Category Archives: Using your tools

Using Google books as an index of your textbook

Ever been in the situation where you know you read it somewhere in the textbook but you can’t find the page?  I often find that the index in textbooks either doesn’t have the detail I need, or else gives me such a long list of pages that it would take ages to find what I am after. This is where Google books can be a help. Google books indexes a lot of textbooks and often displays quite a few pages from them. You can use this feature to your advantage to do an electronic search of particular words in your big textbook.

Take for example Educational Measurement. I needed to find the page that discussed inter-rater reliability. It’s a big book and the index had lots of references to reliability, but none to inter-rater reliability. So I found the book in Google Books by doing a Google search, and then used the From inside the book search field to search for inter-rater reliability.

Here is a screenshot of the results. I could scroll through screenshots of all 11 references to inter-rater reliability in the book until I found the right page. Easy.

Hope this helps you too!



Customising Endnote citations

Sometimes you need the Endnote citation to look different to what comes up automatically. I have already discussed (in this previous post) how to change (Smith, 2001) to Smith (2001) so that you can put the author’s name in a sentence like this:
Smith (2001) found that 6 of 8 dogs treated with…..”

But what if you want to write a sentence like this?
There have been many published reviews of this issue (for example Smith, 2001).”

If you just insert the citation as you normally would you get this, which has too many brackets.


So instead you can format the Endnote citation to have a prefix. Start by inserting the citation the regular way, without putting it in brackets or writing “for example”. Then select the citation and, on the Endnote ribbon, go to Citations > Edit and Manage Citation(s).


The Edit and Manage Citations pane will open. Type “for example ” in the prefix section. Don’t forget the space after “example”. Then press ok.


Now your citation will be changed to look like this (except not purple!).


You can use the same text to add any words before or after the citation that will appear within the brackets along with the reference. Have a play and you will see how easy it is to get it just right.

Docking OneNote


OneNote has a fantastic feature which helps you take notes on other documents you are working on. I find this fantastic when I am reviewing the literature as I can take notes easily as I read. I also find it useful when I am writing my research journal as I can quickly take down notes as I am working. See here for details about how to use this feature of OneNote. And see here if you are not already keeping a research journal – you should be!

Adding new endnote styles

Endnote comes preloaded with a lot of output styles. These are the rules that dictate how your citations and reference list looks. For example whether the citations are numbered or given by author and date, whether the reference list uses punctuation for the author initials, whether the article title is in capitals or bolded, whether the journal title is in italics and so on. One of the fantastic things about Endnote is the way it can change all of this for you when you change to a different output style.

Sometimes you may want to use an output style that does not come standard. For example the output styles for some veterinary journals do not come already loaded in Endnote. Or your lecturer may want you to use a particular one you haven’t got. But its easy to add them. There are really just two steps.

Firstly you need to find the output style. If you put the name of the journal into Google and add Endnote output style to the search terms you will likely go straight to it as the first search result. Alternatively Endnote have a search page at this link Here you can fill in the name of the style you want or search based on other criteria.


Once you have located your style you simply downloaded it to a convenient place (eg your desktop). Then

  1. Double click the style file that you just downloaded and it should open in Endnote.
  2. Within Endnote go to File Menu > Save As
  3. Replace the word copy with your style’s name and click Save
  4. Click on File Menu and choose Close Style.


How you can see where your search terms are at a glance

When you are running a search in Word, you can use the navigation pane to help you see at a glance which sections of your document the search terms appear in. This can be really useful once your document starts to get long. You can quickly jump to the section you are interested in by clicking on the section heading in the navigation pane.

The navigation pane appears on the left of your screen in Word. For information on how to turn it on and use it see here

As you see in the screenshot below, the search term is highlighted within the text of the document, but also the headings of each section the search term appears in are highlighted in the navigation pane.


Word’s autocorrect feature for things you are sick of typing

If you have long phrases or complicated words that you are using frequently in your document, you may want to have them appear automatically in Word when you type something more simple. So say, for example, you are writing about pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism. Instead of writing this out all the time you could type PDH and have word automatically expand this to pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism. This video from KeyStone Learning Systems explains how to use the autocorrect feature in Word to do this.

Splitting the screen to see two parts of a document at once

Sometimes when you are working with a big file you need to see two parts of it at once. You might be writing your results and need to look at your methods at the same time so that you put them in the same order. Or you might need to look at your introduction while writing your discussion. Or you might be reading a pdf and you need to see the reference list while you are reading. Or you might be working with big spreadsheet and you need to see the end while you are working at the beginning.

Instead of flipping back wards and forwards, you can quickly and easily show two parts at once using a little tool that hides at the top right of the scroll bar on the right side of the window. See below for screenshots with the area indicated with the arrow. When you mouse over this area your mouse changes to the split screen symbol and you can left click and drag to split the screen. Each section can be scrolled and even zoomed separately.

In Excel, there is another split screen tool in a similar position at the bottom right of the scroll bar. With this one you can split the screen vertically.

See the screen shots below for where to look.

In Word

In Excel:

In Adobe reader or Acrobat:

using OneNote for OCR

If you have Office on your computer you probably also have a programme called OneNote. I really like OneNote for a lot of things, but did you know that you can use it as a quick and handy OCR (optical character recognition) tool? What is optical character recognition? It’s when you convert an image to text.

Here is some things I use it for when I need the output to be text rather than an image

  • Copy a list of files in a folder
  • Copy the error message that comes up when something crashes (if I turn it into text I can then search for a solution in Google)
  • Copy a list displayed in software like Nvivo (often quicker than exporting them!)
  • Copy text from pdf scans (how well this works depends on the quality of the scan though – sometimes its quicker to retype than correct!)

Here is how you do it.

Here is a list of files in a folder I might want to have as a text list.


Press the windows button and S on your keyboard at the same time which is the keyboard shortcut to open the OneNote screen clipper. If you have never opened OneNote before, you will need to open it first, but after that it should launch automatically.

Then drag the mouse to select the area you want to capture the text from and then when you let go the mouse, a dialogue box will open. Either Copy to clipboard and paste into OneNote or Send to selected location if you know where in OneNote you want to put it already.

Try to get just the text (without any icons or images) like this:


Once pasted into OneNote, right click on the image and select Copy text from picture. This will capture the text into the clipboard and you are then ready to paste it anywhere you like.


And this is what you get

Johnson 2011.pdf
Golden 1992pdf
Wanner 2001.pdf
Armstrong 2008.pdf
Bland 2005.pdf
Comm 2003.pdf
Toutkoushian 2003.pdf

Just like that – neat hey?

You need to check it for accuracy. As you see above it missed off one full stop and sometimes it gets the odd letter wrong.

Colourful highlighting in Word


Curious Cows by Fingerz Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Word has a useful feature where you can highlight text, but the highlight tool has a limited range of 15 colours, many of which are too dark to see the text through. The lighter ones are so bright I find it very hard to read text highlighted with them. But there is another way of highlighting which I prefer to use which has the full range of any colours. Even custom colours.

See this post for details.

Formatting tables that break over pages


05 – August – 2011 — The Evil Gaze of Goat by reway2007 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

When you need to have a table running over more than one page, there are a couple of simple tricks that will help your reader. One is to make sure that the headers of the table are repeated at the top of each new page and the other is to make sure that each row is not broken across two pages. You can fiddle about and do these manually, but did you know that Word can do both of these operations automatically for you? Simple. See these two posts for how.

Repeating table header rows

Stopping tables breaking within rows