Following are the parts/sections that a thesis/dissertation is made of:
Title page: It includes your name, title of dissertation, department, and university name as well as the month and year of submitting.
- Declaration of Committee;
- Ethics Statement (Depends on your thesis topic);
- Dedication (optional);
- Acknowledgements (optional);
- Table of Contents;
- List of Tables;
- List of Figures;
- Any other list;
- Lists of Acronyms;
These introductory pages include Roman numbers and come after the title page. They are also known as preliminary pages. Some of them are entirely optional while some of them are compulsory for all.
Main Body: The main body of your document starts with the first page of your first chapter. Remember, this should start with page 1.
After writing all the chapters, write a bibliography of all the references used in these chapters. If you include appendices, add them after the bibliography.
Now that you are aware of the main parts of a dissertation, let's move to the formatting recommendations.
Table Of Contents:
- General Thesis Formatting Rules
- Formatting In MS Word
- What Languages Can You Write Your Thesis in?
- Common Formatting Errors
General Thesis Formatting Rules
When submitting your thesis, you need to ensure that it meets all the standard requirements. Why waste your research and writing efforts by submitting an incorrectly formatted copy? So, let's put the spotlight on some of the key elements that you should keep in mind when formatting your document.
Once you are finalizing your dissertation's final copy, convert it into pdf format for an electronic copy. In most cases, the file size should not exceed 400MB. So, make sure what your university's requirements are before submitting the final copy.
A good dissertation should include:
- Quality references;
- The cohesion of ideas;
- Strong arguments;
- Relevant sources to support those arguments;
- The novelty of ideas/arguments;
- Clarity of prose.
Make sure you don't use headings that are too big. Also, too many bold and italicized words and phrases are discouraged.
Besides, Arial 11 and Times Roman 12 are the most acceptable fonts for formal writing documents. Also, the text should be either left-aligned or justified.
Spacing Of Text
When writing a dissertation, it is recommended to use 1.5 or 2.0 spaced text, if not specified by your university. Most universities have the dissertation format mentioned on their websites. But if it's not, follow the standard formatting. For long quotes, references, footnotes, captions of images or tables, use 1.0 spacing. This is what a standard formatted document should look like.
Size Of The Page
Usually, the text should be formatted for an 8.5x11 sized page. However, if you are a student of Music or Architecture, you may format it for a larger page size. The 8.5x11 inch paper is slightly shorter than the A4 size. Moreso, you can always check it with your university before finalizing the formatting.
Margins Of The Page
Does your university require you to bind your dissertation? If yes, use 1.5" for the top, bottom, and left margin, and 1" for the right side. This is necessary because if you do not use 1.5" for the left side, you may lose some text. Therefore, make sure you follow the correct formatting for margins.
Want to expand your work beyond the margin? It is justifiable in some cases.
When following an APA formatting, make sure the first line of your paragraph is indented 0.5 inches.
In many cases, universities provide a sample for a title page on their websites. Look for it before you create your own. Download it, and make sure you follow it accurately. There may be some text that is all uppercase, note that. Also, ensure you are following the sample print size too.
When writing the month on your thesis, mention the one in which your degree will be awarded. You may also mention the month in which the final copy is submitted.
Your credential should be written as Masters of Science, or Masters of Arts, or Masters of Philosophy, or Doctor of Philosophy.
Below the signature lines are placed the committee members and names and their titles and departments, for instance, Amanda Green, Professor of Sociology. Besides, make sure the signatures are original. When you take the committee signatures, scan them to add with other pages of your dissertation.
An abstract is what you usually write in the end. But, it is placed at the start of a thesis. It includes all the key points of the entire document. This is similar to a summary. So, write it so that it depicts what your thesis is about and the findings/conclusion. But make sure you don't exceed the recommended word count. For the masters’ level, your Abstract should be around 150 words. For a Ph.D., it should be about 350.
Before you start writing it, put a heading of Abstract. And, ascertain that this piece includes your dissertation title.
When compiling your references, make sure you follow the appropriate formatting style. Depending on the required style, do your bibliography carefully. Do not use hyperlinks of your sources/citations. Follow all the rules of the style you are required to follow.
Don't forget to put page numbers. The format of page numbers also depends on the style you are following. In APA style, the page numbers should be on the top right corner.
