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Thesis administration


User: JBailey82 - 02 August 2011 07:05

Hi Guys,

I know its a strange question - but how do you manage your Thesis - do you use Word? The reason for asking is - when I completed my undergraduate dissertation it was approx ~200 pages in length and became unworkable in the end using Word as it kept crashing.

How do you guys assemble your thesis? Do you keep chapters as separate documents and then combine them at the end or keep everything in a main document?

Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Many thanks,
Jo

User: neemo - 02 August 2011 08:44

200 page undergrad thesis!? WOW.... interested to know what your subject area is. Even my masters thesis wasn't that long. But i hear you when it comes to word crashing. My dissertation had graphs and charts and i found it difficult to work with in terms of formatting. So i am also waiting for other responses!!

User: sneaks - 02 August 2011 08:47

yes exactly...200 page undergrad dissertation!? My PhD thesis is only 180 at the mo (without references and stuff, but even so!).

I've found that word is crashing when I put the entire thing together. So far its all got a separate word doc for each chapter. At some point this week I may combine them all, but not sure yet.

User: Mackem_Beefy - 02 August 2011 08:54

======= Date Modified 02 Aug 2011 08:57:15 =======
Quote From JBailey82:

Hi Guys,

I know its a strange question - but how do you manage your Thesis - do you use Word? The reason for asking is - when I completed my undergraduate dissertation it was approx ~200 pages in length and became unworkable in the end using Word as it kept crashing.

How do you guys assemble your thesis? Do you keep chapters as separate documents and then combine them at the end or keep everything in a main document?

Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Many thanks,
Jo

What version of Word are you using?

There was a known issue with Word (versions 97, 2000, XP and 2003) in which embedded images could disappear and Word would be unable to handle the problem (noticeable as you wouldn't be able to save the revised document). You could work around it, but you needed to identify which embedded object was causing the problem, delete and repalce it.

I know Word 2007 and 2010 have interfaces that are not everyone's cup of tea, however, I've never encountered the same problem with either of those. Alternatives are OpenOffice (downloadable for free and some people prefer this) or Latex (which I've never used).

Another thought is you don't have sufficient memory (RAM that is) and when you combine the files, the computer memory is filling up.

User: JBailey82 - 02 August 2011 09:00

Thanks for the responses, I was using Word 2010 - perhaps I need to do reinstall. The thesis included lots of diagrams, coding, user manuals and appendices - the area was xml for business.

User: FallenAngel - 28 November 2011 08:49

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User: ram151 - 10 April 2012 11:55

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User: hsk81 - 03 March 2013 16:25

Please don't go for *Word*, use LaTex, or even better the more modern *reStructuredText* (rst) markup. Just look for corresponding tool support, and you'll find plenty of editor: This one <http://rst.ninjs.org/> is for example great since it offers you an immediate preview while you write your stuff, other this <https://notex.ch> is excellent, since it offers PDF & LaTex export possibilities.

If I were you I would try to move away from word as fast as possible: There is actually even a tool that can help you to convert your stuff away from Word to rST (and I think even LaTex).. unfortunately I forgot it's name, but just look for something like "word to rst/latex converter".

Basic message: Do *not* use any WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, if you wish to produce complex content: Stick to *simple* text (possibly using a markup like rst or markdown). Once you've produced your content, you can then convert it to anything you want using all the various tools available in the net. You'll be much more flexible, and more efficient.

User: hsk81 - 03 March 2013 16:30

I'm sorry, the tool I'd hinted at in my last post `Pandoc <http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc>` is apparently able to convert stuff *to* but *not from* Word. Still if you stick to a markup, thanks to Pandoc, you can always come back to Word, if you should really miss it.

User: Pineapple30 - 03 March 2013 17:24

This is an old post, but I use Word (version 2003 and 2007). I use one document rather than several documents. Probably a little excessive, but each day I save a new draft- ie, so today, 'PhD corrections- 030313' to follow progress and ensure I've saved everything. During my write up, I had separate complete drafts throughout the day ie PhD- 020812- 5pm or 020812- 9pm etc etc as I used to worry about losing sections/chapters if my laptop crashed. Again, over the top perhaps, but I was seriously pressed for time and couldn't afford to lose my work! I frequently use the split word command and tracked changes whilst checking previous chapters etc.

User: hsk81 - 03 March 2013 17:43

Hi Pineapple30

Quote From Pineapple30:
This is an old post, but I use Word (version 2003 and 2007). I use one document rather than several documents. Probably a little excessive, but each day I save a new draft- ie, so today, 'PhD corrections- 030313' to follow progress and ensure I've saved everything. During my write up, I had separate complete drafts throughout the day ie PhD- 020812- 5pm or 020812- 9pm etc etc as I used to worry about losing sections/chapters if my laptop crashed. Again, over the top perhaps, but I was seriously pressed for time and couldn't afford to lose my work! I frequently use the split word command and tracked changes whilst checking previous chapters etc.

Did you consider using a revision control system, like GIT (or SVN)? These tools are great, let you create "snapshots" of you document, browse the history when you have changed what. Developers use it quite frequently and if you'd consider writing your thesis based on a textual markup like *reStructuredText* (or *markdown*) then you've a perfect match.

If you stick to word, their usage potential is diminished quite strongly, but they still allow you to browse the history. Wit GIT you can even create different branches, work on separate issues in parallel and re-merge them back together! Check out TortoiseGit.

I admit these tool need a little effort to learn, but once you've mastered them, you'll NEVER look back to word.

User: Pineapple30 - 03 March 2013 18:10

Hi HSK81 :) Wow, thanks for your post! Will definitely remember those other packages with forthcoming publications and work assessments submitting for my professional doctorate! :)

User: hsk81 - 17 July 2013 08:31

@Pineapple30 -- I hope my tips could help you in your thesis administration efforts; you should also check out NoTex.ch: A online tool that helps you to learn *reStructuredText (rST)* quickly; the good thing about rST is that you can bypass LaTex (which I find a little cryptic) completely, but still get nice PDFs (since apparently rST itself is translated to LaTex in the background).

See: [url]https://notex.ch[/url].

If you don't want to use a web service then there is another possiblity: You could install SPHINX (Python document generator) [url]http://sphinx-doc.org/[/url], and TexLive (LaTex distribution). The advantage would be then you could skip NoTex.ch and directly write rST locally on your laptop and create nice PDFs. But the dis-advantage is that SPHINX/TexLive together can take multiple gigabytes on your disk and it can take a while to get everything installed and learn how to use them (especially if you are a Windows user then it is even harder to install).

Just try NoTex.ch first, and if you think rST is something for you then either stick to it, or go one step further and try the SPHINX/TexLive couple.





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