documents describing techniques for accomplishing certain layouts
in Microsoft Word® are available here. Clicking on the document
format you prefer will open or download a copy of the document. Some
of the tips are complete on this page.
To see photos of sample theses, click here.
Thesis Formatting and Deposit Workshops
Each semester, the University Thesis Office schedules a Thesis Formatting and Deposit Workshops. The same workshop is offered at different times on different days. Plan on attending one of these workshops. There you will be given all the formatting information you need to know. When the schedule is prepared, the thesis format advisor will send a notice to GRADALL and post it by her door.
Terms for Describing Format
As printing technology changes, so do the terms used to describe formatting. Here are some terms that I am familiar with but that today's students may not recognize.
Carriage return. This term was used to describe formatting when the typist had to manually "throw the carriage" on which the paper reposed in order to get the typewriter to type on the next line. The closest equivalent today would be "hit enter" or "press return" or "enter a line feed/"
One single-spaced blank line. On a typewriter, when you do a carriage return twice with the spacing set to single-spacing you leave one single-spaced blank line of white space. On a computer, this single-spaced blank line would be the equivalent of 12 pts or 1/6 of an inch. If you do this with the spacing set to double spacing, you will leave the equivalent of two blank lines of space, or 24 pts or 1/3 of an inch.
Leave one single-spaced blank line between the lines. On a computer, in order to leave the equivalent of one single-spaced blank line after a line set to single-spacing, you will hit enter/return twice or enter a line feed twice, or set the space above the line to 12 pts or 1/6 of an inch. OR, if the line in question is already set for double spacing, there will be the equivalent of 12 pts below the typing, between the line and the following line anyway. If you set the spacing to "24 pts," however, the 12 pts of blank space between the two lines will fall above the line.
Leave three single-spaced blank lines after a chapter title and before a subhead. This can be accomplished several ways. See the explanation in the spacing equivalents chart section below.
Spacing Equivalents Chart
Please study the chart below. It sets up equivalents among different size measurements for spacing in your thesis/dissertation. If you understand these equivalents it will make describing the formatting easier. The most effective way to format your thesis is to assign "space before" or "space after" a line.
For example, if you want to have a 2-inch top margin on the first page of a chapter, realize that the top margin is already one inch (equals 72 points). To place the chapter title two inches down from the top of the page, tell MS Word to place another inch above the chapter number (AKA another 72 pts).
You can download a jpeg of this chart here.
To place the equivalent of three blank lines before a subhead, you must first look at the spacing of the last line before the subhead. If it is double-spaced and the spacing falls below the typing, you already have an extra 12 pts before the subhead in question. Therefore you only need to add another 24 pts before the subhead to get the spacing between the last line on the page and the subhead for the equivalent of three blank lines or 36 pts.
For help with these calculations, see me in my office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Format the First Page of a Chapter
The chapter number and title are all part of the chapter title. The title begins 2 inches (144 pts) from the top of the page. See previous section on how to achieve this.
The page does carry a page number, in Arabic numbers, located in the same place as on every other page, 1/2 inch (36 pts) from the top of the page and
1 inch (72 pts) from the right edge of the page. The chapter title is typed in ALL CAPS, centered, with no end punctuation. Be sure to use single spacing for the chapter title, since this will make it easier to count the single-spaced blank lines (12 pts) that must follow. Also, if the title runs to more than one line,
it must be single spaced, so you will be all set if you use single spacing for all chapter titles.
The title is followed by three single-spaced blank lines (3 x 12 = 36 pts), and the text begins indented. The spacing for the text should be either double or 1 1/2 spacing, whichever you have decided to use throughout.
The training packets distributed at the thesis workshops each semester usually contain an example of the first page of a chapter. Also, you can download an example in PDF format here. If this doesn't download properly, try this JPEG here.This is a document that I created. I have tried to make the measurements exact, but they are not perfect. If you print out this document, the resulting page margins will be more accurate if you print with any boxes for centering or scaling unchecked or turned to off or none.
If you still have questions, please see me in my office.
