Writing Science Papers

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Word Processing - Microsoft Word

There are some tricks you just have to learn if you're writing science papers

Automatically Number Figures

(In word 2007 and later?) You can right click on a table or figure, "Add Caption" and it'll automatically number it. You can then insert references to these figures inline and they'll automatically update their numbering if you insert images later. This blog post knows more than you probably need to know, but it'll show you how.

  • Right click the table/figure => "Add Caption" to automatically number the table/figure
  • Insert => Cross-Reference to insert a reference like "see Figure 1" in your text

One more note: If you insert a table or figure before others, it won't appear to be numbered correctly right away but if you go into print preview and out it'll correct itself.

Inserting Special Characters

You can replace "\theta" with "θ" or "\mu" with "μ"

Inserting Comment Bubbles

It's totally worth learning how to use these. They're simple, and TAs use them a lot. Full instructions show the long way, or you can just:

  • Highlight text and then press "ctrl+alt+m" to make a bubble!

Inserting References

Don't do it by hand, let software help! See PDF Management.

Inserting Footnotes

  • Ctrl+Alt+F

Word Processing - LaTeX

LaTeX does everything above that Microsoft Word has some trouble with naturally! It's actually really easy, just grab a template and go! See [Markup_Languages#LaTeX|LaTeX]

TIP: If editing LaTeX source code scares you, check out the graphical editor LyX! :-D

Text Expansion

If you're writing a paper about long words it can be difficult to keep the spelling and proper capitalization of genes straight. Every time you write the author's name you stumble, and have to recollect your thoughts. You could make keyboard shortcut aliases to replace each of these terms just for the duration of the paper and delete them afterward!

  • If you have to write repetitive long words like "ENDOR Spectroscopy", "Ramamoorthi" and "1,2-dichloro-4-isocyanato-Benzene" replace them with shortcuts like "es;", "r;", and "dcb;"

This Lifehacker article explains how!

To find an up-to-date review of the different options you have for your operating system (Mac/PC/Linux) check their app directory.

PDF and Citation Management

Don't do it by hand, let software help! See PDF Management.