Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Do What Works Best For You: Notebook View (Microsoft Word)

After much trial and error, I would have to conclude that Notebook View is my preferred way to take notes. Although it still has plenty of drawbacks, Notebook provides the most of what I'm looking for - without as much hassle.

I checked on my work computer, and as far as I can tell this is not an option for PC users. Please correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm sure the Word Office package we have on here is not the most current.

So - if you are on a Mac, you can select this view at the top and depending on if you have already typed anything into the document it will ask you if you are sure (you are). Once you've done that a "notebook" will appear and you can begin taking your notes.

When I have used Notebook I've gone back and forth between using a single tab for all of my notes, organizing the tabs by Chapter, organizing the tabs by Topic, or organizing by Date. Honestly, for me, none has seemed to work much better than the other. I've found that it may vary for every class, which breaks my organizing heart, but its true.

If you take a lot of notes in a certain class, and by a lot I mean 4+ typed pages/day, I would suggest organizing by date. As you will find out, it takes foreverrr to scroll to the bottom of the page if you have a lot of notes, so if you split it up by day, you can just open a new tab each day. My roommate used to organize her's by week. That way you still have less content/page, but you don't end up with 25+ tabs at the end of each semester.

If you are still going to put all  of your notes on one page, and intend to do so for every class, I might suggest just using one "document" for each semester. That way it is much easier to find your notes and they are all in once place. Plus, if you are super paranoid about losing your notes, you would only have one document that you needed to backup/email to yourself/save on Dropbox.

Taking notes by Chapter or Topic has been the most useful to me overall because it keeps everything organized. It is difficult sometimes if you have a professor who doesn't necessarily teach with a clear divide among the Topics, but generally if you stick to Chapters it is pretty easy to keep up with that format.

I really like using Notebook because it just makes me feel so much more organized. I can access everything much easier, and still keep everything in its place. Plus, you can change the background of the notebook if you really want to spice things up! Haha!

Despite preferring this method, there are still a few things that I wish I could change. First of all, and this will make sense if you frequently, or even just occasionally, use bullets and/or automatic numbering, the tabbing of the bullets are not the same. If you are in a regular word document and you are using bullets/numbers and want to tab "back" to the previous hierarchy you just hit "Enter" and you can keep doing so until either the bullet/number is where you want it, or until it is gone. With Notebook you have to actually use "Backspace" to accomplish this. Now I know that this seems trivial, and it is, but after extensive use of both formats it is difficult to go back and forth and remember which one to use.

Another feature/side effect that I'm not so fond of is the "Print" output. Because it is "Notebook" it prints the lines much farther apart, and generally the font is a bit larger than necessary. This is only really a problem if you, like me, like to bring out all of your notes at the end of the semester to assist you in outlines. In a regular class this might just mean an extra 10-15 pages, but in a "note heavy" class, it can be as many as 30-40. I'm not sure how your schools work, but we have 500 prints/semester and I really hate "wasting" them on white space. Luckily this issue has a solution. With the "Formatting Palate" open on the side, you can change the distance between the lines, which best I can tell seems to correspond with the font size. Thus, if you make the font size 12, you should be able to change the distance between lines to "12" without any overlap of text. You'll see that this is going to change the way it appears, to the point that the text doesn't match up on the lines any more. I would suggest only doing this when you are ready to print, as there is essentially no reason to do it before then.


  • easy to use
  • easier to transition into a regular word document
  • keeps all notes organized in roughly one place
  • ability to organize tabs best for each class 
  • prints in an awkward format
  • irregular bullet/number formatting 
I hope this has given y'all another new way to consider organizing/taking your notes. Please comment with any Pros and Cons of your own or any questions that I didn't cover. 

Have a great day y'all!

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