Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top Libro posts this year


Arrow: when I started blogging!

I received an update from WordPress about my stats for the year this morning, and was inspired to have a look at the top posts on this blog in various categories.

I hope you found some of these useful or entertaining, or discover them anew today!

Top Five Word short cuts posts

1 What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word – written over a year ago and still going strong

2 How to put text in alphabetical order in Word – a relatively new post but gaining momentum

3 Customising Track Changes – the most popular of the series I did on Track Changes

4 What to do if my comment boxes are running right to left – ah, those comment balloons!

5 Working with Track Changes in a document – recent and helpful to clients and visitors

Top Five Troublesome Pairs

1 On route or en route – still going strong with more hits every week!

2 Yours or yours; your or you’re – people still get it wrong, though …

3 Comparative or comparable – hits every week!

4 Themself or themselves – always a tricky one

5 Asterisk or Asterix – I wrote this for a giggle although it was based on a real example

Top Five business-related posts

1 What is transcription?  – related to what I do rather than straight business but very popular

2 What is copy-typing? – I don’t do much of this, but people certainly search for it!

3 Proofreading as a career – I’m glad I wrote this as I do get asked and people obviously want to know!

4 Is it actually worth the stress? – inspired by a friend who has gone on to flourish!

Top Five small business chats

1 Dick Margulis – editing and book production. He put a link on his blog and talked about it …

2 Liz Light – a local person so local Tweeters picked this one up

3 Liz Broomfield – who, me? Blush!

4 Lindsay McLoughlin – we proofreaders know how to spread the word online, don’t we!

5 Tammy Ditmore – and the editors do, too!

Top Five posts overall

1 On route or en route – OK, sometimes I do slightly tire of this one. I should be grateful, I know.

2 What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word – made me realise my blog could be popular

3 What is transcription?  – you can’t assume people know what you do!

4 How to put text in alphabetical order in Word – did you realise you could do it automatically?

5 What is copy-typing? – see 3!

Bottom Five, unloved posts

1 What I did in July – to be fair, from last year. But I don’t bother with these now as they’re not popular

2 Happy Christmas 2010 – 1 view this year (25 all time) – the 2011 and 2012 posts have had 58 and 161 views respectively, showing how my audience has grown!

3 Be careful: literally – I did think this would get more views … people don’t like the more ranty posts, though

4 Test match … special – limited interest or just misguided?

5 Stationery or stationary – this does surprise me


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Small business chat update – Liz Broomfield

mugs Welcome to another Small Business Chat update – with me! My original interview was published on Christmas Eve and when I asked myself where I planned to be in a year’s time, I answered, “Well, I’ll have been full-time with Libro for a year. Hopefully I’ll be earning enough to support myself, I’ll have taken a holiday or two, and have a good solid roster of regular clients to keep me going“. Let’s see how I’m doing …

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes! I have been full-time for a year, I’m earning more than enough to support myself – it’s so nice to be able to have lunch out when I want to, or treat myself to some nice pampery toiletries in the sales, and to be able to buy my friends nice birthday and Christmas presents. I have had one holiday and some time off, I’ve got better at scheduling in time off, and I do indeed have a solid roster of regular clients to keep me going – I’ve added one or two per month this year.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The main thing is having only one job – much easier. I have been able to spend more time with my friends and with Matthew. I have stopped working with Master’s students through their course, as I discovered this was quite draining and gave rise to lots of urgent panicky work for people’s deadlines (I’ve been able to recommend such prospects over to a friend who’s great at working with such customers and is specialising in academic work). I’ve published one e-book and I’m about to publish another, so I should have some sort of passive income going on soon. What’s stayed the same? I’m enjoying my work still (hooray!) and enjoying working with clients around the world. And apart from a brief flurry around the beginning of the year and then September, when I presented my paper at the Iris Murdoch conference, I haven’t finished writing up my research project, although I have finished the questionnaire gathering side of it.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learned to be better at stopping work to have the evening off, to not panic when the work goes quiet, and how to work on my own, I suppose. I wish I’d formulated some of my tips for homeworkers sooner so I could make sure I was looking after myself. I also wish I’d found some back-up people earlier, so I can be ill or busy without worry.

