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Sibelius Academy Guide for Doctoral Studies in Music: Using Microsoft Word to Create a Layout

Using Microsoft Word to Create a Layout

MS Word and its versatile functions enable you to create a reasonable layout using its automatic operations. These include headings in the top margins, automatic page numbering, and forming indexes, a table of contents, and separate lists of images and tables. However, this requires a significantly more advanced level of Word know-how as compared to normal word processing, particularly in style or field settings in creating various lists and indexes.

Images and sheet music should be attached to the text in PDF format to maintain an optimal printable resolution. Please note that the resolution of the original (not PDF) image must be high enough in relation to the size of the final printed image. You may use Word’s own spreadsheet tool or Excel to create tables (if you use Excel, you may also update the table via Excel).

It is quite possible to learn how to use Word independently. There are plenty of instructions available online, including video tutorials, and the software itself comes with good instructions. The first things that you should learn—starting with the first pages of text—are:

  • do not use a tabulator anymore (use indents instead);
  • use automatic hyphenation (or, even better, remove hyphenation, as in this document);
  • use indents instead of spaces or tabulators/the tab key, and
  • give up line breaks.

Instead of extra line breaks, you should use styles (or fields): create separate styles and define spaces above and below (define the fields) for body text, the different levels of headings, indented citations, tables, and other texts. When using styles, a single line break is always added to the beginning of any heading or new paragraph.

If you wish, you may practice using styles once you already have so much text that processing it without a table of contents (created by the programme) is difficult. However, please note that using a table of contents helps you and your supervisor to process the thesis as a whole right from the beginning. Learning how to use styles should begin with defining a style for the highest level of headings, since these headings are usually ready before subheadings, whose styles can be defined later.

When working with a word processor, remember to back up your files at least once a day, preferably more often. Remember to also save your file constantly (ctrl+S), because Word may begin to crash as the file size increases. Due to this, it is sometimes necessary to divide the text into more than one file.

Ready-made templates are available on the websites of e.g. universities and their faculties. However, templates are usually handy only when the text has been created using them from the start. In any case, using a template requires Word skills that are just as good—including styles, section breaks, lists etc.—as with manual layouts.

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