Digital note-taking with OneNote

This guest post was written by MS3 Student Tech Lead Kasey Jackson.

Still struggling to find a note-taking system that works for you in medical school? It’s important to develop a method that is functional for you and helps you retain information, and that you will actually use. If paper is your jam, keep it up! Like typing your notes? That works too! But maybe you’re interested in integrating your conventional note-taking methods with modern technology for better efficiency and additional tools? Here are a few tips and tricks for starting your digital note-taking journey with OneNote.

Set up a tiered organization system:
Notebooks | Sections | Pages

Make your life easier by establishing how you want to organize your notes ahead of time. For example, “Notebooks” could be the course or term, “Sections” could be the subject or week, and “Pages” could be the topic or lecture.

Download your lecture slides to take notes on

Save yourself some writing and take notes directly on your lecture slides. Be prepared and download the lecture slides ahead of time when possible.

Link notes and external pages to tie topics together

This can be especially helpful when making a master page or study guide that you can refer back to. Information tends to come from all directions in medical school, so find ways to combine information or easily find the information you need.

Microsoft has a helpful page on how to link notebooks, sections, pages, and even paragraphs together.

Embed photos, audio files, and videos to save ideas for later or create a quick reference

Record audio during lecture or embed your favorite study videos to review later

Get comfortable with features of OneNote to elevate your studying

1. Use the search bar to quickly find everywhere that you mentioned a topic, such as “pharmacokinetics” or “embryology.”

2. Access and edit your notes from anywhere
Use your iPad, phone, laptop, etc., to view and add to your notes. Find an amazing diagram in a textbook? Snap a quick photo and add it to your notes page.

3. Collaborate with classmates
on a note page or a project. Share notes virtually, convert to pdf, and/or work together on a collaborative workbook.

Experiment with note-taking styles until you find something that works for you!

I personally loved drawing and making study guides for myself. It made note taking fun and gave me a visual representation of the things we learned in lectures and the anatomy lab that I could keep referring back to. Below are a couple examples of my note-taking style.

Other formats of digital note-taking

The Cornell Method

three sections


diagram of ideas

One last thought

Remember that no matter what you do, be sure it is helpful to you. Don’t force yourself to imitate someone else’s note-taking style just because it works for them or looks nice. If you find that something doesn’t help you or is more frustrating than useful, try another way until you get that perfect fit.

Want to read more from MedTech about digital note-taking?

Digital Note-taking

Digital note-taking allows your notes to be accessible on any device at any time, and provides a truly interactive experience when notetaking, especially when using an Apple Pencil.

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