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Thesis and Dissertation Formatting in MS Word: Formatting in Word for the Mac

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

Formatting Theses and Dissertations in Word for the Mac

Below are resources for using Microsoft Word for the Mac to format your thesis or dissertation. If you have suggestions for additional resources on this topic that we might add, contact Krista White, Digital Humanities Librarian, Rutgers-Newark.

Mac and MS Word: Show/Hide Button

Use the Show/Hide Button

The Show/Hide button allows you to see editing marks in your document, which can be useful for erasing formatting mistakes that may not be obvious when looking at your document in a normal view.

Show/Hide Word for Macs 2008

Show/Hide Word for Macs 2011

Add, Format or Delete Captions in Word for Mac

Adding captions to your figures and tables is an essential part of many thesis/dissertations styles. The guide here applies to using captions in Word 2016 and Word 2011 for Mac.

Kansas State's tutorial for using captions in Word 2008

Table of Contents

You can create a Table of Contents either manually or by using Headings to have Word create the Table of Contents automatically after you've assigned those Headings in the text.

Manually Create a Table of Contents

Create a Table of Contents in MSWord for Mac 2011

Creating a Table of Contents in MSWord for Mac 2016

Difinitive Guides to Formatting Using MS Word for Mac

The IT department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst created a number of tutorials, including an excellent, PDF guide to formatting using MSWord 2016 for the Mac. Click on the appropriate links on the page for the tutorial and sample files. Be aware that templates and sample files are created using UMass Amherst thesis and dissertation requirements and may not match those of your graduate school:

Using Microsoft Word 2016 (Mac) for Your Dissertation

These definitive guides were written by the University of Michigan Libraries:

Using Microsoft Word 2011 (Mac) for Your Dissertation

Using Microsoft Word 2008 (Mac) for Your Dissertation

Working with Section Breaks in Word for Mac

Section Breaks

This will, by far, be the most useful of the formatting skills you'll learn in MS Word. Use this to create sections that have different formatting from other sections.  For instance, your front matter will be one section, and then you’ll have a section break that will allow you to format your first chapter differently than the front matter.


Creating Section Breaks in MS Word 2016

Creating Section Breaks in MS Word 2011

Kansas State's tutorial on working with Section Breaks in Word 2008

Intermediate Formatting Tasks in Word for Mac


Styles let you set a template for the type face, paragraph spacing and other formatted elements in a document. If you choose to use the single document method, setting a style for your document will save you time and effort down the road.

Working with Styles in MS Word 2016

Working with Styles in Word 2011 for Mac

Kansas State's tutorial on working with Styles in Word 2008


Templates are an option if you want to create your thesis or dissertation one chapter at a time. If you use a template, every time you open the template, you will get the same formatting every time. Be aware that, when trying to combine chapters at the end of the writing process, there may be conflicts between the template you create for chapters and other items, such as indexes, front matter and tables of contents.

Working with Templates in MS Word 2016 for Mac

Working with Templates in MS Word 2011 for Mac

Working with Templates in MS Word 2008 for Mac


Guide Editor

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Krista White
Digital Scholarship & Pedagogies Librarian

John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers-Newark
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