Establishing that initial formatting for your thesis or dissertation can be confusing, especially when you’re trying to adhere to both your style guide and your school’s unique formatting guidelines. Understanding a few easy features of Word can make formatting much easier. We have a new tutorial up on our Scribd page that shares these helpful tips. Check them out, and contact Barbie if you need help formatting your thesis or dissertation!
There’s nothing more tedious than taking out paragraph returns line by line, which is a task we often have to do when a document is formatted improperly. Say you have a single-spaced manuscript with a return between paragraphs, and you now need it to be double spaced without any returns between paragraphs.
Here’s a Word shortcut that will reformat your document in one click:
- Select Ctrl+H.
- Find: ^p^p
- Replace: ^p
- Click Replace All.
This command will eliminate the extra spaces after each paragraph. Then, just reset the line spacing to double, and you’re good to go! A tedious task that could take hours now takes seconds.
With so many things to worry about in your paper, the last thing you want to deal with is quotation marks. Chances are you didn’t know that there are two types of quotation marks: smart quotes (curly) and straight quotes. The font you choose has a lot to do with what type of quotation marks are in your paper. Serif fonts such as Times New Roman are going to create smart quotes, while sans serif fonts such as Arial will create straight quotes.
In several recent projects, we’ve noticed inconsistencies in the type of quotation marks used. Most of our academic clients use the standard serif font Times New Roman, so we expect to see smart quotes. However, straight quotes often get into your paper if you are copying and pasting from another document that uses that style of quotation mark. It’s an easy fix, but inconsistent quotes are an issue that you’d likely never notice since your focus is on the content of your document.
That’s why hiring an editor is important. You need someone with a keen eye for detail to ensure that even the smallest items, such as quotation marks, remain consistent throughout your paper.
Every publisher or school has different formatting guidelines. Even if you’re submitting a typical Word document, you will need to adhere to specific margins, font sizes and types, and header/footer requirements, among other issues. It’s easy to make a mistake and overlook one of your client’s obscure formatting requirements. Even though requirements widely vary, here are a few issues that we often see writers overlook:
- Page numbers: Make sure your page numbers adhere to the guidelines set forth by your client. Should they go on the bottom center of the page or top right? Does the title page include a page number? Does the frontmatter require Roman or Arabic numerals? Do your page numbers flow from chapter to chapter, rather than starting over at “1” in every chapter? Page numbers can be tricky to get right in Word, so check and double check them.
- Location of figures and tables: If you have a lengthy table that spans more than one page, some guidelines want you to repeat the table header on the second page or include the table title followed by “continued.” Guidelines often also address where to place figures and tables relative to the text. Generally, you should place the figure or table as close as possible to the text that mentions it. Also, make sure that your table title or figure caption is on the same page as the table or figure.
- Margins: Word has 1-inch margins as a default, but that is far from standard. In fact, there really isn’t a standard when it comes to margins. Often, the left margin is a little wider for printed materials to make room for binding. Some schools and publishers like a wider top margin. Make sure your margins follow the guidelines set forth by your client.
You don’t want to risk having your document rejected simply because you made some formatting errors. That’s why Carpenter Doc offers formatting services. We can format your document while we edit it, or if you don’t have time for a full edit, we can just focus on the formatting. Contact us today!
Formatting plays an integral role in how your readers understand your document. Long, verbose paragraphs can bore readers, ultimately hindering their understanding of your topic. Consider some fun formatting features for your document, whether it’s a web page or a doctoral dissertation, to aid reader understanding.
- Bulleted lists are a great way to present similar information. If you’re creating a brochure for your business, highlight your services in a bulleted-list format. In all bulleted lists, make sure items are parallel — for example, use all noun phrases or all imperative statements.
- Tables can effectively present data that you found during your research. Common in theses and dissertations, well-formatted tables can show the overall results of your study, allowing readers to compare, analyze, and absorb your findings. Check with your style guide on how to format tables.
- Figures break up text and enhance reader understanding. Don’t include figures just to have them — if it’s not directly relevant to your content, keep it out. However, if you can show your readers something rather than just telling them about it, do so with a figure.
- Headings and subheadings help readers move through your document. They signal a shift in thought, which can aid reader understanding. Again, your style guide should provide detailed information on how to format different heading levels. These heading levels can also populate your table of contents.
For better or worse, the Internet has made everyone a writer. People communicate on social networking sites, try to be clever in 140 words or fewer, and blog. We’ve talked about writing for the web before, so today, we’re going to focus on formatting your blog.
