ETD Online Pre-Submittal Conference


This online training guide is designed to provide early and specific guidance on the preparation of a thesis/dissertation/record of study for Texas A&M University’s Thesis Office. It is divided into separate sections to enable students to view some or all of the sections at their convenience and as many times as you deem necessary. This online pre-submittal conference is meant to serve as a supplement to, or (if necessary) a replacement for, the in person pre-submittal conference. If possible, we encourage all students to schedule an in person pre-submittal conference prior to the date of their defense. Also consult the Thesis Manual for more in depth formatting guidance.


In this video the director of the Thesis Office provides a brief welcome and introduction for this online training.

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Howdy! My name is Laura Hammons. As the director, it is my pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the Thesis Office. One of our primary goals in the Thesis Office is to serve Texas A&M University and you, our student clientele, as effectively and efficiently as possible. We are convinced that one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that every student who submits to our office participates in one of our pre-submittal conferences. This conference ensures that you obtain the guidance that you need to prepare your thesis, dissertation or record of study.

We recognize, though, that many of you at this point in your academic careers are no longer here in College Station. We also recognize a need to provide more specific guidance on formatting and style earlier in your academic program. We have designed this pre-submittal conference so that you may access it from any location, at any point in your academic program and as often as you like. We have also tried to customize it in such a way that you access only the material you are interested in. As you go through this material, please share with us your suggestion for making the format and content of the conference more effective and user friendly.

For those of you who are unable to take advantage of an in-person conference, or who just desire to supplement that conference, we hope that this online medium will be beneficial to you. Have a great online conference and thank you.


This module addresses the purpose of the pre-submittal conference.

We recommend you view the remaining videos in full-screen mode. You may also wish to use the high definition (HD) option to enhance your viewing experience.
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1. The Thesis Office provides guidance to students and advisors in preparation, submission, review, approval and availability of graduate thesis, dissertations and records of study.

2. Our specific role is to advise on matters of formatting and style to ensure professional quality and uniformity of all theses and dissertations produced at Texas A&M University.

3. The goals of this online pre-submittal conference are four fold:

  • To familiarize you with specific Thesis Office Deadlines
  • Provide an overview of the requirements to clear the Thesis Office
  • To give insight into the submittal and review process
  • Provide early but timely feedback on the current style of your thesis compared with Thesis Office guidelines

Data show that students who attend one of our in-person pre-submittal conferences reduce the total number of corrections received as well as the number of rounds of review needed to clear the Thesis Office. Students who attended our conference generally had one to two rounds of review, while those who did not attend a conference, more likely had two to three rounds of review.


This module covers the various submittal and clearance deadlines, including traditional and early deadlines.

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There are two Thesis Office deadlines you should be familiar with.

  1. Submittal deadline – The submittal deadline is the last day that a manuscript will be accepted for review for graduation in the current semester. Pay close attention to this deadline – it is absolute and there are no extensions or exceptions to this date. Deadline day usually falls 7 weeks prior to the commencement date for that semester – in the months of March, June and October. Also, be advised that meeting the submittal deadline merely maintains your eligibility for graduation in a given semester. A number of other requirements must be completed, including completing all Thesis Office requested corrections, in a timely manner.
  2. Clearance deadline – The clearance deadline is the date by which all Thesis Office corrections should be completed and all required forms submitted. We will discuss required forms in just a minute. The Clearance deadline generally falls 2.5 weeks prior to the commencement date.

For students, who are unable to meet our regular deadlines, the Thesis Office provides an opportunity for students to submit and clear the Thesis Office early for the next semester’s graduation. Students who are able to clear early may be able to avoid registration for an additional semester and can request a Letter of Completion from the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, if desired. Be advised that, due to the shortened timeframe, we may not be able to clear all students who desire to avoid the next semester’s registration.  Students who desire to clear early should submit to the Thesis Office as soon as possible once the ETD Submission System re-opens for the semester of graduation. In order to avoid registration, all Thesis Office requirements to clear (addressed in the next video) must be met by the last date to add/drop courses for the graduation semester.

To have the best chance of clearing, we advise you to submit early, provide us with a high quality document that closely adheres to Thesis Manual guidelines, avoid multiple rounds of review, and respond back to our inquiries for corrections as quickly as possible.

Note: All Thesis Office deadlines for a given semester are available from the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Calendar.


Here, we address the documents and other procedures that students must complete in order to clear the Thesis Office.

