Microsoft OneNote – The Magic of the “Copy Link to Paragraph” button

UPDATE – 7/27/2016: Wow, time flies…. two years later, I loop back around and get down to answering the questions I asked in this original post. Here’s a link to the answers you seek:
The Functionality Limits of Paragraph Links in Microsoft OneNote -KM


Creating links to notebooks, sections, section groups and pages in Microsoft OneNote is one of the key features that I like to point out to people considering using OneNote for the first time. Considering the fact that said links are practically unbreakable, it’s a huge win for projects that are in the planning stages – as page titles may change, but with OneNote there’s no need to waste time updating broken hyperlinks to avoid the dreaded removing 404 errors…

(I have discovered one potential issue for unschooled users who like to cut/paste pages instead of move/copy pages that could cause OneNote to not function as expected. I’ll update this post with a link to the new blog post once it’s written – stay tuned.)

So I was very pleased when I discovered that OneNote also allows you to create links to direct a user to a specific location on a page (like anchors tags would on a website.) The best part is that it’s two-click simple:

Here’s a step-by-step example of how it works:

1. Insert cursor at the start of a paragraph – in this case next to your favourite dessert item – mine is Tiramisu (hint hint).


2. Right click and select the Copy Link to Paragraph button in the menu.


3. Navigate to a different page and insert cursor on said page. Paste (Ctrl + V) the paragraph link on the page. As you can see the paragraph link displays  most of the first line of text in the paragraph. (Don’t worry – it can be changed – right click and select Edit Link and then change the text in t he Text to Display field.)


When a user clicks on the Paragraph link, OneNote opens up the page the paragraph text lives on, and highlights the paragraph in gray.



Note: If you’ve linked to a paragraph several scrolls down a page, OneNote is smart enough to scroll down to that portion of the page for you.

Stay tuned for a future post where I try to push this functionality to see what it’s limits are to answer such questions as:

1. Can you link to text in a middle of a paragraph?

2. Will the link break if the paragraph text is moved to a different page? A different section? A different notebook?

2. Will the link break if the page the paragraph text lives on is moved to a different section? A different notebook?

In the meantime, Happy Paragraph Linking!


UPDATE – 7/27/2016: Wow, time flies…. two years later, I loop back around and get down to answering the questions I asked in this original post. Here’s a link to the answers you seek:
The Functionality Limits of Paragraph Links in Microsoft OneNote -KM

28 responses to “Microsoft OneNote – The Magic of the “Copy Link to Paragraph” button

    1. I am so glad you found this post helpful! Yes, I’m a huge OneNote fan to say the least. You’re welcome!
      Feel free to send me OneNote-related questions as they make excellent blog topics to share with the OneNote community!

  1. Hi, please help me out.
    What OneNote are you using?!
    I’ve got Windows 8.1, and OneNote installed, and all I get when right clicking are the horrible popup borders at the top/bottom of the screen.
    Hyperlinking Paragraphs would be very, very useful for the planning of my book to connect plotpoints, charakters, places to eachother.

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi, I am using OneNote 2013 on Windows 8.1.

      To be honest, I don’t understand what you mean by “horrible popup borders”. Do you mean the border around the note becomes visible? Or are you referring to the mini toolbars that pop up above and below the text?

      If it’s easier than using words, you can send a screenshot to my email: [email protected]

      Looking forward to finding you an answer!

  2. Hi – I’m trying to link data from a table or spreadsheet on one page to another location. (like you would in Excel where you had multiple sheets and the first sheet you could link to a specific cell in the later sheets.)

    I couldn’t do it at all with Excel sheets w/in OneNote and tried with the paragraph linking. The initial contents linked beautifully, but once I changed the contents on the individual table, the new data was not reflected in the summary table.

    If it helps….what I’m doing…say I have 3 clients (A,B,C). Each has their own section and on the first page of the section they have a job summary which lists the name, type of job, estimated hours, % complete.

    I want to look at this information in a list format for all my clients at once – a summary table. A separate tab. This table would show

    ClientA-name, type of job, estimated hours, % complete
    ClientB-name, type of job, estimated hours, % complete
    ClientC-name, type of job, estimated hours, % complete

    As I work on my project, the % complete numbers change and I’d like the result to be reflected in the summary list.

    Is there any way to ‘refresh’ the linked data to reflect the change in the summary or target location?

    Thanks if you have any suggestions!

    1. Interesting Kyle. I do not believe what you’re suggesting is possible in OneNote.

      If you create a Paragraph Link then right click and select Edit Link from the dropdown menu, you’ll see that it’s display text masking a link made up of a Section ID, a Page ID, and an Object ID. The Display Text is static. It won’t update or refresh when the original Paragraph text does.

