Thesis/Dissertation Formatting

General Formatting

Follow these formatting guidelines for your thesis/dissertation (if using APA):

The organization of your paper should contain (and in this order):

1.  Title Page (no printed page number)
2.  Abstract (keep to one paragraph)
3.  Copyright Page (one page only)
4.  Certificate of Approval Page
5.  Dedication Page (optional and one page only)
6.  Acknowledgments Page (optional and one page only)
7.  List of Figures
8.  List of Tables
9.  Content/Chapters
10. Appendix/Appendices (when applicable)
11.Reference Page(s)
12.Vita (one page only)

  • Font: Use Times New Roman, size 12, aligned left.
  • Line spacing: Double spaced without extra spaces between paragraphs (except for Abstract and Approval).  To be sure there are no extra spaces around your paragraphs in Microsoft Word, click on Layout and in the paragraph section be sure it says "0 pt" in the Spacing Before and Spacing After.
  • Widow/Orphan Control: You must enable this control in Microsoft Word.
    • Select all text in your document.
    • Right-click anywhere on the highlighted text and select Paragraph.
    • On the Lines and Page Breaks tab in the popup box, be sure Widow/Orphan control is checked.
  • Paragraph indents: Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5" using the tab key (not the spacebar).
  • Mirrored margins: The top and bottom margins will be 1".  The left and right margins will be mirrored.  
    • Odd-numbered pages according to Microsoft Word (not your page numbers) have a left margin of 1.5" and a right of 1" and will appear on the right page of a printed book.
    • Even-numbered pages according to Microsoft Word (not your page numbers) have a left margin of 1" and a right of 1.5" and will appear on the left side of a printed book.
    • These mirrored margins allow for bound, print copies to be formatted correctly.  You must have mirrored margins even if you do not plan on printing a copy of your thesis/dissertation. 
    • To set mirrored margins in Microsoft Word, click on Layout > Margins > Custom Margins.  Under the dropdown for Multiple Pages, select Mirror Margins.  Change the inside margin to 1.5".  Be sure to apply it to the whole document.  Click OK.
  • Page order: Your thesis/dissertation pages/sections must be in the same order as the list on the left beginning with Title. 
  • Page breaks: Each section of your document listed on the left starts on a new page.  Do not press Enter repeatedly to get to the new page because that will need constant adjustment as you alter your text.  Instead, go to Layout > Breaks > Page. 
  • Page numbers: Page numbers are centered at the bottom of the page. 
    • Do not type in page number manually; use the automatic page numbering function in Microsoft Word.
    • This is easiest to do after you have the rough draft of your thesis/dissertation completed.
    • Follow these instructions for page numbering.  One page has no number, some pages use roman numerals, and some use numbers.  Be sure to follow the instructions exactly for proper formatting.
  • Note: if you paste text into your document, it may bring over formatting from the source document.  Therefore, you should right-click where you want to paste, and from the paste options choose either "merge formatting" or "keep text only" to help preserve your destination document's formatting.  Which one you choose depends on whether you have source formatting you want to keep like bold, italics, etc. because "keep text only" will eliminate that formatting. 
  • Hyperlinks. The paper should not contain any live hyperlinks.  URL's may be referenced but not linked.  The font should be black.
  • Use the CHECKLIST to ensure that your paper will comply with the Tennessee Tech Graduate School and APA formatting guidelines.
  • Download the Thesis/Dissertation Handbook (PDF)

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