A beginners guide to what is notion and how to use it.

Explore the basics of Notion and master its usage with this beginner's guide.

Nov 24, 2023
A beginners guide to what is notion and how to use it.
Notion stands out as a tool that defies traditional categories. It's not just for one specific purpose; rather, it's a versatile tool that can handle a wide range of tasks.
Whether you're drafting a simple text document, building complex knowledge bases, taking notes during a university lecture, or setting up interconnected Kanbans for managing multiple engineering projects, Notion has you covered.
In this post, we'll delve into how this versatile tool works seamlessly and understand of its capabilities and learn to use it.

What is Notion?

Notion is like your all-in-one space for writing, planning, and teaming up – perfect for personal projects or group work. Whether you're organizing study materials or keeping company documents in check, Notion makes everything smoother. Plus, you can also even supercharge your productivity with some of the best Notion tools out there.
The app allows users to tailor layouts to enhance workflow and customize toolkits according to specific work needs. Key usecases include:
  1. Notes (or Docs): With over 30 content types, this tool is a versatile replacement for applications like Google and Evernote.
  1. Wikis: Notion's versatility eliminates the need for additional apps like Confluence and Github.
  1. Projects and tasks: Notion provides workfloews for organizing solo and team-oriented tasks, offering alternatives to apps like Asana, Trello, and Jira.
Notion also supports integration with over 50 third-party apps, creating a centralized hub accessible across platforms. Real-time communication with coworkers is facilitated through comments on shared content, making Notion an invaluable tool for seamless collaboration.

Getting started with Notion

Prior to delving further into Notion, it's necessary to create a Notion account by signing up. Once the sign-in process is complete, the Notion interface will appear as follows:
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The sidebar in the Notion workspace functions as the central control panel for your workspace, housing your pages and the databases you create. You have the flexibility to create parent pages and organize them by nesting child pages, ensuring a well-structured environment.
The central area of the workspace is dedicated to creation and editing.
Blocks serve as the fundamental building blocks of your Notion content, encompassing a variety of elements such as text snippets, images, tables, to-do lists, and more.

What are the components in Notion?

Notion is a versatile workspace tool that consists of several key components that work together to provide a comprehensive and flexible platform for organizing, managing, and sharing information. The components of Notion has listed below and using this components users can create variety of contents from simple notes and to-do lists to complex project plans and knowledge bases.
  • Pages: Pages are the fundamental unit of organization in Notion. They serve as containers for your content, allowing you to group and organize related information. Pages can contain a variety of blocks, such as text, images, tables, to-do lists, and databases.
  • Blocks: Blocks are the individual elements that make up a page. They can be text blocks, heading blocks, images, tables, to-do lists, and much more. Blocks can be dragged and dropped to rearrange them on a page, and they can also be nested within other blocks to create more complex layouts.
  • Databases: Databases are powerful tools for managing structured data. They allow you to create tables with multiple columns, filter and sort information, and link related data across your Notion workspace. Databases can be used to track tasks, manage contacts, or store any other type of structured data. Notion has the ability to transfer your same database view in multiple ways. Each database view type is referred to as a layout, and the available layouts include:
      1. Table layout: Presents items in rows and columns on a page.
      1. Board layout: Formerly known as "Kanban view," groups items based on properties, allowing left-to-right or right-to-left movement.
      1. Timeline layout: Organizes items based on date properties, offering a left-to-right timeline visualization.
      1. Calendar layout: Also based on date properties, places items on a traditional calendar.
      1. List layout: Displays all items in a customizable, straightforward list.
      1. Gallery layout: Ideal for image properties or files, showcasing items in larger cards for visual appeal.
  • Templates: Notion provides a vast library of templates for various purposes, from project management to personal journaling. Templates can be used to quickly create new pages with a predefined structure and layout.
  • Integrations: Notion integrates with a variety of third-party tools, such as Slack, Google Drive, and Evernote. This allows you to connect Notion to your existing workflows and extend its functionality.

How to create a New Page in Notion?

To initiate your workspace, the initial step involves creating a page.
Once you've acquainted yourself with the sidebar, you can start creating a new page by clicking on the command on '+New Page.'
Simply click on this option to commence the design of your fresh virtual workspace.
If creating a custom workspace from the ground up is not your preference, you have the option to utilize a template.
Navigate to the left sidebar and select "Templates," then browse through the available template options. (Alternatively, you can locate "Templates" as the third item in the content creation options list within the "+New Page" interface.)
In Notion, pages are versatile documents that can be customized for various purposes. Whether it's a CRM or a knowledge base, Notion's block type interface and flexible templates allow users to adapt it to their needs.

How to utilize Notion

Using Notion is a straightforward process with its user-friendly default blank page.

