OneNote and Google Docs are not twinsies.


Starting out with another confession: I’m a supporter of any technology that benefits students. I’ve used Google Docs (along with other GAFE tools) for a few years as a teacher and more recently moved to a school that uses Microsoft OneNote. This post is meant strictly as a point of differentiation and to explain what I appreciate about OneNote.

Whenever I try to tell others about OneNote their response would usually be something like: “so it’s like Google Docs.” It’s really not.

How OneNote is not Google Docs

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Linked Notes with OneNote – A New Way to Organize Research


One of the many facets of doing good research is organizing and managing the resources you’ve found. Students have enough trouble organizing homework and tracking daily school work and research just adds a whole other layer to the Seven Layer Bean Dip Affair.*


What you will need:

  1. OneNote
  2. Internet Explorer or Edge (haven’t tested on Edge, but I can’t imagine it doesn’t work in the Windows 10/Edge browser – please let me know if it doesn’tUpdate: doesn’t work on Edge – Thanks! @OneNoteC

The easiest way to start is to click on “Linked Notes” under the “Review” Tab in OneNote – although you can also activate linked notes from within MS Word.


Clicking “Linked Notes” will open up a new window that takes up about a quarter of the screen and will have the current OneNote page you are working on in it, but you can select any page within any of your notebooks.


When you open up Internet Explorer to start researching it will open up into the larger window, but leave the linked notes window open.


Notice the Internet Explorer Symbols? Hover over one of them and you will see a link and a thumbnail of the site. Students don’t need to copy and paste the link into the notebook since it’s already saved.


If you navigate to a new page, you’ll have a new link for the next line of note you type in OneNote.

It doesn’t work just for Internet Explorer. This works for Word documents, PowerPoints and even other OneNote pages you may reference.

ln5You may also choose to re-size the window if you don’t like the small note-taking space.


Is it similar to split screen? Absolutely.

Is it different? Absolutely.

The big difference? It’s linking between the content you’re working from on the other half of the screen.

Linked notes in OneNote saves time in researching and may help students who have trouble staying organized since it automatically links to research they’re finding online.

Enjoy easy linking!

Update: Credit to @OneNoteC for pointing out some caveats.
Linked notes only work on desktops – they disappear if working in the app.

My additional thought – 
If you’re working in a 1:1 environment that doesn’t require use of the app, this isn’t much of an issue – but great to be aware of.


*Soon to be a major motion picture.