An ode to the wordprocessor and ‘cite-while-you-write’

Like many Phd students I’ve spent my summer writing, discarding, recovering, and re-writing – and right now I have to say – I just don’t know how anyone did this before the word processor and ‘cite-while-you-write’.

I know it was done and I’m sure that with trial and error, students who had to handwrite, or type their manuscripts must have come up with strategies for coping, but I just can’t imagine what they were. Although, one of my sister students is currently rewriting a chapter by cutting it into strips and using sticky tape to put it back together – so maybe I have a hint.

photo courtesy of Lula Męcińska

photo courtesy of Lula Męcińska

A fortnight ago, I had a couple of thousand words that I really didn’t like, but today I’ve read them again and they’re not so bad. And they’re definitely better than looking at a blank space headed ‘methodology’ where they used to be. Of course, they still need work, but they probably don’t need discarding. So, I cut and paste them out of the old document, and into the current version. Then moments later, the document refreshes, the references do their thing, and the bibliography magically expands still in alphabetical order.

Even with the best of handwritten/typed strategies, I’m guessing the word processor and ‘cite-while-you-write’ make the process a whole lot easier.

Everyone who wrote out their Phd longhand and had it typed, or typed it up themselves – I’m impressed.


One thought on “An ode to the wordprocessor and ‘cite-while-you-write’

  1. Tracy Lee Karner

    I typed my first novel on an IBM selectric. I was resisting computers, but now I can’t imagine writing/publishing without them (although I still journal and do many of my rough drafts in pen and ink in a notebook).


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