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Dissertation Formatting Guide (Style Manual Advice Included)

dissertation formatting guide

We don’t have to tell you how difficult dissertation writing really is. You probably know that already. Chances are, you are just starting working on this complex and arduous task. You may be an ace at researching and writing the content of your dissertation, but do you know all the important dissertation writing guidelines? You may not know, but there are very strict requirements when it comes to the way you format your paper. After all, academic writing has a set of strict standards one needs to follow. To make sure you don’t get penalized for trivial mistakes, learn all the important requirements of the dissertation format.

The Importance of Correct Dissertation Formatting

Your thesis must follow all the relevant academic writing guidelines. Otherwise, your paper can simply get rejected. And in the best case scenario, you will be penalized for all those little mistakes. Why risk it when all you have to do to avoid penalties is to read and follow our thesis writing guidelines? Don’t worry; it’s not rocket science. Thesis writing is a lot more difficult than formatting the paper properly. To help you out, we have compiled 3 lists of dissertation requirements for you. All you have to do is print them as a checklist and then ensure each one of these requirements is met. Truth be told, a dissertation guide can’t get easier than this. In addition, you can find a list of all the important style guides for dissertation writing at the end of this post.

Dissertation Fonts, Spacing, Margins and Page Layout

The fonts, spacing, margins and page layout are very important when you write your dissertation. Here are the rules you must follow when formatting your thesis:

  1. The font size should be 11 or 12 point. Maintain this size throughout your dissertation, except for the title, which can be up to 16 points.
  2. Use only black fonts (preferred fonts are Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Cambria, Bookman Old Style, and Lucida Bright). You can highlight areas using a different color, but always use a black font.
  3. The entire dissertation should be double-spaced with the exception of long quotes, which must be single-spaced with wide margins.
  4. As margins, use one inch margins for right, top and bottom for all elements of the thesis. The left margin should be at least one inch, depending on the binding technique.
  5. The header and footer of the page should contain only the page number. There should be no running heads. There are no other page layout requirements.

As you can see, the dissertation rules are not as harsh as you have imagined. Let’s talk about the paper you need to use and about the binding requirements.

Thesis Paper and Binding Requirements

Without further ado, here are the dissertation guidelines when it comes to paper type and binding:

  1. If you are required to submit a bound copy (like when you place an embargo on the thesis), you must use 20- or 24-pound bond paper that is made out of 100% cotton.
  2. The paper needs to be watermarked and the sheet size must be 8.5 by 11 inch.
  3. DO NOT use any paper that is not made out of 100% cotton.
  4. The digital version must be exactly the same as the print version of the thesis.
  5. Check with the department if you need to bind the abstract as well.
  6. Most universities accept only copied bound using the oversewn method.
  7. The dissertation title and full name should be on the front cover
  8. The thesis title and your last name must be on the spines of the copies.

When it comes to thesis writing, there are few formatting rules for photos and images. You just need to make sure they are all clear and that they are printed using the highest possible quality setting. As for the language, all dissertations are written in English unless you agreed to another language with your committee or department. Each department sets its own bibliography, references, citations, and footnotes requirements, so make sure you get a list from them before you start working on the thesis. You may even be able to get an entire thesis guide from your department.

The Style Guide for Students Working on Their Dissertation

You are advised to get the style manual for the style you are about to write the dissertation in. The style guide contains all the important requirements and rules, so it is very important. It won’t show you what to write in your thesis, but will teach you how to write dissertation following the academic standards. Here are the four style manuals that we recommend to students:

  1. Modern Language Association style sheet for MLA-style papers
  2. The Chicago Manual of Style for Chicago-style dissertations
  3. American Psychological Association style sheet for APA-style theses
  4. Turabian, Kate L., “A Manual for Writers” for Turabian-style papers

In conclusion, writing a dissertation correctly, following all the important style and formatting guidelines, is not as difficult as you think. You just need to be careful and get yourself accustomed to all of the requirements of each style. Also, make sure you contact your department to obtain the list of custom requirements, if any. In most cases, universities have differing requirements for bibliography, citations, page numbers, and even references. And remember, the style guide is your best friend from start to finish!

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