Graduate Studies


A thesis/project consists of four major parts: pre-text pages, text, documentation, and appendices. Some theses and projects may not require use of all four parts, but when used the sequence below should always be followed:

    • Title Page
    • Approval Page
    • Publication Rights (optional)
    • Dedication (optional)
    • Preface/Acknowledgments (optional)
    • Table of Contents
    • List of Tables (if used)
    • List of Figures (if used)
    • List of Symbols or Nomenclature (if used)
    • Abstract

Editable sample thesis template with formatting instructions (DOC)

PDF of sample thesis template with formatting instructions (PDF)

Note: Only use these templates as an aid. You are entirely responsible for meeting the formatting requirements outlined here and in A Guide to Graduate Studies: Policies, Procedures, & Format (PDF)

Final Formatting Options

The final format of all theses and projects may follow two options:

Option 1:
Disciplines may follow the existing University format as specified in the Guide to Graduate Studies.  Thesis editor will provide preliminary edits and advice while approving the final format of document submitted by graduate students in their respective disciplines, and then meet with the Dean for final approval and his signature. Each discipline choosing this option will continue to select their department style guide that students use to format their in-text citations, all tables, captions for figures and tables, and the reference list at the close of each chapter.

Option 2: 
Disciplines may choose to select a format consistent with professional publications in their area for the body of text (e.g., formatting the chapters and reference section). However, specific University format requirements must still apply to the pre-text pages, as well as other format requirements that must be met per the Office of Graduate Studies requirements.

Departmental Style Guides

Each candidate selects the appropriate departmental style guide and must follow the specifications in that guide. Each department selects its own style guide, which in turn determines the format for the:

      1. Referencing system throughout the thesis/project.
      2. List of references at the end of the work.
      3. Formatting and captioning of all tables.
      4. Format of captions for all figures. 

Please speak with your Graduate Coordinator to find out style guide your department uses.

Anyone wishing to follow a manual other than that approved by the department must provide the thesis editor with a written memo signed by all committee members approving the change, and a copy of the alternative style manual. 

Links for Style Guides: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, CSI, and ECE

University Format

 Please keep in mind the two options listed above. Remember: However, specific University requirements will still apply to the pre-text pages. The Graduate School will only provide formatting guidance on the required format sections of a thesis/project for students in disciplines choosing this option. Faculty will guide and approve the format of theses/projects following discipline-specific format.

Although the Office of Graduate Studies does not have a page limit or page maximum, we do suggest that the graduate student strive for a thesis or project that ranges between 50 and 70 pages.

Page Size
The standard for a document’s page size is 8.5 x 11 inches. If compelling reasons exist to use a larger paper size, please contact the Thesis Editor and Advisor for approval.

Appearance and Typeface

      • Basic manuscript text must be a non-italic type font and at a size of 12-point or larger. Whatever typeface and size you choose for the basic text, use it consistently throughout your entire manuscript. Fonts may vary per thesis editor approval for graphs and figures. For footnotes, figures, captions, tables, charts, and graphs, a font size of 8-point or larger is to be used.
      • You may include color in your thesis, but your basic manuscript text must be black.
      • For quotations, words in a foreign language, occasional emphasis, book titles, captions, and footnotes, you may use italics. A font different from that used for your basic manuscript may be used for appendices, charts, drawings, graphs, and tables.
      • Entire manuscript, including figure captions, must be set in same font size and style—except where indicated above.
      • Theses/Projects must be double-spaced and on one side of the page.


      • Your manuscript is composed of pre-text pages (Title, Approval, Dedication, Publication Rights, Preface/Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, List of Symbols or Nomenclature, Abstract) and the main body of text and references.
      • All pages of the thesis from the title page to the last page of the appendices are counted but not necessarily numbered. Some pages, such as the title page, approval page, and all half-title pages are counted but do not bear page numbers. (Half-title pages precede reference sections, endnotes, bibliographies, and appendices.)
      • Number the pages of the body of the thesis with Arabic numerals, beginning with the first page of the first chapter as page number 1.
      • Page numbers must be positioned either in the upper right corner or the bottom center and must be 1” from the edges. Make sure the positioning of your page numbers is accurate and uniform throughout the entire document.
      • Note: As you review other theses and projects throughout ScholarWorks, you will see that at the beginning of each chapter, the candidate has typed the numerals on the 1" bottom margin, centered with the body of the text, and sub­sequent pages for each of these sections are paginated in the top right hand corner.  However, as of Fall 2014, the position of the page numbers has changed to accommodate more students and expand their formatting options.


      • All margins must be at least 1" from the edge of paper.
      • Page numbers must be ¾" from the edge.


      • Double Space
      • Use entire page without infringing upon margins.
      • Whenever text is available, all pages must be filled to the bottom 1" margin: do not leave pages partially filled with sections of white space.

