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Recently, I swapped Jaffa Cakes for tuition on working with long documents.  I’m at that stage now where what I have been writing is now longer than my masters dissertation (previous personal best) and could easily become unwieldy if I didn’t take advantage of the tools in Word. I figure this is the “stitch in time saves nine” kind of approach. Since I’m probably not the only PhD student who might find these hints useful, I thought blogging them would be helpful.

Some time ago I set up a template document with my defined styles and layout. For example, I’ve got a style set for quotations in my work. That’s not only useful for quickly formatting them, but also allows me to hop between them easily or create a list to make checking their attributions a little simpler. I’ve been strict with myself and formatted all my headings strictly according to style, rather than direct formatting.

New things I learned on payment of Jaffa Cakes included:

  • I probably don’t exploit the Document Map tool enough; this lists sections by heading.  (another reason for using styles).
  • I’ve not used the ‘browse by object’ to the full of its capability. Bottom right of the scroll bar, it’s the round dot in the middle of the fast forward/ rewind buttons. Once selected, ctrl + page down will hop to the next instance of that kind of object.
  • Keyboard shortcuts really do speed things up. Long a fan, I had already set my own up (e.g. Alt + W for Word Count) but I did not know that Alt + Crtl + ‘+’ gives keyboard shortcuts for items – hover over the menu options.
  • The most useful thing I learned, worth the Jaffa Cakes alone, was that Alt + Shift + up/ down arrows will hop a highlighted paragraph of text up or down in a document. I can see that will  be very useful when rearranging streams of consciousness into an ordered whole.
  • The second most useful hint was that Shift + F5 takes me to the last five edit points in the document, or the last one only if I just saved the document.

I don’t know where else this stuff is written down… possibly buried in the small print of long help documents somewhere or else imparted to folk who go on proper courses, perhaps? But that one conversation and dissection of my fledgling literature review could save me a lot of hassle in the long run.

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