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Straight lines and neater shapes in OneNote for Windows

OneNote for Windows is (finally) getting a way to draw straight lines and draw neat shapes (circle, square etc).  We’ll explain how it works and how it’s different to the similar feature already in other Office (365, 2021, 2019) apps.

Draw and Hold to make a neat shape

To draw a shape that looks neat, the new feature is Draw and Hold.  It works for circle, ellipse, triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, pentagon, or hexagons.

Use a digital pen, finger on screen or mouse to draw the shape, join the ends of the line then hold for a second (or less), OneNote will convert your ‘ink’ into the matching neat shape.

Source: Microsoft

If a nicely drawn shape is NOT what you wanted, Undo (button or Ctrl + Z) will restore your drawing.

We tried this in the latest Insiders build and it works nicely.  It’s an elegant feature that should be copied into the other Office apps which currently have a different way to draw and convert to a shape.

Drawing a straight line

This is a feature many people would assume was already in OneNote – hold down the Shift key when drawing a line to make it straight not squiggly. 

Using Shift to draw a straight line is a common feature in other apps so it’s surprising that Microsoft has taken this long to implement it.

To draw a straight line:

  1. Hold down the Shift key first
  2. Draw a line with pen, finger or mouse

The straight line will appear, snapping to vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

Release the Shift key for more flexibility by disabling the ‘snapping’ feature.

NOTE: that’s how Microsoft says it should work.  Try as we might, it doesn’t work on the current OneNote beta build.  Pressing the Shift key switches focus from a pen to the Select button on the Draw ribbon. It’s part of the ‘fun’ being an Office ‘Insider’ <sigh>.

Who gets it?

According to Microsoft the new drawing features are for Insiders (beta) releases

  • Draw and Hold gesture: v2212 build 15926.10000 or later
  • Shift key shortcut:  v2212 build 15914.10000 or later 

Ink to Shape in other Office 365 and 2021/2019 apps

Office 365 and Office 2021/2p19 apps for Windows (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) can already convert digital ink into a shape but in a different way.

Look for the “Ink to Shape’ button on the Draw tab. See Get started with Word’s Draw features watching this video

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