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In this next section, we will discuss specific requirements for submission to and clearance from the Thesis Office. Be aware that separate deadlines pertain to each. Most importantly, we will discuss the requirements for completing and submitting the Approval Form for your written thesis/dissertation.

Submittal Requirements

By 5 pm on deadline day, we must have:

  1. The PDF copy of your manuscript uploaded to our submittal system.
  2. The signed Written Dissertation or Thesis Approval Form.

Written Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form

The Signed Approval Form of the written manuscript is separate from the Approval or Report of the Final Oral Exam. While, the Report of the Oral Exam Form will be provided to your committee by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, you must prepare the Written Thesis/Dissertation Approval form and bring it with you to the final defense.

The Written Thesis/Dissertation Approval form assures us that each member of the Committee has approved the final content of the manuscript in order to enable us to begin the review process. Note that one dissenting vote is allowed. No content changes to your manuscript will be accepted following Thesis Office receipt of this form.

We require signatures from:

  • Committee Chair of advisory committee and Co-Chair (if applicable)
  • Committee members, including special appointments, and
  • Department head or authorized signer for department head.

We do not accept substitute signatures for committee members – so plan ahead. Also, we prefer all signatures to be original and on the same form; however, faxed/scanned signatures may be accepted in cases were a committee chair or member is not in College Station. Ideally the non-original signature will be the first one on the form, with original signatures following so that we don’t have to accept multiple forms. The department head signature must always be original.

If you anticipate any problems obtaining signatures, please contact us immediately so that we can advise you regarding possible options. We suggest that this form be hand delivered to the Thesis Office to avoid any risk of the form being delayed in campus or postal mail.

Clearance Requirements

In addition to the PDF and Approval Form required by the submittal deadline, there are several other forms that must be submitted and actions taken to clear the Thesis Office.

  • Complete all corrections requested by Thesis Office.
  • Apply for graduation.
  • Register for the semester, unless you are pursuing the early clearance option.
  • Submit the results of your successful Oral Defense to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.
  • Pay the Thesis Office processing fee ($110 Master’s; $170 Doctoral students). This fee is generally assessed to your student account, within 24-48 hours of submitting the manuscript and Approval Form. You can pay the fee through Howdy or by going in person to Student Business Services.
  • Submit copyright permissions (if applicable).
  • Submit all required forms.

-Copyright and Availability Form (Ph.D., D.En., Ed.D. and Master’s)

-Combined online AAUDE Survey and Survey of Earned Doctorates (Ph.D.)

Copyright Considerations

Any non-original material included in the manuscript must be cited appropriately in the text in order to avoid plagiarism. Additionally, these materials should be evaluated for copyright purposes. Whether or not you need to seek permission depends on the following:

  1. If the re-used material is in the public domain or comes with a license (such as Creative Commons license) that is appropriate to your use, it need only be cited.
  2. If the material is not in the public domain then you should determine whether or not  material may be usable under the Fair Use provision of copyright law. A Fair Use analysis should be conducted and documentation retained for any material included based on Fair Use.
  3. Finally, if the material is not in the public domain, have an attached license or the use does not weigh in favor of Fair Use, you will need to seek permission from the copyright holder and provide this information to the Thesis Office. Information for which permissions are obtained must be properly acknowledged in the thesis/dissertation.

Copyright Permissions

If you have author rights information or have obtained copyright permissions for pre-published material that will appear in the manuscript, you will also need to submit these to the Thesis Office and properly acknowledge the material in your thesis/dissertation. Most frequently, documentation of rights/permission is required for students who have published journal articles and included these articles in whole or substantial parts in their thesis or dissertation. We must have documentation to inform us whether or not you have retained rights as the author to use this material in your thesis or dissertation or you have been granted those rights by the copyright holder, if not yourself.


There are several forms required in order to clear the Thesis Office.

Copyright and Availability

Upon completion of your graduate program, the Thesis Office will make your electronic manuscript available to the public on the internet via Texas A&M University Libraries digital repository. The Copyright and Availability form is the mechanism through which you specify when your manuscript should become publicly accessible. There are 3 options from which you can choose:

  • Journal Hold
  • Patent Hold
  • Immediate Release

If you plan to submit your article for publication in a journal that requires they be the first publisher, you may want to select the Journal Hold option. This provides two years for you to submit your article for publication and for the publisher to make it available prior to the release of the thesis or dissertation.

If you have proprietary information in your manuscript and/or you intend to apply for a patent, the Patent Hold will enable us to restrict your manuscript until the information can be released to the public.

