Skip to main site navigation
Skip to main content
Switch to text-only view
Switch to default view

THESIS FORMATTING GUIDELINES

General Formatting

MLA Format: All academic sections of the project should follow MLA style. It is strongly suggested that you purchase the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.  Here are some common errors that students make using MLA format:

  1. MLA requires double-spacing throughout: this means that there is NO extra spacing before or after chapter titles and that block quotes and Works Cited entries are NOT single spaced.
  2. MLA prohibits extra formatting for chapter titles.  This means your titles should be in 12-point font and NOT be bolded, italicized, or underlined.
  3. Titles of longer works, like books and stand-alone poems, should be italicized; titles of shorter works, such as articles, short stories, or poems in a collection, should be put in quotation marks.
  4. Your last name and page number should appear in the top right-hand corner of all pages after the Table of Contents.

Font: 12-point standard font like Times New Roman, Cambria, or Calibri.  No fancy fonts, please.

Footnotes: If you use footnotes or endnotes, they must appear either on the page where the annotation occurs or at the end of the chapter. They, too, should follow MLA style. MLA asks you to include sources from the footnotes in the Works Cited.

Header: Your name and page number should appear on all pages except the Title Page and the Acceptance Page.

Margins: Margins should be 1.5 inches on the left and 1 inch on the other three sides. This deviation from MLA is necessary for binding.

Page Numbering: All sections prior to the Title Page should be numbered with Roman numerals. All pages after the Table of Contents should be numbered with Arabic numerals. The Curriculum Vitae at the end of the thesis is not paginated.

Spacing: MLA requires that the entire thesis follow consistent spacing. You may use double-spacing or 1.5 spacing. All parts of the thesis except the Title Page, Acceptance Page, and Copyright Page should follow this spacing, including all other front matter, the Table of Contents, chapter titles, block quotes, and works cited entries. Creative Writing projects can follow alternative spacing if such spacing is a formal attribute of the creative work.

Spelling and Usage: The University Graduate School recommends either Webster’s Third International Dictionary or Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

Thesis Sections

Title Page: Your title page should follow this model to the letter.

Acceptance Page: All copies of your thesis should include the Acceptance Page signed by your committee at the defense.

Copyright Page (Optional): If you would like to copyright your thesis, you must include this page.

Dedication (Optional): If you include this section, it should be titled “Dedication” and follow the same format as your chapters.

Acknowledgements (Optional): If you include this section, it should be titled “Acknowledgements” and follow the same format as your chapters.

Preface (Optional): There is often confusion about the purpose of a Preface and how it differs from an introduction.  According to Words into Type, the Introduction addresses the subject of the book while the "preface … deals with [its] genesis, purpose, limitations, and scope.” If you include one, it should be formatted like a chapter.

Table of Contents: You should title this page “Table of Contents” and include entries for all sections of the thesis, as well as the page numbers where they begin. Chapter titles should be flush with the left margin, and the page numbers for all chapters should be aligned. Sample:

Introduction: Renaissance Ideas of Gender                              3

Chapter 1: Gender Switching in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night  17 

Lists of tables, figures, appendices, or abbreviations (Optional): If you have multiple lists, they should be presented on separate pages, each entitled “List of…”

Chapters: All chapters should begin on a new page with the title centered on the first line. The title should be exactly the same as the one on the Title Page. The chapter content should then begin on the following line.

Works Cited: The Works Cited should begin on a new page after the last chapter. The title “Works Cited” should appear on the first line and the first entry should begin on the succeeding line.  The Works Cited should include only those sources that you actually cited in the thesis.  MLA does not allow for a “Works Consulted.”

Curriculum Vitae: This is essentially an academic resume. You should include on it all experiences that pertain to your career as a teacher, writer, and researcher, including community service that relates to education. Common sections for a CV are: Academic Positions, Publications, Presentations, Courses Taught, Courses Taken, Professional Development, and Service (to the university or the community). The CV should not be paginated.