Friday, November 28, 2014

Collaborating on a document and useful shortcuts

Using a Microsoft Word document (offline)

Having clear rules when collaborating on a document such as a research report can save a lot of time and effort. Here are some rules, let us call them guidelines, that I have found useful when working with my students and colleagues on different types of documents. 

First of all, someone needs to be responsible for the document in question. This would normally be the first author on a manuscript or the student (e.g., thesis). 

Second key shortcuts to use: 
  1. Track changes (shortcut to turn track changes on and off in Microsoft Word is ctrl+shift+e).
  2. Comments (shortcut to insert a comment in Microsoft Word is ctrl+alt+m).
  3. To delete a comment just right click it and select delete. 
  4. To comment on a comment. At the end of the comment add some empty lines, put your initials and start typing your comment on the comment (e.g., "done", "what do you think of this solution ..."). 
  5. Use shift+F10 to get the context menu or shortcut menu.

Two collaborators

Send the document to the second author or supervisor without any track changes but maybe with some comments. 

Second author creates a new copy of the document adding:  
  1. "-- EBT comments" to the end of the file name if a thesis,
  2. "v02EBT" if a manuscript indicating that this is now the second version (v02) of the manuscript and it has been edited by the second author (EBT). 
  3. Thus, the file name for a manuscript might be "Burnout in Ambulance drivers v02EBT".

Second author makes changes using track changes but with some exceptions such as for major changes to tables and figures where the second author might just note the change with a comment. 

When the first author/student get the document back she or he changes the end of the file name
  1. deleting "-- EBT comments" if a thesis and putting "v02 instead",
  2. changes "v02EBT" to "v03ST"if a manuscript indicating that this is now the third version (v03) of the manuscript and it has been edited by the first author (ST). 
The first author/student then answers the comments by adding text at the bottom of the respective comment and accepting or rejecting suggested changes (track changes) and adds her/his own changes using track changes. 

File names

  1. Don't use "final" in your file name. It is only final if it is published and then you should call it published.
  2. Don't put a date in the filename unless absolutely necessary.  
  3. Maybe use your surname, three words to capture your thesis project and a version number 
    1. “Thorsteinsson Socials support and depression v01.sav”
    2. "Burnout in Ambulance drivers v02EBT".


Assuming you are in Microsoft Word. Some assume you have EndNote open too.
  1. ctrl+shift+e toggle track changes on/off 
  2. ctrl+alt+m inserts a comment
  3. alt+2 insert citation(s) where your cursor is in your Word document; citation you have already selected in EndNote
  4. hold down ctrl and select with mouse multiple citations (in EndNote)
  5. ctrl+k in EndNote copies the citation as it will appear in the reference list - just try and paste in Word
  6. ctrl+a selects all of your text - well most of the time - be careful when using in Excel
  7. Format your reference list using the little button 'hidden' in the EndNote 'strip' in Word, see Figure 1. 

Figure 1. The EndNote 7 strip from Word 2010

Shortcuts for some browsers and pdf software

  1. Something too small or too large to read? Check out ctrl++ and ctrl+- (will not work for Word)
  2. ctrl+f that would be f for find