Finally, if neither of these restrictions is needed, you should select the Immediate Release option. Following the certification of all graduates for the semester, we will release your work to the library for cataloging and distribution.

Consult with your committee advisor to find out which option is best for you. There are both advantages and potential disadvantages to releasing and/or restricting access to your work. The Copyright and Availability Form must be signed by both – yourself and your Chair or Co-chair. This form can be faxed, scanned and emailed to our office or uploaded during the submission/review process via the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Submission System, Vireo.

AAUDE Graduate Student Exit Survey

The AAUDE Core Graduate Student Exit Survey is conducted by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies and is used to assess the quality of degree programs at Texas A&M University. Your responses are kept confidential and are utilized to improve graduate education at Texas A&M. Your feedback is important to us, however should you determine not to complete any or all of the questions, we require that at minimum you click through the survey so you may progress to the Survey of Earned Doctorates.

Survey of Earned Doctorates

The Survey of Earned Doctorates is a national survey used to compare doctoral programs across the United States. Your responses provide important information about graduate funding, time to degree and other critical factors that influence decisions about doctoral programs at the national level.

You are not required to respond to the survey questions, but you will need to click through the survey in order to obtain a certificate of completion which will automatically be emailed to our office to confirm completion of this step .

All forms may be accessed on the Student Forms and Information page linked from the Thesis webpages.


This video provides detailed information regarding the submittal, clearance and review processes involved in clearing the Thesis Office.

Submittal Process

  • When you are ready to submit your Committee approved manuscript, go to the Thesis/Dissertation section of this website and select the link to our electronic submittal system, Vireo from the Submit Your ETD webpage.
  • You will login with your NetID and password.
  • You will then agree to the non-exclusive distribution license and complete information regarding your degree, committee and manuscript.
  • Finally you will be given an opportunity to provide us with a pdf of your manuscript and any supplemental, source, or administrative files you may have. You may wish to include data sets, movie clips or other information as supplemental files – these are files you wish to share with the public but are too large to include in the manuscript or need to be made available in the original file type. Source files would include the original Word or LaTex document within which you produced the document.
  • The thesis/dissertation in pdf format, supplemental files and source files will all be transferred to the University Libraries digital repository following your graduation, but only the pdf of your manuscript and supplemental files will be made accessible to the public.  Administrative files (such as the Copyright and Availability Form or permissions) will be retained, as appropriate, in the Thesis Office/Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.
  • For more information on utilizing the electronic submittal system see our Guide to the Electronic Submittal System, Vireo.

Review Process

  • Once we receive the signed Written Thesis/Dissertation Approval Form and the pdf version of your manuscript, you will be placed in queue for review. Manuscripts are reviewed on a first come first serve basis. Depending on when your manuscript is received, you may hear back from us anywhere from 5 business days to 25 business days following submission. Because we can receive as many as 200 manuscripts during deadline week and as many as 100 on deadline day, response time may be delayed. The earlier your submission is received, the more likely we will be able to respond in a timely manner.
  • When we review your manuscript, we will prepare a list of corrections that will point to patterns of problems within your manuscript. You will be asked to address any specific examples of problems, as well as review the manuscript for other occurrences of the same issue.  Once the list of corrections is complete, we will notify you via email.
  • You will login to the submittal system to obtain the list of corrections. The corrections should be carefully made in the original version of your document, usually Microsoft Word or LaTeX. You will then convert the document again to pdf, review it to ensure it meets our standards, and upload it to submittal system.
  • On average, students receive two rounds of corrections before the document is approved by the Thesis Office. Additional rounds of corrections may be required in order to address corrections that were not made as requested, because of unforeseen problems that resulted from corrections made in the first round or to address important issues that may have been missed in the first review. We appreciate your patience during this process. We do our best to ensure the document is professional upon completion however the process is not a perfect one.  It is, however, important to minimize multiple rounds of review. In order to ensure every student receives adequate support prior to deadline dates, documents requiring extensive rounds of review (generally 4) may be placed on hold for a period of time.

Clearance Process

  • Once all corrections have been made, all forms received and other requirements completed, we will confirm via email that you have cleared the Thesis Office.
  • If you do not receive this confirmation email or you have any concerns about where you are in the process, feel free to contact us via email or phone.
  • Keep in mind that, despite going through University review and approval, there are likely to be content, as well as format, problems that remain in the document. Because of limited resources, we are unable to accept additional revisions following clearance.

