01 Mar

Structure of OneNote notebooks

Before looking at the many possibilities of Microsoft OneNote, we will deal with the basic logic and structure of the digital notebooks at first. That sounds more theoretical than it really is. Trust me: Once you understand the principle, you can adjust the structure easily to your personal needs.

OneNote is very flexible. You can always change, rename and delete your digital notebooks including the sections and pages they contain. You can customize your classification system to your personal requirements without ever losing your existing information collection.

The examples in this blog post will show you how you could use OneNote notebooks for daily tasks. More detailed instructions will follow soon on this website.


Digital and paperless: Notebooks in OneNote

I mentioned it above: In OneNote you mainly deal with notebooks, sections and pages. These elements determine the organization of your notes and documents. OneNote also uses the graphical appearance of notebooks to represent the look of typical folders in offices.

Take a look at these folders. I used folders like this for many years for the organization of my documents at work.

Especially the colorful separators inside are very helpful. The sections can be labelled individually and help you sort all papers and documents according to topics and categories. Like this, you can find them whenever you need them.

Microsoft OneNote uses the same structure for its digital notebooks. In the next picture you see a screenshot of the OneNote app for Windows 10. There are already several digital notebooks in the left column. Do you recognize the colored separators right next to them? In OneNote, they are called “sections”. Each of these sections can contain as many content pages as you like.

OneNote App for Windows 10 with notebooks and sections

The advantage of the software solution with its digital possibilities are obvious compared to conventional folders from the stationery shop: You can use an infinite number of notebooks, sections and pages without ever having to buy paper or new folders. You also save a lot of space in your office: Digital folders do not jam your shelves – only your hard drive on your PC, your cloud on the internet or another location.

In my next blog post, you will get to know more advantages and disadvantages of the possible storage locations for OneNote notebooks.


OneNote notebooks for every purpose

For each major purpose in your job or in your household, you can create an own digital notebook, for example for incoming bills, important letters or various insurance documents. I bet you can think of many more purposes: a notebook for your vacation planning, a notebook for collected recipes or a notebook for your school and work certificates.

Perhaps you have already created a similar folder structure for your files on your hard drive. You have to open each of these files manually and one by one. In OneNote, you can access all your documents and information much faster. You can search for specific content within all your digital notebooks easily switch between documents.

The examples in this article are designed to show you how you could use notebooks in OneNote for typical everyday tasks. I will give you more examples and ideas for useful notebooks later in this practical guide.


Have a look at the following illustrations. Your first digital notebooks for various purposes could look like this:

Cookbook in OneNote

Holiday Planning in OneNote

Insurance in OneNote

As you can see, you can create and rename the sections in every notebook just like you prefer it. They correspond to the colored dividers in a real notebook. In a school report notebook, there could be sections for the various grades. In a notebook for your bills, you could create sections for various online stores, for products groups such as electronic devices, or for services such as repairs. Maybe you want to sort the bills by years. You can freely decide that in OneNote.

You can change the colors of the notebooks and their sections and choose from a pre-selection – according to your personal taste. Like this, you will always have an overview even with larger note collections in OneNote at any time.


More levels, more structure

Of course, a simple notebook structure like in the pictures is just the beginning. The examples shall just give you a better understanding of OneNote. For some tasks you probably need a more complex structure. You can expand the hierarchy with additional levels, for example with section groups that combine several sections.

Bills in OneNote

You can also sort digital pages created within the sections on several levels – similar to subfolders in Windows. You can quickly jump between the sections in OneNote. You’ll appreciate that, too.

I will soon explain to you how to create your own notebooks in OneNote. You will also learn how to expand your notebooks with sections and store the contents in a structured and secure way. Before that, I need to tell you where to save OneNote notebooks – and how much impact the location can have. Look forward to my next blog post!


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  1. Pingback: Save Locations for OneNote Notebooks | OneNote for Beginners

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