Notion Document Creation:

Initiate your document by starting a new page, then customize it by adding images, formatting text, inserting tables, and rearranging blocks through simple click-and-drag actions.
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Adding Images to Your Notion Document:

Incorporate images into your Notion document by accessing the block menu or by simply by typing forward-slash “/” key. Choose "Images" from the Media section to upload, embed via a link, or select from Unsplash, a free image repository.
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Formatting Text in Your Notion Document:

Format text easily by utilizing the block menu. Header options are available at the top, providing plain text and headers from h1 to h3.
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Adding Tables to Your Notion Document:

Include tables in your Notion document by selecting the "Tables" option in the block menu. Unlike traditional text-oriented tools, Notion tables offer extensive functionality.
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Customize column labels and types of information to suit your needs, whether for basic information or database indexing.

Moving Blocks in Your Notion Document:

Unlike other platforms where you copy and paste, Notion simplifies block movement. Drag and drop paragraphs effortlessly by using the handle, represented by a square next to the plus symbol.

Comments, Reminders, and Mentions:

Enhance collaboration by adding comments and mentioning other users. Note that mentions are limited to Notion users only. Comments are accessed by clicking on the block, and reminders can be set with specific times and dates, delivering notifications through various channels.
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Notion offers a seamless document creation experience with its intuitive interface, collaborative features, and versatile functionality.

How to use Notion for notes

Notion can be used as a versatile note-taking app, offering a browser extension known as the Web Clipper for Chrome and Firefox. This extension seamlessly integrates with Notion, allowing you to save web pages to your Notion workspace. Once saved, the page becomes a Notion document, enabling text and content editing, mentions, reminders, and easy rearrangement of elements.
Moreover, Notion proves beneficial for creating class, book, or meeting notes. For example, you can utilize templates like "Class Notes" from the Education menu streamlines the process.
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These notes can be shared with others possessing Notion accounts, with free full-powered accounts available to those with academic email addresses.
The template comes pre-loaded with content, checklists, and reminders for efficient organization. Toggle lists offer a structured way to arrange extensive and complex notes.
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If you need to reorganize notes or add depth to specific subjects, Notion's flexibility shines. You can create new pages, move notes around, and link them for a cohesive structure.
Overall, Notion's adaptability makes it a powerful tool for note-taking and organization.

How to use Notion for Project Management

Notion provides essential project management features like calendars, Kanban boards, to-do lists, and collaboration features right out of the box.
You can incorporate these as blocks within an existing page or as standalone pages.
Furthermore, you have the flexibility to modify and nest these elements as per your preferences. Whether you want to create a Kanban board with checklists and calendars on each card or a table displaying project elements with embedded calendars and Kanban boards in each cell, the customization options are extensive.
For those who prefer a plug-and-play approach without spending excessive time learning and customizing, Notion offers ready-made project management templates like CRM, second brain template and so on in the New Page template menu.
Examples include a modified Kanban for a Personal CRM:
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A content calendar tailored for marketers in the Marketing menu:
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And a Roadmap tool available in the Project menu:
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Additionally, there's a straightforward, efficient, and highly adaptable sales CRM option. Most of these templates leverage the intuitive and flexible Kanban structure for ease of use.
But, what if you have a ton of them, you can choose a suitable template and duplicate it to use it for your organization. These templates are created by top most notion creators. Notion creators will create templates based on user requirements and sell the template through Notion Marketplace and third party platforms.

How to use Notion as Wikis

Notion allows you to construct interactive knowledge bases or wikis, facilitating collaboration among multiple users in their development. The capability to nest pages within pages empowers the creation of intricate knowledge bases, enabling users to navigate and manage their own paths through the information provided.
You have the option to build these pages from scratch or utilize a template accessible through the Engineering menu:
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If the desired templates are not present in the basic templates menu, you can explore the extensive template gallery and a community dedicated to crafting additional templates.

How to use Notion for Blogging

Notion offers a flexible platform for content creation and blogging, enabling users to draft articles, embed multimedia, and organize content using databases and templates. Notably, Notion AI, an exclusive feature, aids in crafting blog content directly within a Notion page.
The collaborative features of Notion facilitate team blogging, permitting multiple contributors to collaborate on a single document simultaneously.

How to use Notion for Website Building

Notion serves as a no-code website builder, offering flexibility to convert pages into websites in just 2 to 3 steps. Once your page is prepared in Notion, simply click "Share" and "Publish to Web" to have your site live in minutes. Numerous online Notion examples demonstrate that Notion provides an easy, code-free method to construct websites.

Final Part

Notion is seriously the coolest tool I've ever tried. What I shared is just the beginning – there's so much more to discover. It's like a superpower, making work and team chats super easy. Notion has become a game-changer for businesses, and you can find plenty of Notion websites online.
This guide gives you the basics to kickstart your workspace. With Notion on your side, every click feels like a burst of productivity and creativity. So, dive in and tackle your goals, one Notion page at a time!