Formatting: Introduction to Formatting Guidelines

This section addresses the reviews the various sections and ordering of the thesis, dissertation or record of study, as well as discusses common capitalization terminology.

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This section emphasizes formatting requirements. Since it is not possible to anticipate formatting issues that all students might encounter, we urge you to refer to the Thesis Manual if this section does not address your specific formatting style. This section was designed to take into consideration the most frequent and commonly encountered errors.

Organization of Thesis/Dissertation/Record of Study

Your thesis or dissertation is divided into several sections. We will discuss each of these separately and in order of appearance.

  1. The first section is the Front Matter or Preliminary Pages. These include: the Title page, Abstract, Dedication which is optional, Acknowledgments which is optional, Nomenclature which is optional, the Table of Contents, List of Figures and List of Tables;
  2. Text consisting of chapters or sections;
  3. References; and,
  4. Appendices, which are optional.

Capitalization Terminologies

Before we address the formatting requirements for each section, it will be helpful to define some commonly used terminology with respect to capitalization.

  1. Title case: First letter of each important word should be capitalized. Short prepositions and articles will remain lower case.
  2. All caps: Each letter in all of the words should be capitalized.
  3. Sentence case: Only the first letter of the first word is in uppercase letters while the rest of the words are in lower case, not including proper nouns and acronyms.

Formatting: Preliminary Page Settings

This section describes page number placement, margin settings, and  major headings style to be used preliminary pages of the manuscript.

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Margin Settings

Since this page is used to set the style for your manuscript, you want to ensure the settings on this page are consistent with what was used throughout the rest of the manuscript. First, consider your margin settings. Because students sometimes compile several chapters into one document, we often find variations in margin throughout the document.  We recommend you use our standard margin settings of 1.4″ left, 1.15″ right, and 1.25 inches on top and bottom.

Preliminary Page Numbering

Page numbering in the preliminary pages should be in lower case roman numerals and in the top right hand corner. The first page to include a number should be the abstract with page number iii.

Major Heading Style

The style of your major headings should be consistent throughout your manuscript. If you have bolded the title we want to ensure that you have bolded all other major headings in the manuscript (such as Chapter/section titles in the text). Also, be sure all major headings are consistently bold or plain font. Major headings may be 2 point sizes larger than the font of the text.  If you choose to make the title a larger font size, be sure you have applied this consistently to all other major headings. Major headings should be in all capital letters and centered. Except for the title page, all major headings should appear at the top margin.

Formatting: Title Page

This section describes formatting for the Title Page.

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Title Page – Spacing

The Title Page consist of several sections

  • Title
  • Thesis/author statement
  • Submittal statement
  • Degree name
  • Committee listing
  • Degree month and year, and
  • Major
  • Copyright Notice

Check the spacing on the Title Page to ensure the document is centered on the page and that spacing between sections and between lines matches our guidelines. Most items should be double spaced; however the submittal statement and committee listing will both be single spaced.

Each of the sections should have consistent spacing between them (usually two double spaces) except the degree name which is double spaced following the submittal statement.

Finally, be sure you’ve provided a descriptive title, without abbreviations. And, check for correct spelling of any words in all capital letters, since the spell checking tool does not always function appropriately for words in all caps.

Also, we like to see a balance of text on the page, meaning that the space above the title and below the copyright page are approximately the same.

Title Page – Degree Information

  • Make sure you have the correct degree, major and semester year of graduation.
  • Check your name to be sure that this matches official University records.
  • Check for appropriate capitalization on the Title Page. The title, degree and name on these pages should be in all capital letters.

Title Page – Committee Listing

For the committee listing, check the committee member listing against university records to ensure consistency. Be sure that you do not use “Dr.” or any other title in front of committee member names. The list should be single spaced and each entry should include first name, middle initial if applicable then family or last name.

Title Page – Committee Listing Variations

Committee listings with a single advisor or chair will appear slightly different from those with co-chairs. Use the designation “Co-Chairs of Committee” in place of “Chair of Committee”.  Also students in interdisciplinary programs should use the designation “Interdisciplinary Faculty Chair” in place of “Head of Department”.

Title Page – Copyright Notice

The copyright notice appears at the bottom of the Title page. Although your work is automatically protected under copyright as soon as it fixed in any tangible medium, it is good practice to include a copyright notice. It provides a clear message to readers regarding the rights you retain as the copyright holder. This notice may be included regardless of whether you have officially registered copyright with the Library of Congress, though there are good reasons to do so, including the ability to obtain monetary damages in court should your work be infringed.

