Tablet PC – A Student's Perspective

One Note, Note Taking and Powertoys

Graphing in One Note

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 14, 2007

A few tips for Graphing in One Note :-

One of the issues with using the drawing tool in one note is that by the time you draw the graph the professor has already gone ahead. Freehand drawing results in crooked lines and an untidy looking graph (bear with us non-artists). If I was using paper I wouldn’t really complain but since its a tablet pc my expectations are higher. I want people to look at my graph and go wow, not say that their notes, taken by hand are much cleaner and neater.

A nifty trick I use is to zoom into the graph while drawing. This way my lines, drawn freehand are relatively straight when I zoom back in and I can make markings on the graph easily. While drawing my Graph I zoom in to 150% and switch to thicker pen as it looks way better. Then when I finish drawing the graph I zoom back to 75%, my normal note taking mode, with my graph looking nice and neat.

Beware : Sometimes onenote may take a while to zoom in and out, but thankfully it happens rarely.


A Relatively Neat Looking Graph


The Graph at 150% Zoom

Notice how the lines are not so crooked when you zoom back in. Also in the zoomed mode I can write in my normal handwriting ( as opposed to in the normal mode) on the graph without messing it up. So what do other people do to improve their Graphs?

9 Responses to “Graphing in One Note”

  1. Rod said

    I just use a ruler. A physical ruler. And rule a line against it just as though using paper and pen.

  2. Olga said

    Temporarily switching to grid instead of ruled (Format > Rule Lines in OneNote 2007) may help too.

  3. Jim Foley said

    You know, speaking of Powertoy development, the button I most use in Windows Journal (and Adobe Reader) is missing from OneNote: zoom in/out magnifying glasses! I would love to see a Powertoy for that developed – it’s aggravating to have to use a drop-down menu to zoom in our out. Sounds like such a little thing, I know, but I’m a teacher, and in my experience teaching students how to take notes with OneNote both I and they miss that feature a lot.

  4. matias said

    Why don’t you use the tools for making graphs, even you can press the button “duplicate form” to reapet lines, arrows and graphs. Is faster than a ruler and the graph will be neat.

  5. anirudhsaraf said

    Using the repeat line function does not cut it because you are constantly writing on the graph. I mainly use graphs in my econ class and the professor is drawing lines and writing at the same time, so its got to be done freehand if I want to keep up with the pace.

    Jim :- I agree with you that the Zoom button is sorely missed. I too use the zoom utility all the time (To reorder notes, draw graphs etc etc.) and it is annoying to have to use the drop down menu. I don’t think that can be done in a powertoy using documented functionality. Maybe someone would like to try that, or perhaps we’ll get one in the next version 🙂

  6. nathan said

    there is a straight line tool on the tool bar in the bottom.

  7. nathan said

    also to add to the post above you can make circle shapes and then erase what you do not need for curved lines.

  8. tim said

    i totally agree with jim

    onenote needs a zoom tool that is a simple magnifying glass you can click in and out: one for in, one for out.


  9. SkyBass said


    Just an unrelated request, I am a newbie to onenote and am starting to use it with my year 8 class. How did you get the pen tools and drawing bar on the left and bottom of the screen. Been looking for this option but have not found it as yet?


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