How to Use Microsoft OneNote for Project Management

Updated on October 9, 2017
Max Dalton profile image

Max earned his project management professional (PMP) certification in 2013. He holds an MA in Communication from U of I.


Microsoft OneNote doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves as a remarkably powerful tool to support project managers. You can use OneNote as a soup-to-nuts solution where you store everything from your meeting notes, generate and manage your to-do list, add links to where relevant files are located, share your OneNote notebooks, and more. OneNote is incredibly flexible and every project manager will invariably use it a little bit differently, but this is definitely a tool that's worth project managers adding to their tool belt.

Microsoft OneNote comes with the Office 365 Enterprise edition.
Microsoft OneNote comes with the Office 365 Enterprise edition. | Source

Meeting Notes

Project managers will often create meeting notes directly in an email that will get sent out to the team after the meeting, in Microsoft Word, or in some other word processing application. Over the course of a project, meeting notes will often live in separate files, making them difficult to go back through if you're looking for one particular item that may or may not have been documented in a meeting months ago. You can create a primary page for your meeting notes in OneNote notebook section associated with your project, and then create subpages for all of your subsequent meeting notes. You can keep your notes directly in the OneNote page using either the built in bullets or numbering system, similar to how you would add levels in Microsoft Word. The best part is that if you do build out all of your meeting notes in Microsoft OneNote, everything will be searchable, so you can find key terms from old notes in seconds rather than hours.

What to Do When a Project Goes Bad

To-do List

If you're a project manager juggling multiple complex projects, keeping track of all reminders you create for yourself over the course of the day can be an absolute nightmare. Those reminders end up scattered across meeting notes, sticky notes, and piles of paper. They rarely ever all get collected in one place, and they may never make it back on your radar until you get an angry phone call from your boss reminding you to do something. Creating a to-do list as a page at the top of the Microsoft OneNote notebook section where you store information for your project gives you easy access to that information. If you created your meeting notes in OneNote, you can simply copy the relevant items you want to pull into your to-do list for that project into that separate list. From there, you can right-click on any of the items in a list to tag that item as a to-do item with a check box, an important item with a star icon, an idea with a light bulb icon, a password with a lock icon, and more. Additionally, if you have Microsoft Outlook set up on your computer, you can also create reminder flags associated with those items that will also display and pop up in Outlook.

Link to Relevant Files

You can also either add shortcut links to relevant files on your computer or websites in-line anywhere in your document. Additionally, you can insert active versions of Microsoft files directly in your OneNote pages. Alternatively, you can insert some files that are not associated with Microsoft applications, but they will display as a PDF, if they can be displayed at all. The links can be especially helpful if you build a page within your project's notebook section out as a table of contents for your project's files and then link back to them. This will let you access those files quickly from one location without having to work your way through a bunch of folders to get to what you need.

Microsoft OneNote lets you move text and images to any location on a page. Additionally, you can insert a variety of iconography to call out to create visual flags associated with the text on the page.
Microsoft OneNote lets you move text and images to any location on a page. Additionally, you can insert a variety of iconography to call out to create visual flags associated with the text on the page. | Source

Easy Sharing

Perhaps the best part of Microsoft OneNote is that if you have a OneNote notebook section dedicated to a project, you can easily share that notebook section with anyone else who has OneNote. You can email that specific section, or you can go out to the location where it's saved, copy it, and send it to that person via other means. A good use case around this is if you are going on vacation and you need to get someone up to speed on your project so they can serve as a point person while you're out, you can send them your OneNote file and literally give them all of the information about the project. Additionally, if the files you call out within the link file are in a shared location where the other person can access them, they they'll be able to easily find your files as well.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • Can OneNote be backed up?

    Yes. In the desktop version of OneNote you can click: File/Options/Save and Backup. From there you can back up your OneNote file.

© 2016 Max Dalton


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      2 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Hi Darren. Awesome! Very glad you liked it. I've received a lot of great feedback on write-ups I've done around this.

    • profile image

      Darren Manley 

      2 years ago


      This was probably the most direct and germane explanation I have encountered to date using OneNote to support a project method.

      Thanks for taking the time to write this up.


    • Max Dalton profile imageAUTHOR

      Max Dalton 

      3 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

      Best of luck! I've used it for a few years, and don't think I could live without it.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      3 years ago from United States

      Thanks for this tutorial. You provide some great ideas for using OneNote. I'm going to try the to-do list and links to files. Best, Jill


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)