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Electronic Dissertation/Thesis FAQ

Electronic Dissertation/Thesis Frequently Asked Questions:

Q.  How do I locate and use the Axess eDissertation/eThesis Center, where I must complete my online submission?

A:  Students must first apply to graduate and enroll before they can access the eDissertation/eThesis Center, which opens to submissions on the first day of instruction each quarter.  However, at any time, students may preview the Axess submission process through a step-by-step guide

Q.  Can I change, edit, or provide a different version of my edissertation or ethesis after it has been successfully submitted?

A:  Once a student uploads and submits their dissertation or thesis to the Stanford Digital Repository, and it has been approved by the Registrar's Office, the submission is considered final and no further changes are permitted.

Q.  How long does it take for the Registrar's Office to process an edissertation/theses after submitting in Axess?

A:  Before the Registrar's Office can begin processing your submission, the designated Final Reader must first  electronically certify that he or she has reviewed the final draft (note: upon submission, an email is automatically sent to the Final Reader informing them that they have a dissertation ready for review in Axess).  Once they have finished the review, it takes up to a week for the Registrar's Office to complete the processing of your edissertation/thesis.   You can also track the status in your eDissertation/eThesis Center, which will indicate when your Final Reader and the Registrar's Office has approved the submission.   

Q.  I'm kind of thinking about final submitting in Axess, but I actually intend to graduate and submit for a future quarter.  Is this possible?

A:  Once approved by the Registrar's Office, submissions are considered final, and students are not allow to re-submit, including re-applying to graduate and re-submitting at a later time, or during a future quarter.   Since the dissertation, D.M.A project, or thesis must be submitted during the quarter in which the student graduates, please speak with your department's Student Services officer if you are having difficulty deciding when to graduate and therefore final submit in Axess. 

Q.  Can you explain the overall workflow for electronic doctoral and thesis submission, from student submission through publication?

A:  Please refer to this step-by-step explanation of the eDissertation/eThesis Center in Axess, which outlines the submission process and includes screenshots.

After your dissertation/thesis is approved by your Final Reader and the Registrar (the final two steps in the electronic submission process), all files and information are handed off to Stanford Libraries. Stanford Library staff catalog and ensure preservation of your dissertation/thesis in the Stanford Digital Repository, where it is made available via a Persistent URL according to the embargo and copyright terms you have selected.  Sample illustration of ETD PURL page,

screen shot etd purl page

Q. Should I submit my electronic dissertation/thesis double or single sided?

A: You may submit your electronic dissertation/thesis either single-sided or double-sided, it is your choice.  If you choose double-sided and prefer that each section starts on a right-hand page, be sure to pay close attention to the pagination and insert blank, numbered pages as appropriate. Please review the Margins instructions provided in the Directions for Preparing Electronic Doctoral Dissertations.

Q. What is the most common mistake related to formatting of the electronic dissertations/theses?

A: The most common mistake students make is related to the formatting of the preliminary pages.  It is important to remove both the copyright page “ii” and signature page “iii” in the electronic dissertation/thesis before uploading and final submission. 

Following the title page (which is not physically numbered but counts as “i”), page numbering should start with “iv” at the Abstract (or a blank page with "iv", if your document is formatted for double-sided printing and you want the Abstract to start on a right-hand page). The Library will automatically insert both the copyright page (ii) and signature page (iii) into your electronic copy of the dissertation.

For further instructions on properly formatting your preliminary pages please see the Order and Content and Pagination sections of the Directions for Preparing Electronic Doctoral Dissertations.

Q.  How long can the Abstract be?

A:  The abstract field that you enter online during submission has a limit of 9999 characters; the library uses this Abstract field for cataloging purposes.   Note:  There is no maximum Abstract length in the dissertation itself.

Q.  How do I obtain a statement of completion?

A:  PhD, JSD, DMA and Engineer degree students often need what is called a Statement of Completion. This is a letter from the Office of the University Registrar confirming that a student has submitted an approved dissertation or thesis, and will be recommended for a degree by the Faculty Senate. Students typically use this for postdoctoral appointments or to obtain employment before their degree is actually conferred.

Prior to requesting a Statement of Completion, the submission must first be approved by both the Final Reader and Registrar's Office.   Note:  students will recieve email confirmation once the submission is approved by the Registrar's Office.  This email confirmation will provide instructions for obtaining the letter by essentially logging on to Axess, and going to the eDissertation/eThesis Center, where it should be ready and available as a link to the student.

Q. I live abroad and cannot attend an Electronic Dissertation/Thesis Open Lab session.  What should I do? 

A:  You can arrange to have a proxy go to a lab on your behalf with your questions, or you can email  We ask that students who attend the open lab sessions bring their own laptops.

Q. During the Electronic Dissertation/Thesis Open Lab session, do you help students to check whether all the submission requirements are met? Such as the format, etc. Or do you assist students to actually upload and submit the thesis?

