Templates, Forms and Checklists with OneNote

By JaredD | OneNote

Jan 30
OneNote Checklists, Forms and Templates

Strategies for OneNote Forms, OneNote Templates and OneNote Checklists You May Have Not Thought Of

Sandy Morgan 2017 Learn OneNote Conference Speaker

Here at Class and Office we are all about showing how technology really works, beyond the just the clicks and into practical strategy.

You can find out where to click to do a particular task in numerous spots on the web. But why do you want to use a function? Is it really the best function for you? We hope to provide options and thoughts for you to think about by sharing how we and others approach challenges in everyday life. 

Sandy Morgan, business consultant helping companies become more organized and efficient, contributed to the discussion in her video from the 2017 Learn OneNote Conference. Her presentation is particularly relevant as we are at the beginning of the year when a high focus is spent on planning and productivity.

Sandy gets viewers on a solid platform of why and how with checklists, forms and templates in OneNote.


If you are new to OneNote, you might be interested to discover the To Do tags, which add a box with a check mark available to mark off items as completed.

Taking the checkbox one step further, Sandy showed a page where she created a table with multiple checklists on the same page. It looks clean and it appears to work well for her organization.

Another savvy trick with checklists is creating templates of checklists. Sometimes people get a bit nervous or try to over complicate templates, but really all a template needs to be is a guide from which to start.

Perhaps you are like Sandy and have a similar process for things like New Customer Profile setup, or you are like us and have a checklist for a process like publishing a blog post. Use OneNote to create a list, save that list in a template section or notebook, and copy and paste that new list wherever you need.

Personally, I like bullet lists that I highlight items when completed over the checklist tag. Whenever possible, keep it simple.

Checklists with Outlook

Many people will ask about uses of Outlook with OneNote. One such use is inserting meeting notes into a OneNote page. When you insert meeting notes, you also get a summary of things like the location, time and people who will be attending the meeting.

Sandy shows us how she checks her Outlook calendar for daily appointments at the beginning of each day, or at the end of the prior day.

Creating a meeting note from Outlook and inserting it onto the daily planning page, you can get the meeting details quickly and easily inserted onto your OneNote page without duplicating your efforts. It is a nice way to utilize the best features of Outlook and OneNote. Other tasks can be listed on this daily page, and you can seamlessly accomplish the meeting and other items back to back throughout your day.

For those wanting integration between these two productivity tools, this is a great way Sandy taught me.


There is a lot you can do in OneNote with forms. You can use external tools like Microsoft Forms to embed survey type form, or you can create a form iside your OneNote page.

Think about when you are gathering information from a customer or adding standard information such as when researching for a new home. Having a form with the same categories to complete will help you stay organized and understand the data.

When working with forms, it is worth noting that OneNote uses content containers for your content on the page.

In the File -> Options -> Display area, you can select to show or not show note containers on the page. In this instance, and really for us all instances, select to show note containers on the page if not already selected. This option for adding or removing is only available in OneNote Desktop version. Regardless if note containers are shown on your screen, when printing to PDF or paper the grey container box will not be shown.

Sandy recommends creating separate note containers for different sections of the form page so you can move items independently around on the page.

To start a separate container, double click elsewhere on the page. To merge two note containers, hold shift before clicking on one and drag to the other. Sandy demonstrates these two features in her video.

Other ideas for making your form look good is to set a picture as a background on the form page.

Finally, if you embed a Word, PDF or Excel document with the printout on the screen, changes made on respective document page will be updated in the OneNote page. This is a nice feature to see the completed form on your OneNote page without having to open the document.

‚ÄčFor more on working with note containers, see this article from Microsoft. 


Page templates in OneNote are a popular productivity topic. Sandy walks through creating these page templates and using them as the default within a section.

Then a knowledge nugget is shared. 

Creating email templates in OneNote.

Think about it. How many times do you write a similar email over and over? Maybe it is an introduction, a response to an inquiry or a frequently asked question from a student.

Much of the time I've searched in my Outlook Sent box for a recent email I remember sending. But I've spent lots of time looking for this. Poor use of my time and shame on me. Join me in following Sandy's advice.

I'm going to be creating templates in OneNote for commonly sent emails.

For my use, I often receive similar questions from people who have purchased the All Access Pass to one of our online conferences. Or, there were several similar questions for the Planning Masterclass I offered with Michele Christensen earlier this year. Starting now, I'll save the email to the first customer question. Then, when other people ask a similar question, I'll be ready with a drafted email to respond.

I'm pretty excited about it.

From any page in OneNote 2016, select Email Page on the Home Ribbon. If you create a button with a link to a website, this link will still be active in your email. The title of the email will be either the title of your page or the first line of your page, if you have no title. Change up slight things as needed and address to the appropriate person for an efficient email trick. Good luck!

Now is as good a time as ever to be using templates, forms in OneNote and checklists for a more productive version of you. I went into depth on some of the ways I use these features in OneNote as well as my overall planning strategy with OneNote Bullet Journal Facebook Group organizer Michele Christensen.

People who purchase the masterclass receive templates, a copy of the webinar and chat, guide walking through planning your year and bonus videos with tips and tricks to make your OneNote page pretty and more. See the details for this masterclass on this page. 

This post is written by Jared DeCamp. 

To learn more from Sandy Morgan, speaker at the 2017 Learn OneNote Conference, visit one of the links to her work below.

What type of template do you use most often?

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