Streamline Onboarding with OneNote

Work Smart by Microsoft IT

Quick Reference Guide


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You have a new project, new employee, new process, and you need to provide vast amounts of paper, files, and other data as part of onboarding. This can be a hefty administrative effort, and often leave you with little time to do all of your other tasks. However, you can streamline onboarding with a Microsoft OneNote notebook. People can access the onboarding notebook from their computers, tablets, and other mobile devices, and can learn at their own pace.

Let Work Smart show how you can streamline the ramp-up period for people, making it more efficient and effective for them, and much less time-consuming for you. This guide is part of a series, brought to you by Work Smart, which introduces the many benefits that OneNote offers with respect to successful collaboration.

Advantages of OneNote

OneNote enables you to create, share, and use content in a cloud-based file or notebook. It is the digital equivalent of saving paper files in a binder. You can use your OneNote notebook to provide a centralized source for all of the information that a person needs to ramp up a process, position, or team.

OneNote provides several benefits with respect to onboarding people efficiently and effectively, including that you can:

  • Create and store information in a central Microsoft SharePoint Online team site, which recipients can access easily from many different devices.

  • Modify and add information as the business changes, culling information from myriad sources, including email, Yammer posts, the Internet and intranet, and data files. Additionally, you can write notes, draw diagrams, embed audio, video, and picture files.

  • Enable users to search easily for information by using keywords and tags.

Get started

OneNote makes it easy to digitally create, store, share, and find content from one central notebook.

Creating a notebook

Add a section to your notebook for each position, team, or process to which you are onboarding people. You then can create pages for additional information, and import files such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, in addition to URLs, pictures, videos, and Microsoft Visio diagrams. Additionally, you can:

  • Create and store your notebook in the cloud on a SharePoint Online team site, or on OneDrive for Business. This enables your recipients to access it from many devices.

  • Change, update, and synchronize information easily. A OneNote onboarding notebook should be a living file, and you should update it as the business changes. OneNote synchronizes your changes automatically, so recipients access the most current information when they open it.

  • Use the tag feature to mark specific information or keywords so that people can easily find them. For example, if you provide the process for configuring corporate email, you can create and apply an "Email" tag from a scrolling list in the Tags menu. People then can search for the "Email" tag to locate the process quickly.

  • Import the contents of other Microsoft Office files into your notebook, thereby providing critical documents to users seamlessly, without requiring that they jump between programs or download large email attachments.

Sharing a notebook

Use the OneNote file-share functionality to distribute your onboarding notebook via an email link. Recipients then can click the link to access the onboarding notebook from their laptops, tablets, or mobile devices. To distribute your notebook:

  1. Open the SharePoint Online or OneDrive site on which you are storing your notebook.

  2. Click the ellipses (…) next to the OneNote notebook, and then click Share.

  3. In the Invite people field, enter your recipients’ email addresses, and then specify whether they can edit or view (read-only access) the notebook. Additionally, enter the text that you want the body of your email message to include, and then click Share.

NOTE: If you store your onboarding notebook in a SharePoint Online site, you must ensure that people have access to the site. To find Work Smart guides for SharePoint Online, visit

Best practices

  • Test notebooks before you roll them out. Do not assume that everyone can access the notebooks on every device. Perform basic user-acceptance testing with two or three people who use different devices.

  • Remember that onboarding information changes as the business changes, so consider your OneNote notebook a living file. You should store vital information about your project, process, or a specific position as you receive it, and make regular updates to your notebook.

  • Ensure that content is fresh and relevant by establishing a monthly or quarterly schedule for ensuring external links resolve correctly.

For more information

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