Thesis writing software – checkvist and scrivener

Searching for a good thesis writing software on the Internet is not easy. Googling “thesis writing software” does not give you satisfactory search results. Most websites that come up do not suggest recent software specifically meant for thesis writing but just a bunch of irrelevant websites or not very impressive software.

However, there is one website that provides a nice overview of the process of thesis writing. The title of the website or online guide is “How to write a PhD Thesis”.  I got some hints about good candidates for thesis writing software from the website.

I think you will obtain a valuable insight by reading the guide. I will leave it to you to explore the content and just suggest a few writing software for thesis based on the information I got from the above-mentioned site.

1. Outliner for thesis writing

The website recommends making of a thesis outline as a starting point for thesis writing. There is also an advice on sharing and discussing the information on and progress of your outline with your advisor.

The software that came up on my mind the moment I read the above text was Checkvist. It is the best outliner software as far as I know. With the ease of making items and sub-items, the ability to export each outline as text or HTML files, feature of setting dates for individual items, and many other nice options, Checkvist is the very software to write an outline for thesis. It also meets the requirement of sharing the outline with your advisor as outlines can be shared through emails. Several people can work on the same outline by signing up for free for the checkvist, which again will be great for discussion on an outline between the thesis writer and the advisor.

Checkvist is available both as free version and premium ones. Premium service provides a secure connection and some advanced features. For basic functionality, the free version is good enough. Click here for more information on Checkvist.

2. Organization – good software that can manage chapters and references for each chapter.

What we need to organize chapters and reference files for thesis writing is a software that can hold texts for each chapter and link reference data to individual chapters. For such purposes, Scrivener is the most recommendable software. It is a versatile writing software that can handle writing of novels, scripts, academic essays and virtually all kinds of writing projects.

Scrivener allows you to work on individual documents and make sub- and sub-sub documents for each of initial documents. This breaking-up of a writing project is a very effective approach for most writing with a considerable length, regardless of genre such as a novel, script and academic thesis.

The strong ability of cross-reference between research data and main documents also makes Scrivener a nice organization tool for thesis writing. In the right-side pane, you can add links to research documents. Each document can hold as many links to research data as you want.

Scrivener is available for Windows and Mac Os.


3. A timetable – again Checkvist is recommendable.

The thesis writing guide website also emphasizes the importance of a time table.  As shown above, you can set dates for each item in a outline with Checkvist. When an item is due, you also get a notification by email. When you know that an item (or a draft in this case) is due, you work on it and mark it as done on Checkvist, which can be done simply by selecting an item and press space bar.

4. Conclusion

If you are looking for a nice software for thesis writing, consider a combination of “Chekvist and Scrivener”. The preparation of final draft for submission may require another software with strong formatting features but before that stage the above-mentioned software will make your thesis writing easier and more efficient.

P.S.: After I published this post, I found a great review on Scrivener as a thesis or dissertation writing software. Scrivener can be quite complicated if you want to use all of its features. A manual is there for detailed information but most of us really don’t enjoy reading a manual. So, check this review to get a crash course on how to use Scrivener for your thesis writing.

3 comments for “Thesis writing software – checkvist and scrivener

  1. meraz
    August 6, 2011 at 3:47 am


  2. Farnaz
    November 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for your kind information in this website. I’ve just started my PhD in American cultural studies. I know Scrivener and its beneficial usage in writing. But about notetaking, I don’t know a good software. I’m working with Windows. Do you have any suggestion for me?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Sunny
      November 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      Hi. Thank you for the comment. For note-taking software, please take a look at my recent post on academic writing software. The post title is non-fiction writing software but I think the software in the post are good for both purposes.

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