How to Edit in Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote 2013 has many options for editing and changing the appearance of text, as well as pictures and handwritten notes. If you're already experienced with working in Microsoft Word, you'll find the transition to OneNote easy. While this outline of the editing features is illustrated in this article using the Windows desktop app, most of the same features are available on the free mobile versions for Android and Apple iOS devices and on OneNote Live, which is available for free using any Web browser with a free Microsoft account.

Text Editing and Text Formatting

Image Credit: Screenshot courtesy of Microsoft.

Editing text and changing fonts, font styles and colors is essentially the same in Microsoft OneNote as it is in Word. After highlighting text, you can:

  • press Delete to remove it.
  • press Ctrl-C to copy it.
  • press Ctrl-X to cut it.
  • press Ctrl-V to replace it with text in the computer's clipboard.

To change text formatting, highlight the text that you want to change and then either right-click it or click the Home tab. You can change the text style, font, font size, font color and alignment as required.

Editing Text Boxes

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

In OneNote, text always appears in one or more text boxes. Clicking a text box makes it editable so that you can drag it to a new position or resize it by dragging a corner. However, dragging does not allow you to increase the length of a text box. If you need to make a text box taller, insert the cursor at the end of the last word and press Enter as many times as needed.

Editing for Spelling and Typos

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

To check spelling in OneNote, click the Review tab and select Spelling. In the Review ribbon, there is also a Thesaurus option for finding synonyms. To check the spelling of a single word, right-click the word and select the preferred spelling or click Spelling to open the Spelling utility.

Editing Pictures

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

While it's not as robust as Word, OneNote offers tools for editing pictures. To add a picture, click the Insert tab and select any icon in the Images section: Screen Clipping, Pictures, Online Pictures or Scanned Image. Right-click an image on the OneNote page to select an editing option. These include:

  • cutting, copying or copying text in a picture.
  • adding a link to a picture.
  • changing the order of the pictures, in regard to which is above or below another.
  • rotating a picture.
  • restoring a picture to its original size.
  • setting a picture as a page background.
  • adding an Alt Text tag to a picture.
  • making the text in a picture searchable.

Editing Handwriting

Step 1

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Drag the cursor over a handwritten note to select it. A box appears around the handwriting, which you can move or resize just like a text box. Click the Draw tab, select Convert and then click Ink to Text. If you've written down a math problem, select Ink to Math instead. OneNote automatically converts the handwriting to text.

Step 2

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Edit the converted text just as you would any other text box. After conversion, there may be missing words or letters, or too many spaces or line breaks between words.

Step 3

Image Credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Drag the text box to any desired position. Adjust the text box size as needed by dragging any corner.


At the time of publication, handwriting conversion isn't available on OneNote mobile apps or OneNote Live.