Formatting Guidelines

This page details the thesis/dissertation formatting guidelines. You should ensure that your thesis or dissertation meets all of the guidelines below before it is submitted to the Graduate College for review. When we review your thesis/dissertation, we will indicate any areas that still need to be revised by using the same section numbering as you find on this page. For many of the common problems, we have video walkthroughs below to show you how to fix the problem. Click on a section name to jump directly to it. We also have a printable, fillable version of this formatting guidelines list for your convenience.

Keep in mind that you should always refer to our Thesis/Dissertation Handbook to ensure that your document meets the formatting standards. The guidelines below are intended to complement the Handbook. Note that we also have a longer, general video guide for the Thesis/Dissertation Template that addresses a variety of common issues: https://youtu.be/JQWJ-lYy2KM

Main Sections (click a section for help with that area, including video guides):

[A] Pagination == [B] Preliminary Pages == [C] Text Style/Font == [D] Table of Contents (TOC) == [E] List of Figures/List of Tables == [F] List of Abbreviations/Symbols (if applicable) == [G] Abstract == [H] Headings/Subheadings == [I] Figure Captions == [J] Table Captions == [K] Equations (If Applicable) == [L] Spacing == [M] Citations/References == [N] Appendices (If Applicable) == [O] Other


[A]  Pagination:
VIDEO GUIDE FOR PAGE NUMBER ISSUES

   [A.1]  No page number should appear on Title Page.
 
   [A.2]  Roman numerals begin with Signature Page as “ii.”  

   [A.3]  Arabic numerals begin with Abstract as pg. “1.”

   [A.4]  Page numbers continue through the end of the document (including landscape pages, References section, appendices, etc.).

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[B]  Preliminary Pages:
VIDEO GUIDE FOR PRELIMINARY PAGES ISSUES

   [B.1]  Title Page format must match style shown in Handbook (replace generic text and remove parentheses).

   [B.2]  Signature Page format must match style shown in Handbook (replace generic text and remove parentheses; remove extra entries as needed).

   [B.3]  Copyright Page format must match style shown in Handbook (replace generic text and remove parentheses).

   [B.4]  Biographical Sketch is written in third person.

   [B.5]  Dedication and Acknowledgments are formatted correctly (if included).

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[C]  Text Style/Font:
   [C.1]  Document uses Times New Roman, 12 pt. font throughout.

   [C.2]  All paragraph text is EITHER left-aligned OR justified (this includes preliminary pages and the main text).

   [C.3]  The first line of each new paragraph is indented. This applies throughout the document (including preliminary pages).

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[D]  Table of Contents (TOC):
VIDEO GUIDE FOR TABLE OF CONTENTS FORMATTING

   [D.1]  TOC must include all sections and subsections from the body of the text. Headings must match the in-text capitalization and wording exactly.

   [D.2]  TOC must include the List of Figures, List of Tables, List of Abbreviations/Symbols (if applicable), and the Abstract. It must NOT include preliminary page sections located before the TOC.

   [D.3]  TOC page numbers must be accurate (must refer accurately to in-text locations).

   [D.4]  TOC page numbers must be lined up evenly on right hand side. VIDEO GUIDE FOR CREATING LEADER LINES

   [D.5]  TOC must not have any “Error!” messages or other incorrect text.

   [D.6]  TOC Chapter headings do NOT include an extra, redundant number to the left (the redundant number on the left can be removed manually prior to creating the final PDF):
                  INCORRECT = “1  CHAPTER 1  Introduction”
                  CORRECT: “CHAPTER 1  Introduction”  

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[E]  List of Figures/List of Tables:
VIDEO GUIDE FOR FIGURE/TABLE CAPTIONS

   [E.1]  All Figures/Tables from the body of the text must be included, using the same numbering system and same caption as in-text. NOTE: Supplementary Figures/Tables in the Appendices do NOT need to be listed in the Lists of Figures/Tables.

   [E.2]  Page numbers for Lists of Figures/Tables must be accurate (must refer accurately to in-text locations).

   [E.3]  Page numbers must line up evenly on right. VIDEO GUIDE FOR CREATING LEADER LINES

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[F]  List of Abbreviations/Symbols (if applicable)
   [F.1]  List of Abbreviations/Symbols uses two clean columns (left column contains abbreviation/symbol; right column contains full description). Abbreviations/symbols should be listed in alphabetical order.

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[G]  Abstract
   [G.1]  Numbered as Arabic numeral pg. “1.”

   [G.2]  Abstract needs only a standard heading (no supplementary heading).

   [G.3]  Abstract is no more than 2 pages.

   [G.4]  Abstract has been proofread carefully for grammatical errors.

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[H]  Headings/Subheadings:

VIDEO GUIDE FOR FORMATTING HEADINGS

   [H.1]  Chapter Headings (Level 1 headings): the Chapter Headings are in bold. The first line of the chapter heading consists of the word CHAPTER in all caps and the chapter number (e.g. CHAPTER 1). The chapter name (e.g. “Introduction” or “Literature Review”) is on the next line.

   [H.2]  Subheadings may be numbered or unnumbered. If they are numbered, the numbering of Level 2 and other subheadings must proceed logically (for example, the following sequence would be correct: 1.1 - 1.2 - 1.2.1 - 1.3, etc.).

