Mundane practicalities of thesis writing

Having now submitted my first full draft, it became apparent how MS Word was stepping up to the mark as a tool to make life easier.  When producing a document approaching 100k words spread over 250 pages (at the moment!), swift and efficient navigation become so important. I’ve always used the navigation pane to jump between sections, even in more modest documents, but there were other aspects which also required attention.  A ‘Table of Contents’ and a ‘Table of Figures’ will also be needed to provide navigation in the printed version, then there’s page numbers, layout, styles, and bevy of other considerations. As a Microsoft Office Specialist Master, albeit one from an earlier era, I’m at least aware of where these features can be found and how they can be applied. PhD colleagues who have preceded me through the system and asked if I knew ‘how to …’ were less fortunate. Having manually numbered chapters and subsections, or tables of contents, friends were surprised to find some of the things Word could do, and somewhat shocked how much effort they could have saved.

To help out fellow PhD students who might not be aware of some of these features, I’m in the process of putting together a few brief, illustrative video tutorials. As I write, I have four episodes:

  1. Using MS Word for your Thesis Ep1 Viewing and navigating
  2. Using MS Word for your Thesis Ep2: Document & pages
  3. Using MS Word for your Thesis Ep3: Styles and headings
  4. Using MS Word for your Thesis Ep4: Tables of Contents/Figures

I’m also working on a few more including automating chapter numbering and customising tables (like contents & figures). I had thought about an episode looking at reviewing and markup, but I think folks in HE are usually aware of that, even if not exploiting its full potential.

If there are topics you think might be helpful which I’ve not addressed, by all means add a comment, either here or on YouTube.

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