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Important Information Regarding COVID-19

See the Registrar's COVID-19 and Academic Continuity page for information for students, faculty, and staff relevant to classes and academic activities and administration. (updated August 21, 2020)

Format Requirements for Paper Thesis

The Paper Thesis

The final thesis manuscript must have a ready-for-publication appearance; it must have standardized features and be attractively reproduced. The Office of the University Registrar does not endorse or verify the accuracy of any thesis formatting templates that may be available to students. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that the formatting meets the requirements outlined in this booklet. Introductory material, text, and appendices must all be clearly and consistently prepared and must meet all of the following specifications:


High-quality, long-lived, acid-free (neutral pH) bond paper must be used for the University copies of the thesis. To confirm that the paper is acid-free, please check the packaging. Check with the manufacturer if you believe the paper is acid free, but is not indicated on the packaging. The cotton content is at the sole discretion of the student. Photographic paper may be used in lieu of acid-free paper for images; there is no extra charge, as there is with separately mounted photos.
The final copies must produce consistent print quality without gray or dark casts to the background.
All copies must be on white, 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Double-sided copies may be submitted, but please be sure that the margins are re-aligned on the binding edges to 1.5 inches.


Type size should be 10, 11, or 12 point. Do not use script, or ornamental fonts. Print must be letter quality or near letter quality with dark black characters that are consistently clear, crisp, and easily read. Accent marks and hand annotations must be done neatly in black ink.


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, margins must be 1.5 inches on the binding edge. 



One and a half or double spacing is required in the main body of the manuscript except where conventional usage calls for single spacing; e.g., footnotes, indented quotations, tables, etc.

Word and Text Divisions

Words must be divided correctly at the end of a line and may not be divided from one page to the next. Use a standard dictionary to determine word division. Avoid short lines that end a paragraph at the top of a page, and any heading or subheading at the bottom of a page that is not followed by text.


The thesis must be in English. Exceptions are granted by the school dean upon submission of a written request from the chair of the student’s major department. Theses written in another language must include an extended summary in English (usually 15-20 pages in length).


Select a standard style approved by your department and use it consistently. Some reliable style guides are K.A. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations (University of Chicago Press), the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Modern Language Association), and Preparation of Archival Copies of Theses and Dissertations by Jane Boyd and Don Etherington (American Library Association).

Reproducing the Thesis

Final copies of the thesis must be clear and attractive. Review each copy for evenness and clarity of type, missing pages, and crooked text. Colored paper should separate volumes and copies.

Order and Content

  1. Preliminary Pages

    a. Title Page — The format must be followed exactly. Use upper case letters, as shown in the sample. The title of the thesis should be a meaningful description of the content of the manuscript. Use word substitutes for formulas, symbols, superscripts, subscripts, Greek letters, etc. The month and year must be the actual month and year in which you submit your thesis to the Office of the University Registrar.

    b. Copyright Notice Page (date is year submitted) — Center on page as follows:

    © Copyright by Jane Jones 2012
    All Rights Reserved

    c. Signature Page — The reader who signs the signature page must be your primary adviser. Any changes in adviser must be approved by the department chair and recorded online by the department administrator. The signature on the signature page must be original. No photocopies of signature pages are allowed for the three University copies.  A sample of the signature page for paper engineer thesis is available.

    d. Abstract.

    e. Preface and/or Acknowledgments.

    f. Table of Contents, with page references.

    g. List of Tables, with titles and page references.

    h. List of Illustrations, with titles and page references.

  2. Text

    a. Introduction.
    b. Main body, with the larger divisions and more important sub-divisions indicated by suitable, consistent headings.

  3. References

    a. Appendices.
    b. Bibliography or List of References.


Except for the title page, each page of the manuscript, including all blank pages, and pages with photographs, tables, figures, maps, and computer program printouts should be assigned a number. Consistent placement of pagination, at least one-half inch from the paper’s edge, should be used throughout the manuscript. If previously published papers are included, the pagination for the thesis must be distinct and it is recommended that the pagination for the published work be removed.

Important: The following pagination plan should be used:

  1. For the preliminary pages, use small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.). The title page does not have a number but counts as page i; the following page is ii. The placement of these numbers should be consistent on each page.

  2. For the remainder of the manuscript, such as the Introduction/Main body, use continuous pagination for text, illustrations, images, appendices, and bibliography, using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.). Remember to start with page 1, as this is not a continuation of the Roman numeral numbering.


