Academic Tips and Tricks

All the help you need for good essay writing

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Documents with multiple numbered sections

I won’t lie – I got help with this one from the nice people at because I just couldn’t make it work! What I was wanting was this:

transcript line numbers1I needed transcripts starting at different line numbers (not using the numbered list method because this makes it harder to number each line) that didn’t create weird breaks in the text. How you do this is as follows:

transcript line numbers2

First, select only your transcript text by left clicking and dragging over it, then go to the page layout tab and click the drop-down box called ‘line numbers’, select ‘line numbering options…’. Then you should see this dialogue box… now bear with me, things get tricky here:

transcript line numbers3

When you click ‘line numbering options…’ the ‘Page Setup’ box should appear (I’ve labelled this box 1) Now you need to make sure the numbered steps are set to the selected options:

  1. Section start set to ‘continuous’
  2. Apply to ‘selected text’
  3. click ‘line numbers…’
  4. In ‘box 2’ aka Line Numbers, tick the ‘add line numbering’ checkbox
  5. Make sure numbering is set to ‘restart each section’ – in this dialogue box you can also set your numbering options, so you can have the numbered section start at ‘1’ or ’25’ or whatever you like.

Once you’ve done all this and clicked OK, you’ll probably notice that a page break has been created after the end of your transcript, meaning the text that was directly below it is now displayed on the next page, like this:

transcript line numbers4By clicking the button shown on the ‘home’ tab, you can see exactly what’s happened here. To get the text which has been pushed away back onto the same page as the rest of the text, we need to change the ‘Section Break (Next Page)’ into a ‘Section Break (Continuous)’ To do this, do the following:

transcript line numbers5

  1. Scroll down and click on the text which has been pushed to the next page
  2. Click the tiny ‘expand’ button in the corner of the ‘Page Setup’ box
  3. Make sure ‘Section Start’ is set to ‘continuous’

Then click ok. What you should now have is this (again seen with the formatting visible):

transcript line numbers6Now you can see the section break has been changed to continuous, and the text is displayed directly below the transcript. Now you can follow the steps above again to number the second transcript, in the example above you could start your next transcript at ‘7’ if it is a continuation of the first transcript, or any other number if it is a later part of the transcript, or a different one entirely.

Hope this helps!


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Making Beautiful Transcripts

Making a well formatted transcript is not only visually neat and pleasing, but it also solves any issues of not being able to tell who’s speaking, and any problems of correctly showing overlapping speech.

This is a very badly formatted transcript. It is hard to see the speakers’ names and it is not clear at a glance what is speech and what isn’t (square brackets here indicate overlap)

very bad transcript

The first step to fixing this problem is adding a tab stop between the speaker name and what they are saying, just press this key:


Then you get this, which is a bit better, but still has text going directly under someone’s name, this is not ideal as if overlap occurs in this problem zone (red circle) it will be hard to transcribe clearly:

bad transcript

To fix this, you need to add a hanging indent. It can be done two ways, via the ‘paragraph’ menu on the home tab, or by manually using the ruler. I’m going to show the ruler method as using the ruler allows changes to be made really quickly and easily. First, make the ruler visible:

enable ruler

Go to view, tick ruler, and the ruler appears. Next, select your text and drag the hanging indent across:

hanging indent

Then your transcript should look like this, with a clear gap between speaker name and text:

final result

This is perfect for many uses, but if your transcript would benefit from having line numbers, you can enable them here:

line numbers

And you’re done 🙂


How to Make Transcribing SO Much Easier

Don’t thank me for this post, thank my boyfriend, who is a genius.

This innovation actually changed my life. As a linguistics student I’ve done A LOT of really complicated transcriptions over the years, and I’ve done many many hours of simple transcription as a paid transcriber. My set-up used to look like this:

transcription set up 1

I imagine that looks familiar – you can quickly access the media player to stop and start it and if you’re doing a simple two-person transcript you’ve done what you can to make everything quicker. But you still have to waste time taking your fingers off the keyboard to click between the two programmes and manually start and stop the audio. You might even be clumsily clicking the bar on the audio player to skip back to listen again.

Now my set-up looks like this:

transcription set up 2No media player. And you don’t need a laptop with built in media controls to make this work. If you use VLC (which is free to download and has a lot of great features) you can configure the global hotkeys so that you never have to click back and forth again!

Here’s How

transcription set up 3Go to tools and click on ‘preferences’, then:

transcription set up 4Go to hotkeys. You will see two columns ‘hotkey’ and ‘global’. Hotkey will only work when VLC is the active (selected) programme. Global will work from anywhere, e.g. from Word, if you’re browsing the web etc. The settings you want to create are global ones. Your global column should currently be blank like mine. This is what you need to do next:

Double click in the ‘global’ column on the setting you want to change, I clicked on ‘play/pause’

transcription set up 5You should get a pop-up box asking you to select a new key combination. You now need to choose keys which:

1. You can easily remember mean ‘play/pause’

2. Are not another shortcut

E.g. don’t pick ‘p’ as every time you type the letter p during transcription, your audio will stop or start. I choose shift+right arrow, as this combination is easy to press and isn’t already used as a shortcut/hotkey in Word:

transcription set up 6Once you’ve done this, your new combination should appear immediately in the global column, like this:

transcription set up 7These are the four hotkeys I have programmed specifically for transcription (image below). I find they are enough and make the whole process easier, the slow down command is especially useful when people are talking really fast! You can even slow down the audio so much that you can type as fast as the speakers are talking, but this can make the sound pretty distorted.

transcription set up 8When you’ve chosen all your commends, you will need to press ‘save’ then exit VLC completely and restart the programme before the changes will take effect. There is no need to restart your whole computer. When VLC is restarted, you should find you can use almost any programme while listening to VLC and control the audio remotely without having to click onto VLC to make the change.

Happy Transcribing!