Formatting Standards for Theses and Dissertations

Overview

Before you begin the final formatting of your thesis or dissertation, please review these standards carefully and consult with your major advisor or the SMS Office of Academic Studies for any additional style guidelines. Your document should conform to these standards before your final submission to ProQuest or it will be returned for revisions prior to acceptance and publication.

In most cases, Ph.D. dissertations are written in the form of publishable journal articles; thus, the format will to some degree depend on the requirements of the particular journal. In addition to the chapters (usually 3-5) written as journal articles, an introductory chapter providing background information for the project as a whole and a conclusions chapter, in which the study is described within the broader context of the discipline are included. Students are often asked to provide their datasets in appendices.

Page Templates

The required pages are standardized for all theses and dissertations and must be completed using the template formats provided below.

  • Title Page - Word
  • Half-Title Page - Word
  • Approval Page - Word
  • Abstract Page - Word
  • Table of Contents Page - Word
  • Acknowledgements Page - Word
  • Dedication Page - Word
  • List of Tables - Word
  • List of Figures - Word
Specific Guidelines

The parts of the thesis or dissertation are listed below.

Preliminary Pages

Each page of these preliminaries, beginning with the Title Page, is to be included in numbering, even though the page number does not appear on the Title Page. In these preliminary pages, lower case Roman numberals are used and are always centered 1" from the bottom of the page. Preliminaries should appear in the following order:

  • Title Page. Required, no page number should appear on the title page, must follow template. The title, which should appear in upper and lower case letters, should be succinct, elaborated in the subtitle if necessary. Short titles for the spine of the bound copy, together with the author's last name, should not exceed 50 characters.
  • Approval Page. Required, no page number should appear on the approval page, must follow template. The approval page must include the name of the author and the names of all members of the advisory committee. This page may not include the signatures since it will be in the body of the thesis or dissertation PDF file. A signed Thesis or Dissertation Final Acceptance form will accompany the electronic thesis or dissertation (uploaded into ProQuest) to provide the signatures of the committee members.
  • Dedication. Optional, continued sequential pagination with Roman numerals, must follow template.
  • Table of Contents. Required, continued sequential pagination with Roman numerals, must follow template.
  • Acknowledgements. Required, continued sequential pagination with Roman numerals, must follow template.
  • List of Tables. Optional, continued sequential pagination with Roman numerals, must be listed in the Table of Contents, must follow template.
  • List of Figures. Optional, continued sequential pagination with Roman numerals, must be listed in the Table of Contents, must follow template.
  • Abstract. Required, continued sequential pagination with Roman numerals, must follow template.The abstract should be a concise summary of the focus, scope, results, and conclusions of the study, contained on one single-spaced page of not more than 500 words and, regardless of the discipline, written to be understood by an intelligent layperson.
Text
  • Half-Title. Required, must follow template. The Half-Title page, which immediately follows the Abstract, consists only of the title centered 4" from the top. No page number should appear on this page.
  • Body of Text & Pagination. Numbered consecutively and consistently using Arabic numerals. Although the Half-Title is page one of the text, no number appears on this page. The first page of the Introduction or, if none, of Chapter 1, is number page 2, and the pages following are numbered in sequence through the reference material to the end of the thesis or dissertation; must be listed in the Table of Contents. All page numbers should be aligned at the bottom, center of page, including the first page of each chapter. Illustrative material such as tables, charts, graphs, illustrations, etc. should not be given a separate page number unless they are an integral part of the text.
  • Footnotes. Adequate citation to sources for particular quotations or other data must be provided. In general, footnotes may be placed at the bottom of each page or at the end of the document. Notes at the bottom of each page (instead of at the ends of chapters or in an appendix) are strongly preferred by the library. If departmental standards recommend placement of footnotes at the end of chapter, the footnotes should begin on a new page and be headed, for example, as: Notes for Chapter 1. If footnotes are placed at the end of the thesis or dissertation, they should follow any other appendices and precede the references. They should begin on a new page entitled "Notes", appearing in the center of the page, 2" from the top of the page, and should have in brackets at the center of each subsequent page 3/4" from the top of the heading, "Notes to Pages ___" with the inclusive page numbers of the text to which that page of notes refers. Placement of footnotes must follow page margin requirements.
Reference Material

Reference material should appear in the following order:

  • Appendices. Optional, continued sequential numbering using Arabic numerals, must be listed in the Table of Contents. Sample Appendix
  • Notes to the Text. If footnotes are placed at the end of the thesis or dissertation.
  • References/Bibliography. Continued sequential numbering using Arabic numerals, must be listed in the Table of Contents. The reference list properly documents all in-text citations, and does not include any references not found elsewhere in the document. In-text citations are formatted consistently across chapters and match reference list items. Style guides and journals vary widely in the treatment of references cited. You must become thoroughly familiar with the style of citations and references used by your journal or style guide, ensuring that your thesis or dissertation conforms exactly to requirements. See Scientific Style and Formatting Details
  • Vita. Optional, continued sequential numbering using Arabic numerals, must be listed in the Table of Contents. The Vita is a one-page biographical sketch of the author, usually containing some or all of the following information: your full name, place (not date) of birth, reference to early schooling, important events such as military, travel abroad, recognition of community services, undergraduate and graduate training, including where or when degrees were received, and special honors or awards. It should be written in the third person, presented in an academic and professional tone; you are simply providing the reader with relevant biographical information. Sample Vita
Formatting
  • Line Spacing. Theses and dissertations must be typeset and double spaced. Captions, footnotes, table of contents, vita, and other such text may be single spaced.
  • Font and Type Size. The recommended font style is Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Decorative "script" or other unusual type faces are not acceptable. Print should be black. The required font size is indicated in the templates for the required pages. The text body must be at a font size of at least 10pt, but no more than 12pt.
  • Margins. A binding margin of 1-1/2" must be provided on the left. All other margins should be at least 1". Margin requirements apply to all graphics, tables, and illustrative materials, as well as to text. Remember that in binding, all edges of the paper are trimmed. The top margin of the first page of each new section should be 2"; the top margin of the half-title should be 4".
  • Illustrative Material. Illustrative materials, including digitized images, tables, charts, graphs, and original photos, are easily read, and are explained in the text of the document near where they are placed. All tables must include a table number and a descriptive title or label. Unless a table is small and can be included readily within the text, each table should be presented on a separate page, either vertically or horizontally, with care taken to observe the defined margins described above. Unless absolutely necessary, do not use pages containing fold-out tables, maps, diagrams, etc. Materials must not exceed 8-1/2" x 11".