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Thesis and Dissertation Formatting in MS Word: General Formatting Guidance

This guide provides links to resources for graduate students who want to format their theses and dissertations for submission to their departments and graduate schools. Formatting for the particular layout of theses and dissertations in MS Word does not h

Introduction to This Guide

This guide is a work in progress, designed to provide online assistance to graduate students in formatting their theses and dissertations using Microsoft Word. If there is content you would like to see added to this guide, contact Krista White, the Digital Humanities Librarian at RU-Newark.

Graduate School Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines

Each graduate school has guidelines for formatting and submitting theses and dissertations. If your graduate school or program is not listed here, check with them to obtain specific information about your program's formatting requirements for theses and dissertations.


Graduate School of New Brunswick Style Guide for Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Graduate School of Newark Style Guide for Electronic Masters Theses

Graduate School of Newark Style Guide for Electronic Dissertations


Graduate School of Camden Style Guide for Electronic Masters Theses

Graudate School of Camden Style Guide for Electronic Ph.D. Dissertations

General Advice on Formatting

MS Word embeds formatting into documents. When you copy/paste text from one document to the next, it also copies and pastes the formatting. This can cause serious problems when you are trying to implement complex formatting in a document - formatting from one document may conflict with and alter formatting in the next document you paste into. For this reason, I recommend these strategies to prevent trouble with formatting.

  1. Do all of the formatting for your dissertation AFTER you have written everything and your committee has approved the content.
  2. Have one, long master file with your manuscript if your committee and advisor will allow it. This single, long document will be the one you format at the end of your dissertation process.
  3. If your committee members want you to submit individual chapters, copy and paste individual chapters into another Word document and send those individually to your dissertations committee, but make all suggested changes in your single, master file.
  4. Allow yourself two weeks to just to format your dissertation. Providing yourself with this generous amount of time for the task of formatting will save you stress and give you plenty of time to seek help when you need it.

General Advice on Versions During Writing

Do all of your writing and editing in the single, long document and save versions in case you need to go back and recover something you wrote previously.


Save all of your documents in 3 different places. For instance, save one copy on your computer hard drive, one identical copy on a thumb drive or external hard drive and, preferably, a third identical copy in a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Save your files frequently and update to all 3 of your saved locations every time you save.

Guide Editors

Krista White
Digital Humanities Librarian

The John Cotton Dana Library
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