Dissertation Formatting

Dissertation Formatting

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Dissertation Formatting Tips

The requirements for dissertations may vary from one university to another. It is important to consult with the supervisors or the university’s dissertation manual for the specific guidelines. However, one should consider some of the following areas when formatting a dissertation.

Style Manual

  • Ensure the entire dissertation follows the style manual specified by the university of supervisor (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard, Oxford e.t.c)


  • Ensure the text is 10 to 12 points depending on the font used
  • Italics and underlining maybe used for book titles, statistical symbols, or definitions
  • Maintain the text left aligned unless otherwise required

Margins and pagination

Conventionally, one should ensure the following margins to ensure ease of reading and binding of manuscripts

  • Left: at least 1.5″ for all pages
  • Top/bottom/right margin: at least 1″
  • Arabic numerals for all pages starting from Chapter 1
  • Roman numerals for Acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents e.t.c
  • Pages placed three-quarters inches from the page’s bottom

White space

  • Ensure no white space of more than two inches is left without text
  • Leave at least three black lines between a table or figure and the adjoining text

Line Spacing

  • Conventionally, the text should be double spaced
  • Exceptions include:
    • Block quotations
    • Footnotes/endnotes
    • Column headings and text within tables
    • Appendices
    • Figure captions

Order of the sections

Ensure the dissertation has the following sections in that order.

  • Title page
  • Copyright page
  • Acknowledgements
  • TOC (Table of Contents)
  • List of figures
  • List of tables
  • Abbreviations
  • Forward
  • Abstract
  • *The Main Body (with appropriate topic and subtopics as desired)
    • Introduction
    • Literature Review
    • Methodology
    • Results and findings
    • Discussion
    • Conclusion and recommendations
  • Reference List
  • Appendices

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