Any more hints and tips for people?

If you’re thinking about jumping ship from your full- or part-time day job, and you’ve got the money saved up to support yourself for a few months … go for it!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I’ve got some personal plans bubbling away, and I’d like to be training for a marathon in the next year or two. Business-wise, I would like it to be pretty well as it is now – a good roster of interesting regular clients keeping me busy and keeping my income steady.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.


Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Table of figures and table of tables

Are you stuck trying to create additional contents pages for the tables and figures in your document? Read on for simple instructions on how to do this.

We’ve already learned how to apply headings styles and create an automatic table of contents. But what if you’ve got figures and/or tables and you want to show those in the contents pages, too? It can be a bit fiddly, and I’ve partly written this post to give myself a reference document, too.

In this article, we are going to learn the correct and easy way to do this without heartache and hideousness. I’ll devote another article to dealing with something that’s gone wrong …

Why do I need a table of figures?

It’s often useful to provide a list of the figures and tables in your document, especially if it’s a long one, like a dissertation or thesis. They should be separate from the main table of contents, and listed below.

The tricky thing is creating two lists, one of tables and one of figures. This is where people usually come unstuck. Follow these instructions and you should be OK!

How do I create a list of figures and a list of tables?

We’re going to take a few basic steps here. They boil down to:

  • Mark all your figures as Figures and all your tables as Tables
  • Create a Table of Figures
  • Create a Table of Tables

Once you’ve done that, you’ll end up with something like this:

TOF 17

How to apply captions to tables and figures

I know what you’ve done … you’ve inserted your figure or table then typed its caption underneath, haven’t you? Like everyone else in the world. But let’s make life easier for you.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already typed in all the caption names just as straight text – let’s do this the proper way and we can move those typed captions into the correct place as we go!


Click on the References tab. Find the Captions section. Put your cursor where you want the caption to go (arrow), Click on the Insert Caption button.

Let’s start off with a table caption. Remember, we want to mark a difference between tables and figures so that Word can create automatic lists.

Don’t worry if you’ve already got caption text in there at the moment: do this on a new line. We can tidy things up afterwards. You might want to copy your caption text so it’s available to paste.

TOF 2You can see a drop down list which says Figure at the moment. But we want to differentiate between figures and tables, so click on the arrow on the right to drop down the list.

TOF 3… and choose Table. Once you’ve clicked, the Caption section above it will also change to read Table 1.

Now you can type the caption text straight into this box.


If you’ve copied the caption text you had previously entered, you can use Control-V to paste it into this box. Note: right-click and paste won’t work here, but Control-V will work.

If you haven’t copied the caption text, and you haven’t typed it in the box, don’t worry, as you will have another opportunity to insert it in a moment. Press the OK button and Table 1 and any text you’ve entered will appear below your table.


Now we’re going to add a figure caption.

Put your cursor below the figure and click on the same Insert Caption button. This time, choose Figure rather than Table:

TOF 6This time, just leave the Caption box blank apart from the words Figure 1.

TOF 7Now you can type the caption text in here, or even paste it in – just make sure it goes blue like the words Figure 1 (we can change that later) to ensure it’s all included as part of the caption.

Now you can go through and mark all of your figure and table captions using this method.

Modifying and formatting caption numbering etc.

You can modify your captions, especially their numbering. When you’re adding a caption, click the Numbering button.

TOF 8You will now get options for changing the numbering from 1, 2, 3 to a, b, c, etc.


Use the drop down arrow to pick what you want.

You can also link the numbering to your chapter numbering – so you have Figures 1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 2-2 etc. (this is particularly useful in a long and complex document where you’re referring to lots of figures, as it saves the numbering going odd if you move figures around). To do this, click the “Include chapter number” tick box then specify what you count as a chapter number (you will need to have numbered headings to make this work):

TOF 10

Creating a table of figures and a table of tables

Once you’ve labelled all of your captions correctly as I’ve shown you, you can create your table of figures and table of tables.

