OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

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inchoate_con
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OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby inchoate_con » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:41 am

Introduction
This tutorial will cover the basic functions I use for OneNote and Law School. I hope to demonstrate some of the advantages OneNote offers over traditional methods of note taking and filing. Unfortunately, OneNote is not available for the Mac users, but I recall reading that it is scheduled for 2011. Moreover, without video, I cannot demonstrate how quickly and easy these function are to implement, but hopefully the screenshots will paint a general picture. Finally, I put this together rather hastily, so pardon any grammatical and stylistic errors. I had to get this out before my classes begin.

I must note, some of these screenshots are complete overkill - I tried to hide my neurotic tendencies as much as possible with sample notebooks. This may come off as "gunnerish" (still not sure what it means), but admittedly, I over-prepare due to personal time constraints, and it works for me. Therefore, unless you're over-medicated (or under?), sleepless, and suffering from relentless OCD, it is not even remotely necessary to use all or most of these suggestions to assist your studies.

I use OneNote for everything, so I 'm a tad bit more detailed than most users. If you just use it for note taking, you may find the search functions immensely helpful. I suggest gradually adding OneNote functions to your repertoire of studying rather than doing it all at once.

The best description of OneNote: flexibility. I began using it in 2003 to manage my business, employees, taxes, personal information, even grocery lists; you name it, I use it. Unfortunately, the true capabilities of OneNote are far too vast to cover, so I will stick with the fundamentals. It is my hope that these methods are a starting point for developing your own system. Once you do, please share with others (and me)!

Importantly, the version I am demonstrating is OneNote 2010 with a tablet PC. OneNote ships with the MS Office package. While the 2007 version is awesome, 2010 is far superior. Your school should offer a heavily discounted package (or a free version). Parenthetically, if you're a failed typist (like me) and use the two finger stab method, handwriting, regardless of how illegible it is, converts to text instantly. That said, OneNote is amazing without touchscreen capability or a capacitative digitizer. I just bought a tablet, so I'm learning to implement the advantages.

General organization
Below links to a basic video explanation of OneNote's hierarchical structure: notebooks, sections, pages, subpages, and subpages of subpages. It covers really basis stuff, but it is crucial you master them, if you're planning to use OneNote for something sort of important, like law school. The video is about two minutes long, but I'd turn your volume off because the background music is awful.

http://www.onenotehelp.com/2010/04/06/h ... n-onenote/

My basic set-up
After spending my kids college fund on supplements for one class, I found Gilbert's summaries, Casenote briefs, and the casebook are more than sufficient for class. Parenthetically, I think the E&E worthless. Anyhow, first thing I do is tear up the briefs and bust the bindings of the capsule summaries and scan them into OneNote. This is the tedious, but it paid off for me. Well, to be accurate, I paid my kid $10 to feed the scanner for a couple of hours. If, however, you're unable to find affordable child labor, sheet feeder work wonders.

OneNote's Optical character recognition function is extremely accurate . I've used Abbyy Finereader for years, which is the top of the line, but OneNote is equally as powerful for much, much less.

In the example below, I have four notebooks - Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, and Legal Writing. Civil Procedures is the "open" notebook, and I'll use it for most examples. I have Chapter 2 selected (top), within each chapter section, I list the table of contents (page showing). From there, I create links for easy access to the headings. For example, when I click the Walgreen Co. v. Sara Creek Property Co. link, I'm taken to the brief (picture below).

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Flags & tags
Note the highlighted and circled area with the smiley face in Walgreen brief above. These are flags/tags. These are not my usual flags, and you can create your own. For every brief, I tag the rule and issue. Some example flags/tags:

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As you can see, flags are assigned hotkeys for quick reference and application. I use flags not only as tasklists, but also to highlight important information, rules, fact, ideas, lecture points or just about anything - even stuff unrelated to law, if that's possible. Each tag represents something unique. I put everything into OneNote, so I'll only have one information repository instead of post-it notes scattered throughout my office. Tags clear the clutter.

Hypothetically, let's say I have free time and want to watch a movie, but forgot the title or have a backlog of movies I tag with plans to watch, someday. Using the "find tags" option, another pane opens that lists all relevant tags sorted by a predefined search criteria. Below is one type of search result option. The underlined movie is on this users "to watch" list.

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Clicking the "movie" tag listed above, I'm taken to the originating page, which has info about it and is linked to the video file or webpage:

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Tag applications are limited only by your creativity. Once you begin using them, you'll wonder how you worked without them.

