The Graduate School

Thesis and Dissertation Guide

Body Formatting

Figures | Headings | Margins | Paragraphs | Spacing | PaginationTypeface

The body of the thesis should be organized logically according to the nature and range of the research being reported. In general, theses begin with the Introduction or Preface, which includes a clear explanation of the goals of the project. The student should include a review of previous research, a record of the results obtained, and interpretive discussion of the results. The organization of the thesis argument will vary with the discipline, but the argument must be logically presented and supported with facts. A summary of the significant findings of the study should also appear within the text of the thesis.

  • The format for the body of your thesis/dissertation should be determined by your department/program and thesis/dissertation committee.
  • Additional approved media file types such as video, animations, audio, or other enhancements are allowable and, in fact, encouraged as appropriate. Hyperlinks to external URLs are not allowed since links may not always be active in the future.
  • The thesis or dissertation may utilize the range of capabilities afforded by the electronic medium - e.g., audio and video files, animations, etc.
  • A list of approved file formats (other than pdf) is listed below.


(see examples)

Figures are diagrams, designs or patterns that provide illustration. Common figures include maps and cross-sections, graphs, photographs, drawings, etc. Text figures should be carefully planned to ensure the most effective communication possible. Illustrations serve to demonstrate relations that cannot be described as clearly by written word or to relate more detail than words can effectively portray. Figures can be in black and white or color, or mixed in a thesis. Remember that designing your illustrations early using the vertical and horizontal spatial dimensions of the page, minus the margins, will result in a better illustration. If you have trouble showing everything in portrait format, you can use landscape format. A single figure stands alone on a page, i.e., you are not allowed to mix two or more figures on the same page. In some cases this may result in figures only occupying small areas of individual pages and looking awkward. Sometimes, figures can be combined on a single page and identified with different letters, such as a, b, c, and d. Below are answers to specific problems you may encounter in preparing figures.

  • Oversized figure. You may be able to redesign the figure to meet margin requirements.
  • Multiple-image figure. Consider this as one figure, giving it a logical and inclusive common caption. You may label the components a), b), c), and so on, but do not use a combination of figure number and letter on the component itself (i.e., "3a") appearing on component a) of Figure 3. See example for the proper arrangement of such figures.
  • Facing-page caption. Some figures remain within margin requirements but leave no room for the caption. For such figures, create a facing-page caption. The figure appears on the page behind the caption (see example). Margins on the caption page are reversed, so the wider margin is on the right, allowing for the binding (as you usually have allowed for it on the left). The page number appears centered at the bottom. The style of the caption should conform to your style guide or journal, just as your other captions do.


(see example)

Up to three levels of headings are allowed in a thesis. Headings are designated 1st order, 2nd order or 3rd order. Below instructions for their use are listed.

  • 1st Order Headings - are centered with all words capitalized
  • 2nd Order Headings - are flush with the left margin with only the first letter of each word capitalized, excluding articles, prepositions, etc.
  • 3rd Order Headings - are indented five spaces from the left margin, with the first letter of each word capitalized, excluding articles, prepositions, etc.; text begins on the next line.

Main headings within the text should be consistent in style with the Table of Contents.


As noted throughout this manual, you must maintain margins of 1" on the left, right, top, and bottom of the page. You may sometimes allow more than 1" at the bottom of a page if adhering strictly to the 1" margin causes an "orphan" line (the last line or few words of a paragraph) to appear on the following page. Similarly, if only a heading or first line of a new paragraph fits onto the page keeping a 1" margin ("widow" line), you should go to the next page to begin the new paragraph or section. All material, including appendices, must meet margin requirements. Material in the appendices must often be reduced

Margin Requirements

  • Right Margin - 1 inch
  • Left Margin - 1 inch

Table titles, figure captions, and page numbers must always remain the same size as regular text.

Right-justification: Justifying the right margin is not recommended.

Paragraphs and Indentations

All paragraphs of the text should be indented as indicated three to five spaces. Indent consistently throughout your paper.



  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgments
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Entire text.


  • Tables
  • Appendices
  • Individual footnotes
  • Reference entries
  • Block quotations
  • Figure and Table Captions

The Title and Journal Pages should be spaced according to the samples provided. Spacing in the Table of Contents, List of Tables, and List of Figures should conform closely to the samples, adapted to your paper's needs (always aim for logical arrangement and legibility).


The text, beginning with the second page of the Introduction or Chapter 1, is numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals. The first page of the text and the first page of each chapter are counted, but not numbered. The first page of text will thus be counted as page 1, and numbering will begin with page 2. Page numbers should be placed at ½" from the bottom of the page and centered. When a caption or illustration appears on a facing page (discussed below), the page should bear a sequential page number printed on the facing page.

Typeface and size

The typeface and size of your paper should be consistent throughout. We recommend that you use 12 point, but 10 point is acceptable. Use a font that is easy to read. We recommend Times New Roman.

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