If you use Microsoft Office, you don’t need to look any further for software that will help you organize a writing project. OneNote is a great tool for keeping track of your research materials and notes, and even works great for writing those early drafts.
For example, the following sample notebook, named Writing Project, contains sections where I can track my research, plan the book, work on submission materials like a query and synopsis, keep notes, and write scenes.
For this example I’m using the OneNote app in Windows. Your screen will look a little different if you’re using the Office 365 version:
Back to the app. I’ve opened my notebook I call Writing Project. Down the left side, you see the sections I’ve created. If I open the Notes section, for example, I see the pages and subpages I created for that section:
You can, of course, set up your notebook to match your working style.
If you do a lot of your research online, your Research section will likely contain web pages you’ve found. It’s easy to put a web page into OneNote. You can set up OneNotew as a printer and “print” into your notebook. Most current browsers also have add-ins or extensions, so you can also add the OneNote Clipper extension and clip full or partial pages with a couple clicks.
Once your page is OneNote, you can highlight the relevant passages, like this one for my current project:
Highlighting is especially easy if you have a touchscreen and a pen (or finger).
OneNote can store just about anything: text, images, drawings (including things you draw in OneNote with your pen or finger on that touch screen).
This is a picture of a page in a book, which I took with my phone, saved to OneNote, then marked up in my notebook.
I even link to my manuscript file from inside OneNote, and to my submission tracking spreadsheet. I often keep a OneNote page pinned to my Word file for making notes as I write or revise.
OneNote is the most flexible and versatile tool I’ve found yet for managing a writing project. I can set it up how ever I need it for my work habits and the needs of a particular project. Everything I do in OneNote is saved to the cloud, so it’s available on any of my computers or mobile devices whenever I need it, wherever I am.