For example, you're "that guy" scrambling to create an outline two days before an exam. You need to collect all the rules, citations, etc from your casebook, briefs, and lecture notes. Fortunately you've been "one-click" tagging all semester: click the "find tags" option for a list (recall the rule tag - smiley face with yellow highlighter). A complete list of all tags is created.

The limitations of still images cannot adequately represent the power of this function because this "auto" organization is an efficient time-saver.

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After you enter the search criteria, OneNote returns a hyperlinked list of your search. Your entire case law is neatly organized and ready to be drag & drop into an outline or whatever you're creating. It is so easy to create an outline with proper tagging and searches, it's almost unfair. Alternatively, you can create a summary page for printing, task list, or even an elemental check list for exams. Personally, I tag my notes like a suburban white kid with a fresh supply of spray paint. You cannot over tag since the search criteria is your main function.

Reviews are a snap with tags - say you need to synthesize a large amount of information from specific time frame, like a weekly reviews, enter a time frame into the search field and you have a complete list of pertinent study material from the previous week. Below is a simple and very basic summary page of CALI lessons collected from lecture notes:

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Additionally, the check box style tags are useful for tracking projects, tasks, etc. Your notebook(s) will contain copious amounts of information. I use check tags to compile daily reading material, and again, apply the "find tags" function, but limited the date criteria for the next day. Bamm, checklist of todo material for the next day. As I complete each task, it's check it off the list, and the tag is eliminated at the summary page level and marked as complete at the original page. There is an option to include or exclude checkboxes.

Print to OneNote
I use this to import daily calendars from Outlook, but since I don't want to post personal stuff, I'll use a PDF as another basic example.

If a professor has a website, TWEN, or other option with information you need for later, like a syllabus with assignments. The "Print to OneNote" function is your friend. You can send ANYTHING that has a print option to OneNote: Webpages, PDFs, flow charts, screenshots, etc. Although the text is not "editable" without using OCR function first, you can still flag, highlight, notate, link to images… and importantly: SEARCH it.

In this example, the red circle is the print option. Once selected, OneNote asks for a filing location within OneNote. Then a new page is created with the document "sort of" like a background page. With the second image, I have made notations, tags, and/or appointments for outlook.

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Here is the page in OneNote, after sending it to OneNote and annotations:

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Outlook integration

OneNote works seamlessly with Outlook. Not to confuse, but I call these "tag flags." You add a task flag, which creates a task in outlook (or contacts, meetings, and or appointments). To do this, you simply apply another hotkey combo or use a drop down menu. This is great for smartphones (the iPhone has issues with office 2010) and reminders. I tagged this PDF to remind myself about a football game. Below, Outlook has automatically added the task to the task list with any predetermined settings. Once the task is marked as complete in either program, it's marked as completed.

This is particularly useful for managing large research projects or nightly reading lists. Contacts and appointments work the same way.

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Searches
Hypothetically, say you just returned from Vegas over a holiday weekend, and you're daydreaming about late night festivities during Civil Procedure class. Suddenly, you hear the dreaded cold call. You've just won the Socratic lottery! Since you've been on a three day bender in Vegas, all you heard was ….Rule 4(d). Ctrl+E has you covered, do the search and a millisecond later, you have everything you need to discuss. Rules, related cases, lecture notes are all instantly prioritized (red circle below). This function searches EVERY notebook and returns a nice list of pertinent facts. It can also be narrowed further with tighter search limits - preset!

Typically, "more" important information will be highlighted in yellow, but I screwed up the screenshot…..

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Say that alcohol induced dreaming was particularly intense because you were "allowed" to hit Vegas with buddies and without the buzzkill also known as: wife and kids. So your synapses are not quite firing at full power, hypothetically of course. And, you still cannot find the rule! While the last 30 seconds of silence seemed like 20 grueling minutes, you quickly find the info with the second search function using Ctrl+F (like Word) which searches individual pages rather than section or notebooks, you're given one or two results. Like this:

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For those classes that are graded on participation and or do not allow my (new) favorite word: pass. The above method is very useful. Personally, I don't do much class preparation because I'm focused on the real issue: exams. As a side note, Someone I know used this method for a class that counted participation as 5% of the grade..... using the above method; that person was successful without sounding like a complete moron. In reality, I know he's not that bright and could careless about competing with anyone other than himself. Anyhow, he probably locked in 3.8% out of 5% of it for not snoring….

Hyperlinks
I use them extensively because I'm old, slow, and disorganized without them. They are created several ways: use a simple key combo or wiki links. As you type a wiki link with jurisprudence between the brackets, a page is created with the word linking to it. Works great for building a dictionary of unfamiliar terms. The image of the TOC at the beginning was created this way. Type the TOC with brackets, and a brief page is created, which you can set as a template. OneNote hyperlinks are linkable to anything: other pages within OneNote, webpages, documents, audio files, videos… images to images.

