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Writing Reports, Manuals, Manuscripts and Scholarly Papers

Guest Author - Chris Curtis

Working with long documents can be a chore to keep organized but MS Word offers several features that you can use to manage the process. Many of these features can be used together in a variety of methods to make your projects more manageable.

Bookmarks (Hyperlinks)
Bookmarks (Hyperlinks) within your document are useful when your document contains further information on a topic. For example: within a product manual for a camera. At the beginning of the manual, you discuss where the Exposure Compensation button is located on the camera. You could place a bookmark to the section of the manual where you discuss how to set the exposure compensation. This technique allows the reader to quickly jump to the section of the document where he/she can get more information about the feature.

Cross Referencing
Similar to a bookmark, cross referencing allows the reader to jump to another location within the document where they can find more information on the topic. Cross referencing can be made to figures, bookmarks, captions, headings, numbered paragraphs, page numbers, etc. The beauty of this feature is Word will not allow you to refer to a page or heading that does not exist within the document.

Outlining
Working with the document outline feature requires the use of consistent headings throughout your document. This works well when you have major categories with a series of sub-headings. For example, you might have a Chapter Heading with several sections within the chapter. Each section may have several topics creating a hierarchy of headings. This method works best when you assign styles to each of the heading levels. The Outline view allows you to collapse the document down to heading levels to get an instant picture as to how each of the sections flow. In Outline view, you can evaluate whether the document is logically written. Features in the Outline view also allow you to manipulate the layout by demoting and promoting heading levels as well as rearrange the document.

Master and Sub Documents
Manuscripts require a more powerful tool which Word provides with it's Master and SubDocuments feature. You would use this feature for organizing large projects such as a book manuscript. With this tool, you can divide the large project into smaller more manageable subdocuments. The master document links to the related subdocuments such that when changes are made to the subdocument, the master document is likewise updated and vice versa. Each of the subdocuments is hyperlinked in the master document allowing you to launch a subdocument from the master document. Because of the linkage, you can create table of contents, indexing, cross referencing, headers and footers to apply to all of the subdocuments right from within the master document.

Figures, Graphs and Tables
Scholarly works often use figures, graphs and tables to illustrate points being made within the text. A Table of Figures, Graphs, Tables, etc can be very useful to your readers. This feature will automatically create the table similarly to a table of contents. The key to using this feature is inserting Captions on each figure, graph and table that you want to include in the reference table. There are several format options for the table creation including the ability to show page numbers, the alignment of the page numbers, displaying labels and numbers, and tab leaders.

Table of Contents (TOC)
Table of Contents are most useful in reference guides. Readers appreciate having a TOC to help them find the information in the document that is most important to them. Creating a table of contents in Word is a snap provided you were consistent in applying styles to the headings and other parts of the document that you want to have included in the Table of Contents. When your document contains multiple levels of headings, the TOC should be limited to the first three heading levels, otherwise it may become too complex to be useful. Generally, you would establish the TOC in a separate section of your document at the beginning of your document. Creating a separate section allows you to begin numbering the documents content on page 1 without the pages of the TOC complicating the page numbering. You can combine the TOC with bookmarks or hyperlinks so that readers can jump direction to the topic wanted.

Indexing
Indexing a reference document is very useful. Its inclusion in a document helps readers to find concepts and specific topics easily. It is usually in a section at the back of the document and provides page referencing for key ideas contained in the document. This feature is easy to use but the difficult task for the writer is determining what are the appropriate words, topics or concepts to index. A good index is well thought out. To use this feature effectively, each word or heading to be contained in the index has to be marked in the document. Depending on the length of the document, this can be a tedious exercise but well worth it for your readers.

Footnotes and Endnotes
Another labor intensive task in a long scholarly or reference document is managing Footnotes and Endnotes. Word's Footnotes and Endnotes features make the numbering and formatting of these critical references easy but you need to properly list the authors, the work, the publisher and published dates for each reference. Each footnote and endnote within your document has to be appropriately marked. Word, however, takes the job of inserting the footnote or endnote in it's appropriate order and location in the document.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Chris Curtis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Chris Curtis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Laura Nunn for details.

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