Using Headers in Your Research Paper

The Issue

Students have a hard time understanding just what we mean by section headers.


Fast forward a few years when today’s students enter tomorrow’s workplace. We live in a busy, overstressed world and one of the key points I stress to students is that they are not allowed to add to their boss’s stress. That is, you are not permitted to create work for your boss, which is a great pathway to short term employment.

Business executives are very busy people. To use their time, you actually have about 3 seconds to make an impression and quite often, once that impression is made, it lasts a long, long time.

So, when presenting a proposal to your busy boss, you need to make it as easy as possible for for them to digest your work – quickly. This is where the notion of “headers” for your soon-to-be business proposals, comes into play. Headers provide two important functions.  First, they help to reign in and focus your writing.  Otherwise, the writer tends to wander, wasting time writing on off-topic concepts and confusing the reader in the process.  Second, headers provide guideposts to the reader. Think of these as traffic signs assuring the reader of where they are in the paper and the topic you’re communicating.  Without these headers, the reader is left with a pile of words to digest and sort through.  Rest assured, your boss will not deal with your pile of words very well.

So here’s how we do it…

It Starts with the Concept Map

As we learn early in the semester, the Concept Map is a great tool for putting thoughts to paper, which in turn gets you off the starting line in writing your essay or research paper.  Let’s take the concept map below describing research we want to do on the Zika Virus.

Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.  There’s a kaleidoscope of programs you can use for Concept Mapping, but I find the old fashion pencil to paper approach to be most effective.

Translate Concept Map to Word

Now that you have parameters around your topic, simply write those topics, sub-topics or tertiary topics into MS-Word or Google Docs.  In this exercise we’ll illustrate using MS-Word, but you can do the same thing in Google Docs.

So, your initial paper will look something like this…

Retyped directly from your Concept Map
Retyped directly from your Concept Map

Convert to Headers

Now, your simple task is to convert each of these phrases into headers for your paper.

In MS-Word, highlight each of the lines, or you can select the entire document by cntrl-a or command-a on the Mac.  Then, go to the Style Pane and select “Heading 1”.  

MS Word Style Selector
MS Word Style Selector

This will convert each line to the style of Heading 1.  This process can be repeated for individual lines if you want to create secondary and tertiary (third level) headers.

At this point, you are ninety percent towards a great start in organizing your paper.

Text converted to Header 1s
Text converted to Header 1s

Now, just place the cursor to the right of any heading, hit enter and start typing.

Related Topics

Creating a Table of Contents using Headers

DevOps – The Busy Intersection of Development & Operations

Amazon delivered over 50 Million Code deployments in 2014.
Amazon delivered over 50 Million Code deployments in 2014.

50 million code deployments in 2014. That’s 1.5 deployments per second by Amazon’s state-of-the-art DevOps program.  While your company may not be quite at this level – few are – you don’t need to be at an Amazon level to make a difference in how your organization delivers software product.  Continue reading “DevOps – The Busy Intersection of Development & Operations”

Scale + Speed = The Need for DevOps

More machines equal more problems.  In today’s hyperscaled environment where our operational staff support hundreds or even thousands of physical and virtual machines, the opportunity for problems at the hardware layer are both obvious and substantial. Additionally, pressure to produce increasingly robust software at a faster pace than ever imagined tends to break software. That Continue reading “Scale + Speed = The Need for DevOps”

Enter Modern DevOps

The Components of Modern DevOps
The Components of Modern DevOps

Today’s modern DevOps environment consists of an amalgam of mostly known and time tested technologies and methodologies. These include Service Oriented Architecture, ITSM processes such as ITIL and MOF, Agile project management methodologies, and above all well understood knowledge of where DevOps fits in the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process.

-Charlie KIrkpatrick

Introduction to DevOps

DevOps - The Intersection of Development and Operations
DevOps – The Intersection of Development and Operations

50 million code deployments in 2014. That’s 1.5 deployments per second by Amazon’s state-of-the-art DevOps program.  While your company may not be quite at this level – few are – you don’t need to be at an Amazon level to make a difference in your organization.  Taking steps toward this lofty goal can make substantial differences in meeting increasing business demands for faster, better and more frequent software deployments.  Therein lies the need for Modern DevOps.

This article introduces the concept modern DevOps starting with an historical perspective and real world scenarios factoring into the need for this practice.  We then describe key components and responsibilities of a “typical” DevOps organization, and then close with several benefits your organization can expect from implementing such practices.

Just What is DevOps..

On one side of your technology staff you have software development.  On the other, operations.  Using the analogy from the airline industry, think of developers as the team responsible for building the airliner. Just as designers, engineers, supply chain personnel and mechanics assemble the plane at Boeing or Airbus, software developers build your company’s technology product.  Once built, the product must be moved to production and used.  In our example of manufacturing an aircraft, once construction is complete, the plane then has to fly. After-all, no revenue comes from planes that don’t fly.  Likewise, no revenue is made from software that fails to make it to production for customers to use.  It is the operations staff of the airline who keep the plane fueled and flying day-in and day-out. In this case think, mechanics, pilots, flight attendants,  food service and cleaning staff and even air traffic controllers.  Similarly, the operations staff at your organization consist of hardware and networking experts, system administrators and increasingly, software engineers charged with maintaining and operating your technology product on a daily basis, making sure that it is available 7 days a week 24 hours a day. This part of the technology department often keeps a lower profile than the development staff, which typically has, or should have, frequent contact with your business users.

Think of DevOps as the intersection of development and operations.  Their job is to speed up the Software Development Life Cycle process as much as possible, thus allowing software developers  to focus on what they do best – software development. The DevOps staff addresses building, testing and promoting technology product to the various platforms, which might include development, test and of course the various stages of production.