Quick tip: embed fonts in PowerPoint

If you’ve ever opened a PowerPoint presentation on a computer other than your own, you may have seen the text get all messed up.

This happens when you use fonts on your own computer that aren’t installed on the computer you present with. PowerPoint will then substitute your font for another. Sometimes it still looks OK, other times the spacing of the text gets completely ruined and your presentation looks amateur.

To avoid this, embed the fonts you use in the file along with your presentation.

In PP for Windows, go to File > Options >  Save, then scroll down and check “embed fonts in file”

On a Mac, go to Preferences > Output and Sharing > Save, then under Font Embedding, select “embed fonts in file”.

See also
How to design outstanding PowerPoint slides
How to format your PhD thesis using Microsoft Word

It’s not your job to solve your field

If you’re doing a PhD, you probably want to make a difference in the world.

This is a good thing. It’s good to have a goal that’s bigger than yourself. But it can also be a trap if you try to fix everything you think needs fixing. By trying to fix everything, you end up finishing nothing.

Even those who have revolutionised their fields haven’t done so all at once. They’ve done so by patiently and persistently addressing one problem at a time.

See also:

What to do when your PhD project gets too big

Raising the bar

Patience and persistence

You didn’t start a PhD because you thought it would be easy. You knew it would take time, and you knew it would involve difficulties along the way.

But, still, it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go your way.

During my own PhD, I felt demotivated because I wasn’t getting results as quickly as others were. I got frustrated when experiments didn’t work, and I never fully invested myself because I didn’t want to take the risk.

Of course, these responses were the opposite of what was needed. It was only when I slowed down and started doing things carefully, without worrying about the end result, that my fortunes changed.

I developed the patience to do things slowly and the persistence to keep trying. And, crucially, I maintained these attitudes when I faced challenges throughout the rest of my PhD.

The challenges you face in your PhD are really just tests of your patience and persistence. How will you respond?

See also

The invincible mindset

Dealing with research stress

What are you waiting for?

This is the year when I’ll finally do [complete the blank].

Whatever it is you intend to do this year, if you haven’t started moving towards it yet, do something about it today (even if it’s just a small step).

It’s easy to set goals for the future, but it’s equally easy to think of reasons why you can’t do it yet. You don’t have the money. You don’t have the time. You don’t have the experience or the skills. You need to finish [complete the blank].

Conditions will never be perfect. There will always be more urgent needs. There will always be competing demands on your attention.

Nothing can stop you if you really want to do it. But you have to do something about it today.

Announcing The Writing Course

In just under a week, we’ll be starting the latest edition of The Writing Course. It’s a course to help you build your writing skills and guide you step-by-step in writing your thesis.

Ultimately, the aim is to transform writing from a stressful burden into a useful tool.

It’s the only course of it’s kind, based on 8 years of development with PhD students from all over the world.

Starts 9th January 2019. More details here!

Free webinar: How to write your PhD thesis: An introduction to the fundamentals

What is it?

A free webinar introducing the basics of thesis writing

When is it?

Friday 21st December, 1 pm UK time. The webinar will last around 90 minutes.

What will I learn?

  • Why academic writing is so difficult
  • Why the standard approaches often don’t work
  • Why there’s no such thing as writer’s block
  • How to solve problems of expression
  • How to structure your writing

And more…

What if I can’t make it live?

You can register anyway and watch the recording

How do I register?

Just fill in the form below! Or click here.

Contradictory beliefs

When you have two (or more) contradictory beliefs, it’s as if you have two forces pulling you in opposite directions.

I have to write the best thesis, but I’m terrible at writing

I won’t pass my PhD, but I can’t quit

I am capable of anything, but I can’t do this

These contradictory beliefs put you under immense strain. They take up so much mental energy, but it’s purely destructive because the energy has nowhere to go.

What contradictory beliefs do you hold? What beliefs can you let go of?

How to define terms in your thesis

First, here’s how not to do it.

“[Name of the thing] is defined by Smith (2001) as …”

I know this is how many people define terms, but it’s not always good to put the name of the thing you are defining at the start of the paragraph. If this is the structure you use every time, it quickly becomes repetitive and dull.

Instead, set up a context or situation that gets the reader interested.

For example;

The exact definition of … is the cause of some disagreement in the field. Perhaps the most influential definition is that of Smith (2001), who described it as …”

This places Smith’s definition within a context. The reader knows that it’s influential but that there’s some disagreement, and it’s perfectly set up to then discuss other definitions.

One of the key criticisms of Smith’s definition is that it does not take into account… To address this, Jones (2010) proposed…

Then you can say which definition you are using for your work.

If there is no disagreement and you’re describing an accepted term, you can approach it in a slightly different way.

If it’s a technique, state what problem it solves;

Until the late 1980’s, there were no practical methods for determining … This was until the development of …, which uses…

Again, this puts the term you’re defining into a context. This is one of the easiest ways to bring your writing to life.