RSC is proud of the fact that we are a virtual company. We’ve been working from home for 20 years and have seasoned expertise to share with the world during this time of social isolation and distancing. For more tips on working from home, check out our previous articles, 12 Tips for Working from Home and 13 Tips for Staying Focused During a Virtual Meeting.
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Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), millions of people across the world are working from home and attending virtual meetings. Because of this, we wanted to share our 20-years-worth of tips and tricks for note taking in a virtual workplace. One of the tools we find most helpful is Microsoft Word. RSC uses Microsoft Word extensively for our internal note taking and documentation because of its many powerful features. We’ve found that it excels in quickly creating consistent formatting, referencing different parts of the document, and visually differentiating notes to find important information quickly.
The Best Note-Taking Tips
Below are RSC’s strategies and suggestions for note-taking in a virtual workplace or while working from home. We use these on a daily basis.
Create a general note-taking template.
Create a template with your preferred headers, topic sections, styles, and typefaces. This will save you time in formatting your notes. Create a section of the document that allows you to quickly fill out essential meeting information, such as date, meeting title and purpose, attendees, minutes, etc.
Creating a “To Do” section can help to further organize your notes, prioritize action items from the meeting, and allow you to quickly find the most important task-based information from a meeting.
Add as many hyperlinks as possible so you don’t have to track them down again. This will also make collaboration easier if you have to share your notes with your team or other stakeholders in a project.
Use One Note.
One Note is similar to Google Drive. A cloud technology, it allows users to save their documents to the cloud and share them in real-time with other collaborators. While this does require a Microsoft account, it is an extremely useful tool when collaborating on a project.
The Best Microsoft Word Features
Below are, in RSC’s opinion, some of the best Microsoft Word features that we use, not only in note-taking, but in almost any of our Word documents.
This feature allows users to quickly copy the format from one section of a document and apply it to another. This helps maintain consistency in notes and reduces clicking so users can note specifically-formatted points more quickly.
Find and Replace
Word’s Find and Replace feature allows users to target specific characters and replace them with new ones throughout the entire document. This feature accomplishes correcting errors or making mass changes throughout an entire document in just a few simple clicks.
If you have made capitalization mistakes while typing quickly, the Change Capitalization feature can help them correct errors and make notes clearer for sharing and review.
Word’s Thesaurus feature is, like many of the features discussed in this article, powerful because of its ability to quickly make changes. Simply highlight a word and click the Thesaurus button so a panel appears with a list of synonyms. Right-click on a word within the panel to see the option to insert it into your document.
Using the styles feature will let you place an automatically-generated table of contents in your document. You do not have to place a table of contents in the document to benefit from navigation features, though. You can instead open a navigation pane that appears on the left-hand side of the document and shows a tree of all headings and sub-headings.
For visual learners and those who like to use flow charts, graphs, and shapes, the Insert Shapes feature is extremely useful. You can insert pre-formatted shapes and simply scale them to the size you want, or you can draw free-form shapes. Any shape can be typed in without having to create a separate dialogue box, which makes this ideal for creating flowcharts and diagrams.
For those who prefer to physically write or draw notes instead of typing, the Insert Drawing Canvas feature will create a box, like a text box, that users can draw in. This can be especially useful for quick mock-ups, diagrams, and visual aids, which can improve efficiency and communication.
Text boxes are also great for mock-ups and re-arranging text so it is in a logical order and makes more sense. It can also help to visually organize notes so they are easier to remember and reference.
Colored and Highlighted Text
If there is something important that you need to do, take away, or remember after a meeting, or that you want to stand out, using a color-code can be extremely helpful. In the past few years, Word has introduced a quick-format feature that pops up next to and highlighted text so you can quickly apply any of this formatting. The Styles and Format Painter features, discussed above, can also accomplish this.