Bibliographies

At university, the one thing more time-consuming than writing essays is writing the Bibliography for the essay.  Thankfully, long gone are the days when during an essay you  had to write your Bibliography manually,  which meant writing the author’s name, the year of publication in brackets, next to  your quote the go all the way to the bottom of the page and write all the other details.  This is problematic for me and most dyslexics  as by the time I scroll to the bottom of the page I usually forget  what it was I was referencing and have to start again.  If you are copying the publisher’s details in teenie weenie font from the front of the book, I’d always make a mess have to start again as I’d forget something important such as the city it was published in.

The size of the publishing details might not have changed but at least there is a more up-to-date way of organising your Bibliography.  Word has a remarkably good Bibliography function.

You select from a drop-down menu what type of source you’re using e.g. a website or a book and it then suggests appropriate fields for this type of source. This ensures  I don’t forget anything vital such as the authors name! Next to where you want toreference, it places the author’s name and the date of publication in brackets.  Now here’s the really clever part.  It then lists the full reference at the bottom of the page.  Once you’ve added a lot of references all you have to do is click update and the Bibliography fills in all the references from your text automatically.  In total, the simple function has probably saved me about a year of time.  I feel a bit sorry for my friends who, despite having the latest version of Word still do that all the boring process manually.

Another clever part of this is that each time you enter a reference, it saves it  in a library of sources. This means that if you end up using a few of the same books for another essay, you merely select the source you need from the list of previous sources.  This saves the tedious process of typing in the book details all over again.  However, here comes one of the main drawbacks of the MS Word Bibliography system.  When you click “managed sources” to bring up a list of previous entries in the Bibliography function, they are listed in order of date published.  Surely, it would make more sense to list them alphabetically by author as, after all, most libraries seem to use this system and find it works.  More perplexing still, there is no search box and you can’t even type in the name of the author or part of the title defined the book you’re looking for.

I’ve done quite a few essays over the last two years at university and this means scrolling through an awful lot of books.  Sometimes I can’t even remember who wrote the books, let alone the date they were published, so searching through the list of sources can be a tedious and even fruitless process.

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