Also, ensure it shows only the digit and not something like "p. 9" or "page 9".
When inserting an illustration or map etc., ensure they appear within the text. It will make it easier to adjust them at the point where the references are inserted.
When writing a bibliography or footnotes, ascertain that you are using a consistent style. For instance, if you are required to follow APA, your entire thesis should be formatted according to APA style. The style guide for every style is available on the internet or at the university's library. Check the guide when doing your dissertation.
Formatting In MS Word
When writing your dissertation in a word file, some students struggle with the formatting. To make that struggle easier, here are a few tips and tricks to learn. These tips will help you format your document quickly without spending too much time finding the right options. So let's get started!
Create Desired Headings
Creating a heading, remembering what font you used for each level can be a little daunting. The solution is simple. In the "styles" section, select the heading level and modify it according to your requirements. And the next time, simply click on that level. Your heading will automatically be leveled as desired. This will save you from the hassle of formatting your heading manually. Thanks to MS word!
Inserting Numbers And Breaks
Adding page numbers to your document is quite simple. All you have to do is click "insert page numbers'' on the "Layout" tab. Make sure you select the format you are required to follow.
Furthermore, make sure you insert a page or section break when beginning a new chapter or section. Simply click "insert page break" on the same page where the page numbers option is.
Listing Your Content/Headings
Listing your content is pretty easy in Word. All you have to do is insert the table of contents. When you will select this option, the drop-down menu will give you a few style options. So, choose the one that fits the best with your formatting style. It is better that you create this when you're done finalizing the rest of the document. If you have created it earlier, make sure you update it once the document has been proofread and edited. This is because it doesn't update automatically, so any changes in the page numbers will not be updated.
Convert Numbers Into Chapters
There is an option of multilevel headings on the homepage. If you want your chapters to be numbered and show up in the contents table, select this option. There are a few style options too. So choose the one that matches the font of the rest of your content. Modifying the heading name into Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 and so on, is easy. Simply type "Chapter" in the field where 1 is written.
What Languages Can You Write Your Thesis in?
The answer to this question is English. Yes. In almost all cases, students are required to write in the English language. But there are exceptions, too. Some departments that have affiliations with other languages allow students to write it in some other language too.
Common Formatting Errors
You certainly don't want your research and hard work to go in vain. Make sure to fix all the inaccuracies beforehand. There are specific dissertation requirement errors, and then the usual formatting mistakes. Make sure to address each detail very attentively. Here is the list of the most common errors while formatting the thesis.
Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC)
This is the first page of your document in PDF. So, after getting it signed, scan it and place it on the first page of your PDF file. But make sure you do not number this page. Plus, the content of this page should be similar to that of the title page. Also, don't forget to proofread and edit for any typos or spelling mistakes. For the hard copy, print and submit it separately. Do not bind it with your thesis.
Author And Supervisor Names
When writing names on the title page. Ensure they are formatted correctly. Recheck your university's guidelines and formatting rules before submitting. Normally, the name of the author is right-aligned. Reviewing all these minor matters will save you from making the most common mistakes.
Numbering The Pages
When numbering your pages, ensure your copyright and title page is not numbered. The pages after your title page have Roman numbers until the first chapter starts. So, check your numbering one last time before submitting the final copy.
Tables And Figures
Besides, do you have tables and figures in your thesis? If yes, make sure they are formatted correctly. Make sure to inform the reader the table is continued. Likewise, the figures and images should be explained in captions. All should be labeled accordingly. The numbering of tables and figures should be unique and not repeated.
Once you are done reviewing and editing, ensure that you have updated the page numbers. Also, check that your page numbers are formatted accurately on each page.
There is some content that is supposed to be included in the appendices. These appendices are added in the end. They may include, forms, questionnaires, other supplementary content such as some tables or images.
As far as permission and copyright letters are concerned, they are submitted in a separate file. So, the university knows these are not for publication.
Creating a checklist of such documents will help you compile and submit them as needed.
Before you submit the electronic copy, make sure it is opening properly; your PDF file does not have any inconsistency.
Make sure the entire document is proofread and is free from all errors. Doing the final touches may require a lot of time and effort, but it's definitely worth it.