Formatting: Abstract

This section addresses the content and formatting of the abstract.

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Abstract – Content

The abstract is often the most widely read and distributed part of your manuscript. It needs to be reviewed carefully for both content and grammar. We encourage you to work closely with your chair and/or the University Writing Center to ensure that it is professional and provides a complete, succinct snapshot of your research, including both the purpose and specific results obtained. Please do not include any formal citations within this section, as it should be able to stand alone. Also, do not include images or complex equations since these may not translate well in the databases where the text will be made available. Finally, the abstract should be concise – comprising no more than 350 words. We will read the abstract to ensure that it meets our standards for grammar as well as content; if not, revisions will be requested.

Abstract – Paragraph Style

The paragraph style used in the abstract will be used as a guide for the rest of your manuscript. You elect the style to follow, then apply it consistently throughout the manuscript.

  • First, select a font size. Font size is generally 12 point, but may be as small as 10 point. Recall that whatever size you select should be applied to all of the text in the manuscript, including the title and other preliminary pages.
  • Then, determine text spacing. Text spacing is generally double spaced or space and a half. Again, this should be applied to all text throughout your manuscript.
  • Next, consider your paragraph style. The first lines of new paragraphs are normally indented but may be in a block style (keeping all lines flush left with the margin). Block style paragraphs normally allow extra space between each paragraph to indicate transition, while paragraphs with indentations should not include extra spacing.
  • Finally, set your justification style. Text justification may be either fully justified or left aligned. Text aligned to the left will show a ragged right edge.

Abstract – Spacing after Major Headings

Generally, there should be two double spaces after the major heading and before the first line of text. Make note, the spacing you select on the Abstract Page should be consistently applied after all major headings and before the first line of text.

Also, recall that the Abstract is the first numbered page of your manuscript, which should be a lower case Roman numeral ii and positioned at the bottom center of the page.

Formatting: Optional Preliminary Pages

This section describes the formatting requirements for the Dedication, Acknowledgements and Nomenclature Pages.

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The Dedication, Acknowledgements and Nomenclature pages are optional. According to your future, personal or professional plans, you should consider carefully the content of what is included in the Dedication and Acknowledgements. Some students have later reported concerns with the information here being unprofessional or too revealing. It is generally not possible to make changes to this information following clearance from the Thesis Office. So it is best to err on the side of caution.


For the Dedication page, you should use the same font size and type as the rest of your text. The Dedication is limited to one page, and inclusion of the major heading is optional


Any acknowledgements to family, friends, colleagues, or others who have contributed to your personal success or to the completion of this research should be made in paragraph format; lists are not acceptable. The acknowledgements section is limited to 4 pages. We also ask that you check the spelling of word “Acknowledgements” against the spelling used in the Table of Contents since there are two acceptable spellings and we want to ensure consistency.


The font size and type on the Nomenclature page should be the same as the rest of your text. The Nomenclature may be placed as the last preliminary page (before the Table of Contents), after the Reference Section, or as an Appendix. The number of pages allowed in Nomenclature section is unlimited.

Formatting: Preliminary Pages – Table of Contents

This subsection describes formatting requirements for the Table of Contents.

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The Table of Contents may utilize a Section or Chapter style following the style you used in the text.

Major Headings

All major headings must be included in the Table of Contents including all chapter or section titles. The first chapter or section must include the word introduction while the last chapter or section must include the word summary and/or conclusions.


In addition to major headings, all 1st level subheadings must be included in the Table of Contents. Including lower level subheadings is optional. If you choose to include lower level subheadings, you must include all subheadings of that level, as well as prior levels, in the Table of Contents. In Example, 1 the student has elected to include only first level subheadings in the Table of Contents

The second example demonstrates both first and second level subheadings in the Table of Contents.

Column Headings

Be sure to include any column headings such as “Page” (and, if needed “Chapter”) on the first page and any subsequent pages of the Table of Contents. Chapter column headings are not needed if the word appears on the same line with the chapter number.


Follow the Thesis Manual closely to ensure appropriate spacing between lines – generally everything follows the spacing of text (either double or space and half) except the subheadings which should be single spaced.

Page Number Alignment

Be sure that your page numbers are aligned in the right hand column.


Check for appropriate indentations of chapter titles and subheadings. Section titles do not need to be indented but each subheading level should be indented.

Capitalization Consistency

Chapter or section titles should be in all capital letters. Each subheading level may have the same or different styles of capitalization but should be consistent within the level. For example – you may wish to use a title case for all subheadings or you may wish to use this only for the 1st level subheadings while the lower level subheadings use a sentence case.

