-by Louise Schoneveld

There are many ways to get your thesis to write itself. Technology now-a-days is so advanced there is no need for you to be spending time editing and organizing your thesis, get the computer to do it for you. These tips are mainly for those who use microsoft word.

1. Endnote and referencing

You should really be using a referencing system such as endnote. You can download endnote free from the ANU using these instructions. The good thing about endnote is it becomes your own library of articles. Within the program you can attach the PDFs of the articles and read them within the software. It keeps track of which you have read and which you have not. You can also give each article a star rating to make it easier to find those helpful articles very quickly.

The most useful function of endnote is citations within word. You have to have endnote and word open at the same time, then when you need to insert a citation, click it in endnote and then, just click endnote. Presto! You have a citation in word and the corresponding reference at the end of the document. You can also right click on the citation in word and change the setting to author (year) if you need.

The great thing about this is you can download the referencing style from the journal that you want to submit to and change your referencing style in one click. You can also create your own style. This saves hours of adding periods after initials…..

You should always work with unformatted citations to avoid crashes.

To unformat citations go to Endnote tab in word->convert citations and bibliography->convert to unformatted citations. To re-format your citations go to Endnote tab in word->update citations and bibliography.

Also if you want to make the file a bit smaller and remove all the links, make sure you’re finished then save it as a plain text document (Endnote tab in word->convert citations and bibliography->plain text). Don’t do this until you’re happy with all your references and bibliography.

2. Headings

You know all those text styles in the top banner in word. USE THEM. You should be using the headings for all your headings. You can edit all the styles to make them to your specifications

Additionally once you have used these headings, you should open the navigation pane (view, check the navigation pane box). Now there is no more scrolling. Just click your heading and jump to that section. You can also click and drag your sections when you decide they need to be rearranged. No more cut and paste!

3. Tables of contents

The best part of using those headings as mentioned above is, you can make and automatic table of contents.

Go to the “references” tab then insert table of contents. Magic! This updates when you try to print it or you can also manually update it by right clicking on it and selecting “update table”. This will save you many hours making this yourself and you can change whatever you like and update it automatically.

4. Figure captions

Ever had to change a figure number then had to go through the entire document to change the number? Never again. You should use the captions function! (references -> Insert caption) This can be used for tables, equations, figures, whatever you need!

Click the figure then insert caption. You can change the appearance of the caption text in that header bar. Now every time you reference that figure, just go to insert->cross-reference, and make sure it is set to “just label and number” rather than entire figure caption.

Also if you need you can insert a table of figures… like a table of contents…. but for your figures (references->insert table of figures)

5. Making a Master Document

One little problem with using all these great tools is that sometimes word has a hard time when your document gets large (say thesis size). I found that making a master document is a good way to get around this crashing problem. This is a little more advanced than the other things but I believe in you! Once it is done you never have to set it up again!

You should save each chapter as individual word documents.  Then open a blank document and save it as MASTER or something similar. Then follow these steps.

You don’t have to do this until each chapter is finished, or you can do it now to see what it looks like. I have found that this is the best way to deal with large documents. Word is smart enough to make page numbers, headings, figure numbers and the like continuous when the master document is created as longs as you’ve used the above steps. Also endnote will join all the references to create a list at the end*

This just makes the document much easier to deal with!

When you open up the master document in the future, just remember it will be in outline view, and just have hyperlinks to the sub-documents (i.e chapters). To open them all go to view->ouline view->show document->expand subdocuments->close outline view

I hope this has saved you some time, because remember,

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

* If your endnote does not behave in your master document, you can always convert your citations to plain text and copy all the references to the end when you’ve finished and list alphabetically.