Let’s do the table of figures first (it doesn’t matter which order you do this in).

Create a blank page where you want your table of figures to go, or click just below your Table of Contents if you’ve already created that.

Staying on the Reference tab, click on Insert Table of Figures:

TOF 11

You will now get some options, and this is where we choose whether we want the figures or tables to be listed. We’re adding the figures first:

TOF 12

Note, Table will be the default option. Choose Figure by dropping down the menu using the arrow on the right. Table will be highlighted in blue so click on Figure. As if by magic …

TOF 13

A table of figures!

Now return down a couple of spaces in your document and do the same to insert a Table of Tables:

TOF 14

Make sure it’s on Table and click OK. Hey presto …

TOF 15

Customising your table of figures

You can customise your table of figures in the same way that you can customise a Table of Contents, choosing from a range of styles and specifying how they are laid out:

TOF 16

I’m going to write an article about this soon, so for now just note that you can choose different “looks” for the list, and you will get a preview in the pane above these drop-down menu sections.

Adding headings to the table of figures and table of tables

You will probably want to add headings to your tables. Remember to mark these as Heading 1 so they appear in your automated Table of Contents, which I’ve also added here:

TOF 17

Updating your table of figures and table of tables

If you change anything in the page numbering, document layout or captions themselves (particularly useful if you or your proofreader finds an error) or delete or insert tables and figures, you will need to update your table of figures / tables.

You do this in exactly the same way as updating a table of contents. Right-click on the table, making sure the grey highlighting shows up. Then select Update Field and then Update Entire Table.

TOF 18And that’s it.

We’ve created captions the correct way, and created tables of figures and tables of tables, done some customisation and learned how to update them.

If you have found this article useful, please share it using the buttons below, and leave me a comment!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007, Word 2010, Word 2013 and Word 2016 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here

Related articles on this blog

How do you create a two-line figure caption and a one-line entry in the table of figures?

How to create a Table of Contents

How to update your Table of Contents, Table of Tables or Table of Figures

Editing and the Table of Contents



Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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Slay or sleigh?

DictionariesSomeone told me that they had actually seen this one on a festive poster last week, so welcome to the Christmas 2012 Troublesome Pair!

To slay is to kill in a violent manner. You can also use it in a metaphorical way: “I’m going to slay that demon and face up to the supermarket on Christmas Eve”.

Slay (as a noun) is also an alternative spelling for sley, which is a tool which is used in weaving, to push the weft into place. No, I didn’t know that either, and I’m guessing that the author of the unfortunate poster wasn’t talking about Santa and his weaving activities.

A sleigh is a sledge drawn by reindeer or horses. A sledge is a vehicle set on runners which is used to travel over snow and ice, propelled by gravity downhill or pushed or pulled. Oh, and a sled is a North American term for sledge. Don’t say I don’t give you added value!

Season’s Greetings and I hope you enjoy 2013’s Troublesome Pairs and Trios!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Small business chat updates – Lucy Scott and Mike Orchard

Welcome to two more updates from my small business chats – today we are going to catch up with Lucy Scott and Mike Orchard ! Neither of these two have ended up quite where they expected, but it’s onwards and upwards, and they’re still going strong!

