Writing a book or thesis
We make plans before a long journey, and we need to plan how to write a long document just as carefully - it will save a lot of time in the long run.
Which Word processor?Open Office
* free & v good.
* can open and save all important formats including the latest Word DOCX
* lacks some of the sophistication of Word esp for writing books
* Tom Wright produces all his manuscripts on it but getting used to it is difficult
* good integrated database & bibliographic tools, but non-standard in too many ways
* if you want to write Hebrew on a Mac, you need to use this
* it is Israeli, fairly cheap, can be hard to learn, but very good
* I'll assume you are using this. Very good and very complete.
Which version of Word?Which version of Word?
* by default you'll probably use the latest version
* but think about it. There is no killer feature in the latest version
* so use whichever version is your favourite, anything from Word 97 onwards.
My favourite is Word 2003
* faster with large documents than Word 97
* more customisable than the later versions
* especially: No ribbon cluttering up the top of your screen
* if you want lots of buttons, you can put them down the side.
* however, if you have Word 2007+, try minimising your ribbon
(Word 2007 little button top left; Word 2010 dedicated button top right)
Menu RibbonIf you have Word 2007 onwards, and you get lost often:
* you can install the old ribbon. Get UBit one free (for non-commercial use)
(there are others from SobolSoft.com and AddinTools.com but they aren't free)
Writing with Style
If you use Styles, you can concentrate on your writing instead of formatting
* so get into some good habits at the start and you can format afterwards.
* whether you realise it or not you are using Styles, so make them work for you
* the default style is Normal – you automatically use that for your paragraphs
* another default (automatic) style is Footnote Text – so you already use Styles!
* use Heading 1 for a chapter title, then Heading 2 for sub-sections
* if you are really organised you can use Heading 3 and 4 for smaller sub-divisions
* and when you get to a quote, use Quote
* and when you want something to stand out, use Emphasis
* and if you don't see what you want, create a Style or right-click and modify it
(but it is best not to let this distract you till you've finished writing.)
Why bother with Styles? To save time and to be professional
* a Style defines a set of formatting throughout your long document
* you decide, at the end of your book, that you don’t like the look of your block quotes
* you don’t need to go through changing every quote – just change the Quote style
* every quote in the book will change, and all look the same as each other
* same with the headings and footnotes – you can change them all at a click
HeadingsWhat Style am I using now? * in word 2007+ the Home ribbon will tell you (though you may need to scroll)
* in Word 2003+ you can open the Styles box – though it is a bit big
(Word 2003 Menu: Format > Styles. Word 2007+ Ribbon: Home > Styles popout)
* in Word 97 – 2003 you can see the Styles in the Style Area (go Tools>Options)
* with each of these, a right-click leads you to formatting Styles
* but I caution against wasting time formatting styles till you've written your book.
Headings are special* the Headings quotes are special in that they have a Level assigned to them
* this makes the difference between a long document you have to wade through
and a long document you can navigate easily and go wherever you want
* and, when you are done, you can make a Table of Contents at a click.
Finding Headings in Word 2007+* Styles are generally easier to find in Word 2007+, but Headings are hidden
* only Heading 1 is listed by default in the Ribbon and in the Styles sidebar
* to find them, click on "Options" at the base of the Style box and select "All Styles"
Modifying and Creating Styles* remember, don't let this distract you. Finish writing your draft at least
* to modify, right-click on a style in the Style pane
* or click on "New Style" in the Style pane (in 2007+ it is a button at bottom left)
* pick the style type. There are mainly two different types:
Character styles (eg Emphasis) defines font, size, colour etc.
Paragraph styles (Eg Heading, Quote) do all this plus line spacing, tabs, margins etc
* pick a related style in "Based on", so when you change the font etc in that style, then this new one will change accordingly to keep a consistent look throughout.
* "Style for following para" will be automatically set when you start a new para. Eg you press Enter after writing a section title, and it changes automatically to Normal.
* be conservative with what you set. Ideally you want most things set in "Normal" and then inherit changes through the "Based on" setting.
Navigating round a long documentWhere was I?* you go looking for something, and then you can’t find the last place you were
* click on undo, then re-do. It takes you back to where you made the last change
Where am I?* you are writing a paragraph and you can’t remember what chapter you’re in
(it will happen! – when your work has got large and you are editing it)
* use the Document Map (or ‘Navigation Pane’) in Tab/ Menu “View”
* this only works if you have been using Heading styles.
Plan where you are goingWhere am I going?
* make a plan. It is comforting. And you can always move things around
* use Outline (View > Outline)
* this depends (like so many things) on using styles.
* an Outline lets you see the big picture
* you can see just Headings 1 (Chapter titles) or also Headings 2 (Sub headings)
* you can also see the first line of each paragraph
* and you can collapse any section you like, or expand a section to see more detail
* and you can move whole sections around just by dragging them
Tracking what you have doneWhat have I done?
* when you've finished, and you're dotting around editing, Tracking is useful
(double-click on Trk in the Status bar at the bottom.
In Word 2007+ you this is hidden, so rt-click on the Status bar and tick it)
* especially if you give a chapter to someone else to read. Turn Tracking on
* then every change is recorded, and later you can simply accept or reject the change
* you can see the document before you made any changes, or after the changes
* or you can see the changes inline, or at the side.
* in Word 2007+, the Navigation panel highlights sections with tracking changes
Find & replace tipsWord 2007+ Find list* in the Navigation panel, click on the top right button ("Browse your results)
* it only works for about 100 results, and you can't use wildcards, but it’s a start
* the old Find & Replace is in the dropdown on the right as "Advanced Find"
Find & Replace More* this is your key to speedy work
* Ctrl-F. It is worth knowing some keyboard shortcuts which you need very often.
* Ctrl-PageDown goes to the Next find, and Ctrl-PageUp goes to the previous
* click on "More" to match case and (in 2007+) to ignore punctuation etc (useful!)
* wildcards are very useful: ? = a single letter, and * = one or more letters
* so "write?" finds "writes" and "writer" but "write*" also finds "writers"
* click on "Special" to find even more wildcards and types of characters
* esp. useful ^p = end of paragraph, ^t = tab.
Automatically replace formattingFind & Replace Formatting
* click on "Format" (click on "More" if you can't see "Format")
* you can find a particular font or style or things you have highlighted
You may want to replace every place where you use Italic with the Style "Emphasis"
* put your cursor in the Find box, empty it, then click on Format>Font>Bold
* put your cursor in the Replace box, empty it, then click Format>Style>Emphasis
* click Alt-F (to do the first find). Then Alt-R replaces or Alt-F moves on to the next
Chapter divisionsDon't bother with a Master Document
* the Master Document & Sub-Document feature is really good
* but don't bother with it unless you are writing a book bigger than the Bible
* if you do use it: a couple of pointers:
* make sure you define your formatting in the Master document, and let the subdocuments pick it up from there. Otherwise you'll be in a mess
* keep backups. It is easy to mess this up so the links gets confused
Sections & restarting footnotes* you need this if you are writing chapters with footnotes
* if you don't create sections, your footnotes won't restart with each chapter
* you want a New Page section break, so your chapter starts on a new page
* to insert a section break: Word 2003- Menu: Insert > Break > Section Break
or Word 2007+ Ribbon: Page Layout > Breaks
* then change the footnote numbering from "Continuous" to "Restart each section"
(Word 2003- Menu: Insert > Reference > Footnote
Word 2007+ Ribbon: References > Footnotes popout)