Thursday, May 30, 2013

Microsoft OneNote

I thought about starting this blog way back at the beginning of the admissions cycle, but worried about outing myself, or jinxing myself, or other stuff that ends in "myself", so I decided to wait until I knew where I'd be ending up. Had I started at the beginning of the cycle, I'd have had a whole lot to write about, though.  The trials and tribulations of putting together the material for the application, the angst about where and where not to apply, and especially the roller coaster ride that began when the first admissions decision came in would have made some compelling (i.e. neurotic) reading.  But, well...I didn't.  I decided to start now.

As a consequence, I don't think I'll have a whole heck of a lot to write about, especially since I'm writing this as a non-trad, for non-trads.  The only things left to do now that are law school-related are mundane, financial-aidy stuff, and then actually packing and moving.  Most of us in our 30s (and beyond) have already gone through this a number of times at this stage of our lives, so I don't see a whole lot of point in detailing my experiences with U-Haul customer service here.  In short, substantive posts are probably going to be few and far between for the next few months.

Still, I'd like to post occasionally, and today I'll post about Microsoft OneNote.  During visits to schools, I noticed that the lion's share of students seem to take notes on a laptop (or at least play solitaire on a laptop) during class, so I was curious as to whether they were just typing stuff up in a word-processing program, or if there were something a little more fancy that they were using.  It turns out that many of them were using OneNote, a program I'd had on my computer for quite some time, but hadn't ever even bothered to open.  I bought myself a completely useless, "For Dummies"-type book to try to teach myself how to use it, but as is often the case in these situations, I found that just diving in and trying to figure it with only by noodle and the occasional Google search was a whole lot more fun and productive.

I'm planning a trip to Thailand and Cambodia next month, and I read somewhere that OneNote was useful for that kind of thing too, so I've used it to organize my stuff: reservations, activities, airline stuff, my Cambodian visa (which can be obtained - both applied for and delivered - online!), travel insurance, etc.  Although I believe I have only scratched the outer surface of the program, I have to say it is awesome and I can already see how it is going to be useful once school starts.  The search, tagging, and linking features are all pretty easy to use, and apparently this is going to make organization of information (and especially outlining) a snap once classes start.  The program is also pretty free-form, and you can easily, say, put your notes from all your different classes in one place, and access them simply by switching between tabs.

I don't really have a lot more to say about it, since I haven't used it for actual law school note-taking yet, but I can say that from what I have seen, the program has a ton of useful features that will make life a whole lot easier when it comes to taking and organizing notes, and I plan to explore it more between now and the time classes start.  It comes as part of Microsoft Office 365 University, which students can pick up for $79.99, which I think is a pretty big bargain, so it might be worth checking out.


  1. My wife has been harping on me for about 2 years to try using one note. She's a bit of a techno geek, though, and I'm not. I've always used regular notebooks and a pencil for note taking, and then transcribing the notes into a Word file. I may have to start playing around with OneNote.

  2. Bob,

    I totally recommend it. I've always been a pen and paper guy myself, but I definitely do type faster than I write, and One Note seems like it'll make organizing and outlining a ton easier. Plus you get to skip that transcribing thing, and I suspect time will be at a premium for me come fall. Thanks for reading!