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Thesis and Dissertation Formatting in MS Word: Formatting in Word for Windows

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

Recommended Tutorials for MS Word in Windows

Below are online instructions and tutorials for some of the most important formatting skills you'll need to learn in MS Word for Windows. Only the latest three versions of MS Word are represented in these tutorials. Tutorials for the latest versions of MS Word for Macs are in the "Formatting in Word for the Mac" tab.

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.

MS Word for Windows

Show/Hide Word 2010

Show/Hide Word 2013

Show/Hide Word 2016

Ms Word: Add, Format or Delete Captions

Adding captions to your figures and tables is an essential part of many thesis/dissertations styles. The guide here applies to MS Word versions 2010, 2013 and 2016.

MS Word: 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.

Creating a Table of Contents in MSWord 2016

Course: Create a Table of Contents in MSWord 2013

Creating a Table of Contents in MSWord 2010

Guides to Formatting in Word: UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst IT department created a number of excellent tutoral guides for formatting theses and dissertations in MS Word. Click on the appropriate links for the version of MSWord you are using and for the tutorial and sample files. Be aware that tutorials created on this page adhere to UMass Amherst theses and dissertation guidelines and may not be suitable for use with Rutgers graduate school requirements.

Formatting Theses and Dissertations in MS Word 2016-2007 (PC and Mac)

Working with Section Breaks in Word for Windows

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.


Section Breaks Word 2010

Section Breaks Word 2013

Section Breaks Word 2016

MS Word: Intermediate Formatting Tasks


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.

Video Tutorial: Styles in Word 2010

Video Tutorial: Styles in Word 2013

Customizing Styles in MS Word 2010, 2013, 2016


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.

Learn about Templates in Word 2010

Saving a Word Document as a Template in Word 2010

Create a Template: Word 2013 and Word 2016


Guide Editors

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Krista White
Digital Scholarship & Pedagogies Librarian

John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers-Newark
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