the text you'd typed down out of the date you had typed it on.

Generally speaking Outlook is a much better calendar than OneNote is anyhow. If you don't have Outlook, then maybe Google Calendar or some other calendar option is worth a look.

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