Lucy Scott

Lucy’s original interview was published on 12 November 2011. Where did she plan to be in a year’s time? She said, “I hope to have a larger base of regular clients and have Admin and Errands in a second (and maybe third!) geographical area“. Let’s see what happened – not quite as predicted, but still good.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Things are not as predicted but are still good. I have taken on another project, the writing of a book, which is completely different to the business, and I continue to grow my client base. I’m not sure that other geographical areas is actually the way I want to go now. Like all businesses, things evolve and you learn such a lot in those first two years that plans get adjusted and different opportunities show themselves.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I still have some of my original clients that I pretty much started with and most of my clients come from networking, although more and more come from referrals, which is great. I am more confident in what I have to offer people now, and have a much stronger presence in the business environment.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’ve learnt a such a lot – one thing that stands out for me right now is that working from home full time just does not suit me. With that in mind, I have moved into an office in central Chepstow as of last week! What I wish I’d known? Everything and nothing. That the sun would have only shone for two weeks this summer so make the most of it. That you need to take regular down time, days away from email and thinking about the business. I learnt that I should have looked after myself better over the past two years instead of waiting for exhaustion to hit before stopping!

Any more hints and tips for people?

Go with what feels right at the time, as there are no right or wrong answers to self-employment. We all have different businesses and work in different ways. Enjoy what you do, and if you don’t enjoy it, either stop doing it or find a different approach. Remember there is life outside of your business, there is family and yourself, both of which need nurturing. Notice your accomplishments and celebrate them!

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I would like to have my book finished and published and I would like to have a strong core client base that refers fresh clients to me. This past year, I have used an assistant when the workload has become too much for me, so would like to be able to give her more regular work. I would also like to create a product that I may earn some residual income from selling online.

I think learning about looking after yourself is one of those massive lessons of the first few years. I know I thought it would come automatically when I started working on Libro full time, and no it most certainly did not. Congratulations to Lucy for being flexible and honest enough to change her mind about what she wanted to achieve, and for writing her book. Let’s hope it’ll be out there in the world by the next time we talk! Note: the URL and email address for Adminanderrands are no longer operational and it looks as though the company might have closed. I’ll add more information if I find it.

Mike Orchard

Skills Hive logo Mike Orchard was originally featured on 26 November 2011. His goal for the year looked like this: “According to the forecasts we will be on track to reach our target turnover within 3 years and so next year will see us starting to court some serious investors to secure the investment needed to get us to our year 5 stretching target.” Again, things haven’t quite worked out as planned, but he’s regrouped and worked on some new goals, taking a sensible approach to the business and its future.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not quite! But the important thing is that we have learned and adapted, refining our approach to reflect the value we can deliver based on the needs of prospects in our opportunity pipeline. They do say that most successful businesses look nothing like the original concept once they are fully established.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

We have made the site free to use while we build critical mass and are focussing on bespoke build opportunities with commercial partners as our initial revenue stream. Various companies are in a position to broker project opportunities between hirers and workers, and there has been significant interest from training companies and consultancy networks. Consulting is now a much more important feature of our own service offering, as we look to show businesses how to develop their virtual team strategy rather than just providing the tools for them to use themselves.

Universities are still a major focus: we have integrated Skills Hive within Personal Professional Development programmes for students and are hosting events that bring together businesses, freelancers, graduates and students to explore potential collaboration opportunities, like this one.

Our research has uncovered some interesting insights, leading us to start developing a new tool called Wavelength that will help hirers to identify workers who are aligned to their vision and have a good fit with their way of working.

We are also just about to launch our Social Enterprise arm, “Schools Hive”. Its mission is to …

  • Help individuals within parent networks to communicate their skills and collaborate.
  • Make it easy to volunteer to support the school and each other
  • Generate opportunities to earn money whilst looking after children

We believe in …

  • Giving talent visibility
  • Preventing skills erosion
  • Self-supporting communities
  • Cross-generational working
  • Local networked economies

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

While I knew this already, I am much more aware now that money isn’t the only measure of success, in fact it doesn’t necessarily need to be the primary measure.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I have always said, “focus on the customer and the money takes care of itself”, but when you are working on a disruptive business, the start point is to focus on being true to yourself, your vision and your purpose.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

We will have secured at least 3 bespoke build licence agreements with clients and be looking at re-introducing the subscription model for the main public site. Several hiring companies we will have consulted to will now be self-serving using the new Wavelength tools to select workers aligned to their vision. Schools Hive will have been rolled out across one South London borough, and we will be finalising the model for the national “franchise”.

