OneNote Must-Knows: Color Coding and Custom Tags

Aug 17, 2022 | Administrative Professionals, Organization, Technology

When it comes to note-taking software, you can’t beat the functionality and ease of OneNote. But many users are only scratching the surface of the program’s capabilities.


I use OneNote for virtually everything – from procedures to travel planning to the way I manage my projects and speaking events. It’s so easy to keep things organized in their own notebooks, and it makes collaborating with my team nearly effortless.

Two of my favorite OneNote functions are color coding and custom tags. If you haven’t explored these features yet, here’s how!

Color Coding

Our brains process color before virtually anything else. Color helps us improve comprehension, process information quicker, and retain it longer. And OneNote makes it easy to create a color-coding system that works for you!

Color coding can be applied to notebooks, sections (or tabs of information), pages, and tags. Here is the color code I use in my office:

  • Speaking Engagements – Red
  • Training – Yellow
  • Business Development – Navy Blue
  • Company Projects – Green
  • Vendors/Suppliers – Orange
  • Advertising/Marketing – Purple

With OneNote, I can color code my digital notebooks on these topics to match the file colors on my desk. I can also apply color within each tabbed section of my notebook. And each page within each section can have a background color.

  • Notebooks

  • Sections/Tabs

  • Pages (Click on View Ribbon, Page Color)

Custom Tags

One of my favorite ways to use color coding in OneNote is with custom tags. I can apply specific icons, formatted text, and color/highlighting to the tags I create. In this example, I created a custom tag for one of my executives so I could quickly search by that tag to find all of the items I wanted to discuss with him. You can create custom tags for anything you want!

With custom tags, you can organize, prioritize, and search based on the tags you create. It’s brilliant!

  • Tags

Bonus tip: You can also import custom tags from another user’s notebook by following these steps:

  • RIGHT-click on the ICON next to the tag name.

  • Click on Add to My Tags

Note: You may need to move it up from the bottom of your tag list in order to see it once you’ve imported it.

If you’re looking for an easy way to capture, organize, and share anything, you need OneNote!

Interested in learning more about what the program has to offer? This three-part course will make you a OneNote pro in no time!

© 2022 Julie Perrine International, LLC


Want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or website? You can — just as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures. 

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