If you own one or more Microsoft Office products, the Office Online Web site is your friend. It serves as a huge (and free) repository of all kinds of information for all of the programs in the Office 2007 product suites. The site also features archived information for older Office programs that are still officially supported by Microsoft.

With that many software programs to write about, even the best navigation system and search engine will require at least some user interaction to successfully lead site visitors to the information they most care about. Our busy site managers work continuously to improve navigation and search, but global updates to a site this large naturally require much forethought and planning before they can be rolled out. I often hear from people that they can't seem to find their way past the marketing pages or that they're not quite sure if they're in the right place for updated Help content. Over the next few days, I'll share some tips that might help you navigate our site better and find more of what you're looking for.

I'm splitting these tips up into a few parts to make this information a bit easier to digest. For today, let's look at how to reach the OneNote-specific product pages.

Two portals for every Office product on Office Online

To effectively use Office Online, understanding where you are on the site can help a great deal. In most cases, each individual Office program (such as OneNote 2007) has two separate portals (or sub-sites) available for site visitors — a pre-sales site, and a post-sales site.

The pre-sales site for a single Office program is the main portal to product marketing information. The primary audience for this information is anyone who has not yet purchased that particular software program and wants to learn more about it — including features, benefits, pricing, availability, licensing, and compatibility. Whether you're thinking of making a brand new purchase or you're considering an upgrade to a newer version of an Office program, the pre-sales site has everything you need.

The post-sales site for a single Office program is the main portal to the Help & How-to documentation that we have available for people who are using that program. This is the side of things that writers like me feed every day with new and updated content. When you want to read online Help and How-to articles, walk through tutorials, take training courses, view video demos, download templates, and get other free stuff, the post-sales site has everything you need.

Let's look at how to access each of these portals for OneNote 2007.

Getting to the OneNote product information portal (pre-sales site)

If you or your colleagues, friends, or family members don't yet have OneNote and are interested in learning more about OneNote or want to download the trial version to take OneNote for a spin, the OneNote 2007 product information portal is the best place to start:

  1. Open a new Web browser window (or tab) and go to http://office.microsoft.com/.
     
  2. On the Office Online home page, click the Products tab.
     

     
     
  3. In the Products list in the left margin, click OneNote.
     

     
  4. The OneNote 2007 product information portal opens.
     
      Although the contents of this page are built on the fly each time you visit this page, the URL won't change over time. You can safely add it to your Favorites list for easy access. You can also reach this page simply typing http://office.microsoft.com/onenote/ into your Web browser, which will automatically redirect you to the OneNote 2007 product information portal.
     

Getting to the OneNote Help & How-to home page (post-sales site)

If you already have OneNote 2007 installed (either the full version or the trial version) and you want to find Help & How-to articles, training, video demos, tutorials, templates, and other useful information, the OneNote 2007 Help & How-to home page is the best place to start:

  1. Open a new Web browser window (or tab) and go to http://office.microsoft.com/.
     
  2. On the Office Online home page, click the Help and How-to tab.
     

     
     
  3. Near the center of the page, in the Browse Help and How-to by Product box, click the 2007 Office System tab, and then click OneNote 2007 in the list.
     

     
  4. The OneNote 2007 Help & How-to home page opens.
     
      Although the contents of this page are built on the fly each time you visit this page, the URL won't change over time. You can safely add it to your Favorites list for easy access.
     

A closer look at the OneNote Help & How-to home page

Unlike the product information (pre-sales) portals for the individual Office programs, each of the Help & How-to home pages are updated at least once a month with new featured content. This means that the pages are going to look slightly different each time you visit them, much like the home pages on news and magazine Web sites. We do this to showcase new and updated content when it becomes available. Based on feedback from site visitors like you, we also cycle through highly rated content that users have previously rated as permanently useful. In addition, we occasionally promote seasonal content (for example, at tax time or during holidays) to point out content and templates that may be useful during such times.

While the featured content on the OneNote Help & How-to home page changes every month, the basic layout of this page remains consistent. The animation below shows how OneNote 2007 content is generally organized on this page:
 


 

Aside from the product information portal and the Help & How-to home page, you can use the navigation links on the Office Online site to reach other OneNote-specific pages and information (for example, archived OneNote 2003 content).

Feel free to explore Office Online on your own, or simply add the following URLs to your Favorites list:

I should point out that there are several ways of finding the same thing on Office Online. The steps I've outlined in this post are just one way to reach each of these pages. Most of my friends and colleagues prefer sites that let them read information without first having to log on with a username or password, so I've written these tips with that preference in mind. That said, if you own several Office products and you frequently read content on the Office Online site, you may want to consider registering on the site. When you're logged in with your personal Office Online ID, you can enjoy additional site functionality that you may find useful. If you don't want to create an account but you like the idea of having Office Online automatically customize content for the programs you own, go to this page. Either way, feel free to explore the resources on our site in the way that makes the most sense to you.

I hope you found this overview helpful.