Your master’s thesis must comply with certain formatting guidelines. Be sure to read the list of requirements thoroughly before you begin, and check the list carefully before you submit.

Your formatting requirements vary depending on whether your degree is conferred through IU or Purdue.

IU Thesis Requirements

The links below will explain to you all of the formatting requirements for your thesis, including fonts, required sections, numbering pages, and more.

Before you turn in your copies for binding, make sure that all of the pages are in correct numerical order and that they are right-side up.

  • Paper

    The document must be printed on high quality paper.

    The bound copy of your thesis required by your department may not need to be on cotton paper. Check your departmental requirements.

  • Fonts

    Script fonts (e.g., Monotype Corsica) and italicizing large sections of text are not allowed for the main body of your thesis, although italics may be used appropriately.

  • Spacing
    • The material should be double-spaced.
    • Long quotations within the text should be typed single-spaced with wider margins.
  • Photographs and Images

    If photographs or detailed graphics are part of the work, make sure they are crisp and clear when printed. It is OK to use special laser or photo paper for the page of the thesis that contains images to achieve the best possible quality.

  • Margins
    • Pages for most theses are printed on one side of the paper only. Margins should be at least 1½” on the left and 1” on the top, right and bottom.
    • Tip: Make sure that when photocopied or printed, your documents have adequate margins—it is critical for proper binding. Binderies sew along the left-hand margin and then trim the other sides. Inadequate margins can result in part of your material being lost after the combination of copying and binding. Even if all the material remains, insufficient margins can affect the readability and appearance of your work.
    • These margin requirements apply to all materials included in the thesis or dissertation, including figures, tables, maps, plates, etc., and any preliminary material you choose to include.
  • Page Layout

    Ordinarily, the text and any other materials will appear on one side of the pages of the thesis only, so when the book is open the left-hand pages will be blank. If, however, you and your committee agree that it is necessary to include facing material on the left-hand page as well, be sure to leave 1½” on the right-hand side.

  • Page Numbers
    • Page numbers must be clear, consecutive, and printed on every page, including appendixes, tables, figures, maps, charts photographs, etc., except for the title page and resume/curriculum vitae (vita) page.
    • Lowercase Roman numbers (e.g., i, ii, iii) are used for the pages preceding the main body of work.
    • Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3) are used in the body of the work, the bibliography, and the appendices.
    • The title page counts as page i but does not bear a number.
    • Begin the actual numbering with the acceptance page as page ii, and continue with lowercase Roman numerals until the start of the actual body of the thesis. That page, whether part of your full introduction or of your first chapter, should be numbered using the Arabic numeral 1, and every page thereafter should be numbered consecutively until you reach the vita page.
    • Ordinarily, page numbers should be centered at the top or bottom of the page, entered midway between the edge of paper and the text to prevent their loss during the binding process.
  • Language

    Theses should be written in English, unless you and your department/committee have decided otherwise.

  • References, Citations, Bibliography, and Notes

    Check with your department on this requirement. This format depends largely on your particular field or topic.

    For example, notes can appear on the page where the annotation occurs (footnotes), or at either the end of each chapter or the end of the thesis (endnotes). Be sure to follow the conventions of your department or discipline.

  • Binding

    The document must be bound according to the following requirements. Learn about submission methods »

    • Before you have the copies bound, check with your department about whether it prefers to bind the abstract with the rest of the text.
    • The University Graduate School accepts only binding that uses the oversewn method. Velo binding available from some photocopying businesses is not acceptable.
    • Ask the bindery to put the thesis title and your full name on the front covers and the title and your last name on the spines of the bound copies. Keep in mind that the title needs to fit along the spine of the bound thesis.
    • If you are not in town, call one of the binderies we’ve listed, ask what the normal specs are for an IU thesis, and then relay that information to a bindery near you. See the list »
  • Recommended Style Manuals
    • The Chicago Manual of Style
    • Turabian, Kate L., A Manual for Writers
    • Modern Language Association (MLA) style sheet
    • American Psychological Association (APA) style sheet

    (especially for works in the social sciences)

  • Recommended Dictionaries for Spelling and Usage
    • Webster’s New International Dictionary
    • Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
  • Required and Optional Sections

    Your master’s thesis must include the required sections, listed in order.  Please view the example.

    Title Page

    The title page should be your first page. All content on this page should be centered horizontally and vertically. Keep in mind that the title approved at defense is the title that must appear on the title page. Please view the example.

    * The month and year is the date when all requirements have been completed for the awarding of your master’s degree by the University Graduate School. This is not necessarily the month in which you submit your thesis.

    Acceptance Page

    The acceptance page confirms the committee's approval and acceptance of your thesis.

    The acceptance page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. The first sentence should be centered, “Master’s Thesis Committee” should be left-justified, and all other content should be right-justified. Please view the example.

    When submitting electronically, the acceptance page cannot contain signatures. Signatures should only be on the loose copy submitted to the University Graduate School recorder at IUPUI (IUPUI Graduate Office).

    Copyright Page–Optional

    The copyright page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. All content on this page should be centered. Please view the example.

    © [year]

    [Student's name as it appears on the thesis title page]

    Dedication, Acknowledgements, or Preface–Optional

    Depending on your personal inclination, you may wish to include a dedication, a preface, or a set of acknowledgments. The latter is designed to recognize people or agencies to whom you feel grateful for any academic, technical, financial, or personal aid in the preparation of your thesis. As a matter of courtesy, you would ordinarily mention the members of your committee here, as well as institutions that provided funding or anyone else who helped.

    Abstract–Unsigned and Optional by Department

    The abstract should be a separate page. Your name and the thesis title should be centered, while the rest of the content should be double-spaced and limited to 350 words.

    Many people will learn about your work through your abstract published in the ScholarWorks Dissertations & Theses Database, so take care in the composition of both the abstract and the title. Try to convey the flavor of your work, not just the bare bones of your findings. You should also phrase your title so that it truly describes the contents and will be easily found in the index of the database. The index is based on key words, so be as specific as you can be about your subject. Please view the example.

    Table of Contents

    Include a table of contents to guide readership of your thesis. The table of contents will contain the material occurring after the table of contents.  The curriculum vitae entry will not have a page number.

    Supplemental Materials–If Appropriate

    Supplemental materials will include lists of tables, figures, appendixes, abbreviations, or other materials, if appropriate.

    Curriculum Vitae

    Include your Curriculum Vitae at the END of the thesis. The Curriculum Vitae entry will not have a page number. Please view the example.

Purdue Thesis Requirements

The Graduate School at Purdue University details formatting requirements for theses and dissertations at its website. Go to the Purdue Graduate School now »