Thesis Planning and Formatting for Large Documents

A Quick Reference for Thesis Planning

Prepare your Computer –

  • Use a current version of Microsoft Office/Word. Download and apply all available updates. 
  • Download and Install all the updates that are available for your computer’s operating system (OS). 
  • The Microsoft Office Suite is now available to students for free.

Plan your Document –
Even before starting your Thesis on the computer, you should give some thought and preparation. Make a sketch on paper to get an idea of how you want the finished document to look.

One Large File or Multiple Files:
When producing a large document, it is worth considering whether it should consist of one large file or several smaller files, which can be assembled at the end of the process. The main consideration is, that if a single, large document becomes damaged, you could lose everything.

  • Assemble separate files at the end of the process (Don’t use the Cut/Paste feature, instead use the Insert, File…. feature in Microsoft Word).
  • Large files can become corrupted/damaged and slow.

Naming your Documents/Files:
When naming your chapters/sections, keep non-current copies in an “old” folder. Use dates in the file name and avoid using multiple “Chapter 1” files. Also, include a version number in the file name.

Keep it all Together:
Centralize your materials, keep like documents together, and keep your data together and organized. Wait until the very end of the process to merge your multiple files together.

Schedule an Appointment with an Expert:
Meet with Lee Desiderio, Instructional Support Manager, to learn how to use technology tools to simplify the formatting and publishing process! Lee is available at the Research Desk (window facing side) in Ladd Library. Please check the sign on the desk for additional details and hours.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions from the Experts:
They can often provide you with tips and help simplify the process.

Backup your Thesis –
Remember to Backup your Thesis!

There are several options available to you for backing your Thesis.

  • Bates Google Docs/Drive – Unlimited Storage!!!
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Dropbox Free Account
  • USB Memory Sticks
  • External Hard Drives

Backup Tips:

  • Save your Thesis in sections – (Chapter 1, 2, 3 = File/Doc 1, 2, 3).
  • Save your Thesis in multiple locations.
  • Keep a backup in a different geographical location.

Miscellaneous –

  • Use Bibliographic Software, such as EndNote to manage your references.
  • Use Adobe InDesign for complicated layouts. Please visit the Imaging and Computing Center for assistance with Adobe InDesign.

Utilize Word Processing Tools –
The following is a list of word processing tools available in Microsoft Word to help simplify and automate the formatting and publishing process.

  • Styles/Quick Styles – Styles/Quick Styles allow you to easily organize and format large documents. Use Styles/Quick Styles to apply consistent formatting throughout your document. Styles/Quick Styles serve as the foundation for creating a Table of Contents.
  • Sections – For more control of your document, use Section Breaks instead of Page Breaks. You can have many different sections within a document, and each one can have its own headers and footers, orientation, formatting, spacing, etc. Sometimes it’s easiest to think of a Section as a chapter in a book.
  • Page Breaks – A page break cleanly ends a page within a document and starts a new page. (Do not use the “Enter Key” to move your text to a new page, use a page break). Page breaks also can be used within Sections.
  • Page Numbering – With the use of Sections, you can customize your page numbering within each section of the document. Each section can be set to continue numbering from the previous section or reset at the start of a new section.
  • Captions – You can add captions for figures, equations, tables, or other objects within your document. Captions serve as the foundation for creating a Table of Figures.
  • Table of Contents – Once you have applied a Style/Quick Style to all of your headings, you can have Microsoft Word automatically create and format a Table of Contents for you. If you want more control of that process, Word provides you with templates for creating a manual Table of Contents.
  • Table of Figures – Once you have applied Captions to your figures, equations, tables, etc. Microsoft Word can automatically create and format a Table of Figures for you.

Tips for Getting Help and Printing –
Schedule a One-to-One Session for Personalized Assistance –

Personalized one-to-one assistance for planning and formatting your Thesis is available to you by appointment or by drop-in. Do you want to learn how to efficiently use the tools available to you in Microsoft Word to make the creation and publishing of your Thesis stress-free? Utilize this valuable resource by contacting Lee Desiderio, Instructional Support Manager, and schedule a personalized one-to-one session early!
Lee Desiderio, Instructional Support Manager  (207) 786-6181

Need Technical Help with Your Thesis?

  • If you need assistance with troubleshooting your Thesis, resolving technical problems with your computer or need advance help with your word processing software, don’t hesitate to visit the  IT Help Desk in the George and Helen Ladd Library. You may also call or email us at: (207) 786-8222 |
  • The best time to visit the IT Help Desk is during the early morning hours (8am – 11am).
  • When visiting the IT Help Desk, bring your computer with you.

Ready to Print?

  • The best time to print is during the early morning hours (8am – 11am) and during the mid-afternoon (3pm – 5pm).
  • Anticipate lines, build in extra time for problems, and don’t hesitate in asking for Help!
  • Black and White Printing Locations: Commons – Milts, Frye Street Union, Ladd Library – IT Help Desk, Pettengill Hall – RMs 227 & 329, Hedge Hall – RM G18, and Roger Williams Hall – RM 105.
  • Color Printing Locations: Coram Library – Lobby, Hedge Hall – RM G18, Ladd Library – IT Help Desk, and Pettigrew Hall – RM 121.
    • Print color documents responsibility.
    • Printing in color is slower than printing in B/W.

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