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Saving
My favorite feature, no need to save - ever, you will NEVER lose of your work! OneNote handles it all in the background, they call it a curtain or some "Oz" like analogy. Of the few crash I've had, I hadn't lost more than two or three characters.

Also, Instead of saving files in folders, you can save files on OneNote pages. No more searching Windows through a thousand folders and sub folders. For example, the mens rea section of an outline has two "Sum &Substance" audio files. They are not linked; they stay were you leave them. To play, just double click like normal.

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Outlining
This is difficult to demonstrate with just images, but it's important. Like MS Word, auto numbering and all that jazz is the same; however, since OneNote uses text boxes, you can move pieces of text around without using cut and paste.

The example below is about 20 standard pages. The little boxes to the right of the headings are collapsible. Double clicking them opens up the next level. I find this freaking awesome for testing myself. My outlines are crammed full of minutia, but since they are collapsible - I close them as needed and open if feeling extra ambitious.

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Below, I've opened up parts of the outline, and the section with the little boxes have further sublevels

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For demonstration, which again is difficult with images, lets say the international shoe section should be at (ii) under" Relationships between…" you point next to it, a box appear, click and drag it. (see below) This works all directions at all levels, promote, demote, whatever… no formatting issues.

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Tablet PC options
For those that like to hand write notes can, obviously, write on the screen, as I've been doing. Then use the ink to text option. It's remarkably accurate. I just bought my first Tablet PC today, and thus far, I am pleasantly surprised with how good it works. One click from scrawl to readable text in a second. My handwriting is bad. I believe it took twenty minutes to write the LSAT certification statement. Sample:

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Audio/Video Options

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Research tools
As you take notes each text container with store the location (PDF, web, excel, etc), when it was taken, and much more:

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Capture Images
This entire tutorial was created using only OneNote. The images are "searchable." I pulled the text from this image and made it the title:

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Conclusion
Those are the basic functions of OneNote. The advanced stuff requires more detail, another day. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Also, I'd love to hear what others are doing.

Additional topics I'd like to cover (add yours):
OneNote Web App and SkyDrive integration
Sharing notebooks with Web location
Creating Templates
“Dock to Desktop” feature and SideNotes
iPhone and Mobile Notetaker
Automating functions (Macros)
Research within OneNote by adding Specialized reference books
Suggestions…..

User avatar
World B. Free
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby World B. Free » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:52 am

Wow!
Thanks.

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jayn3
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby jayn3 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:56 am

thanks for posting this. i will definitely be trying it out once i get onenote 2010.

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takehold
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby takehold » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:57 am

Excellent, thanks a bunch. I'm going to do some research on Tablet PCs now.

JOThompson
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby JOThompson » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:20 am

takehold wrote:Excellent, thanks a bunch. I'm going to do some research on Tablet PCs now.

Thanks for investing your time in this. I'll be returning to it soon as I have OneNote installed by IT.

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inchoate_con
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby inchoate_con » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:47 am

Glad to help! Hopefully, all the images are displayed because they are not for me... might be a bad connection, though.

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Sogui
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby Sogui » Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:45 am

Great work, I've started using OneNotes for my intro 1L class and I've reorganized my system to match yours and found that it was much easier to organize that way.

I love the tips about "printing" to one note and tagging/linking. If I can keep this system up I'll be ridiculously organized.

On another note, I didn't see any links in your outline. Is that because it would defeat the purpose of an outline to link to a brief for every single case that you mention? I'm just a rising 1L but it seems the ultimate strength of one-note could come from having links placed all over your outline.

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traehekat
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby traehekat » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:35 pm

Thanks, great introduction.

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romothesavior
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby romothesavior » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:37 pm

As a clueless 1L, I can't even tell you how helpful this is. Thanks a lot.

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Ersatz Haderach
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby Ersatz Haderach » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:40 pm

Oh. Oh my. As someone who gets actual, physical pleasure out of taking and reviewing good, concise notes - five stars.

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LAWYER2
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby LAWYER2 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:31 pm

Thanks a million! Will sit down tonight and digest this

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jayn3
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby jayn3 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:44 pm

Ersatz Haderach wrote:Oh. Oh my. As someone who gets actual, physical pleasure out of taking and reviewing good, concise notes - five stars.

outed as a study-masturbator

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inchoate_con
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby inchoate_con » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:08 am

Sogui wrote: I didn't see any links in your outline. Is that because it would defeat the purpose of an outline to link to a brief for every single case that you mention? I'm just a rising 1L but it seems the ultimate strength of one-note could come from having links placed all over your outline.