Text Style

You should not use bold or italics in the Table of Contents unless italics is required to denote a work of literature, ship name, genus species or other item that requires it.

Word and Page Agreement

Finally check for word agreement between what is listed in the Table of Contents against the text listing. Also check for page agreement.

Formatting: List of Figures and List of Tables

This subsection describes formatting requirements for the List of Figures and List of Tables.

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  •  A List of Figures is required if you have two or more figures in the text and the same for the List of Tables.
  • All figures and tables located in the text must be included in the List.
  • Placing appendix table or figures in the List of Tables or Figures is optional, unless those figures/tables have been numbered consecutively from the text.

Column Headings and Alignment

  • Be sure to include column headings such as Page or Figure (if not included alongside of the figure number) on the first page and any subsequent pages.
  • Be sure that your page numbers are aligned in the right hand column.
  • Connect the listing of titles to page numbers with leader dots.
  • Where necessary wrap titles to the next line to avoid using words in the figure/table number column and in the page number column.


  • Be sure to use appropriate spacing – generally the spacing of the text between figure and table titles and single spacing within multi-line figure and table titles.

Capitalization Style

  • Check for consistency in capitalization. You may use either title or sentence case.

Text Style

  • You should not use italics or bold in the list unless it is for a work of literature, scientific name or other item that requires italics.

Word and Page Agreement

  • Check for word agreement between what is listed in the list against the text. You must include the full title up until the first period. Also check for page agreement.
  • Every title must be unique.

Parenthetical Material

  • Inclusion of parenthetical material in the List of Figures/Tables is optional.

Formatting: Text – Page 1

This section addresses formatting for Page 1 in the body of the manuscript.

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Now we are going to look at the body (or text) of the manuscript. Your text may be in a section or chapter style.

Major Headings

Regardless of which style you have selected, the first text page should contain a major heading denoting the chapter or major section designation  (Chapter I, for example) and title (such as, Introduction and Overview). Recall that your title must include the word “Introduction”.

If you are using chapter designations, be sure to use Roman numerals for your chapter numbers.

The spacing of the major heading and its style should follow what was used in the preliminary pages.

Page Numbering

The page number should be positioned at the bottom center of the page, in the same location as in the preliminary pages, but will be numbered in Arabic numerals beginning with page number 1.

We encourage you to use the Thesis Office template since the page numbering has already been established for you.

Formatting: Text – Paragraph and Text Requirements

This module explains requirements and style selections for text justification, paragraph settings, and spacing that need to be adopted throughout the manuscript.

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Recall that the major heading and paragraph styles used in the abstract should be used as a guide for the rest of your manuscript. You elect the style to follow, then apply it consistently throughout the manuscript.

  • The font size of your title should be consistent with the rest of your major headings, generally 12 point but no more than 2 point sizes larger than the text.
  • Maintain consistent use of bold (or no bolding) for major headings, which include your chapter or section titles.
  • Check for consistent spacing after the title and before the first line of text
  • Use the same style for indentations in the first line of new paragraphs
  • Be sure the justification style in the text matches what was used in the abstract.
  • Be sure text spacing (generally double spaced or space and a half) is consistent with the abstract.

Paragraph Style, Continued

Use consistent spacing before and after subheadings.

Finally, be consistent with spacing between paragraphs. Generally, there is no extra spacing between paragraphs unless you are using the block paragraph style, which does not indent the first lines of new paragraphs.

Text Mentions for Chapters/Sections

Do a word search for chapter or section to ensure that you capitalize the word when you are referring to a specific chapter or section. And for chapter titles, always use Roman numerals, not Arabic when making reference. For sections, use Arabic numerals, if you have major sections designated in Arabic numbers.

Minimum Text Length Requirement

Text only pages must have a minimum of 4.5 inches of text on the page unless it is the final page in the chapter or section.  This rule does not apply for pages where text is shared with a figure or table.

Formatting: Text – Subheadings

This subsection describes style selections and capitalization of subheadings.

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If your chapter or sections includes subheadings, you should select a unique style for each subheading level and consistently apply this style throughout the manuscript.

Unnumbered Subheadings

For unnumbered subheadings differentiation is denoted by the use of bold, italics, underlining, alignment, and/or capitalization.

