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Microsoft OneNore 2010 : Formatting Pictures and Screen Clippings (part 3) - Overlapping Multiple Images on a Page, Copying Text from Pictures

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6/30/2013 7:45:28 PM

5. Overlapping Multiple Images on a Page

Another useful page layout feature available in OneNote is the ability to control the layering of objects such as pictures and screen clippings.

This is most useful when you want to overlap multiple pictures to create a design on the page. You can also use this method to maximize page space by overlapping multiple images in such a way that only the parts you care about are shown.

The fancy term for the ordering of two-dimensional objects is “Z-order,” which refers to the order of objects along the z-axis in coordinate geometry, where x typically refers to the horizontal axis and y to the vertical axis. When two or more objects overlap, their Z-order determines which object or layer appears on top of the other. For bitmap-type images, this means that the topmost layer covers up the ones below it. For image formats that can have a transparent background (such as GIF and PNG files), you can control the Z-order more creatively to create a composite picture or design from the layers of multiple, stacked pictures.

In OneNote, you can control the Z-order of page objects with the Arrange command, which works the same as in many popular page layout and web design programs. You can use this command to arrange multiple pictures that are different from each other or to arrange multiple copies of the same picture.

Ultimately, the usefulness and result of manipulating the Z-order in OneNote really depends on the specific objects (pictures, scanned images, screen clippings, or notes containers) that you will use on your own pages.

The following steps should give you an idea about how this works:

1.
On the current page, insert two to three different pictures, scanned images, or screen clippings.

2.
Click and drag the pictures you have just inserted and drag them together so they all slightly overlap (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. When you combine several pictures so that they partially overlap on the page, you can select a particular picture and then change its Z-order to make the selected picture appear in front of or behind the other pictures.

3.
Click to select the picture that’s farthest underneath the other two.

4.
On the ribbon, on the Draw tab, in the Edit group, click Arrange.

5.
On the pop-up menu that appears, rest the mouse pointer over the available commands to read the ToolTip descriptions that appear. You can choose from four commands:

  • Clicking the Bring Forward command promotes the selected picture or notes container to one layer higher than the current one. You can click this command multiple times, if necessary.

  • Clicking the Bring to Front command promotes the selected picture or notes container to the highest possible layer, covering up all other layers beneath it.

  • Clicking the Send Backward command demotes the selected picture or notes container to one layer lower than the current one. You can click this command multiple times, if necessary.

  • Clicking the Send to Back command demotes the selected picture or notes container to the lowest possible layer, hiding it behind all other layers that appear in front of it.

To conclude this procedure, you could click the Bring to Front command to make the picture you selected in step 3 appear in front of the other two.

It might take some practice for you to learn how to control the Z-order of multiple objects on a page, so practice this on your own for a bit using different types of pictures (for example, some that have a transparent background) and using a mix of notes containers and pictures.

One trick to mastering the arrangement of overlapping objects on a page is to be mindful of both the order in which to select items as well as for which items to change the ordering. If you’re creating a design with overlapping objects and images, think of the layers you’re controlling the same way as you might think of setting up multiple backdrops on a theater stage. By having the order of objects clearly in your mind, you can better differentiate between using the two extreme commands—Bring to Front and Send to Back—as well as the more incremental commands—Bring Forward and Send Backward—which nudge the ordering of the selected item forward and backward by just one layer.

Practice makes perfect and, as you’ve learned, the beauty of OneNote is that you won’t waste any paper while attempting to master your techniques.

Before moving on, I want to mention a feature that many OneNote users have asked about because they can’t seem to find it when they work with pictures in OneNote. It’s the Crop command, which lets you cut off the edges of an inserted picture to strip away the parts of an image that you don’t care about. Although cropping is available in most image-editing programs and some of the other Microsoft Office 2010 products, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher, it’s not available in OneNote 2010.

If you want to crop your images in OneNote, there’s a workaround that I use that gets the same result. After inserting a picture on your page, hold the Windows key and then press S to start a new screen clipping. When the screen dims, drag with the mouse over the inserted image to select only the part of the image that you want to keep. When the Select Location in OneNote dialog box appears, click Copy to Clipboard and then use Ctrl+V to paste the screen clipping on your page. You can then delete the original picture you inserted. It’s a quick-and-dirty workaround, but I find that it does the trick on most occasions.


6. Copying Text from Pictures

After you begin to routinely insert screen clippings from web pages and your documents into your notes pages in OneNote, there will undoubtedly be times when you’ll wish that you could occasionally edit the text in a screen clipping. Well, there’s good news.

OneNote 2010 includes a fantastic feature called Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This is a fancy technical name for your computer’s ability to electronically recognize and translate words in images and convert those words to editable text. OCR software is most commonly included with scanners, so that you can create text files from the documents you scan. Although you can certainly make your scanner do the work, the built-in OCR feature in OneNote lets you quickly extract text from your inserted images whenever you want to use the text within them.

To copy text from a picture, follow these steps:

1.
Insert a picture, scanned image, or screen clipping that contains the text you want to copy. For example, you could insert a picture of a scanned business card or a screen clipping of a paragraph of text on a web page.

2.
Right-click the picture and then click Copy Text from Picture (see Figure 4).



Figure 4. The Copy Text from Picture command in OneNote lets you extract text from any type of inserted image and paste that text anywhere into your notes.

3.
Click anywhere else on the page where you want to paste the copied text, and then press Ctrl+V.

The quality of text recognition depends greatly on the quality and legibility of the picture containing the text. In most cases, handwriting or highly stylized or script-like fonts won’t yield very good results.

If the text recognition produces just a few errors, you can quickly type the necessary corrections in place. This is infinitely faster and easier than retyping the entire original text yourself. Either way, the OCR feature in OneNote is sure to save you at least a little time.

 
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