Many formatting decisions depend on your blog’s theme. A business-related blog often looks much like the company’s website, like ours. A personal blog gives you more freedom to be creative, but it’s still important to apply consistent formatting to help your readers navigate through your posts.
Here are a few formatting tips for blogs:
Include a succinct title for each post
Just like a headline in a newspaper, the post title should draw your reader in and give them a sense of what your post is about.
Choose one emphasis style
If you want to emphasize a word or phrase, use italics, bold it, underline it or highlight it—your choice. But, don’t bold an important phrase in the first paragraph and italicize for emphasis in the second. And, certainly don’t bold, italicize, and underline one word. That’s a bit of emphasis overload.
Blogging platforms give you access to a variety of formatting tools—you can add color, pictures, fonts, and more. Stick to a few reliable formatting styles, and use them consistently. Too many colors, pictures and fonts will simply confuse your readers and ultimately detract from your content.
When developing a new document, it is important that you decide on the formatting styles you want to use. It is far easier to establish formatting at the beginning of a document than it is to back track and develop formatting after the content is in place.
Formatting helps guide readers through your document, so here are some ways you can structure your content to aid in reader comprehension:
Headings are common in academic papers, especially theses and dissertations. Create one to five heading levels in your document. Using headings helps group related content and separate different content.
Bulleted lists are an effective way to format like items. Bulleted lists attract the reader’s eye in a way a lengthy paragraph cannot. When using bulleted lists, make sure the items are in parallel structure.
Place emphasis on important words or phrases with basic formatting tools. Bold or italicized text focuses the reader’s eye on those words. Be sure to use one formatting style for emphasis. Do not alternate between bold and italics in your paper.
If you’re writing a thesis or dissertation and are confused by your school’s formatting guidelines, we can help! This month alone, we worked with more than a dozen graduate students at a number of schools on their theses and dissertations. In addition to a thorough comprehensive edit of your document, we can also make sure your document is properly formatted to meet your school’s guidelines. Specifically, we can help you with the following:
- Developing an automatically generated Table of Contents, List of Tables, and List of Figures
- Building heading levels to align with your style guide
- Adding captions to figures and tables
- Building PDF bookmarks
- Creating consistent headers and footers throughout the document
- Formatting appendices according to your school’s guidelines
If you’re too busy writing to worry about formatting, then contact us today!
Earlier this week, we talked about how editors help to make a document consistent. Similarly, we also ensure that your document is formatted properly according to your style guide. In an academic paper, this means checking heading levels, the table of contents, page numbering, and more. For marketing pieces or brochures, we ensure that formatting techniques like headings and bullets and used properly. No matter what type of document you develop, correct formatting and proper style are important.
Here are some formatting/style issues that editors can help with:
Table of Contents.
In Microsoft Word, students should assign formatting styles to their headings so that they can automatically generate a Table of Contents. For those unfamiliar with Word’s Styles and Formatting tools, this can be confusing. We can help develop the Table of Contents in any document.
When you’re finished writing, the last thing you want to deal with is your works cited page. We can check your references to ensure they comply with your style guide.
Do you include the author’s last name in the parenthetical citation? Is there a comma between the last name and year of publication? How do you deal with an article by multiple authors? We check your parenthetical references against your style guide—and your Works Cited page to verify accuracy.
Graduate students writing their theses and dissertations often come to Carpenter Doc for help formatting their document. Each school – or department – has its own set of standards for these documents in addition to general standards set by the discipline’s style guide of choice. Luckily, Microsoft Word’s Styles and Formatting tool allows us to create standardized headings across documents and automatically generate a Table of Contents using these headings.
Save time formatting by creating heading styles with these tips:
- Determine how many heading levels your document will use. Then, refer to your university’s standards and discipline’s style guide for heading standards.
- With those heading guidelines in hand, create your heading styles by selecting Styles and Formatting… from the Format menu. Here, you can see all of the formats applied in your document and modify the style of Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.
- Once you’ve created the heading styles, apply them by highlighting the text and choosing the heading from the Styles and Formatting drop-down menu on your toolbar.
- With your heading styles in place, you can create a Table of Contents that displays as many heading levels as you’d like. Simply choose Insert – Reference – Index and Tables from the main toolbar, and select the Table of Contents tab. Modify the Table of Contents to meet your standards, and click OK to create it.
Heading levels can be tricky, so if you’re struggling with generating headings in your document, we can help! Contact us today!