ANSWER: At least 40 hours!
In the 5 years since I launched Format My Thesis, most postgrads I’ve met have never properly assessed how long it will take them to format their thesis. Many never stop to consider it. They just expect they’ll be able to ‘squeeze it in’ somehow. And hardly anyone creates a specific schedule for the completion of this critical task. In this article, I’ll help you create one that’s both practical and realistic.
Let’s get real …
It takes me around 15-20 hours to format a basic thesis from scratch. If there are large numbers of figures, tables, appendices or excerpts from external documents, it takes me more like 20-25 hours. I reckon you’ll need at least twice as much time as I take. After all, I’ve been doing this every day for years. You’re probably doing it for the first time in your life. That’s why I estimate “at least 40 hours”.
I’ll be blunt. If you’re imagining you’ll squeeze 40 hours of formatting into the final few weeks before submission, you’re in for a rough ride. Like so many postgrads before you, you’re likely to end up frantically guessing and stressing your way to a mediocre result, smashed out at the last minute just to get it over the line. Or, in the worst case, you could miss your submission deadline altogether.
And even when you’ve “finished” your formatting, be warned … it’s not over yet! You and your supervisors will read the formatted thesis with new eyes. You’ll see things you overlooked, in some cases for years. So you can be pretty sure you’ll have at least one more round of content updates and revisions, all of which will need to be formatted too.
Fail to plan … plan to fail
Get smart. Make a formal formatting plan, just like you would for any other significant project. Book non-negotiable project sessions with yourself so you can really get the job done. Specifically:
- Allow yourself at least 40 hours to complete the job.
- Book at least two 2-hour sessions each week
- Start these sessions 3 months before your submission deadline to ensure your formatting is completed 2-4 weeks ahead of the deadline.
- If your deadline is closer than 3 months, either schedule more time or consider outsourcing the formatting project to a thesis formatting professional.
The best plan is to have a plan. I hope these suggestions help you create a realistic one that will really work for you.
To your success!