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Regulations on Style and Format


  • Title Page : no page number
  • Signature Page : number as page ii
  • Abstract (optional) : number with lowercase roman numerals
  • Acknowledgements (optional) : number with lowercase roman numerals
  • Introduction (optional) : number with lowercase roman numerals
  • Table of Contents : number with lowercase roman numerals
  • List of Table (required if more than two figures) : number with lowercase roman numerals
  • Main Content : number with Arabic numerals beginning with page 1 (but do not include a number on the first page)
  • References : number with Arabic numerals
  • Appendixes (as needed) : number with Arabic numerals
  • Vita : number with Arabic numerals

Quality and Writing Style:

Styles differ considerably between disciplines, and may also vary within a discipline. Therefore, in consultation with your graduate committee chair, you need to select a style appropriate to your discipline as exemplified by a style manual or a published journal. Once a style has been selected, you should be consistent in its use throughout the thesis. Any inconsistencies and errors in grammar, style, or format my result in the thesis not being approved. Helpful style manuals and writing guides are available in the bookstore, and professional journals are available in the periodicals section of the JFK Library.


The thesis must be written in English. All members of the thesis committee, including the outside or third member, must be able to read and critically review the manuscript. Other students in the same discipline should be able, when appropriate, to read it and cite it in their thesis projects.


  • Any easily readable standard type font is acceptable. Script, is not considered standard type. Fonts should be at least 10- 13.5 points and consistent throughout the document.
  • The use of different typefaces, such as bolding and italics, is strictly limited.
  • The justify key should be turned off so that spacing is consistent.
  • The text must be double-‐spaced; however, block quotations, footnotes, figure captions, table titles and notes, and individual citations in the references may be single spaced. If single spacing of reference citations is chosen, then double space between each citation.
  • Periods and commas should always be placed inside quotation marks.
  • Em dashes are typed as two hyphens with no spaces before or after, or use alternate character dash key.
  • When ellipsis points are used to indicate omitted material within a quotation, they are typed with three spaced periods (a space before and after each period). When four points are used to indicate omission between two sentences, the first point is typed as a period, without a preceding space, followed by three spaced periods.
  • Paragraph indentation should be consistent (0.5 inch according to most style manuals).
  • Capitalization, spelling, hyphenation, and abbreviations should be consistent throughout.
  • Handwritten material should not be included in the thesis.
  • Tables should be uniformly titled and numbered at the top and figures are captioned at the bottom. Tables and figures should be inserted as soon as possible following their first mention in the text, but no later than the page immediately following the mention.


Left hand margins must be one and one-half inch. Top, bottom, and right margins should be one inch. This is particularly important if your department requires a bound copy, margin widths must be carefully observed to provide for adequate binding space.

Students who will be binding will be asked to reprint if margins are not correct. See page 21 of this guide for information and for exact details on binding and printing.


Most simple errors found in thesis copies are in page numbering, especially in the preliminary pages.

Instructions for pagination (

Word 2010 directions):

To number your first section:

  • Double click top of the page to get into the header/footer settings.
  • Then click the "Page Number" button on the left side of the screen and this will bring a drop-down menu up.
  • Mouse over the "Top of Page" button and then select the page numbering on the right side of the top of the page. This will put a page number on all of your thesis pages.
  • Highlight the page number and right-click.
  • Select the "Format Page Numbers" option in the drop-down menu.
  • Click the arrow next to "Number Format" and find lower case roman numerals (i, ii, iii... as the format. Then click the "OK" button.
  • Before exiting the header/footer settings, in the design tab check the box next to "Different First Page" in the Options section of the tab. This will remove the numbering from your first page. If the numbering on the first page does not go away automatically, you can delete it and the numbering on the other pages will remain the same.

To add a second section to your paper:

  • Go to the last page before the start of the body of your thesis, click at the end of the last bit of typing on the page before the body of your thesis begins.
  • Then go to the "Page Layout" tab.
  • Click the button that says "Breaks" in the "Page Setup" portion of the tab.
  • Under the "Section Breaks" heading select "Next Page" this will make the next page of your document the beginning of a new section which means that you are able to begin numbering the next page at 1 in a different style.
  • If a blank page pops up before your thesis begins go to the top of the blank page and hit the delete key until the text from the next page comes onto the blank page.

To number your second section:

  • Follow the directions from "To number your first section" above. This time selecting the standard numerals format (i.e. 1, 2, 3.... Again you will want to make sure that the "Different First Page" box is checked as you will NOT want the number to show up on the first page of the body of your thesis.
  • If the "Link to Previous" (located in the "Navigation" portion of the design tab) is selected you can leave it selected. This will automatically delete the numbering from your first page. ("Link to Previous" tells word that you want everything but the numbering style to be the same.)
  • Your thesis will only have 2 sections. Your Vita will be the last page of your thesis and your numbering will end there.


Section headings must correspond to the table of contents; heading type or print and location on the page should be consistent and parallel throughout the thesis.

Captions and Illustrations

Captions should match the type or print style used in the main text. Locate captions according to the standard of the publication style that is being used for the thesis. Any variation of the quality of paper, page size, or reproductive process to accommodate illustrations and supplementary materials should have the approval of your committee chair. If photographs or other non-printed illustrative materials are to be included, they should be permanently mounted.

General Suggestions

Manuscripts must be free of typographical, spelling, and serious grammatical errors. Please follow the suggestions listed below to reduce editing time after the final comprehensive exam.

  • Typographical errors: Spell check will not catch many common typographical errors. For example, some errors result in an acceptable English word, but not the correct one in the context of the subject matter, as in on-no, read-reed, site-cite, etc.
  • Spelling: Pay particular attention when adding such endings as -ed, -ly, and -ing to common words. Also, be very careful with homonyms like here-hear, your-you're, their-they're-there. Check words containing ei or ie. Please note spelling of Acknowledgments and Appendixes.
  • Grammar: The most common grammatical mistakes occur in mixing tense, number, or gender in a sentence. As a general rule, revise long sentences into short ones.
  • Citations/references: Citations and references usually cause more problems than any other aspect of the manuscript. There must be a reference for every citation in the text; and the footnote or endnote of the author's name and the publication year must match the bibliographic reference. Multiple citations, between parentheses, must be in either chronological or alphabetical order. Be consistent in citation and reference style throughout the manuscript.
  • Proofreading: Check the thesis to see that all the pages are included and numbered correctly. Check for heading type, proper spacing, and location on the page. Check every citation against the corresponding entry in the reference section. Committee members may assist with proofreading, but the accuracy and completion of the thesis is ultimately your responsibility. Your manuscript must be proofread even after doing a spell check. One method is to read the document from the last page to the first page. This way the meaning is taken out of context and the reader can focus on sentence level errors. It may also be helpful to have one or more readers who are unfamiliar with the research look at the document for errors.
  • Warning: When you convert the thesis/project document to a PDF file for electronic thesis submission, conversion to PDF may shrink your document by 4%, enough to change margins and pagination throughout. Always check the conversion to make sure your formatting did not change.
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