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Creating Drawings

Anyone with a mouse attached to their computer can make a drawing or a handwritten note. By clicking the Pen button and dragging the mouse pointer in the OneNote window, you can draw or handwrite notes. However, writing and drawing by hand is best done with a stylus. A stylus is a pointing tool that you use with a tablet. By moving the tip of the stylus over the surface of the tablet, you can create digital lines. Tapping with a stylus is the equivalent of clicking a mouse button.

Including drawings is an excellent way to call attention to different parts of notes, charts, and other types of drawings. Even if you don’t have a stylus, you can use your mouse to draw circles or arrows in a note. The following illustration was created simply by dragging the mouse over a screen clipping.

In this exercise, you draw a simple note.

Click the Pen button, or to change the color and style before using the tool, click the Pen down arrow, and click the pen or a highlighter you prefer.

The Pen drop-down menu lists different colors, thicknesses, and highlighters. Use the highlighters to create wide bands of color. Lines drawn with a highlighter are transparent; lines drawn with a pen are opaque. The pen or highlighter that is currently selected appears on the Pen button.

You can also choose a pen or highlighter on the Tools menu by clicking Drawing and Writing Tools, clicking Pens, and then clicking a pen or highlighter on the submenu. The Pen button is also available on the Drawing and Writing Tools toolbar.


If you are making a complex drawing with many colors, display the Pens toolbar. It includes all the pens and highlighters so you can choose each one quickly. Right-click any toolbar, and click Pens to display or hide this toolbar.

Drag the pen or highlighter in the OneNote window to draw lines.

As you draw lines, OneNote creates a drawing canvas to hold the drawing. Similar to a note container, a drawing canvas holds the lines of a drawing together and marks it as distinct from the OneNote window and the other notes and drawings in the window.


If you draw a new line within an inch of another drawing, OneNote assumes you want the new line to be part of the existing drawing, and it merges the first drawing with the second. To draw within an inch of an existing drawing and keep the drawings separate, select the first drawing, and on the Edit menu, deselect the Allow Drawing to Auto-Merge command. Click the Type/Select Tool button and drag over a drawing to select it.

Click the Pen button again when you are finished drawing.

After you click the Pen button, the most recent drawing canvas is selected. When a drawing canvas is selected, it is surrounded by dotted lines and eight selection handles.

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