So, another case of adjusting as you go and moving into new areas as opportunities and research suggest. Good luck to Mike and it’ll be interesting to see what has developed by next year!

NOTE: Although Skills Hive still seems to be going strong as of July 2014, Mike has decided not to continue to take part in this interview series. We wish him the best of luck for the future.

You can call Mike on 07894 561 726 and visit his website at or email him.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Silicon or silicone?

I have to admit that I hadn’t fully grasped the differences between these two. So I’m guessing lots of other people hadn’t done either. And the dictionary is quite opaque on this, talking about chemical compounds rather than the essential, understandable differences, although my trusty “New Oxford Style Manual” does better.

Silicon is a naturally occurring element (symbol Si) which is hard and durable and used in the silicon chips inside computers.

Silicone is a synthetic compound of silicon, and this is the one that’s used in breast implants and cooking utensils: it can be a liquid or gel as well as a solid.

So, actually two that it’s a good idea NOT to get mixed up!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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Tips for coping with writing up a PhD

mugsI have worked with many PhD students and have several friends who are in the middle of the process at the moment, or about to start off (exciting!) so here are some top tips for how to cope with the dreaded end stage: writing up, gleaned from my experience over the years.

Think of this like a chat over a cup of tea. I’m here to help, to reassure you that everyone goes through the same stuff – and that you WILL get through it.

Yes, it’s difficult, so don’t beat yourself up

Not everyone gets to do a PhD. It’s an achievement to get onto the course, it’s an achievement to gather all your data, do all your literature review stuff, grapple with statistics … and then start to write it all up.

Hopefully, nobody said it would be easy. Because it’s not. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it! A big achievement like a doctorate isn’t worth it if there isn’t a struggle. No one’s goes smoothly, even if they say it is. I have worked with lots and lots of PhD candidates. Even the most organised and seemingly perfect person has underlying panics, lost texts, confusions, chapter sections that just won’t go right …

If you accept that it’s difficult, that it’s going to be a struggle, that it’s a major achievement you’re aiming at, you can get your head down and bite away at chunks of it until it’s done.

Everyone goes through the same stuff

I thought this one was obvious, then I realised that not many people are privileged to work with and know so many people starting off on their research career. Almost every time I tell a student that what they’re going through is what everyone else goes through, they’re incredibly relieved.

  • It’s not just you
  • Everyone gets through it
  • There is normal life at the end

It’s a bit like when I’m doing the Birmingham Half-Marathon, which I do every year. At a certain point, around Mile 10 (of 13), you start to look around and see the pain, slight sicky feeling and effort etched on everyone’s faces. But then you see the finishers walking back down the route with their medals and silver foil cloak things and you know that the end is in sight!

You will experience this

From my experience with PhD students, I can pretty well guarantee you will experience one or more of these phenomena:

  • You will get quite a lot fatter or quite a lot thinner
  • You will get paler and a bit bug-eyed. This is because
  • You will go outside less and less
  • A frown will start to etch itself on your forehead (this will go)
  • Your hair will get really long (boy or girl. Haircuts? No time! I could write a paragraph in that time!)
  • You will eat odd things
  • At odd times
  • You will get no sleep and wake up tired
  • Whenever you get a slight break (you’ve handed in a chapter!) you will sit down and fall asleep
  • You will make excuses not to see friends
  • You will see friends and end up in a frenzy of self-flagellation about not being at your desk
  • You will wake up with heavy eyes and a feeling of dread
  • Everything about the entire document will be wrong
  • You will sit down and be unable to write anything
  • You will feel like your supervisor either hates you or pities you so much – either way, they’re sending you coded messages not to continue via the comments they make (they’re not)
  • You will feel that your supervisor doesn’t care / understand (they do: they’ve seen it all before so they’re not panicking because they know you can get through it)

I can guarantee you that everyone in the whole world of research experiences many if not all of these phenomena. You are not alone!

