Collaborate Using Office OneNote 2007

Digital notebooks and shared sessions keep your team on the same page

Executive Summary:

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 is an easy-to-use collaboration platform for sharing meeting notes, drafting documents, and storing project information. OneNote helps team members collaborate on projects and share information by creating digital notebooks in which they can organize and store their ideas, tables, presentations, and more. Sharing notebooks and creating live sharing sessions are two ways you can use OneNote 2007 to help your team communicate and collaborate better.

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 delivers some powerful new features that can enable distributed work teams to collaborate by sharing notes. OneNote acts as a digital notebook where individuals and teams can store, organize, and share text, video, and audio recordings. You can also conduct live sharing sessions by opening a selected OneNote 2007 notebook section to multiple authors. For example, think of a typical requirements-gathering session for a new application or service. You could initiate a live sharing session in OneNote and invite stakeholders from the business and technical sides of the house to draft their requirements in real time instead of having to send long, complicated email messages back and forth.

OneNote 2007 comes with Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007, and Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007. By adding OneNote to the Office system mix, Microsoft has made Office 2007 both a collaboration platform and an application front end and has given you a way to improve communication with your team members. It all starts with a simple notebook.

Create a Shared Notebook
OneNote 2007 uses a notebook analogy for how it manages information, so your first task is to create a shared notebook. A shared notebook is a collaboration feature that lets you give other users in your organization access to your notebook through a network, SharePoint site, or locally on a network-connected PC.

To get started, open OneNote and choose Share, Create Shared Notebook. In the New Notebook Wizard's Name field, type a name for your shared notebook, then click Next to advance the wizard to the Who will use this notebook? dialog box.

OneNote offers options for how you share and secure your notebook. If you choose I will use it on this computer, you restrict the new notebook to your local PC, which means you can’t use it to collaborate with your peers. Choosing I will use it on multiple computers lets you share the notebook across multiple computers. This option serves up the shared notebook from your PC. You can also choose Multiple people will share the notebook, as Figure 1 shows, to share your notebook across a network or on a SharePoint site. This option lets you take advantage of a SharePoint team site, network shared drive, or a shared folder residing on your local hard drive. If you choose this option, you must select On a server.

Click Next to see the Confirm notebook location dialog box, which is where you confirm your notebook's location prior to sharing it. Click Browse, then select the network location (e.g., SharePoint document library, network share) for your shared notebook. On corporate managed networks and SharePoint sites, your access rights dictate where you can host a shared notebook. Because the people you want to share your notebook with must have privileges to the network location where the notebook resides, you'll need to put it in a location that's accessible to everyone you want to collaborate with. As long as your notebook is shared, all the users you select have access to it.

You might want to limit how long you choose to share your notebook. For example, you might want to keep the notebook open for sharing and collaboration during a meeting but stop sharing while you use the shared material to update the requirements document you've created. To disable sharing, choose Stop Sharing Notebook from OneNote’s Share menu.

Send a Shared Notebook Link to Others
One of the first rules of building a collaborative environment is to avoid “information archipelagos" or discrete islands of data; instead, you should move your information to a central repository. OneNote 2007 includes options to share a notebook through email, enabling you to reach users who aren’t comfortable with online collaboration tools such as SharePoint or who might be located outside your organization’s secure network. Emailing a notebook is not much different than emailing a Microsoft Office document as an attachment.

To share a notebook through email, select the notebook you want to share, then go to the Share menu and choose Send Shared Notebook Link to Other. Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 launches, and the email message shown in Figure 2 appears. The recipient of the email invitation, who must be running OneNote 2007, can click the link specified in the invitation to open the shared notebook. If the link is disabled or doesn't open in OneNote, the recipient needs to start OneNote; click File, Open Notebook; and paste the path for the notebook into the folder name field.

Send Selected Notes in an Email Message
Email is perhaps the original old-school collaboration tool, and the tight integration between Outlook 2007 and OneNote 2007 lets you send your OneNote notes to others in the body of an email message. A file is also attached to the message and can be viewed in a standard Web browser by recipients who don't have OneNote 2007 installed.

Select the OneNote notebook pages that you want to email. To select a page and its subpages, click its page tab, then double-click one of the pages in the page group. To select more than one notebook page, press Shift or Ctrl while you click the tabs of the pages you want to send.

Choose File and click E-mail. An Outlook 2007 email message appears that includes the note(s) you want to send. Type the appropriate information in the To, Cc, Bcc (if appropriate), and Subject fields. Another option is to type a message in Outlook 2007's Introduction box to preface the notebook page you're emailing. Click Send a Copy, and the attached notebook pages will be sent to the specified recipients.

Initiate, Manage, and Participate in Live Sharing Sessions
OneNote 2007’s live sharing feature lets team members participate in note-taking sessions in real time. To initiate a live sharing session, choose Share, Live Sharing Session. The Live Sharing Session task pane includes all the options for managing a live sharing session. Choose Start Sharing Current Section to launch the Start Live Session taskbar.

The Start Live Session taskbar asks you for a password to secure the sharing session from unauthorized users. Type a password in the Session password field, then click Start Live Sharing Session. A dialog box appears warns you that the OneNote 2007 section you're viewing will be shared. When you click OK, the Current Live Session taskbar appears.

The Current Live Session taskbar, which you can see in Figure 3, is the management console you use to control how you share your OneNote notebook section. It includes a list of participants who are online and participating in the live sharing session. Click Go to Live Shared Section to bring the section you're sharing to the top of your notebook.

Managing a productive live sharing session requires inviting the right participants and giving them the necessary editorial controls. Although you can initiate a live sharing session to review a selected OneNote section, it's up to you as initiator to enable session participants to edit the notebook section by selecting the Allow participants to edit checkbox. You can also enable session participants to use the OneNote pen as a pointer by selecting the Use pen as pointer checkbox. The pen works like the pen features in many popular online whiteboard applications in that anything you draw or write using it disappears after a delay.

Your live sharing session won't be very useful unless you have participants who also use OneNote 2007, as the feature isn’t compatible with OneNote 2003. You can invite participants by using Outlook 2007. Click Invite Participants to launch an invitation email message, which Figure 4 shows. The email message includes an attachment in OneNote 2007 format that recipients can click to launch the live sharing session. Add the email address of the participants you want to share your notebook with to the To field of the email, then click Send.

Live sharing sessions across the same network don’t need any special setup or security measures. However, if you want to include participants such as partners or vendors who aren’t on your corporate network, you’ll need to work with your security team to configure the firewall appropriately and set up the necessary network privileges for those collaborators.

If you’re on the receiving end of a live sharing session invitation, just click the attachment in the email message to enter the live sharing session. Click Leave Sharing Session to end your participation in the session. When you leave a session with multiple users, the session simply continues without you. The session ends when the next-to-last participant leaves the session.

After you see how useful OneNote 2007 can be, I suggest checking out the many notebook templates Microsoft makes available for download at You'll find templates for professional services, project management, and research, as well as lots of templates for the personal aspects of your life, such as wedding planning and house hunting. For support resources and more information about using OneNote, visit the Microsoft Office Online Web site (

Collaboration Beyond Cubicles
In many ways, OneNote 2007 is an ideal collaboration tool because it’s designed to capture thoughts, notes, and observations before they seed formal documents. As businesses continue to break the traditional confines of cubicles, collaborating through OneNote can help draw in ideas and thoughts from remote workers in home offices, your partners, and colleagues in other corporate offices around the world.

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