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Adding Ink in Microsoft OneNote

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OneNote users have always had the ability to use the Draw tools to add color, freehand drawings, and handwritten notes to their notebooks, but until recently, they could not view the ink in the OneNote Web App. After a brief but vigorous campaign by pen users, Microsoft added ink rendering to its OneNote Web App. Office expert Laura Acklen walks you through it.

OneNote includes built-in pen tools that let you add handwritten notes and freehand drawings to pages. For example, a college student could write her class notes and store them in OneNote notebooks (see Figure 1). Once in OneNote, the student can tag those notes with keywords and quickly locate the information she needs to prepare for each test, and then at the end of each semester, the final exam.

Figure 1 Tablet PC users can use their pen to create handwritten notes.

These same principles apply to every project that you take on, from planning a family trip, to putting together marketing materials for a new product launch, to adding handwritten notes to family recipes, to planning the events for a non-profit organization. The easier it is to get the information into OneNote, the better, and it doesn’t get any easier than writing with a pen.

Any pointing device, a Tablet PC pen, or drawing pad stylus can be used to add very precise handwritten notes, sketches, notations, mathematical/scientific formulas, diagrams, arrows, and so on. Laptop and desktop users can still add ink using the mouse or touchpad (see Figure 2). It takes a steady hand, but it can be done.

Figure 2 The pen and eraser tools are found on the Draw tab.

Digital Ink Versus Drawings

Geek alert: If you’re a little geeky and love to know the minute details, it is interesting how the “ink” that is inserted with a Tablet PC is different from the ink that you add with the Draw tools. As of this writing, only Tablet PCs support digital ink; on laptop and desktop computers, all ink is considered a drawing.

What difference does that make? OneNote can perform handwriting recognition for digital ink, but cannot for a drawing. OneNote’s recognition engine will convert your handwriting into text so that you can work with it just like any other text (i.e., copying, pasting, searching, and formatting).

Tablet users can insert ink with a pen or stylus so there is more flexibility and fluidity in the feature. Tapping on a different ink color or a thicker line takes milliseconds and doesn’t interfere with your train of thought, which is critical when taking notes during an important meeting or lecture. A simple tap on the eraser allows you to “rub out” the ink and make corrections. There are in fact, three eraser widths for precise removal of ink.

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