Word for Theses Overview

Word icon Word for Theses: Tips and videos

This page is intended to give you a brief overview of the techniques and skills you will need to effectively write and manage your theses. If you require further information or help most subjects are supported by our online video tutorials. If you would prefer to work through the Word for Theses workbook itself you can find it (and the files that support it) on this page

Contents

  1. General Overview
  2. Templates
  3. Styles
  4. Heading numbering (the smart way)
  5. Updating your template from a working document
  6. Attach a new or updated template to a document
  7. Adding captions to images
  8. Page breaks vs section breaks
  9. Assembling your thesis document
  10. Headers & footers
  11. Inserting a table of contents

1. General Overview

The Word for Theses course is designed for users who want to learn how to use Word efficiently to write a thesis (but the techniques you'll use here can be applied to most Word documents). A little time invested before you start (or even when you're half way through!) can save a lot of time in the long run. See our introductory video on our YouTube channel (Video 1 - Introduction)

2. Templates

It is strongly recommended that you create a template to use exclusively for writing your thesis.

Why create a template?

Having a separate template means that you can set it up with the particular page layout, styles and other formatting that you need for your thesis documents. Having them in a template means you just need to set them up once (the documents based on the template inherit the formatting attributes). It also means that you keep your thesis specific formatting separate from your other documents, so all round it's a sensible thing to do. A bit rusty on templates? You might like to watch our templates video (Video 2 - Templates)

3. Styles

Why use styles?

Far from being simply a gimmicky formatting short-cut, styles are actually fundamental when it comes to using Word to its fullest potential. Styles enable you to:

  • Be consistent with your formatting throughout all your documents based on a particular template
  • Update a documents appearance "globally" just by modifying a few styles
  • Automatically generate a table of contents, list of figures and list of tables for your thesis
  • Navigate your document quickly and efficiently by using the navigation panel

If you don't currently use styles, or need to brush up on a particular area, you might like to refer to one or more of our series of videos for further information:

  1. An overview of styles (Video 3 - Styles overview)
  2. What the different style types mean/do (Video 4 - Style types)
  3. Style sets and how to change them (Video 5 - Style sets)
  4. How to create your own styles from scratch (Video 6 - Create a new style)

4. Heading numbering (the smart way)

Another significant advantage of using styles (more specifically, heading styles) in your thesis is that you need never worry about numbering headings again. With 2 clicks of your mouse you should be able to apply outline numbering to your thesis that updates automatically every time you make a change to your headings. Simple! Our Video 7 - Numbering headings the smart way shows you how.

5. Updating your template from a working document

You can't always get it right first time so if you want to update the way your template (and dependent documents) behaves then that's fine. You can make changes either to the template directly or to a working document - we look at the latter here. Video 8 - Style changes from a working document shows you how.

6. Attach a new or updated template to a document

If you make changes to your template mid-way through writing your thesis you will need to re-attach the updated template to any existing documents in order to refresh them and apply the changes - they won't update dynamically. To see how to do this Video 9 - Attach a new or updated template to a document takes you through the steps necessary.

7. Adding captions to images

Many people adopt the practice of typing captions as normal text for their images and tables. In small documents this isn't too much of a problem but in much larger documents managing these captions becomes problematic and listing them in a table of contents is laborious. However, if you use Word's inbuilt Caption feature Word does most of the hard work for you. To get a quick overview of this feature take a look at Video 10 - Adding captions to images.

8. Page breaks vs section breaks

Page breaks and section breaks are extremely useful tools and an understanding of how they work, and when to use them, can help to avoid many common frustrations that people face with Microsoft Word. Video 11 - Page breaks and section breaks explains the purpose of each type of break by using an example, and also demonstrates the use of the Show/Hide tool.

9. Assembling your thesis document

It is recommended that you write your chapters as individual files. This helps to reduce the risk of losing your entire thesis if something goes wrong, and makes each file easier to manage. Once all the files are written they need to be combined into one main document. Video 12 - Assembling your thesis document takes you through this simple process.

10. Headers & footers

When you insert headers and footers into a document, the same text is inserted on every page by default. This is because the default setting in a document is for all headers and footers to be linked. However, using the options available in Word you are able to create different headers and footers for different pages – a feature that is useful in longer documents, for instance if it is double-sided or if it contains a cover page and/or chapters. In the first part - Video 13 - Headers & footers (Part 1 of 2) we show you how to control the way the headers are linked together, in order to control what appears as the header in each document section. In the second video - Video 14 - Headers & footers (Part 2 of 2) we show you how to use the StyleRef field to automatically populate your header text based on the Heading 1 style. We also explore how to get your page numbering right for the footer.

11. Inserting a table of contents

A table of contents is a list of the headings contained within a document and usually includes the relevant page number, enabling you to quickly locate information. Adding a table of contents automatically depends on you having used heading styles in your thesis. For anyone that's ever hand typed a table of contents the benefits will be immediately apparent. Not only does it take mere seconds to create but it can also be updated at the click of a button when changes are made within the document. Our final tutorial in the Word for Theses series (Video 15 - Inserting a table of contents) looks at inserting and updating a table of contents.

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