Mistakes People Make Writing Their Thesis

  1. Know your writing timeline.
  2. Communicate that with your supervisors (including changes as and when they occur).
  3. Seek supervisor and/or PostDoc input on small sections first.
  4. Take the feedback into account as you write the whole thesis.
  5. Be clear on what you expect, and what they think is possible in terms of reviewing drafts (e.g., turnaround times, draft size, and timing of requests).
  • Use styles. They are defined heading, paragraph, figure, table, footnote paragraph, and typography formats. Each one has a name. Even if you just use the names, and definitions out-of-the-box it’ll make formatting changes easier later on. For example, if your supervisor doesn’t like the way your chapter headings are formatted? No problem, in as few as three clicks you can change all chapter headings to whatever they want them to be. Need to build a list of figures or tables? No problem, in four clicks you can build a table automatically. This is also the basis of the creation of a table of contents. Used Times New Roman throughout but realise your university wants your thesis in Arial? No problem, three clicks and that’s all changed. Sick of adding page breaks before the start of each section? No problem, define your heading style to have page break before, and it’ll do it automatically every time. Need to shift sections of your introduction around? No problem, the outline view, combined with heading styles will let you do that easily with mouse clicks, drag and drop or quick keys. No need to select, cut and paste. These are but a few examples of how styles make things easy. There are HEAPS more!
  • Use captions. Captions are a specific style for tables, and figures/images. They are pre-formatted to include specific text such as Figure or Table or Image, or you can create your own. Then, they are automatically numbered depending on where they are in each section, and relative to each other. So, the first figure will be 1, and the second 2. If you want, you can make the first figure in chapter 1, figure 1.1 and the second 1.2, and so on. If you change the order of the figures, the numbers update. If you delete a figure, the numbers update. If you move them to a new chapter or section, the numbers update. AND you can use cross-referencing to refer to the caption. By number. That also updates if the caption details update.
  • Cross-reference. A bit like a citation manager allows you to refer to a journal article and place it in the reference section of your thesis, cross-referencing allows you to refer to specific parts in your document. As mentioned above, that could be a caption. But it could also be a heading or section name too. And just like with captions, cross-references update when the referenced item changes. So, if figure 10 moves to the start of your thesis, and becomes figure 1, the references to it will update to say figure 1.
  • Outline number. I find this useful to note where I am in my document. You can set up heading styles to reflect the section they are in. So, the first (sub)heading in section will be 1.1 [heading name]. And the second (sub)heading in section three will be 3.2 [heading name].




I’m a careers coach. I help people with PhDs or getting their PhDs answer the question — What next? This is a research strategy question as much as a jobs one.

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Dr. Richard Huysmans

Dr. Richard Huysmans

I’m a careers coach. I help people with PhDs or getting their PhDs answer the question — What next? This is a research strategy question as much as a jobs one.

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