   [H.3]  Subheadings must be formatted consistently throughout the entire document, and each subheading type must be formatted differently than the others (that is, Level 2 headings must be formatted differently than Level 3 headings, etc.). The recommended subheading formats described below are from APA style.

   [H.4]  Recommended Level 2 heading format (if numbered, Level 2 headings will have 2 digits; e.g. 1.1): left-aligned, bold, uses “Title Case Capitalization.”

   [H.5]  Recommended Level 3 heading format (if numbered, Level 3 headings will have 3 digits; e.g. 2.2.1): indented 0.5” (same as the first line of a new paragraph), bold, uses “Sentence case capitalization,” paragraph text starts on same line as heading (following a period).

   [H.6]  Recommended Level 4 heading format (if numbered, Level 4 headings will have 4 digits; e.g. 2.4.1.1): indented 0.5” (same as the first line of a new paragraph), bold and italicized, uses “Sentence case capitalization,” paragraph text starts on same line as heading (following a period).

   [H.7]  Recommended Level 5 heading format (if numbered, Level 5 headings will have 5 digits; e.g. 4.3.2.1.1): indented 0.5” (same as the first line of a new paragraph), italicized only, uses “Sentence case capitalization,” paragraph text starts on same line as heading (following a period).

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[I]  Figure Captions:
VIDEO GUIDE FOR FIGURE/TABLE CAPTIONS

   [I.1]  Figure captions are located BELOW the Figure.  

   [I.2]  Figure captions use a consistent format throughout the document (including spacing, font, capitalization style, etc.).

   [I.3]  Recommended Figure Caption format (from APA format): “Figure #” is italicized and followed by a period. The caption (description) follows the period and is not italicized.

   [I.4]  Caption numbering: use a consistent numbering style throughout—either sequential throughout the document (e.g. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.) or chapter-based (e.g. Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2, Figure 2.1, etc.). The same style should be used for Figure captions and Table captions.

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[J]  Table Captions:
VIDEO GUIDE FOR TABLE CAPTIONS

  
   [J.1]  Table captions are located ABOVE the Table.
  
   [J.2]  Table captions are formatted consistently throughout the document (including spacing, font, capitalization style, etc.).

   [J.3]  Recommended Table Caption format (from APA): Table Caption consists of two lines. The first line is the “Table #” in plain text. The second line is italicized, and consists of the caption (description).

   [J.4]  Split Tables: if a Table is split across two pages, it must be manually split and a new caption must be added manually at the top of the second page with the same Table number and the caption “Cont.” It is also good practice to include the table headings again for greater readability. VIDEO GUIDE FOR SPLIT TABLE CAPTIONS

   [J.5]  Caption numbering: use a consistent numbering style throughout—either sequential throughout the document (e.g. Table 1, Table 2, etc.) or chapter-based (e.g. Table 1.1, Table 1.2, Table 2.1, etc.). The same style should be used for Figure captions and Table captions.

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[K]  Equations (If Applicable):
   [K.1]  In-text equations should be numbered for easy reference; typically, the numbering appears in parentheses against the right margin, placed next to each equation. Note that you do NOT need to include a “List of Equations” at the beginning of the document.

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[L]  Spacing: 
   [L.1]  Spacing between paragraphs must be consistent throughout the entire document.

   [L.2]  Spacing before and after Figures/Tables must be consistent throughout the entire document.

   [L.3]  Within each chapter, each page should be filled as completely as possible (that is, there should not be large blank spaces in the middle of a chapter).

   [L.4]  1” margins must be maintained on all sides throughout the document. If a Figure or Table will not fit within the 1” margins, it must be resized or placed on a landscape page.

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[M]  Citations/References: 
   [M.1]  A standard citation style (such as APA, MLA, or IEEE) must be used correctly and consistently throughout the document. In-text citations must follow the conventions of the chosen style. The listings in the References section must follow the conventions of the chosen style. Please refer to a style guide for assistance.

   [M.2]  In the References section, double-space between entries. You may also wish to use “Hanging indentation” for a cleaner appearance.

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[N]  Appendices (If Applicable):
   [N.1]  If there is only one appendix, it should be labeled simply as “Appendix.” If there are multiple appendices, they should be labeled as “Appendix A,” “Appendix B,” etc.

   [N.2]  Appendix heading format: the first line of the appendix heading should be in italics (but NOT bold) and should read “Appendix” (or “Appendix A,” etc.). The Appendix heading/description is also italicized, and it begins on the next line.

   [N.3]  Tables or Figures included in an Appendix must use captions (same format as used elsewhere in the document). To number Tables or Figures in the appendices, use the following style: for Appendix A, “Figure A.1,” “Figure A.2,” etc.; for Appendix B, “Figure B.1,” etc.

   [N.4]  If your Appendices include critical data or supplementary figures/tables, there should be a reference to the Appendices somewhere in the main body of text (e.g. “For more information, see the tables in Appendix A”).

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[O]  Other:
   [O.1]  The entire document must be carefully proofread for grammatical errors, typos, and other mistakes/errors.