A: The eDissertation/eThesis Open lab sessions will have representatives to help answer any of your questions from both the Stanford University Library, and the Registrar’s Office. Staff will be there to assist on all matters: uploading, formatting, submission requirements, procedures, etc.

Q. What is the preferred font for electronic dissertations? 

A:  Times New Roman is preferred because it can be displayed reliably, no matter whether the reader of your eDissertation/eThesis has the font installed on their computer or not. In order to ensure the future ability to render the document, standard fonts must be used. Type size should be 10, 11, or 12 point, and font color must be black.

Acceptable fonts include:

• Times New Roman (preferred)

• Courier, Courier Bold, Courier Oblique, Courier Bold-Oblique;

• Helvetica, Helvetica Bold, Helvetica Oblique, Helvetica Bold-Oblique;

• Times, Times Bold, Times Italic, Times Bold-Italic;

• Symbol, Computer Modern (Computer Modern Roman)

For further information on acceptable fonts, please review the Typeface guidelines listed in the Directions for Preparing Electronic Doctoral Dissertations.

Q. How do I embargo my electronic dissertation/thesis, and what are available options for delaying the release of the dissertation/thesis?

A:  Once you complete the five pre-submission criteria listed in the Axess eDissertation Center, you will then be able to click on your "Proceed with Dissertation" link.  This page is where you will actually upload your electronic dissertation, abstract, and additional information. It is at this point that you will have an opportunity to place an embargo on your dissertation. 

Students have the option to delay the release by 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years. 

Q. Are the margin requirements for the electronic dissertation/thesis title page the same as the rest of the document?

A:  Yes, the same margins would apply on the title page within your dissertation. 1.5 inches on the binding edge and then 1 inch on all other sides

Q. I plan to submit my dissertation/thesis electronically. I formatted the signature page exactly as required, except I forgot to type my name on the right-hand header. What can I do?

A:  For all students who plan to submit your dissertation/thesis electronically: Your name should appear on the one original paper copy of the signature page in the upper right hand corner of the header. We prefer that the name be typed and appear right justified in the upper right hand corner of the header. However, if you already have collected all your signatures and you don’t feel comfortable sending the page back through a printer to print your name in the header, then you can hand write your name in the upper right hand corner of the signature page in black ink.

Q. Can I submit my dissertation electronically before the quarter has started?

A:  You will not be able to submit your electronic dissertation until the first day of the quarter, for which you have applied to graduate.

Q. What is the benefit of submitting online?

A:  There are several benefits of submitting your Stanford dissertation or thesis online. For one, electronic submission results in reduced time and expense on your part. Second, Stanford Libraries can provide a persistent, stable URL to your work in perpetuity; links to your online thesis hosted at Stanford will never result in a Page Not Found error. 

Stanford will catalog the work in our online library catalog (as we already do for dissertations) and archive the file(s) in the Stanford Digital Repository. Our digital library services will ensure that your work is always accessible to users, regardless of inevitable technology changes over time.

Q. How do I make my dissertation into a PDF for electronic submission?

A:  Instructions for formatting your dissertation as a PDF document are available in the Dissertation and Thesis Help-Wiki the Registrar’s Office dissertations main page.

Q.  I received the following error message when trying to upload my PDF (step 3 of the online submission process):  "Sorry, your file is not a valid PDF. Please upload a valid PDF"

A:  Resave your file using Adobe Pro, and upload again.  Doing so will re-write your file as a valid PDF.  If you do not have Adobe Pro, you can easily get access at the Lathrop Learning Hub, or email for further assistance.

Q. When creating my electronic dissertation/thesis, should I use MS Word or Latex?

A:  It is up to the discretion of the student whether to use Microsoft Word or Latex when creating their dissertation. All electronic dissertation submissions must be submitted in their final format as a PDF document.

Q.  Can Stanford library users view permission letters that I will be uploading?

A:  These documents are never available to library users; they are preserved as administrative documentation and are not made available online.

Q. Do I need to obtain copyright permission?

A:  If copyrighted material belonging to others is used in your dissertation or thesis, or is part of your supplementary materials, you must give full credit to the author and publisher of the work in all cases, and obtain permission from the copyright owner for reuse of the material unless you have determined that your use of the work is clearly fair use under US copyright law (17 USC §107).  For additional information on fair use, see
Stanford Libraries' Copyright & Fair Use page, and the Libraries' Copyright Considerations resource.

Q.  What is the file number limit for permissions documents?

A:  The file limit is 20 permissions documents (PDF).  If there are more, it is advised that you combine all permissions letters into a single PDF file for upload.

