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If you are a new podcaster learning how to start a podcast then OneNote may be perfect for helping organize your ideas and processes.

Podcasters, much like bloggers and other content creators have to compile, organize and sort through sources and ideas in order to create new and interesting content. We have to find topics of interest and do research regularly in order to maintain a regular production schedule.

Microsoft OneNote is a digital note taking application that can help with these tasks. But it is much more than a simple note taking application.

Why should podcasters use OneNote to help produce their episodes?

OneNote is compatible with all your devices.

It can be used on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, PC, MAC and as a web app. No matter what device you are using you can access a version of OneNote.

OneNote is great for collaboration.

You can share your Notebooks and collaborate on projects in real time. This feature is what made Google Docs very popular and many people don’t know that this feature is also available in OneNote.

OneNote is flexible.

OneNote is a digital notebook. It is organized much like a physical notebook and each notebook is organized into section groups, sections, pages and sub pages. There is a tagging system and literally everything in OneNote is indexed and searchable. OneNote integrates well with Microsoft Office and virtually any file can be embedded into a OneNote page. You are free to use your imagination to organize your notebooks however you want. Because of the flexibility with OneNote it is a perfect GTD (Getting Things Done) application.

OneNote for Podcasters and other Content Creators

OneNote for Podcasters

Three reasons why OneNote is great for podcast show notes:

  • The OneNote canvas can be arranged however you like. Every time you click on a page it adds a new content container that can be moved around within the canvas. You can embed anything into a OneNote page.
  • OneNote can be shared so you can collaborate with co-hosts and guests. It is easy to share Notebooks and changes are displayed in real time. Using OneNote Online you can share your show notes page with your guests so they know in advance what the conversation will be about.
  • OneNote pages can have templates. By using a custom template for your podcast show notes pages you can automatically include recurring segments, sponsor messages, intros and outros and more. A template makes life a lot easier and saves time.

Idea Capture using OneNote

When researching your content for your podcast episodes you will want to capture websites, quotes, stats, images, and other information as you find them on a daily basis. They need to be captured and stored in a safe place where you know you will be able to easily find them later.

OneNote can be used to capture ideas for later use while you are surfing the web. You can review these ideas for inspiration or as reference material for your post production podcast show notes.

There are a few ways you can save information you find online to OneNote.

Take a screen shot with OneNote

Using the Screen Clipping feature:

You can take a screen clipping of a portion of the screen by right clicking on the OneNote app in the task bar and then choose Take screen clipping next to the web clip icon. You will then be prompted to highlight the area you want to clip and it will automatically clip into the currently open OneNote page.

From here you can also take a new Quick Note which allows you to quickly take a note without opening OneNote.

Using the OneNote Web Clipper Extension for Firefox or Chrome:

Another way to capture information is to use the OneNote web clipper extension. If you are using Firefox or Chrome you will need to add the extension first. Once the extension is added you can click on the OneNote icon in the top of your browser and you will be given a few options in a pop up menu.

From here you can clip the Full Page, Region or Article.

The Microsoft OneNote web clipper for chrome or firefox

Note: If you are on a recipe site the Article option will be replaced with an option to clip the recipe.

If you select the full page option it will clip the entire page to OneNote with a link back to the page.

If you select region it will allow you select the area of the screen you want to clip. This is similar to the OneNote Screen Clipper but instead of automatically placing the clipped content in the open OneNote page it gives you more options. You can add another region to your clipping and you can select the location (Notebook and Section) you would like to save the content to. You can also add a customized note to the clip to add some context as to why you need the information and to make it easier to find later. Remember – Everything in OneNote is searchable!

MS OneNote Web Clipper browser extension

The third option you have is to clip the Article. If you choose to clip the article (or recipe) you will only see the content of the blog post or page. The sidebar and header / footer will be removed leaving you with a cleaner clipping.

OneNote Web Clipper Firefox Extension

Email to OneNote:

Another way to quickly send information to OneNote is to use the email to OneNote feature.

If you get an email from a co-host or an industry newsletter subscription and it is a great piece of content for a future Podcast Episode then you can easily email it to your OneNote account.

Send email to your OneNote account

All you have to do is forward the email to me@onenote.com and the email message will appear in your default Notebook and Section of your choice.  You can also specify the section in the default notebook that you would like the email to be sent to. All you have to do is add an @section_name to the end of the email subject line and the email will be placed in the specified section. This is a great way to capture ideas you may have while in your email inbox.

Using OneNote’s Quick Notes feature:

OneNote has a system in place for when you need to quickly create a note on the fly. Just press Windows +N if OneNote isn’t already running and it will launch a new OneNote page which is docked to the desktop on the right hand side. You can then write your note and access it anytime in the default Quick Notes section. Quick Notes is a great feature that allows you to quickly take notes on the go.

 OneNote can be used to compile all the elements of your podcast episode.

For each podcast episode you can create a OneNote page that holds the show notes, episode specific album art, images for the blog post, slideshare / powerpoint presentation for the episode, infographic and links to references about the show notes.

You can also keep micro content like tweets and facebook posts on the same page so that you can easily reference everything to do with the episode later. The OneNote page canvas makes this easy to organize however you prefer.

