Organizing and Formatting Your Thesis and Dissertation

A typical thesis consists of three main parts – preliminaries, text, and supplementaries. Each part is to be organized as explained below and in the order indicated below:

1. Preliminaries:

  • Title page (required)
  • Copyright page (required)
  • Abstract (required) only one abstract allowed
  • Acknowledgments (optional) located in the Preliminary Section only
  • Preface (optional)
  • Autobiography (optional)
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Table of Contents (required)
  • List of Tables (optional)
  • List of Figures (optional)
  • List of Plates (optional)
  • List of Symbols (optional)
  • List of Keywords (optional)
  • Other Preliminaries (optional) such as Definition of Terms

2. Text

3. Supplementaries (optional):

  • References or bibliography (optional)
  • Appendices (optional)
  • Glossary (optional)
  • List of Abbreviations (optional)

Preliminaries

These are the general requirements for all preliminary pages.

  • Preliminary pages are numbered with lower case Roman numerals.
  • Page numbers are ½” from the bottom of the page and centered.
  • Preliminary page number “i” is assigned to but not printed on the title page.
  • The copyright page is included in the manuscript immediately after the title page and is not assigned a page number nor counted.
  • The abstract page is numbered with the Roman numeral “ii”.
  • The remaining preliminary pages are arranged as listed under “Organizing and Formatting the Thesis/Dissertation” and numbered consecutively.
  • Headings for all preliminary pages must be centered in all capital letters 1” from the top of the page.
  • Do not bold the headings of the preliminary pages.

Title Page

A sample Thesis title page pdf is available here,  and a sample of a Dissertation title page pdf is available here.

Refer to the sample page as you read through the format requirements for the title page.

  • Do not use bold.
  • Center all text except the advisor and committee information.
  • Preliminary page number “i” is assigned to, but not printed on, the title page.

Heading

The heading “Thesis” or “Dissertation” is in all capital letters, centered one inch from the top of the page.

Title

  • Your title must be in all capital letters, double spaced and centered.
  • Your title on the title page must match the title on your GS30 – Thesis/Dissertation Submission Form

Submitted by block

Divide this section exactly as shown on the sample page. One blank line must separate each line of text.

  1. Submitted by
  2. Your name
  3. Type the official name of your department. If you are in an interdisciplinary studies program, list as:
    1. School of Advanced Materials Discovery 
    2. School of Biomedical Engineering
    3. Graduate Degree Program in Cell and Molecular Biology
    4. Graduate Degree Program in Ecology

If your department name begins with “School of”, list as:

  1. School of Education
  2. School of Music, Theatre and Dance
  3. School of Social Work

If you have questions about the correct name of your department or degree, consult your department. Areas of Study or specializations within a program are not listed on the Title Page.

Degree and Graduating Term block

Divide this section exactly as shown on the sample page. One blank line must separate each line of text.

  1. In partial fulfillment of the requirements
  2. For the Degree of
  3. Colorado State University
  4. Fort Collins, Colorado (do not abbreviate Colorado)

Committee block

  • Master’s students will use the heading Master’s Committee:
  • Doctoral students will use the heading Doctoral Committee:
  • The Master’s Committee and Doctoral Committee headings begin at the left margin.
  • One blank line separates the committee heading and the advisor section.
  • One blank line separates the advisor and committee section.
  • Advisor and committee member names are indented approximately half an inch from the left margin.
  • Titles before or after the names of your advisor and your members are not permitted (Examples – Dr., Professor, Ph.D.).

Copyright Page

  • A sample copyright page pdf  is available here.
  • A copyright page is required.
  • A copyright page is included in the manuscript immediately after the title page.
  • This page is not assigned a number nor counted.
  • Center text vertically and horizontally.

Abstract

  • A sample abstract page pdf is available here – refer to the sample page as you read through the format requirements for the abstract.
  • Do not use bold.
  • Only one abstract is permitted.
  • The heading “Abstract” is in all capital letters, centered one inch from the top of the page.
  • Three blank lines (single-spaced) must be between the “Abstract” heading and your title.
  • Your title must be in all capital letters and centered.
  • The title must match the title on your Title Page and the GS30 – Thesis/Dissertation Submission Form
  • Three blank lines (single-spaced) must be between the title and your text.
  • The text of your abstract must be double-spaced.
  • The first page of the abstract is numbered with a small Roman numeral ii.

Table of Contents

  • A sample Table of Contents page pdf is available.
  • The heading “Table of Contents” is in all capital letters centered one inch from the top of the page.
  • Three blank lines (single-spaced) follow the heading.
  • Do not use bold.
  • List all parts of the document (except the title page) and the page numbers on which each part begins.
  • The titles of all parts are worded exactly as they appear in the document.
  • Titles and headings and the page numbers on which they begin are separated by a row of dot leaders.
  • Major headings are aligned flush with the left margin.
  • Page numbers are aligned flush with the right margin.
  • Formatting tips to create the Table of Contents is available.

Text

The text of a thesis features an introduction and several chapters, sections and subsections. Text may also include parenthetical references, footnotes, or references to the bibliography or endnotes.

Page Size

  • The entire document is 8.5” x 11” (letter) size.
  • Pages may be in landscape position for figures and tables that do not fit in “portrait” position.

Type Style

  • Choose one type style (font) and font size and use it throughout the text of your thesis. Examples: Times New Roman and Arial.
  • Font sizes should be between 10 point and 12 point.

Margins

  • Margins are one inch on all sides (top, bottom, left, and right).
  • Always continue the text to the bottom margin except at the end of a chapter.

Pagination

  • Please see preliminary page requirements.
  • Body and references are numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with the first page of text (numbered 1).
  • Page numbers must be centered ½” from the bottom of the page.

Major Headings

Subheadings

  • A sample page pdf for major headings and subheadings is available here.
  • Style for subheadings is optional but the style should be consistent throughout.
  • Subheadings within a chapter (or section) do not begin on a new page unless the preceding page is filled. Continue the text to the bottom of the page unless at the end of a chapter.
  • Subheadings at the bottom of a page require two lines of text following the heading and at least two lines of text on the next page.

Running Head

Do not insert a running head.

Paragraphs

When dividing paragraphs, at least two lines of text should appear at the bottom of the page and at least two lines of text on the next page.

Hyphenation

The last word on a page may not be divided. No more than three lines in succession may end with hyphens. Divide words as indicated in a standard dictionary.

Spacing

  • The text of the thesis is double-spaced.
  • Footnotes, bibliography or list of reference entries, table and figure captions, and data within large tables may be single-spaced.
  • Footnotes and bibliography or list of reference entries are separated by double-spacing.
  • Quoted material of more than three lines is indented and single-spaced. Quoted material which is three lines or fewer may be single-spaced for emphasis.

Poems

Poems should be double-spaced with triple-spacing between stanzas. Stanzas may be centered if lines are short.

Footnotes

  • Consult a style manual approved by your department for samples of footnotes.
  • Footnotes are numbered consecutively throughout the entire thesis.
  • Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page on which the reference is made.
  • Footnotes are single-spaced.
  • Footnotes and bibliography or list of reference entries are separated by double-spacing.

Endnotes

  • Consult a style manual approved by your department for samples of endnotes.
  • Endnotes are numbered consecutively throughout the entire thesis.
  • Endnotes may be placed at the end of each chapter or following the last page of text.
  • The form for an endnote is the same as a footnote. Type the heading “endnote”.

Tables and Figures

  • Tables and figures should follow immediately after first mentioned in the text or on the next page.
  • If they are placed on the next page, continue the text to the bottom of the preceding page.
  • If more clarity is provided by placing tables and figures at the end of chapters or at the end of the text, this format is also acceptable.
  • Tables and Figures are placed before references.
  • Any diagram, drawing, graph, chart, map, photograph, or other type of illustration is presented in the thesis as a figure.
  • All tables and figures must conform to margin requirements.
  •  Images can be resized to fit within margins.

Landscape Tables and Figures

  • Large tables or figures can be placed on the page landscape or broadside orientation.
  • Landscape tables and figures should face the right margin (unbound side).
  • The top margin must be the same as on a regular page.
  • Page numbers for landscape or broadside tables or figures are placed on the 11” side.

Supplementaries

These are the general requirements for all supplementary pages.

  • Supplementary pages are arranged as listed under “Organizing and Formatting the Thesis/Dissertation” and numbered consecutively.
  • Headings for all supplementary pages are major headings and the formatting style needs to match chapter headings.

References or Bibliography

  • The References or Bibliography heading is always a major heading and the formatting style needs to match chapter headings.
  • References or Bibliography are ordered after each chapter, or at the end of the text.
  • References are aligned flush with the left margin.
  • The style for references should follow the format appropriate for the field of study.
  • The style used must be consistent throughout the thesis.

Appendices

  • Appendices are optional and used for supplementary material.
  • The Appendices heading is a major heading and the formatting style needs to match chapter headings.
  • As an option the appendix may be introduced with a cover page bearing only the title centered vertically and horizontally on the page. The content of the appendix then begins on the second page with the standard one inch top margin.
  • Quality and format should be consistent with requirements for other parts of the thesis including margins.
  • Page numbers used in the appendix must continue from the main text.

A Foreign Language Thesis

Occasionally, theses are written in foreign languages. In such cases, an English translation of the title and abstract must be included in the document.

  • Submit one title page in the foreign language (no page number printed).
  • Submit one title page in English (no page number printed).
  • Submit one abstract in the foreign language (page number is ii).
  • Submit one abstract in English (page number is numbered consecutively from previous page – example: if the last page of the abstract in the foreign language is page ii the first page of the abstract in English is numbered page iii).

Multipart Thesis

In some departments, a student may do research on two or more generally related areas which would be difficult to combine into a single well-organized thesis. The solution is the multi-part thesis.

  • Each part is considered a separate unit, with its own chapters, bibliography or list of references, and appendix (optional); or it may have a combined bibliography or list of references and appendix.
  • A single abstract is required.
  • The pages of a multi-part thesis are numbered consecutively throughout the entire thesis, not through each part (therefore, the first page of Part II is not page 1).
  • The chapter numbering begins with Chapter 1 for each part, or the chapters may be numbered consecutively.
  • Pagination is consecutive throughout all parts, including numbered separation sheets between parts.
  • Each part may be preceded by a separation sheet listing the appropriate number and title.