What can you do?

This is going to sound boring, but when I tell people to do this, and they listen and do it, it does, honestly, make it better.

  • Eat as healthily as you can. Accept that offer of a casserole or a vat of soup from your housemate or friend. Take an evening to make up batches of good sauces that you can freeze and re-heat. Keep healthy snacks around.
  • Take breaks. No one can work for more than about an hour solidly without needing to refocus their eyes, get up, stretch, and think about something else for a few minutes. This will NOT eat into your writing-up time: it will make it more productive. Every hour, stand up, stretch, look out of the window.
  • Get outside – at least once a day, in the daylight. Even if you just go into the garden and jump around a bit – but preferably get off the premises and go for a walk around the block. Again, this will NOT eat into your writing-up time: it will make you more productive.
  • Take some exercise. If you are a runner or a gym bunny, keep it up, even if you have to do shorter sessions than normal. This is not the time to take up a new sport or activity, but even a good, brisk walk is great. You need to keep your body active as well as your mind. This will help you sleep better, too.
  • Give yourself a treat. Once you’ve finished a chapter or achieved something specific, have a chocolate bar, a read in the bath, an evening off. Simple things can mean a lot at this time and really help.
  • Don’t just start at one corner and work your way round. Oh, hang on: that’s ironing a shirt. Anyway, have a plan for how to write up, don’t just start at the beginning and try to write it straight through. Set up the headings and fill bits in as you go, sure, but have those headings and structures in place so you can do that (see my post on top tips for dissertations and theses for more on this).

These seem both dull and obvious, but they are obvious because they work. They work in all sorts of contexts, actually: they’re quite similar to my Home Working Rules, for example. But when you’re concentrating on a big project, you do need to be reminded of these!

No one is superhuman, no one can just sit down and write the thing, and the more you look after yourself, the more you will get done.

Get help

It’s not weak to ask for help. If you need help, ask. People will be happy to help you, and for some of this stuff, you can help yourself, too.

  • Your supervisor – if you’re really struggling or panicking, talk to your supervisor. They might act like they’ve seen it all before, but then they have. But they do care about you: they have a professional duty to you, if nothing else, and they can’t help you if you don’t tell them you’re struggling!
  • University resources – the chaplaincy, departmental support services, University support services, services for foreign students, drop in sessions at the Library – use them.
  • Proofreaders and other professionals – if you’re struggling with your writing, whether you are using assistive technology (e.g. dictating rather than typing), have issues with dyslexia, or are writing in a language that’s not your native language, there are people who can help you. If the issue is to do with your need for technology or extra support, you may be able to talk to your department about defraying part of the cost. Note: research this carefully, try to make sure you’re talking to the real person who’ll be working on your document, and get references and examples. People like me won’t look down on you: even if English is your native language, you’re fluent and have no issues it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re mashing sentences together and mixing things around. We’re here to help.

In addition, it’s worth setting up the following at the beginning of the writing up process and during the first stages.