Q. What should my margins be for electronic dissertation submission?

A:  Margins on the binding edge (left edge if single-sided; right edge for even numbered pages, and left edge for odd numbered pages if double-sided) must be 1.5 inches; all other margins must be one inch. (Pagination, headers, and/or footers may be placed within the margin, but no closer than one-half inch from the edge of the page.) For double-sided copies, 1.5 inches must be maintain on the inner binding edge.  Margin requirements should apply to the entire document, including the title page.

Q. Can I upload my dissertation before I turn in my signature page and title page to the Student Services Center?

A:  No. Students must complete the 5 required steps in your eDissertation/eThesis center via Axess before they can upload their dissertation electronically. These 5 required steps are:

  • Apply to Graduate online through Axess by the appropriate deadline.
  • Confirm the names of all reading committee members in Axess, and designate a Final Reader
  • Submit one hard copy of an original signed signature page (acid-free paper) and title page (acid-free) to the Student Services Center, located on the 2nd floor of Tresidder Union.
  • Confirm your candidacy is valid through your degree conferral date
  • Confirm completion of all required University Milestones

Q. What if I am missing an original signature on my signature page, can I still submit my dissertation electronically?

A:  Since an original ink signature page is a pre-submission requirement, you will not be able to proceed to upload your dissertation in PDF format, until this requirement is met. All required submission materials are due by the dissertation deadline.

Q. My final reader has no internet access to complete the approval of final reading what do I do?

A: Paper Alternative to Online Certificate of Final Reading

If the Final Reader is unable to approve the dissertation electronically via Axess, or if the Final Reader does not have access to a computer, the student may submit a paper Certificate of Final Reading, signed by the Final Reader. Once signed, the student should submit this hard copy to the Student Services Center, located on the 2nd floor of Tresidder Union.

Please note that the Final Reader must be a member of the Academic Council. An example of this document is available in the Directions for Preparing Electronic Doctoral Dissertations.

Q. When submitting my dissertation/thesis electronically, do I submit my copyright page and signature page in my PDF?

A: You should not submit either your copyright page or your signature page in your electronic version. The Copyright Page and signature page will be automatically generated and inserted into your electronic dissertation (pdf) by the Stanford Library, after submission. These pages will be numbered pages ii and iii.)

Please note: this is the most common mistake: you must remove your copyright page and signature page from your electronic version before you submit your dissertation, your title page should not have a page number, and you next page should be your abstract, which will begin with page number "iv".

Q. I can’t submit my electronic dissertation/thesis by the deadline.  Can I submit after the deadline?

A: There are no exceptions to the posted dissertation/thesis deadline. If you are unable to make the posted dissertation/thesis deadline, you may submit the following quarter, as early as the first day of instruction.

You would need to reapply to graduate in Axess (for the following quarter) and maintain an enrollment status. Please check with your department student services administrator who could further assist in this regard, if necessary.

Q. I want my preferred name to appear in my dissertation.  I is there a way to do this?

A:  For the dissertation or thesis, students may use a preferred name, such as on the title page, with the caveat that their primary or legal name appears in dissertation copyright page and in the library’s catalog record detail.

Q. Is there a wiki where students can find and contribute to further information about formatting the electronic dissertation/thesis?

A: Yes, visit the Dissertation and Thesis Help wiki.

Q. Is a format check appointment required, if a student plans on submitting an electronic dissertation?

A:  Format checks are not required for electronic submission of dissertations/theses.  If you have specific formatting questions you can refer to the list of formatting directions on the Registrar's Dissertation and Thesis submission page, or you can attend one of the dissertation/thesis open lab sessions. Specific dates and times of the open lab sessions are also posted on the RO dissertations webpage.

Q. Can I somehow get a copy of the original signature page I submitted to the Student Services Center? I am ordering several hardbound copies for personal use and would like to include the signature page.

A:  If students plan to order personal bound copies after final submission, and wish to include a signature page with original signatures from their committee, they are advised to obtain extra ink-signed pages in advance for this purpose.  Otherwise, photo copies only can be obtained by submitting a Service Support Request to the Registrar's Office.  They can then be included with the dissertations provided to the HF Group when ordering personal bound copies.

Q. I originally selected the 6 months (or 1 year) embargo option. How can I extend my embargo period to 1 or 2 years?

A:  Students who designate an embargo period (of 6 months or 1 year) during the initial submission and later wish to either extend their original embargo setting (to 1 year or 2 years from the time of submission) should submit a Service Support Request to the Office of the Registrar no later than 4 weeks before their original embargo selection expires.

Q. How do I obtain bound copies of my dissertation for personal or departmental use?

A:  If you would like additional printed or bound dissertation copies, you will need to use a commercial print-on-demand or binding service. 

Neither Stanford Libraries nor The Office of the University Registrar provides bound copies of dissertations for personal or departmental use.

Stanford Libraries suggests using HF Group for their binding services to individuals. You can use their customized Stanford order form below to select your binding preferences.  

There are many other vendors that offer printing and binding services. We have listed a few here: