Formatting Tips

Helpful Tips

  1. Look at recent theses/dissertations from your department on the Library website to become conversant with the style (it is very important to look at the most recent, as style requirements have changed).
  2. Write your thesis/dissertation with whichever word processor you prefer (see Formatting Your Thesis). Use standard fonts such as Arial, Courier, Helvetica, and Times. The use of unusual fonts may cause problems for the readers and when the document is printed.
  3. Use the templates available from the Graduate School to do your front matter (abstract, title, copyright, approval, dedication, acknowledgements, table of contents). Do not combine this file with the body of your text.
  4. Convert your document and front-matter template into PDF files. In Acrobat you can then combine the two (or more) files into one. (see Converting to PDF)
  5. Submit the single PDF file to the Graduation Office for format checking (see Format Checking). Remember to name it correctly! (Not “myThesis1.pdf” — Don’t laugh, this happens several times every semester.)
    Correct name: lastname_firstname_middleInitial_yearMonthOfGraduation_degreeAcronym.pdf
    For Example: doe_john_b_201105_phd.pdf
  6. Make any needed corrections in your word processor file(s) (not the PDF file).
  7. Convert your corrected document into one single file in the Portable Document Format (PDF). (see Converting to PDF)
  8. Submit the single PDF file to the Graduation Office for the final check. Remember to name it correctly!

Backup your work!

One method we recommend is that each day you work on your thesis or dissertation save your document under a different name with the current date. For example “mydiss82504” , tomorrow after I finish working on it I will save it as “mydiss82604”. This way you will have a chronological archive of your work in case you make an inadvertent change. Back up your work on removable media such as zip disks, CDs, or flash key chain storage units. Save copies in multiple places: keep one in your bag, one in your drawer at home, one in your office. Sensible and logical backup procedures can save you from a lot of heartbreak down the road.