Creating Cover Sheets
Cover Sheets are pages
that are neither counted nor numbered, and this creates a problem because
the software wants to assign a number to every page, even if the page
number isn't printed on the page. When deposit was done on paper, it was possible to put the cover
sheets at the end of the document or in a document of their own and
manuallyplace the sheets in the thesis. Now that we are depositing PDFs via ETD, using this method means the
pages won't be in the right place.
keep the cover sheet (which is to be neither counted nor numbered) in
order numerically if you use a section break. While there are several ways to do th is, here is one: Insert a section break before the cover page, indicate the following text starts on a new page, and start the page numbering on the same number
as the preceding one. Create the cover page (e.g., BIBLIOGRAPHY, centered
on the page), insert another section break, and start the page numbering
for this section at the next page number. Then create the bibliography
according to instructions.
The same can be done for other cover sheets:
Appendices, Vita. See the thesis manual for instructions on cover sheets.
(No download for this tip; it is all printed here.)
Thanks to former grad student Matthieu Chan Tsin for this tip.
Use "US Letter"
setting for paper size, not A4
When you start to set
up your thesis, be sure that you choose "US letter" and not
"A4" for Page Size in the Page Setup box.
Theses have to be printed
on 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, which requires
the US letter setting wherever you are asked to designate page size.
The two places that occur to me off hand are the Page Setup box and
the Print dialog box. There may be others.
please take note: In the US, almost no one knows what A4 paper is. The
standard in the US is US letter (8.5 x 11 inches). A4 paper, standard used in most of the rest of the world, measures 8.26 x 11.69 inches. This
means it is slightly narrower and slightly longer than standard US letter
paper. If you use the A4 setting, your margins will not be correct when
you print to the paper you purchase in the store or that is provided
in the labs. Providing your own A4 paper is not an option because Purdue requires that the thesis/dissertation be printed on 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper.
the Continuation Line, Word document (download)
Microsoft Word® places footnotes at the end of a document as endnotes,
it usually draws the continuation line on each page, just as if the
notes were still footnotes. This document tells how to remove the continuation
Word® Tips and templates on the Thesis
Office site (opens in a new window).
Thesis Office offers a number of documents of tips that includes such topics as
Creating a Table of Contents, Inserting "Landscape" Pagination,
and Removing the Continuation Line. Also offered on the site are a Page
Margin Template (a current one optimized for Word 2010 for the PC) and some checklists.
Labs in Stanley Coulter Hall
Check schedule on door of lab:
For group work or laptop access: G073
Labs with desktop machines:
179, 189, 231, 246, 277, 283, 289
= ground (basement)
the Quote Marks, Word document (download)
document entitled "Curling the Quote Marks" tells how to replace
straight or typewriter quote marks with curled or typographer's quotes
(also referred to as "smart" quotes).
you create a PDF, be careful!
sure that you create the PDF on a computer on which you have checked
every aspect of the format of the Word document from which the PDF will
be made. If you have to take the Word file or files to another computer
to create the PDF, you will have to recheck every aspect of your thesis before you make the PDF. Otherwise, you may be surprised by things that
shift slightly. Tabs are especially likely to shift, but spacing and
almost anything else can also be affected.
is because Word documents are printer dependent. The printer connected
to the computer and the settings of the version of Word on the computer
may change the format when you open the file on the new computer to
make the PDF.
the Adobe® instructions for creating PDFs. Visit the Adobe help site here (opens in a new window).
iThenticate / Plagiarism check
Beginning in Fall 2014, you will be required to have a plagiarism check run on your thesis or dissertation. The software being used is called iThenticate. Information on this is available on the News page of this site. For help in preventing unintentional plagiarism, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab at https://owl.english.purdue.edu.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab https://owl.english.purdue.edu/ offers workshops throughout the year that will help you with your writing and formatting. Check their site and watch for announcements in your Purdue email account.
Working with Languages Other than English, Word
document, PDF document (download)
document provides keyboard commands (AKA shortcuts) for common accent
marks and symbols in Microsoft Word® for both Mac and PC format,
and addresses several other issues about typing in a language other
are the titles of some books on writing a thesis or dissertation:
Alan, ed., Your Master's Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write, and
Revise, 2nd rev. ed. (Albergele, UK: Studymates, 2006). 135 pp.
Includes advice on working with your supervisor / major professor and
copyright. Written with UK in mind, but universally applicable. I have
a copy of this book. Also available: Your PhD Thesis. http://www.studymates.co.uk
Joan, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide
to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis (New
York: Holt–Owl, 1998).
Gordon B. Writing the Doctoral Dissertation, 2nd ed. (Hauppauge
NY: Barron's Educational, 1997). 154 pp. ISBN-10: 0812098005; ISBN-13: 978-0812098006 (Paperback). Amazon has
excerpts available online.