  • Know how to use Word – I can’t say this enough – if you don’t know how to do these things as a minimum, find out before you start writing up. You do not want to be in a big pickle about this at the end of the process when you’re rushing to hand it in. I talk about lots of these in my handy Word tips blog posts and there are lots of other resources around, too.
    • Setting up headings levels
    • Automated contents pages
    • Tabs and margins
    • Page breaks and section breaks
    • Placing images in text (if you have images or figures)
    • Tables
    • Spell checking
    • Track changes (if you are going to get the document proofread)
  • Get used to saving your work regularly
    • Press that Save button all the time. Better to save too much than lose it
    • Make multiple back-ups – on a pen drive or whatever. Save the most up to date copy each time
    • Version control – if you want to keep previous drafts, number your versions so you know which is the most up to date, which has been checked by your proofreader, etc.
  • Sort out your referencing. I have a post on this for you to read. Whatever you do:
    • Keep a note of what you refer to
    • Use a notebook, Excel, Word, a specific referencing system – but keep it all in the same place
    • Record ALL the information – book publisher details; journal page numbers
    • If you’re unsure of how to reference something, do a Google search and find out how others have done it (this particularly applies when you can’t tell which is the first name and surname of an author – easily done!)
    • Find out what referencing system your department uses and learn about it now, not right at the end. You should be given information on this at the beginning of your course. If not, talk to your library rep or supervisor
  • Make a style sheet for yourself. Stick it all down on a note pad or Word document. This seems like a fussy thing to do now, but it will make everything consistent and save you having to decide each time. If you don’t use a proofreader, this will make your examiners exclaim over your tidiness and organisation. If you do use a proofreader, it will save them (and you) time.
    • Decide what kind of spellings you’re going to use (ise / ize).
    • Decide how you’re going to number figures and tables (1, 2, 3 throughout, or 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 per chapter – I recommend the latter)
    • Decide how you’re going to number headings if you decide to do that
    • Decide how you are going to refer to common words and phrases – initials with a key at the beginning?
    • Decide what you’re going to capitalise
    • Decide if you’re going to use footnotes or in-text citations
    • Decide how you’re going to format longer quotations and make a note (e.g. 2 cm left and right margins, italics)

You can do it

If you’re at writing up stage, you will get there. I admire you, and so do lots of people. Remember …

  • It’s not easy but no one finds it easy
  • Everyone goes through the same stuff
  • Get outside
  • Seek help when you need it

Good luck!

If you’ve found this post useful, please share it using the buttons below, and/or make a comment – I love to get feedback about my posts. Also, if there’s something I haven’t covered here or a top tip for this stage, do add a comment. Thank you!

You might find these useful: Top tips for students and Word users


Posted by on December 19, 2012 in New skills, Organisation, Students, Word, Writing


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Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S.

Welcome to Saturday Small Business Chat! Today we’re talking to Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S. – yes, that’s his name – about his business supporting musicians in the Midlands and other endeavours through the Sankofa Arts, Media and Business Centre. He’s been in business for years, starting off running a record label in his teens, and his latest venture involves publishing a book that hopes to give young people who start making some money some sensible advice about what to do with it. This is how I met him, as I edited  his book a month or so ago, and the launch party is on 16 December – tomorrow, if you’re reading this as it’s published. More info on the book below, but first let’s find out more about running various businesses and community initiatives …

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

I have a number of businesses. I run a youth and community development organisation called 7E Youth Academy, a publishing company, a music studio, record label and a shop.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I was always ambitious and had big ideas as a child, but I was always involved in music from a young age. I wanted to be a signed recording artist, but in those days the music industry was not interested really in signing hip hop acts from the U.K. So the DIY ethic kicked in, and I decided to start pressing my own records, and from there, even though I have been employed in jobs, I have always had a business.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

I love working with young people and I am committed to seeing young people thrive, I love music and arts and I understand those areas, and I believe that there always needs to be something that you’re doing that provides some sort of steady income, so that’s why I work in the business areas that I function in.

Had you run your own business before?

Yes, I started my own record label when I was 16.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I started off part time and over the years I have been full time and part time depending on how well I am doing, but I have always been doing something business orientated.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

I wish I could have sat down with real entrepreneurs and just sounded them out before I started in business. I would have liked to have shared their wisdom.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Not everything can be done at once: breathe. I would also say, really research what you are going to do well before you invest. Look at what the trends are and be real with yourself. Don’t do what you like, ignoring what the facts are.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

I don’t really have any regrets. I made decisions based upon the knowledge I had at the time which, whether right or wrong, I have learned from.

What are you glad you did?

I never gave up and I worked hard.

What’s your top business tip?

Research the area which you want to operate in properly first before you jump in.

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

I have definitely grown and diversified. I started off as an artist wanting to make it in the music industry, and the skills I learned from that area have taken me into many areas. I think music and the arts are two of the most difficult areas to run a business because there is not really a definite market. You are using your marketing skills and business savvy to create demand for an artist, event or product.

