So you've written your document...now what? On this page, we'll look at some of the final steps when creating digital documents, including combining multiple files into a single document, checking accessibility and anonymising files, and using the Review tab in Word. We'll also think about when we leave text processors behind: exporting to other file formats and printing your document.
Once you've finished writing your first draft of a document, you often need to review it in various ways, like checking spelling, word count, and accessibility, adding comments to make changes or getting feedback from others.
Both Word and Google Docs have built-in features to help with this. In Word, these are mostly on the Review tab, whereas in Google Docs they are mostly in the Tools menu.
You might have spell checking turned on whilst you're typing your document, or you might prefer to check at the end. Using spell check and grammar features can help when you're writing up and reviewing your document, though you will need to proofread your work carefully even if you use these, as they can miss things (and won't spot typing errors that are real words, just not the word you meant!).
When you're finishing a document to share or send to others, it's important to think about the accessibility of that document. A user viewing your document may be using assistive technologies to view it, such as a screen reader or other accessibility tools. Both word processors have the option to use features that support accessibility such as heading styles on each heading in a document, and alternative text (known as 'alt text') for conveying what is portrayed in an image as text, plus many other features. See our Accessibility Skills Guide and Creating accessible documents page.
Microsoft Word has a built-in Accessibility Checker that can check a document to ensure accessibility features have been used for all content in your document. For Google Docs, the university has a tool automatically installed called Grackle. Both will return some results on how accessible your document currently is, along with suggestions on how you could improve your document to work successfully with assistive technologies.
In Microsoft Word, go to Review > Check Accessibility. A sidebar will appear, giving recommendations for any changes by identifying each element in your document. Clicking on the name of each element will provide instructions below on how to improve it. If you haven't used any styles in your document, this may not be necessarily picked up by the Accessibility Checker, so you may need to check this yourself.
See also Microsoft's own guide on the Microsoft accessibility checker.
Grackle is an extension already installed by the university for Google Workspace, which provides an accessibility checker for Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Sheets.
While signed into Google Docs with your university Google account, you can access Grackle by going to Add-ons > Grackle Docs > Launch. A sidebar will appear showing full checks of features such as images, diagrams, document structure and other content showing if they are currently accessible.
See it in action in this video on using Grackle.
When creating long, complex documents, you might write separate chapters or sections in separate documents, to keep them manageable. Microsoft Word has built-in functionality to allow you to combine individual documents into a single document whilst preserving formatting and other features.
Thinking of just copying and pasting your text out of individual Word documents into your final document? Don't! Doing this can break the formatting of content.
To combine your chapters or other documents into one single document, it is easiest to have a template with all your styles set up in, so the styles match on all the documents you've created and the one you're putting all the documents into. Also make sure that you've saved all your individual documents where you can find them. Once they are inserted, any changes made on the newly combined document will not update the individual versions, so be aware of this.
Once you've inserted all your content, you will need to check numbering and any other fields are updated, which is covered below.
Once you've combined your document, you will need to construct your tables of contents and any other elements. As long as you've used styles throughout your documents (that use the same levels of heading style for the same levels of heading), you should be able to create an automatic table of contents of all your combined documents. You can do the same for tables of figures and tables.
If you have any captions, cross-references or other automatically generated content in your documents, you may need to update all fields. Select the whole document by holding down CTRL + A (Cmd + A on a Mac), then right click and choose Update Field. This will also update the table of contents if there is one. From this point, you can add more cross references or captions as you need, and can use the same Update Field option to keep the document updated if needed.
If you have inserted automatic citations using a reference management application into your individual documents, you might need to take extra steps to ensure that your reference list/bibliography is in the right place. Check out the Cite page of the Reference Management Practical Guide for more information.
Once you've created a document, you might want other people to read it. There's a number of things you need to take into consideration, including file formats, anonymising Word documents, unlinking references from a reference management application, and how you're going to share it.
When you're editing a document, it needs to be in an editable format, like a Word document (.docx) or as a Google Doc. However, when you want to submit or share your final version, you might need it to be in a format that isn't designed for editing, like PDF. Both Word and Google Docs have options for exporting to PDF, though bear in mind that it is difficult to convert documents back to an editable format, especially if they have complex formatting, so only do this for final documents and make sure you always keep an editable version in Word or Google Docs.
If you're creating a document that needs to be anonymously submitted (such as for assessments that use anonymous submission on the VLE), you will need to both make sure that you've not used your name anywhere in your document, and that the file itself doesn't have your name listed as the author. See our guidance on how to anonymise your work for more on this process.
Have you used a reference management application to insert citations into your document?
If so, before you can share your document with anybody else or submit it, you will need to unlink your citations from your own reference library. Otherwise, your citations may break when somebody else opens them on a different computer, without your reference library. The linked Word fields in the document are converted to regular text, meaning they will not longer update and are no longer linked to your reference library.
This process is done using the Word plugin/add-on for whichever reference management application you are using. You will need to make sure you've saved a copy of your document first, to preserve your citations still linked to your reference manager, in case you need to update them in the future. Then you'll need to use the button on the ribbon that says something like 'Export to plain text' / 'Unlink citations'. The exact wording differs for each application, so use the Cite page of the Reference Management Practical Guide to see how to remove the linked fields in your document for EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, and Paperpile.
There are many different ways you might need to share a document, which will depend on the purpose of sharing and other people's requirements. You'll need to consider:
Documents can be attached to emails, uploaded to the VLE or other places, or shared using Google Drive. You can even share Word documents and PDF files on Google Drive, by uploading them and then using the Share button to set the sharing settings.
When sharing documents to collaboratively edit, Google Docs can be best. You can upload Word documents to Google Drive and then either keep them as a Word document and edit using the Google Docs interface (which may break some of the more advanced Word features) or convert to Google Docs format. This allows for people to edit simultaneously, as well as making it easier to keep track of edits that have been made.
If you need to share multiple documents at once, it might be easiest to ensure they are all in a Google Drive folder, and then share that folder with the relevant people.
Once your document is completed, you might need to print it. Remember to leave plenty of time for printing when factoring in the time it takes to finalise your document, as printing can take longer than expected.
Make sure that you really need to print your document, and consider if another option is more suitable. If you want to send people a finalised version, a PDF might be more useful.
For information on printing on campus, see the IT Services guidance on printing. We'll take a look at checking your printing settings and previewing your document.
If any images or diagrams in your document look blurred or pixel-y when you preview or print them, this might be due to image resolution. Check the size of the original image and if you can get one that has a higher quality.
It is important to check your document at full size before printing, and also to check how it will be split across pages. Using print preview features can help ensure your document looks as you expect when you print.
When clicking a Print button, you will typically see a small preview of your document and can click through the pages. This allows you to check that printing will include everything you expect on the correct pages.
Exporting to PDF (using a 'Print to PDF' or 'Save to PDF' option after you click Print) can help you check what your document will look like, especially if you zoom the PDF to 100%.
If you have any images in your document, you might want to trial printing one of those images first, by using the print settings to just print the page the image is on, to check they look as expected when printed.
Once you've gone over the material on this page, try the following exercises to apply your knowledge: