How to Draw in Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote Logo on Purple Background

Microsoft OneNote provides drawing tools that let you create shapes, draw free-form sketches, and even write notes with a mouse or a finger on a touch screen. Here’s how it’s done.

The steps for drawing in OneNote are a bit different between Windows 10 and Mac. We’ll show you how it works in both operating systems.

How to Draw in OneNote for Windows 10

To get started, launch OneNote and open the notebook that you’d like to draw in. All of the tools we’ll be using to draw in OneNote are conveniently located in the “Draw” tab, so go ahead and click that tab to open it.

Draw tab in Microsoft OneNote

After clicking “Draw,” you’ll notice several drawing tools available in the “Tools” group.

Drawing tools in Microsoft OneNote

Here’s what each tool does:

  • Type: Manually type text in the notebook.
  • Lasso Select: Select multiple items by clicking and dragging your cursor over them. This has the same effect as holding the “Ctrl” key and clicking multiple items to select them.
  • Eraser: Erase ink strokes or parts of a shape.
  • Drawing Library: Choose a pen or a highlighter with a predefined ink color and thickness from the grid of choices.
  • Color & Thickness: Choose the color and thickness of your ink.
  • Draw with Touch: Use the drawing tools with a pen or your finger. This only works if you’re using a touch screen.

Free-Form Drawing

To start drawing, you can select a pen or a highlighter style from the library grid by clicking the one you want to use. There are more options available than what you see in the menu. To expand the menu, click the “More” button, which is a downward-pointing arrow with a horizontal line above it.

More button

With the full drawing library open, select the pen or the highlighter that you want to use.

Drawing library

If you can’t find a style that you like, you can customize your own. Click the “Color & Thickness” option.

Color and Thickness option

The “Color & Thickness” menu will appear. Choose (1) a pen or a highlighter, (2) the ink’s thickness, and (3) the color of the ink. Once you’re ready, click “OK.”

Color and Thickness menu

If you have a touch screen and prefer to draw with your finger or a pen, now’s the time to click the “Draw with Touch” option.

Draw with touch option

With your pen or a highlighter selected, you can draw letters or shapes by clicking and dragging your cursor.

If you draw text, like “Hello” in the above animation, you can convert the handwriting to computer text by clicking the “Ink to Text” option in the “Convert” group.

Ink to Text option

The handwritten text will now appear as if you’d typed it with your keyboard.

Converted text

To stop free-form drawing, press the “Esc” key on your keyboard or click the “Type” option in the “Tools” group of the “Draw” tab.

Type option

Also, in the “Convert” group, you might have noticed the “Ink to Math” option. This works the same way as the “Ink to Text” option, except for mathematical expressions.

Ink to Math option

When you click “Ink to Match,” the “Insert Ink Equation” window will appear. Draw the mathematical expressions by clicking and dragging your mouse. Click “Insert” to insert the expression.

To stop drawing, press the Escape key on your keyboard or click the “Type” option in the “Tools” group.

Type option

Creating Shapes

Drawing shapes by hand will usually end up looking a little choppy. If you want to create a shape with clean lines and edges, you can do so by choosing a shape from the “Shapes” group.

Choose a shape from the Shapes group

Next, click and drag your cursor to draw the shape. You can resize it by clicking and dragging the handles. You can also relocate the shape by clicking and dragging it to its new position.

Edit Your Drawings

OneNote provides a few tools for editing your drawings. These can be found in the “Edit” group. Here’s what each one does:

  • Insert Space: Add or remove space between objects.
  • Delete: Delete a selected item.
  • Arrange: Bring an object in front of (or behind) another object.
  • Rotate: Rotate an object by 45 or 90 degrees, or flip it vertically or horizontally.

Edit tools

If you find yourself needing to select multiple objects at once to edit them, you can use “Lasso Select.” This option is found in the “Tools” group.

Lasso Select option

Circle the objects that you want to select by clicking and dragging your cursor. Once they’re selected, you can edit them or even move them to a new location.

Erasing Your Drawings

If you want to remove something that you drew, you can click the drawing and press the “Delete” key on your keyboard. Or, you can select the item that you want to delete and click the “Delete” option in the “Edit” group.

Delete option

Alternatively, you can use the “Eraser” tool in the “Tools” group. Click the down arrow under the “Eraser” option to show the menu with different eraser sizes. “Stroke Eraser” will erase one selected stroke at a time.

Eraser options

Once you’ve selected your eraser type, click and drag your cursor over what you want to delete.

How to Draw in OneNote for Mac

The drawing options available in OneNote for Mac are unfortunately much less feature-rich than those offered in Windows 10. Additionally, the option to create shapes isn’t located in the “Draw” tab like with Windows 10 but is instead placed in the “Insert” tab, as you would find in many other Microsoft applications like PowerPoint or Word.

Free-Form Drawing (Mouse Only)

To get started, launch OneNote on your Mac, open the notebook that you want to draw in, and then click the “Draw” tab.

Draw tab in Microsoft OneNote for Mac

Here, you’ll find these options:

  • Text Mode: Use this to type text in the notebook.
  • Lasso Select: Click and drag your cursor over multiple items to select them. This is the same as holding the “Command” key and clicking several items to select them.
  • Insert Space: Add or remove space between objects.
  • Eraser: Erase ink strokes or parts of a shape.
  • Drawing Utensils: Choose between a pen, a marker, and a highlighter.

Drawing tools and utensils

To the right of these options, you’ll find the ink color and size options.

Color and thickness options on Mac

To draw, select your drawing utensil (“Pen,” “Marker,” or “Highlighter”), choose your color and thickness, and then click and drag your mouse.

The word Hi drawn in OneNote

Creating Shapes

Creating shapes in OneNote for Mac is the same as in Windows 10—except that the shapes are in a different tab. To find your shapes in OneNote for Mac, click the “Insert” tab. Here, you’ll find a small library of shapes to choose from in the toolbar.

Insert tab and shape library

Select a shape that you want to use and then click and drag your mouse to draw it in your notebook. You can resize the shape by clicking and dragging the handles, and you can move the shape by clicking and dragging it to its new location.

If you have multiple objects drawn on your notebook, you can select several of them at once by using the “Lasso Select” option.

Lasso select on Mac

Circle the objects that you want to select by clicking and dragging your cursor. Once they’re selected, you can edit them or even move them to a new location.

Erasing Your Drawings

To remove something that you drew, click the drawing and press the “Delete” key on your keyboard. You can also use the “Eraser” tool. Click the down arrow next to the “Eraser” option to show the menu with different eraser sizes. “Stroke Eraser” will erase one selected stroke at a time.

Eraser options on Mac

Once you’ve selected your eraser type, click and drag your cursor over what you want to delete.

And that’s it! Have fun drawing in OneNote.

RELATED: The Beginner’s Guide to OneNote in Windows 10