Growing out of my experience, I decided to write a book this year. The reason why I wrote this book is because I when I was trying to get started in business I found it difficult to find practical information that I could use that was written in layman’s language. When it came to investment, it was all like it was written in another language. I wanted to produce something that the budding entrepreneur could use as a basic guide – offering practical and usable information and wisdom about how to invest, start a business and manage money, with links and tools to use to get started. You can find the book, The Secret Money Manual, on Amazon.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

Growing and increasing demand.

Good luck to Cipher with his new book, which is indeed a no-nonsense guide which looks clearly and honestly about the best choices to make in order to make – and keep – money. And no, I’m not being paid to say that! It’s great to have my interviewees who care about sharing information and helping the next generation of business people to make their mark, too. I hope the launch party goes well, and look forward to seeing how the book does over the upcoming year!

Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S. operates from

Sankofa Arts, Media and Business Centre.
10 Warstone Parade East,
Jewellery Quarter,
B18 6NR.
0845 0527 726

and the website is

PLEASE NOTE: This was a one-off interview, Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S. and his book and Sankofa are still going strong and we wish him all the best for the future!

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.

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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Business, New skills, Small Business Chat


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Pair, pear or pare?

It’s homonym time in Libro Towers, with this classic easily confused trio …

A pair is a set of two things which are joined together or otherwise considered as a unit – including people or animals which are considered together – a pair of naughty boys; a pair of horses used to pull a carriage; a pair of wires twisted together to conduct your home phone signal.

A pear is an edible fruit or the tree that bears that fruit.

To pare (notice that this one’s a verb where the others are nouns) is to trim something by cutting the outer edges off, so you might pare an apple to take the skin off – it also has a more metaphorical meaning around reducing or diminishing something in stages rather than all at once, like taking the outer then inner layers off a piece of fruit, so you might pare down staffing levels gradually rather than sacking everyone at once.

So, if you had two pieces of fruit and you wanted to remove the skin from them, you might pare a pair of pears!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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On tax

tax paidI paid my tax bill yesterday, as you can see from the accompanying picture. I have been thinking about this subject recently, as there has been a furore over Starbucks, Amazon, etc., as well as various celebrities and people who are (in my opinion) rich enough already, using loopholes and legal means to squirrel away as much money for themselves as they can, ignoring what taxes are for, what they pay for, and the benefit they bring to the society among which and from which they make their money.

I’m not going to get overly political here. No, I’m not a fan of the present government, and on how they are distributing public funds, but the fact that there are any public funds to distribute in the first place is down in large part to people who do pay their tax.

I’m actually quite annoyed (especially in the year where I must pay double tax because of the payment on account system) that other companies operating in the UK are behaving like this, and giving businesses a bad name, too.

I have been checking on a few companies that I use recently to make sure I am making the most ethical choices I can (hooray for Eat. and Lush!). And it struck me that I should make some sort of statement on my own position regarding tax.

Statement on Libro and tax

I confirm that Libro is a British entity fully subjected to UK taxes. I have no cross-border arrangements that transfer profits to lower tax countries.

I pay a fair amount of tax and I claim back what I consider to be fair (expenses like reference books, memberships of organisations and a small amount towards the heating and lighting of the part of the house occupied by my office).

I do not engage in any tax avoidance (that’s the legal one: it’s tax evasion that’s the “bad” one) practices, even were they to be officially legal. I do not claim for anything I do not have, and all payments, including cash payments and tips, are put through my books, recorded and entered into the calculations that work out my tax burden.

I operate in what I consider to be an ethical and fair way, and this extends to my relationship with HMRC.

Other posts about Libro and tax

I’m obviously quite interested in tax, as I’ve published these other two posts on the topic:

Why I do my tax return in April

Income tax payment on account


Thanks for reading – do share if you find this useful or interesting (there are many buttons just below) or tell me whether you’ve posted up a statement on your tax position if you’re a small or medium sized business.

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Business