In this example – The first level subheadings is bold, title case, centered, with no italics while second level subheadings are consistently bold, sentence case, left aligned, with no italics

Numbered Subheadings

Numbering can be used to distinguish between different levels of subheadings. Subheading numbers start with the major chapter/section number, then cascade from there to distinguish between various subheadings of the same and different levels.

Capitalization Style and Punctuation of Subheadings

Capitalization of subheadings in the text generally follows what was used in the Table of Contents (sentence or title case), but not always. The key here is consistency – within the Table of Contents and within the text.

For example - Subheadings in the Table of Contents and in the text can both be title case

In the second example, subheadings in the Table of Contents are in title case while in text they are in all caps.

Note that only first level subheadings may be in all capital letters in the text; and, they cannot be centered. If you elect to use all caps for the first level subheading, we recommend placing them flush left to the margin.

Periods or colons after subheadings should only be included when the subheadings are in line with the text. The line of text containing the in-line subheading should be indented if you are indenting the first line of new paragraphs.

Finally, remember that subheadings must have at least one line of text below. Any subheading which falls on the last text line, should be moved to the top of the subsequent page.

Formatting: Text – Figures and Tables

This subsection describes the formatting for figures and tables in the text.

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Figure/Table Placement

Figures and tables may be placed appropriately throughout the text or placed in the appendices. Figures and tables in the text may be isolated on a page, or embedded with the text. If embedded with the text, the figure or table must be separated above and below, from any text or other figure or table by a minimum 3 single spaces.

Text Mentions of Figures and Tables

Each figure/table placed in the text must have a text mention. All first text mentions must be in numerical order. The first text mention of any figure/table must appear no more than 1.5 text pages before the figure or table or no more than 1 text page following the figure or table.

Figure/Table Title Placement

The figure or table title should be consistently above or below the figure or table according to your style guide requirements.  Most, but not all, style guides place figure titles below the image, and table titles above.

Consistency of Figure/Table Titles

There should be consistency among all figure titles and likewise among all table titles in the following –

  1.  In the figure or table title placement – either below or above
  2.  In the use of justification, bold and italics
  3.  In the use of end punctuation
  4.  In vertical spacing of titles of two or more lines
  5. In the capitalization style of the title – either title or sentence case

Figure Labeling

There must also be consistency in the labeling of the figure and table title. There are many options from which to select –

  1. You may spell out the word figure or abbreviate it.
  2. The label may be in all caps or not, in italics or not, in bold or not
  3. The figure label may be followed by a colon, a dash or have no punctuation
  4. If you abbreviate the word figure, you may follow that by a period or elect to use no punctuation.


In the first example below you can see that the label is consistently bold and italicized, in upper and lower case with a colon following, and the word figure is spelled out.

In the second example the word figure is abbreviated. The label is consistently bold, in upper and lower case letters, with no italics.

Continued Figures and Tables

Whenever possible, fit tables and figures on a single page. If a table or figure must be continued, then include the figure/table number, along with the word, “Continued” in the appropriate location (above/below) the continued image. Also, be sure to repeat any row or column headings for continued tables. Finally, for the Table of Contents be sure to display the page number for the first page where the figure/table appears, not the entire page range.

Capitalization Style

Capitalization of figure or table titles in the text generally follows what was used in the list of figures or tables, either sentence or title case but not always. The key here is consistency within the list of figures or tables and within the text.

Formatting: References

This module describes the formatting requirements for the reference section.

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Your manuscript must include a single, unified reference section which includes all works cited in the text. The format for this section should follow your department approved style guide, which is noted in the Thesis Manual.  However, for any style issues that conflict with the Thesis Manual, please follow the Thesis Manual format requirements instead of your style guide. The Thesis Office will review the references for face-consistency; it will be your and your committee’s responsibility to ensure you appropriately follow your style guide.

First, make sure that you have used the same terminology for the major headings as is used in your style guide. For example – the word – References or Literature Cited is common.

Also, regardless of your style guide, the Thesis Office requires a minimum of one double space between each reference entry. You may elect to double space or single space within each entry.

For ease of reading, we suggest you left align this section, regardless of the justification style used in the text.

Reference List Styles

Generally there are two styles of reference lists – either alphabetical or numerical. We will discuss each in more detail in just a moment. Then we will look specifically at the format within each referenced item.

Alphabetical Style

In alphabetically listed reference sections, be sure all entries are in alphabetical order by author’s last name. Also, be consistent with the ordering of publications by the same author. For ordering of multiple publication entries by the same author (single or with others) – follow your style guide and be sure you are consistent throughout the reference section. For example, some style guides indicate that multiple publication entries be placed in chronological order by publication date – either earliest to latest or latest to earliest

Numerical Style

Numerical references may be numbered by placement in the text or alphabetically, depending on your style guide.