For text, illustrations, charts, graphs, etc., printed in landscape form, the orientation should be facing away from the bound edge of the paper.

Photographs, Maps, and Charts

All photographs should be of professional quality. Mount photographs with a dry mounting process, a photo mount with spray adhesive, or double-sided contact paper used for photo mounting. Large maps and charts should be avoided. Where necessary, they must be folded to 10.5 x 7.5 inches or smaller; they will be in pockets in the bound theses. The fee for binding of mounted photographs is $.35 per page. The fee for map pockets is $10.00 per pocket.

Double Volumes

If the thesis is more than three inches thick, it must be bound in two volumes. The title pages carry volume designations. Each volume must have preliminary pages except that the signature page, preface, abstract, and acknowledgments are not included in the second volume. Pagination of text pages must be continuous from one volume to the next.

Scholarly Reference

In choosing an annotation or reference system, students should be guided by the practice of their various disciplines, and the recommendations of their departments. In addition to the general style guides listed under “Style” above, there are specific style guides for some fields. When a reference system has been selected, it should be used consistently throughout the thesis. The placement of footnotes is at the discretion of the student with adviser approval.
An important aspect of modern scholarship is the proper attribution of authorship for joint or group research. If the manuscript includes joint or group research, the student must clearly identify his/her contribution to the enterprise in an introduction.

Published Papers and Multiple Authorship

The inclusion of published papers in a thesis is the prerogative of the major department. Where published papers or ready-for-publication papers are included, the following criteria must be met:

  1. There must be an introductory chapter that integrates the general theme of the research and the relationship between the chapters. The introduction may also include a review of the literature relevant to the thesis topic that does not appear in the chapters.

  2. Multiple authorship of a published paper should be addressed by clearly designating, in an introduction, the role that the thesis author had in the research and production of the published paper. The student must have a major contribution to the research and writing of papers included in the thesis.

  3. There must be adequate referencing of where individual papers have been published.

  4. Written permission must be obtained for all copyrighted materials.

  5. The submitted material must be in a form that is legible and reproducible as required by these specifications. The Office of the University Registrar will approve a thesis that includes published material only if all margins are adequate to allow for proper binding, if typeface is acceptable (10 point or larger, 10 to 12 characters per inch), and if there are no other deviations from the normal specifications which would prevent proper dissemination and utilization of the thesis. If the published material does not correspond to these standards, it will be necessary for the student to reformat that portion of the thesis.

  6. Multiple authorship has implications with respect to copyright and public release of the material. Be sure to discuss copyright clearance and embargo options with your co-authors and your advisor well in advance of preparing your thesis for submission

Use of Copyrighted Material

If copyrighted material belonging to others is used in your thesis, you must give full credit to the author and publisher of the work used and if the quotation exceeds “fair use,” you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. According to the Association of American University Presses, permission is required for quotations that are reproduced as complete units (poems,letters, short stories, essays, journal articles, complete chapters or sections of books, maps, charts, graphs, tables, drawings, or other illustrative materials). In determining whether other excerpts from copyrighted materials exceed “fair use” criterion, the primary considerations are length and substantiality of the portion quoted, the nature of the copyrighted work quoted, the effect of the use on the market for or value of the quoted work, and the purpose and character of your use including whether it is commercial in nature or for nonprofit educational use. If you are in doubt, it is of course safest to obtain permission.
Permission to use copyrighted material is obtained from the owner of the copyright. You should keep copies of any copyright permissions for your personal records.

Copyrighting Your Thesis

Copyright protection is automatically in effect from the time the work is in fixed form. A proper copyright notice on all copies will prevent the work from falling into the public domain (loss of copyright). Copyright notice should consist of the word “Copyright” and the symbol “C” in a circle, the year of first publication, and the name of the copyright owner (your name) in a reasonably prominent place (see here).
Registration of copyright is not required, but it establishes a public record of your copyright claim and enables copyright owners to litigate against infringement. You need not register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office at the outset, although registration must be made before the copyright may be enforced by litigation in case of infringement. Early registration does have certain advantages: it establishes a public record of your copyright claim, and if registration has been made prior to the infringement of your work, or within three months after its publication, qualifies you to be awarded statutory damages and attorney fees in addition to the actual damages and profits available to you as the copyright owner (should you ever have to sue because of infringement). Contact the U.S. copyright Office for further information about registering your copyright, if desired. Their web site is