The outline I used as a screenshot was only recently scanned into OneNote, so I have not started the process. But, yes, I link briefs and outlines.

clint4law
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby clint4law » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:19 am

thanks for the tips

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ArchRoark
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby ArchRoark » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:25 am

Thanks for this.

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AJaKe
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby AJaKe » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:41 am

I don't even use half of these features when I use OneNote, but I will now, thanks for showing us this! And you have nice handwriting :D

justone73
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby justone73 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:38 pm

I've got to say this post is very well done and quite helpful. I'm just getting into the world of OneNote and am loving it so far...

One quick question, looking at your FRCP, did you manually create all those hyperlinks? If so is there some shortcut to creating links that I'm missing? At the moment I've been highlighting text and right-clicking to create hyperlinks. I read something about "wiki-links," but I'm not super familiar with the concept; any chance you could provide a quick explanation or link?

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Thomas Jefferson
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby Thomas Jefferson » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:54 pm

Great post. Thanks OP.

Any recommendations on how to sync OneNote files to the cloud? I used ON for half a semester in UG before switching to Google Docs because having a constant backup on the cloud was, at that time, more important to me than the added features in ON. I'm looking to go back to ON for 1L. What I want is to have my ON notebooks automatically synced to the cloud while I work so that if my computer dies, I can just get my files from the cloud on another computer and pick up where I left off. I also need to have a local copy on my computer so that I can work when offline. Would Dropbox or Windows Skydrive be better for this?

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jayn3
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby jayn3 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:32 pm

Thomas Jefferson wrote:Great post. Thanks OP.

Any recommendations on how to sync OneNote files to the cloud? I used ON for half a semester in UG before switching to Google Docs because having a constant backup on the cloud was, at that time, more important to me than the added features in ON. I'm looking to go back to ON for 1L. What I want is to have my ON notebooks automatically synced to the cloud while I work so that if my computer dies, I can just get my files from the cloud on another computer and pick up where I left off. I also need to have a local copy on my computer so that I can work when offline. Would Dropbox or Windows Skydrive be better for this?

Google fanboyism at its best.

Not helpful to your question, but I generally work with an external (passport, runs off usb) attached to my computer and alternate saves between one and the other. You can also set up a program like Cobian to do automatic backups of certain folders fairly often. When I'm really paranoid I'll email files to myself as well. I'm not a fan of using Google docs, just because the formatting tends to be a little off from what I'm used to.

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Thomas Jefferson
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby Thomas Jefferson » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:58 pm

jayn3 wrote:Google fanboyism at its best.


Eh, 'tis better than the Apple fanboyism that is rampant everywhere.

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inchoate_con
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby inchoate_con » Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:36 pm

justone73 wrote:One quick question, looking at your FRCP, did you manually create all those hyperlinks? If so is there some shortcut to creating links that I'm missing? At the moment I've been highlighting text and right-clicking to create hyperlinks. I read something about "wiki-links," but I'm not super familiar with the concept; any chance you could provide a quick explanation or link?


Yes, I did create the FRCP manually, sort of. I scanned most of it, then created the "table of Contents" useing wiki links, which are [[wiki]]: replace the word wiki with whatever page you're creating. The word, wiki, in this example becomes the title of the new page.

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inchoate_con
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby inchoate_con » Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:39 pm

Thomas Jefferson wrote:Great post. Thanks OP.

Any recommendations on how to sync OneNote files to the cloud? I used ON for half a semester in UG before switching to Google Docs because having a constant backup on the cloud was, at that time, more important to me than the added features in ON. I'm looking to go back to ON for 1L. What I want is to have my ON notebooks automatically synced to the cloud while I work so that if my computer dies, I can just get my files from the cloud on another computer and pick up where I left off. I also need to have a local copy on my computer so that I can work when offline. Would Dropbox or Windows Skydrive be better for this?


2010 uses the SKyDrive method, which I suppose is the Cloud. So, if you do not bring your laptop, you can access your note through the web. I do not use it, but I've heard about people using it frequently. DropBox, for me, is the best back-up.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby Stanford4Me » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:07 am

Very helpful!

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traehekat
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby traehekat » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:22 pm

How come when I change my tags they end up getting switch back to the default tags after I close OneNote?

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inchoate_con
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Re: OneNote & Law School: beginners guide

Postby inchoate_con » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:50 pm

traehekat wrote:How come when I change my tags they end up getting switch back to the default tags after I close OneNote?

That is an issue... I hate to be the "retake" guy, but you might want to do a fresh install after a repair. Tags should not revert back to the original set-up. MS has a OneNote forum somewhere.




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