Academics | Candidacy & Defense

Thesis format guidelines

After reviewing these guidelines, if doubt exists as to the correct format of the thesis, the candidate is encouraged to consult with the Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies Office before the final copies are submitted.

Thesis Templates

Some of your colleagues have contributed thesis templates which you may find helpful as you begin your thesis writing. If you have developed a template that you would like to share, please let us know and we will add it to our library.

LaTeX Files
Full Thesis Template

Fonts and Desktop Publishing

Features that should stand out in the thesis include the quality of the scholarship or research, the soundness of the logic, the originality of ideas, and the lucidity of the prose, but not the size of the headlines. The use of headers or chapter titles larger than 3/16" is discouraged and the use of excessive italics or bold print is discouraged.

Theses should generally be written in font 12. Possibilities include, but are not restricted to: Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial, Calibri. The font provided through LaTeX is acceptable. However, if LaTeX is used, be careful to ensure proper margins when producing the final copy.


Use 1.5 or double spaced text. Only footnotes, long quotations, bibliography entries (double space between entries), table captions, and similar special material may be single-spaced.

Paper Size

The thesis should be formatted to be printed on 8.5 x 11 inch paper within your PDF. Students in the School of Architecture and the Shepherd School of Music may format their theses to a larger size.


We recommend a left margin of 1.5" and a top, bottom, and right margin of 1" if the thesis is to be bound. Page numbers do not need to meet the 1" margin requirement. If you do not follow the appropriate margin guidelines that are included here, you might lose content if your thesis is later bound. Some students may wish to extend their work beyond the margin requirement for aesthetic reasons; this is acceptable.

Title Page

The title page is now signed via an AdobeSign document. This is sent to the student a couple of days before the student's thesis defense. The student may create a placeholder thesis title page for the rough draft of the thesis. A sample title page is available.

The degree must be shown as Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Music, or Master of Architecture.

The month shown on the title page should be the month when the final copy is submitted to the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies OR the month in which the degree will be conferred (May, August or December). The month of the oral defense should not be shown unless the thesis is actually presented to the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies during that month.

The titles (i.e., faculty rank) of committee members should be typed below the signature lines with their names and departments. For example, John Smith, Associate Professor of Biology. The word chair or director should appear after the faculty title as appropriate.

All signatures on the title page are collected via AdobeSign. Please make arrangements in advance if one or more of your committee members will be unavailable to sign. You may also review specific signature requirements.

Once the committee has signed the title page, you will separate the title page from the other documents and merge it into a single document with the PDF of your thesis. To complete your thesis, please follow the directions here and ensure that you complete the online thesis submission form.


An abstract is to be included with the thesis. Particular care should be taken in preparing the abstract since it will be published in Dissertation Abstracts or Master's Abstracts and the length is limited by the publisher. The abstract may not exceed 350 words for a doctorate or 150 words for a master's. In style, the abstract should be a miniature version of the thesis. It should be a summary of the results, conclusions or main arguments presented in the thesis.

The heading of the abstract must contain the word Abstract, and must show the title of the thesis and the writer's name as indicated here.


Hyperlinks are not to be used as a substitute for complete bibliographic citations.

Assembling the Thesis

Your thesis should be assembled as a PDF. In some cases a thesis might be created as multiple documents; these must be merged into a single document. The thesis must be assembled in this order:

  1. Title page
  2. Copyright Notice (if applicable; for information on copyright, see the thesis FAQ page.)
  3. Abstract
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. Table of Contents
  6. List of Tables, etc., if any
  7. Preface, if any
  8. Text (the first page of the text is the first Arabic-numbered page)
  9. Notes (unless they appear on pages of text or at end of chapters)
  10. Bibliography or list of references
  11. Appendices, if any, may follow 8, 9 or 10

Page Numbering

Page numbers should be placed in the upper right corner of the page. Only the number should appear, not "page 9" or the abbreviation "p. 9." On the first page of each chapter, the number may be placed at the center bottom, one double space below the last line of type (the conventional placement), or at the top right corner.

Page numbers should not be shown on the Title Page, the Abstract, or on the first page of the Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, List of Tables or the Preface. However, the following pages (e.g., the second and succeeding pages) of each of these sections should be numbered using Roman numerals. The count for these preliminary pages should start with the title page. For example, if the thesis has a two-page abstract, then the second page of the acknowledgments should be the first page showing a number, and it should be numbered with the Roman numeral v.

Pages of the text itself and of all items following the text (i.e. the notes and bibliography) should be numbered consecutively throughout in Arabic numbers, beginning with number 1 on the first page of the first chapter or introduction (but not preface). Please number every page to be bound, including pages on which only illustrations, drawings, tables, or captions appear. The page numbers do not need to meet the 1" margin requirements.


Please note that when a graph, map, etc. is oversized, there is a limit on how much of this can be handled by the archiving process with ProQuest/UMI. All figures should appear within the text at the point where reference to them is first made.


In presenting footnotes and bibliography, use a consistent form acceptable in your discipline, such as Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers (University of Chicago Press), the MLA Style Sheet, or Campbell's Form and Style (Houghton Mifflin). Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information (Information Today, Inc.) is helpful for noting electronic information. There are style guides for almost every discipline. Check with the library for further information.

Thesis Acknowledgements

Use this space to thank the funding and folks that contributed to your success in graduate school. Some view this as an informal section of the thesis, while others still consider this a piece within a formal document. You can thank people like your advisor(s), committee members, peers, friends, family, and even a special pet if you couldn't have done all the late nights without them! Be cautious to not reveal too much sensitive personal information that could be used in identity theft. Consider checking out these sites about acknowledgements: and

Extra Copies

You may also choose to bind copies of your thesis for personal use through a bindery.

Updated May 2024