OneNote Screen Clipping function

Easy way to extract citations from protected PDFs or websites

If you’ve ever wondered how to deal relatively easily with making notes and storing citations into your preferred Reference Manager (e.g. EndNote, Zotero, etc.) from protected PDFs (such as the ones that some libraries and publishers make available) which do not allow copying and pasting of information, the following quick demo will come in handy and will definitely save you time, too.

The way I see it, if you are put in the situation of needing to store a citation from a protected file / webpage, you have three options:

  1. go back and forth between that file and your preferred referencing manager and type everything manually (it can be done, I see lots of people doing it, but it strikes me as the least kind way of treating one’s fingers);
  2. go back and forth, but this time use voice recognition software to save your fingers (a faster method, but still not too kind to your neighbours, especially if you’re studying in a library, the Quiet Coach on the train, or such like);
  3. get creative and use other software that’s lying about and could come in really handy for this task.

It is this third option that I’ve just tested and which has been working really well for me.

The Set-up: In order to get protected content into electronic cursive text that I can manipulate in whichever way I want, I am using:

  • Zotero as my referencing manager,
  • a PDF reader to access my protected PDF,
  • and Microsoft OneNote 2010 (but 2007 will also be ok) .

The Method: After opening Microsoft OneNote and creating a blank note (just to keep things organised, not because of anything else), I am using the Screen Clipping tool in OneNote to take a screenshot of the text fragment which I’d like to keep as a citation.
NOTE: make sure the protected PDF / webpage with the citation text in plain sight is the last window you access before going into OneNote to activate the Screen Clipping tool, as you will be returned to the last window accessed and you won’t be able to browse around for what you need.
Once you’ve taken the Screen Clipping, OneNote will return to the note you’re working on, and will insert your citation as an image. All you need now is to right-click on the image, select Copy Text From Picture, and paste it (and possibly doctor it more) wherever you like: either in OneNote for more brushing up, or straight into your Reference Manager.

The Demo: here is a short video which details everything I’ve mentioned above. Hope it helps!