Podcast Show Notes help you keep on track while recording your show and provide structure and points of reference as you perform your interviews and monologues. OneNote is the perfect application for podcast show notes.

Linked Notes is another great feature that may be of interest to podcasters. If you record your show into OneNote and make notes as you you listen then OneNote will link the notes to that part of the audio file. When you click the link it will play that portion of the audio file. This allows you to make bullet points about the topics covered as you listen and use this file to create your episode post production show notes. This is a very cool feature.

Archive your podcast show notes and episode assets in OneNote

OneNote is structured much like a physical notebook. Each Notebook has tabs (or sections) and within each section there are your pages. But pages can also be nested as sub-pages. I like to keep all my web clippings that I use for reference during a podcast episode as sub-pages under the show notes page. That way all the information about the episode is easy to find later.

As you are finding new ideas for podcast episodes some of them are not going to be produced right away. OneNote makes it easy to file these ideas in a trusted place where you can access the content later.

You can also use the tag system in OneNote to create a GTD Style Podcast Production system.

Despite everything being indexed in OneNote search, using OneNote tags will add an extra layer of functionality to your OneNote notebooks.

I read a blog post which was critical about OneNote’s tagging system because the author claimed it isn’t possible to search for individual tags or multiple tags at the same time. It is true that you can’t do this in the same way as with Evernote Tags.

But there is an easy way to sort and search through your OneNote tags.

The Find Tags Feature in OneNote:

When you want to filter your notes using your tags you can choose the Find Tags* option in the home menu of the task bar.

Using OneNote as GTD system

This will display your tags in the right side of the screen. You can filter your tags by All Notebooks, This Notebook, This Section, Section Group and by some date range as well. This flexibility allows you to have different tagging systems per notebook if you want to.

*The find tags feature isn’t available in the mobile version of OneNote.

OneNote tags

OneNote Tags vs Evernote Tags:

OneNote’s tagging system is  nothing like the Evernote tagging system but OneNote tags can be effective if used correctly.

Evernote uses a word based tagging system where you can tag your notes with multiple keywords and filter your searches based on one or multiple tags.

This system is very effective and many people use Evernote for this reason alone.

OneNote tags are completely different.

Each OneNote tag is associated with a symbol and you can add as many tags to your pages as you want. You can also create your own custom tags.

If you look at the image I included in this post you will see that I created the custom tags:  .Article / Episode, .Money, .Pending, .To Do and .When.

I included the “.” at the beginning of the tag so that they would appear at the top of the list. You may recognize these tags as The Secret Weapon GTD Methodology and it works out really well in OneNote for me.

To read more about the Secret Weapon check out this site.

As you’re writing your notes or organizing the content you captured from around the web you can add appropriate tags to make them easier to find later within a certain context.

By adding tags such as Books to Read, Important, Idea, Project A, Project B, Remember for later and your own custom tags, you can filter your notes in a more meaningful way.

If you give your OneNote tagging strategy some thought you will be able to develop a system that works for your own unique podcast production or blogging work flow and preferences.

Use OneNote to actually produce your show including playing the Audio clips in line.

When I’m recording a podcast episode I prefer to minimize the number of  software applications I use.

With Microsoft OneNote you can create your pre-production show notes with intro music, voice mail feedback, sound effects and outro music embedded on a page and arranged in line.  As you are recording your show you can read your show notes and play your audio files as you get to them.

Here is what my “live show notes” for episode 162 of the Bunker Project looked like:

OneNote for Podcasters

When the recording started I said “The Bunker Project, episode 162″… then I tapped the Intro Music icon in the OneNote show notes page and it played the intro music. Bob and I spoke over the intro music welcoming listeners and with our usual spiel. Then we talked about what the show was going to be about followed by some voicemail feedback. As we dealt with each question I would tap the next voice mail feedback audio file icon and the voice message would play within OneNote which was being recorded through the mixer and out to the digital recorder. As we worked our way through the show notes I played the “Gaming with James” theme song when it was time for that segment and at the end of the show played our Outro Music. I did all that without leaving my show notes. It is a great way to use OneNote while you are recording your show.

As long as you don’t have to play overlapping tracks this will do the job nicely. If you do want to play overlapping music, sound effects and feedback then you will need a standalone audio cart app.

One Note App to Rule them All

I use OneNote extensively for both work and personal projects. I used to be a devoted Evernote fan until I accepted a position at a large corporation with a firewall that blocked Evernote. I was told Evernote was not an option and decided to try OneNote as an alternative which being an MS Office product was approved for use. Once I got used to OneNote I fell in love with it and I never went back to Evernote.

If you haven’t used OneNote before I encourage you to try it for a week and see if you like it as much as I do.

Are you using OneNote as part of your podcast production workflow?

If you are using OneNote in a different way or have another app that you are using let us know in the comments below!

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Andrew McGivern
Andrew McGivern

Andrew McGivern is a podcaster, blogger and mobile tech guy. Father of three awesome little ones. Interested in Social Media Marketing, New Media and Podcasting, Technology, Natural Health and Green Energy.

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