  1. First, we will look at an example where numerical references are ordered dependent on placement in text. In this style, the first citation in the text is numbered “1” in the reference section; the second is numbered “2” and so on. For references ordered numerically in text, the Thesis Office will check to ensure that all first mentions occur in order.
  2. Next, is an example where numerical references are ordered alphabetically. In the reference section – the list is ordered alphabetically and then numbered in order of appearance. In this style, text citations may appear in any order. The number merely simplifies citing references in the text.

Text Citation Styles

Every reference in the list of references must have a matching text citation and vice versa. There are three basic text citation styles. You should follow the style used by your style guide.

  1.  Author/year style
  2. Reference number
  3. Superscripted reference number

Let’s look at an example for each one.

  • Author/year. In the first example, you can see that the author and year are included in the text. Parentheses may be placed around the author/year or sometimes just the year.
  • Reference number. In the second style a reference number only is placed in the text, usually in brackets.
  • Superscripted reference number. In the third style, a superscripted reference number is placed in the text following the cited material, generally with no punctuation around it, though commas may be placed between reference numbers.

Format Guidelines for Reference List

The type of information provided, the style used, and the ordering of information within the reference is determined by your style guide. Style guides vary widely in practice, so pay close attention. Using a reference citation manager such as Endnote or RefWorks can also enhance consistency.

For each reference, be consistent with the use of punctuation (commas, quotations, periods) and typeface. Provide complete retrieval information for reference material. Check each type of reference (for example, journal entries, book entries, web entries, etc.) to ensure that these match the style of your style guide.


Check closely the ordering of information within the reference to ensure it matches your style guide and to ensure consistency throughout the reference list for each type of reference item (book, journal article, etc).

There are numerous ways to format references. Here we have provided a couple of examples:

In the first example – the author listing is provided first followed by the year, then the article title, the journal name, the volume and/or issue number and the page range.

In the second example – the year of publication is provided toward the end of the reference. In addition, a full page range is not provided but only the first page in the page range.

Also notice the differences between the use of bold, italics, quotations marks, and capitalization.


Check closely for matching between the style guide and your reference list in the use of bolding, italics, quotations, and parenthesis.

Inconsistent capitalization is a commonly encountered error in the list of references. You may wish to take a single reference type (for example journal citations) and go through the complete list of references for that item to check for consistency in article titles, then book titles, etc.

In example 1 article titles are placed in sentence case, while the journal name and volume number are in italics.

In the second example, the article title is also in sentence case, but enclosed within quotation marks. The journal name is abbreviated, and not italicized, while the volume number is in bold.

Finally, initials are often used for author first and middle names. Be consistent with their use and placement within the author section. In example 1 – All first and subsequent author listings have last name first followed by first initial. In example 2 – First authors have last name first followed by first initial, but all subsequent authors have first and middle initial followed by last name.

Retrieval Information

Provide complete retrieval information for each reference so the type of publication is clear and so the reader can research and access the publication, if needed.

  •  For books, the references should generally provide both publisher and location of publisher.
  • For journals, you generally must include the article title, journal publication, volume and pagination.
  •  For web references, you generally include a publication year or access date along with the url.
  •  For conferences, you may need to include the date and location of the conference.

Formatting: Appendix Material

This module describes formatting for appendix material

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Appendix material is optional. The style used for your appendix material does not need to follow the rest of your manuscript; however, you must maintain consistency in the style of the major heading, in margin settings and your pages be numbered consecutively from the text.

You may use different font types and sizes for all but the major headings; however, be sure that the font size is readable – generally 7 point or larger.

Appendices can be named Appendix A, Appendix B and so on or Appendix I, II, etc. If you have a single appendix you may designate it simply, “Appendix”.

Final Proofing

This module describes suggested final proofing.

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After converting your document to PDF, please conduct a final proof check, taking note of the following:

  • Text flow sometimes shifts as a result of pdf conversion
  • Blank pages may appear
  • Images such as figures, tables, and equations sometimes disappear during conversion
  • Page size (8.5×11)  may have altered


This section concludes the online pre-submittal conference.

You have reached the conclusion of this online training. We appreciate your taking the time to participate in the online pre-submittal conference. Please take a few minutes to complete our online feedback form (available below) so we can assess the quality of this material. Your input is important to enable us to improve our services.

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