I recently began experimenting with Microsoft OneNote and wrote about my first impressions here. Since then, I’ve uploaded some of the templates I’m using for research and they are available here: OneNote Research Templates.
One of my favorite uses for OneNote is laying out a chronology. When faced with a genealogical puzzle, I’ve found the best way for me to see what I know and where the holes are is to organize my facts into a chronological list. Once that’s done, I fill in gaps, connect relevant facts, and chip away until I find a solution, or at least see a path for further research. I’m partial to highlighters in different colors, and my favorite research pen is the kind that has four different colored inks built into it.
Sometimes the problem carries on over months, or even years. When that happens, the issue becomes how to keep track of my annotated paper chronologies and analysis. I tried binders, folders, other filing systems, but invariably, my notes would get lost in a stack of paper somewhere, and when I finally got back to the problem at hand, I’d have to reinvent the analytical wheel.
This is where OneNote shines. Below is an example of a Chronology table I created in OneNote. Once the table was created, I was able to use OneNote’s highlight feature and drawing tool to link families (a different color for each) and connect their life events with arrows. The difference between this and my papers versions is that with OneNote I’ve created a digital version of my work and analytical scribblings, which I can print, email to someone as a PDF, view and edit from any computer, my tablet, and even my Android smart phone.
The chronology page is in the section of my notebook called Mysteries, and can be easily connected via OneNote hyperlinks to other sections of the notebook such as Research Log, Research Notes (with citations), and documents (with images). Everything for a family, or a research project, is organized into one cohesive package, accessible whenever and wherever I need it!
Some other observations I’m made over the last month:
The formatting options with OneNote are excellent, although not to the degree of Word.
OneNote is very compatible with a tablet, such as my new Samsung Galaxy 10.1 (LOVE IT!!!!). I can see this coming in really handy at meetings, and also at the library where the noise of tapping on a laptop keyboard can be intrusive.
MobileNoter is an Android application with I use on my HTC Thunderbolt to access my OneNote files. It is not perfect, but I’m able to view my notebooks, and the syncing works well, but editing it difficult (although not impossible).
- Although the default page size setting is automatic – expanding to fit whatever you type – I’ve found it’s a good idea to set the page layout to letter-size, which facilitates the printing of the notebook pages later on.
- Web clipping works well, and I like that it pastes a copy of the URL as well.
OneNote 2007 has a cool feature which allows posting a page directly to your blog. In fact, I created with post from within OneNote! (This takes some doing to set up correctly, but once that’s done, it’s brilliant)
So, all in all, my fondness for OneNote is growing, and the benefits of using it in my genealogy research and organization are becoming more evident with each passing week. I think it’s a keeper
(Tech Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt sponsored by Geneabloggers)