Paragraph Indentations and Block Quotations

      • All paragraphs are indented 6/8" from left margin.
      • Block quotations (direct quotations exceeding four lines) indented 3/8" from left margin and single-spaced.
      • Introduce a block quote with a colon.
      • Do not use quotation marks around block quotations; this will mistakenly make the material look like a direct quotation.
      • If the quoted material begins mid-sentence, indicate this with an ellipsis (. . .). For example: “. . . the entire nature of man will soon change.” 


      • Number in Arabic numerals; all references will be by this number [e.g., (see Table 5)].
      • Introduce by their number prior to insertion in text.
      • If space is limited, separate sheets or fold-out pages may be used in the table.
      • Table order is determined by sequential numbering.
      • Place each table close to first reference.
      • If space is inadequate, continue filling the page with text and start the table at top of next page or by itself; if space remains, fill the balance of the page with text.
      • Triple space (leave two blank lines) above and below each table to offset from rest of text.
      • Title appears at top; all source material and/or notes placed at bottom.
      • If space is limited, reduce font to 10 point.
      • Leave eight to ten lines between two consecutive tables when they appear on same page sans intervening text.

Tables Reproduced

      • Full reference section for tables reproduced with permission or adapted from another source.
      • Reference section must fall below table and be presented exactly as it appears in the list of references at work’s end.
      • Do not use abbreviated forms for source citations.
      • Copyrighted material must have letters of permission per final approval submission to Office of Graduate Studies and International Programs.
      • Specific wording or “credit lines” must be used if requested by copyright holder.

Figures, Charts, and Graphs

      • Figures, color figures (pictures, graphs, charts) illustrations, photographs, maps, diagrams, and similar presentations must adhere to professional quality.
      • Label at the bottom with caption not exceeding width of figure.
      • Place in text; place at top of following page, on separate sheets individually, if space is insufficient.
      • If space remains after first reference or below figure, fill balance of page to the 1" bottom margin.
      • Triple space above and below figures when inserting material in text.
      • Color figures final copies must be printed from a laser printer or with permanent ink.
      • Reduce large material too large to be presented in the conventional manner.


      • When used as chapter heads do not enclose in quotation marks.
      • Block on the right half or two-thirds of the page.
      • Author/s and title of quotation are presented flush right and below the epigraph.


      • All listings are indented 3/8" from left-hand margin for first lines of text.
      • Carry over lines must return to original margin.
      • Numbers, dashes, bullets, etc. may precede listings.


      • Each chapter begins on new page.
      • Place chapter number at least 1" from top of page; chapter title follows three lines (spaces) below this.
      • Capitalize chapter titles and center over body of text.
      • Triple space between the chapter title and text or centered heading.
      • If title exceeds the 3" limit, double-space and center all additional lines in an inverted pyramid.


      • Headings are the key to writing with precision and presenting material clearly.
      • Headings are organized and presented by levels (meaning a top-down progression based on their level of importance).
      • Headings vary and should be chosen with clarity in mind: strive to be clear, precise, and logical.
      • Three most common headings: Centered Heading; Flush-Left Heading; and the Paragraph Heading.
      • Each chapter must begin with the same level of heading.
      • All headings except the paragraph heading are set on a line separate from the text; placement and punctuation differentiate the levels being indicated.
      • Do not use abbreviations and acronyms. 

Centered Heading

      • The first and most general one.
      • Must be centered over the text; two lines of text must follow on the same page for this heading and all others.
      • Do not underline.
      • Center within margins.
      • Capitalize only the first letter of each major word.
      • Triple space before all centered headings; double space between heading and text.
      • Length of title on any line must not exceed 3".
      • If title is lengthy, divide it into the appropriate number of lines and single space the lines in the inverted pyramid style.

Flush-Left Heading

      • Second heading also called free-standing sidehead.
      • Underline and set flush with left margin; capitalize only the first letter of each major word.
      • Double space before and after all flush-headings.
      • If title exceeds the 3" limit, divide it into the appropriate number of lines.
      • All carry-over lines must be single-spaced and indented ¼" from left-hand margin.

Paragraph Heading

      • Third level of heading also called paragraph sidehead.
      • Underline and indent at 6/8"; end with period. 

Reference Section

      • Should be preceded by a half-title page that is counted not numbered.
      • Typed in capital letters and centered on half-title page.
      • Title of this section (“Bibliography” or “Reference Cited”) is determined by the style guide (MLA, APA, etc.) of the department.


      • Pagination is the same as chapters: page number for the first page at the bottom of the page, and all subsequent pages in the upper right corner.
      • Each appendix is preceded by a half-title page bearing only its label (e.g., APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B).
      • Half-title page is counted but not numbered: use when referring to the appendix in the table of contents. 

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