      So I’d say we would have to scrap the Paragraph Link as a solution, and return back to the Excel idea.

      Are you saying you can’t link between two Excel files stored in separate parts of the same Notebook or two different Notebooks?

      I think I remember someone telling me this was not possible, and you needed to store your Excel files in SharePoint for that linking to work correctly, but don’t quote me on it! I will do some testing and post my results.

  3. Hi Kelly,

    I got it to work with OneNote 2010 (Win7).
    Needed three steps:
    1. Place cursor (or select the text to link to, eg. paragraph heading or keyword)
    2. Right mouse, etc.
    3. Your step 2 etc.

    Thank you.

    1. Yep, this should work with no issues as long as you’re using the desktop version of OneNote. If you’re using the App/Online, the Link to Paragraph links will still work, but OneNote won’t scroll down to that portion of the page for you.

  4. Hi-
    I’m trying to simplify work for my staff. We input monthly data into an excel sheet and I’d like that data to auto populate into our OneNote page for our monthly report. It that possible?

    On another note, if we use OneNote page for project notes, can we input those into the monthly report (which is in OneNote). Basically, instead of a link to a paragraph, can we easily transfer the info from one page to another? If so, how?


  5. Is there a keyboard shortcut for “Copy link to paragraph,” so that one does not need to right-mouse click. Thanks!

    1. I second that question! I’d like to assign a quick key on my mouse to “Copy link to paragraph”

  6. Links created by Copy link to page are now failing in our notebooks. We have WIP (work in progress) notebooks where we build content, then move to production notebooks in different sites. We’ve discovered that if we create a WIP library in the same site and break inheritance to hide it. Then we must use the Insert (Ctrl-K) and navigate to the desired page to create the link. We found the links do not fail when the sections/pages are moved from WIP to Prod notebooks. Of course Copy link to page would work if we built in the production notebook, but … so if pages are to be moved to a different notebook, do not use Copy link to page (which is an absolute path link), use Insert/Ctrl-K (relative hyperlink).

  7. Hello Kelly,

    Thanks for your various posts related to Links : very helpful !
    Apparently a simple feature, but with many tricks you have managed to uncover.

    I was wondering whether you have understood, through your those experiments, why most of the time the link appears in blue, underlined (which is great), and sometimes not…

    If you have any clue, I would highly appreciate !

    1. Hi Nibla,
      That is a strange result… All my paragraph links always have a blue underline. I’ll ask the OneNote community and see if anyone else has had that anomaly.

    2. My links appear in blue and underlined when the Style of the text is set to Normal (select the text and choose style Normal in the Home Ribbon. In my experience, text I copy into OneNote from other sources typically does not get given the Normal style and therefore links created in such copied text do not appear in blue and underlined.

  8. Every time I click a link to a paragraph, OneNote opens a search dialog with a progress bar and scans for a while. I have tried re-creating the link, re-creating the page and paragraph, but to no avail.

  9. Ms. Marshall,

    Thanks for the article. I have been using “Link to paragraph” for awhile now, and I have noticed there is no way that I could find to add this amazing command to the “Quick Access Toolbar”. Any help in this regard will be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.


    1. Hi Joe,
      That is a neat idea, however I don’t expect that option is possible, as you need to select the paragraph you want to create a link to by placing your cursor in the paragraph.
      If you could add the button to the QAT, and press it without having a paragraph selected, it would not work…
      If I come across any solutions, I will post them here!

      1. It would be great is you could get in touch with the OneNote community to request for a keyboard shortcut to the “copy link to paragraph” option.

      2. It would be great is you could get in touch with the OneNote community to request for a keyboard shortcut.

  10. The magic of One Note (?), not seeing it. The first time I try to use it the handwriting link to text is turned off. Why would a function be turned off?

  11. Quite frankly, it’s b.s. that you can’t have links to paragraphs on the same page. That completely eliminates the possibility of creating a Table of Contents for headings further down the screen.

    Pathetic oversight on that one Microsoft.

  12. Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for your article. I find the feature extremely helpful in OneNote. Could you please share how to do the same, on OneNote Online as well? Every link goes to the top the page in OneNote Online for me.

    Thanks and Regards,

  13. That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.

    Short but very precise info… Thank you
    for sharing this one. A must read post!

  14. Is there anyway to make the link dynamic to a new page name? Trying to use these links with a template and I need to be able to have it work with each page having a different name. Right now, the link has you put #pagename and so when I create a new page and name it let’s say Jim with the template the links no longer work as it is set to whatever the original age name was.

  15. I’m aware that we can create links to pages on IPad but is there a copy link to paragraph feature on the IPad yet?

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