Hiding Text with OneNote

An entire section of text hidden using the collapse feature
An entire section of text hidden using the collapse feature. Note the small arrow/handle at the top left. Also note the little [+] which can be used to reveal the hidden text.

An often overlooked feature in OneNote is the ability to collapse and expand hierarchical text.

This allows you to free up valuable page space by hiding content that you don’t need to always see.

Using this trick is also a great way to effectively implement a question / answer scenario for your studies.

Say you’re cramming for an exam and you’ve a list of sample questions and answers.

Like you normally do you’d write your questions out and put the answers below. However, by collapsing the text first there is no ‘accidental’ peeking at the answer. You simply write what you think it is and then expand the text to see if you got it right.

Get it Working

Enter your content as usual but take care to ensure that the text you want to hide is ‘lower’ in the hierarchy for that paragraph. This means it either needs to be:

  • indented under the top level text using a tab
  • a bullet point below some ‘higher’ text
Another example, this time selectively collapsing text.
Another example, this time selectively collapsing text.

Then hover your mouse over the top-level text and notice the little handle that appears. Put your cursor over this, double-click and hey presto all the text below has been hidden. You now see a small [+] next to the text that can be used to expand the hidden text.

Note: As well as the hidden text needing to be indented someway ‘beneath’ the top level, there cannot be any white space between the top level and the indented text

Give it a try, it’s a useful trick to know.

More like this?

If you found this useful then check out my section dedicated to OneNote related topics.

Also, if you’re looking to super-charge your productivity then I have a book in the works that will help you Get Stuff Done with OneNote.


18 responses to “Hiding Text with OneNote”

  1. this is good for me; class quiz here I come!

  2. I am stunned! This is such a helpful trick to know. I have been a daily user of OneNote for years but never knew about hiding text. Thank you!

  3. Richieman Avatar

    I use a table with a few columns to make better use of the with of my screen. Unfortunately I cannot collapse an outline that lives in a table. Any idea how to do it?

  4. Hey thanks.. Had some trouble getting the trick work first time

  5. Hey thanks.. Had some trouble getting the trick work first time

  6. Thanks so much! Just what I needed

  7. Thanks so much! Just what I needed

  8. This happens if you click once, or maybe the double clicking isn’t fast enough. Not sure if that comment helps you?

  9. im on oneNote 2016 and it works when i double click fast enough.
    one caveat though is that u must ensure whatever youre trying to hide has a child underneath it. otherwise nothing happens

  10. Nancy Chung Avatar
    Nancy Chung

    omgosh! I thought I had to download/install something to do this but its built right in! Thanks!

  11. Hieronymous Avatar

    So useful! been using OneNote for at least 10 years and just discovered this. Thank you, Darren. Please know your blog is still useful and appreciated after so many years.

  12. Pepper Man Avatar
    Pepper Man

    Great tip! It also works on OneNote for Android.

  13. Shawn Esquivel Avatar
    Shawn Esquivel

    You are a gentleman and a scholar

  14. Tried everything, nothing works… 🙁
    Latest Beta build of OneNote desktop

  15. Adam Kretz Avatar

    Can you do this in iPad version?

  16. Nicholas Deacon Avatar
    Nicholas Deacon

    For those who could not get it to work, I found a troubleshoot:

    At first, the text I was trying to double click (call it, line 2) was simply highlighting.
    But then I tried double clicking the line above it (which would become the “header” or parent of the text I’m hiding) and it worked automatically.

    If you’re discovering this article in 2022 and still having a problem, give that a try.

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