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Structure your studies with Microsoft OneNote

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Published: 4 December 2020

Person using a laptop

Everyone takes notes differently. Some people fill up pages and pages of notebooks with detailed information.

Others prefer to sit and listen, maybe writing down what they can remember afterwards.

But whether you learn best through bullet points or recording the lecture audio on your phone, it’s always worth exploring new ways of notetaking – maybe you’ll find a method that works even better for you.

As students at the University of Sunderland in London, you’ll have access to the Microsoft Office suite of programmes.

You’re probably familiar with Word and Excel, but have you ever tried using OneNote?

This programme is specifically designed to help people jot down information in a quick and accessible way.

That makes it perfect for everything from writing notes in a meeting to getting all the details down in your latest BSc (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management lecture.

You can write, draw, add screen clippings and audio files all directly to one document – meaning everything you need will be right there for when you come to review it.

Paper vs digital

We’ve spoken before about how using technology to take your notes is better for the environment than paper.

It’s also true that you’ll save yourself quite a bit of money if you’re not having to constantly buy paper and pens, as well as folders to keep everything in.

But there are other reasons to switch to digital writing. For example, it’s damage proof. That’s especially true of OneNote.

As the programme is linked to your student account, you’ll be able to access it even if your laptop or computer breaks.

You can also use it across different kinds of computers. So, whether you have a PC, Mac, Chromebook or anything else you’ll still be able to take brilliant notes.

Structure is key

OneNote is based around a structure that works a little like folders and tabs.

At the top level are notebooks. These act the same as regular notepads. You can put sections within them to further break down the content.

The first thing to decide on is how you want to structure your notes. For now, try having a notebook for each of your modules.

Then the individual sections within that ‘notebook’ can be for your classes.

So in the end if, for example, you’re studying MSc Engineering Management, you’ll have notebooks with titles like:

  • Project Management and Control
  • Understanding Organisations and Systems
  • Engineering Management Practice

And so on.

Within each of these, you’ll have individual files for every lecture that you can use to take notes in class, add information to in your own time and refer to when you’re writing essays and thinking about your dissertation.

There is no one correct way to do it though, so have some fun experimenting with what works best for you.

Once you’ve decided on the structure of your notes, it’s time to get started. There are plenty of ways you can do this, but try out some of the methods in our article on how to take great notes.

For a detailed guide on how to use OneNote, visit the Microsoft website.

At the University of Sunderland in London you have access to the full suite of Office 360 apps. For more information about logging in and exploring features available to you, visit the University of Sunderland’s Technical Services pages.

If you need help with your computer or anything else related to your learning, speak to your IT support service Tech Guru.

Alternatively, you can contact The Gateway team at or call them on 020 7531 7333Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.