Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SLIG 2011/Tech Tuesday ~ Microsoft's OneNote For Research Trips

I have mentioned before that I really love Microsoft's OneNote program which comes with all of the iterations of Microsoft Office.  I don't know why Microsoft doesn't market this program more because I think it is tremendous.  I especially like it for research trips, gathering research citations and lookups, and keeping track of my ancestry.com shoebox. 

Today I thought I would focus on how I used OneNote for my most recent research trip to Salt Lake City for SLIG 2011. 

I have set up a Travel Notebook with sections for all types of trips ~ for our purposes the section for Salt Lake City Seminars is shown.  The tabs at the top of this Notebook Section show the following:
  • SLC Seminars
  • Journal 2009
  • Journal 2010
  • Journal 2011
  • Research 

I have enlarged the tab section (at the right) so you can see the titles of the various pages - in this instance "Packing List for 2011 Trip."  You can add pages yourself, link a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet, or grab a page from a website and "print" it to your Notebook (which is what I did with my airline reservation/confirmation, hotel reservation, and SLIG Course outline).  I also sent emails from my ProGen Study Group to my Notebook.  Anything from the Internet is easily sent from Windows Internet Explorer with a one click "send to OneNote button" and can also be done from other Internet browsers with a "print to OneNote button." 

In any event, this is a great place to keep all kinds of information about the "nuts and bolts" of my trip all in one place.  In the top right-hand corner you will notice that there is a Search function - just put in the word or phrase you are looking for and OneNote will search a particular Notebook or all Notebooks and provide you with a list of pages to help you find what you may have "misfiled."  You can keep your Notebook private, email it (either by page, section or Notebook) or share it online.  It has lots of bells and whistles, but even using just the "send to OneNote button" and keeping articles, web pages, etc., is a real boon.

The above screenshot shows the outline for the course I signed up for at SLIG 2011.  Note that the page goes into OneNote with the hyperlinks so you can always go click on the hyperlink and go directly to the website for updated information (really great when you have done research and did not keep track of where you got it from for your research log!).

In the first section for all SLC Seminars, I keep general information like the TRAX (trolley) information, restaurants that have been suggested to me, and various articles.

Finally (and perhaps most importantly) is the Research Section.  This is the place where I keep FHL catalog entries that I want to check out during my research trip.  I send them directly to OneNote so I have the film or book numbers as well as any specific information that may be of use.  I might note the family surnames I'm looking for, the time frames in question, and the priority of the research.

If you have Microsoft Office on your computer and have never checked out OneNote, why not give it a try before your next research trip.  Microsoft has some excellent tutorials on using OneNote (either version 2007 or 2010 ) ~ there is also a free version "in the cloud."  Microsoft recently published an iPhone app for OneNote which can be used with your iPhone or iTouch ~ I haven't gone there yet but I am on my way ~ oh yeah!

If you already use OneNote and have any tips or tricks to share ~ please leave a comment.  (I know I have only scratched the surface so feel free to share with the rest of us).  Thanks.


  1. I'm a huge fan of OneNote. I use it a lot for printing web pages, grabbing screen shots and saving the "is this my ancestor or not" type of references. While it saves web pages as images, there is a feature where you can convert the text in the image to searchable text. I don't think this works on pdf files with OCR text recognition, typical of what can be found on Google books. But for web pages, it is awesome.

    I also use OneNote as a planning tool, brainstorming ideas, ToDo lists... Anyone who has this software and has not tried it out must do so!

  2. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will probably begin playing with it. Using OneNote with Dropbox could help me stay more organized.

  3. Wow! This is just the overview I needed before committing a large amount of data into OneNote.
    Thank you!

    Peace & Blessings,
    "Guided by the Ancestors"


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