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Thesis and Dissertation Formatting

Updated May 2013

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The requirements contained in this booklet apply to the master's thesis and the doctoral dissertation. For convenience, the term thesis will be used to refer to both, unless the situation applies only to doctoral students.

The thesis is a report of original research and scholarly work that is shared with the academic community and is made available to the public. The thesis becomes part of the circulating collection of the UWM Golda Meir Library and is also made available through Proquest Company dissertation publishing.

These format standards have been developed to ensure a degree of consistency in the written presentation of this research across academic disciplines.

The Graduate School will not accept theses that do not conform to these guidelines.

Thesis & Dissertation Format Standards

General Instructions

Double space throughout, with the exception of the title page, approval page, captions, table or figure headings, extensive quotations, footnotes or endnotes, entries in the References section, entries in the Table of Contents, and appendices.


Any standard font is acceptable; however, the same font should be used throughout. Use a font size of approximately 12. The only exceptions to this font size are captions (not smaller than 9 point) and headings (not larger than 20 point).


ALL pages must have the following: 1.5" left margin (to allow room for binding), 1" top, bottom, and right margins.

Preliminary Pages

Preliminary pages are the required pages that appear at the beginning of the final document. You will also notice some optional pages which can be placed in this section.


All preliminary pages are numbered with lower case Roman numerals, centered at the bottom of the page, with the bottom of the number at least 1/2 inch from the edge of the page. The exception is the title page, which is counted but not numbered.

Sample pages
Pages appear in this sequence
  1. Title page—Required
    The title page is counted but not numbered. Follow the format shown in the sample pages. All items centered and TITLE IN ALL CAPS. Use official degree names only. The date is the month and year of degree conferral. Degrees are awarded three times a year: in May, August, and December.

  2. Abstract—Required
    The abstract is a summary of the dissertation. Follow the format shown in the sample pages. Copy the abstract heading sample exactly. See Sample ABSTRACT text for important information. It is page number “ii.”

  3. Copyright page—Optional
    You may include this page even if you will not be formally registering for copyright with the Library of Congress. The format is shown in the sample pages.

    Some Web sites that provide information about copyright:

  4. Dedication—Optional
    May be combined with acknowledgements. There is no required heading on this page.

  5. Table of Contents—Required for all except creative works.
    The Table of Contents lists all sections that follow it (with the exception of an epigraph or frontispiece and the vita). Type TABLE OF CONTENTS centered at the top of the page, double space and begin the entries. Single space within entries and double space in between entries.

  6. List of Figures—Required if figures appear in the thesis.
    Type LIST OF FIGURES centered at the top of the page, double space and begin. The term figures include various non-text items. List the number, caption, and page number of each figure. Figures should be numbered consecutively throughout the thesis.

  7. List of Tables—Required if tables appear in the thesis.
    Type LIST OF TABLES at the top of the page, double space and begin. List the number, caption, and page number of each table. Tables should be numbered consecutively throughout.

  8. List of Abbreviations (or List of Symbols, or Nomenclature)
    Optional, include as necessary. Format the same as List of Figures.

  9. Acknowledgments—Required if permission to reproduce copyrighted material is necessary. Type ACKNOWLEDGMENTS at the top of the page, double space, and begin the remarks.
  10. Frontispiece (illustration) or Epigraph (quotation)—Optional
    The source of the epigraph is listed below the quotation, but is not listed in the bibliography unless it is also cited in the main text.

Main Body
Page Numbering

Beginning with the text of the thesis, the page numbering changes to Arabic numerals, placed in the upper, right-hand corner, with at least 1/2" clearance from each edge. The first page of the main text is page 1. All subsequent pages are numbered throughout the text. Allow at least one double space between the page number and the first line of text on each page.

Tables and Figures

All illustrative materials must maintain the same margins as the rest of the thesis.

   1.5" left margin
   1" top, bottom, and right margins


All illustrative material must be large enough to be easily read. Minimum font size is 9.

Landscape format

In order to maintain the required page margins for tables or figures, it may be necessary to print them in landscape format. The top margin will now be 1 1/2" and will be the edge that is bound. However, the page number must be placed as though the page was in portrait format and appear in the same location as other pages.

Figure Captions

If space permits, the caption should appear on the same page as the figure. Font size must not be smaller than 9 point.

References and Citations

Any of the standard style manuals may be used as a guide in formatting references to works cited in the thesis. References may be placed at the end of the main text, or at the end of each chapter. Endnotes and/or footnotes may also be used. Whatever format is chosen, it must be followed consistently throughout the thesis.

If you are not following a style manual, please single space within each entry and double space between the entries.


Many theses will not need this section. Material that supports the research, but is not essential to an understanding of the text, is placed in the appendices. Examples include raw data, extensive quotations, and survey or test instruments.

Appendices should be designated A, B, C, etc. If there is only one appendix, it is simply called Appendix, not Appendix A. Each appendix and its title (for example, Appendix A, Raw Data for Time-to-Degree) are listed in the Table of Contents. A separate display page, giving the appendix designation and title, may precede each appendix. If used, the page number of the display page is the one listed in the Table of Contents.

All material included in the appendices must meet minimum font and margin requirements.

Curriculum Vitae—last page of your dissertation

The curriculum vitae is a professional biography of the doctoral candidate. To see an example, check the following page. The vita is the last page(s) of the dissertation and should be numbered.



Degrees are awarded in May, August, and December. Graduation ceremonies are held in May and December. August graduates are invited to the December ceremony.

Web site for commencement ceremony information, cap and gown ordering and RSVP for doctoral candidates:


Diplomas are mailed to master's graduates approximately eight weeks after the date of graduation.

Here is the Web site with diploma info:

Page last updated on: 04/02/2015