Read this article to find out how to format dissertation appropriately. Remember it is essential to meet the specifications laid down by your educational establishment. Otherwise, you work may not be accepted.

Choosing the Citation Style Manual

It is allowed to select a citation style manual on your own. However, you should consult about the picked guide with your professor. Usually, students working for their degrees make use of the following manuals that provide tips on formatting papers in different citation styles.

  • APA Style Manual
  • Turabian Style Manual for Writing Dissertations, Research Papers, and Theses
  • MLA Style Manual for Writing Research Papers
  • Chicago Style Manual

Use the latest edition of the selected manual.

Quality of Printed or Copied Material

Remember that the text has to be printed well. The letters have to be entirely black and the margins have to be consistent. The additional material you are providing, i.e. tables, pictures, etc., has to be printed appropriately as well no matter whether the files are original or copied. In order to see whether the printed text is easy to read, make a copy of a sample page by reducing it to 75%.

Diversity of Typefaces

Commonly, a 12-point font is used for writing papers since that of 10 points is considered too small. However, tables may be created by using a condensed typeface. It is not advised to use mixed typefaces when producing papers.

The titles of books, definitions, and statistical symbols can be either underlined or italicized. Mind to stick to one style throughout your text. As to the headings, they have to be underlined in the cases when it is acceptable but not italicized. Avoid highlighting words in bold.

According to the standard dissertation format, the right margin should not be justified. The text has to be left aligned.


In order to ensure that the text is easy to read, set the margins in the following way:

  • Left margins: set 1.5″ on all pages.
  • Right margins: set 1.5″ on all pages. No letters or any other items should break the right margin.
  • Top margin: set 1.25″ on all pages excluding the first page of the Acknowledgements, List of Tables, TOC (table of contents), List of Figures, Bibliography, every chapter, and Appendices that should start with 2″ on the top of the page.
  • Bottom margin: set 1.25″ on all pages.
  • The page numbers of the pages going ahead of the page #1 of the Chapter I should be centered between the right and left margins and put by 3/4″ from the bottom of the page. Use lowercase Roman numerals for the TOC, Acknowledgements, etc.
  • The page numbers beginning from the page 1 of the Chapter I and ending with the last page of Appendices should be centered between the right and left margins and put by 3/4″ from the top or bottom.

White Spacing

Do not leave more than 2″ of white space without any text when providing tables/figures, and writing the very text. A figure/table should be introduced in the text right after the writer makes a first reference to it. The mentioned items have to be located on the page where they can be presented entirely. There should be three blank lines between the text and a table (figures) or vice versa. If it is possible, print about four lines of the text after the compiled table. You may insert more than one table (or any other visual material) on the page and combine it with the text.

Line Spacing

According to the dissertation formatting rules, your work has to be double-spaced. However, the following items should be single-spaced:

  • chapter and appendix titles, headings, and long subheadings (more than a line);
  • block quotes;
  • the headings of columns and lines running on in tables;
  • references/bibliography items (apply double spacing between the items);
  • figure captions;
  • footnotes;
  • description of tables, charts, etc.;
  • appendices (the spacing varies in regard to the source).

In APA, all typed content has to be double-spaced, the above-mentioned points included. In the majority of cases, the APA rules presented above supplant the common ones. As well as in MLA, the block quotes and references may or may not be double-spaced.

Page Numbers

A title and copyright pages are counted as the first and second pages respectively, numbers excluded. Use lowercase Roman numerals (v, ix, etc.) to identify all the following pages till the first page of a text. The numbers are to be centered between the margins and put by 3/4″ from the bottom edge of a sheet of paper.

Start using Arabic numerals with the first page of the Chapter 1 and continue till the last page, appendices included. The numbers on all pages within the chapter as well as on the first page of every chapter and section are to be located by 3/4″ from the top or bottom edge and centered between the margins.

Sections Sequence

Construct your paper in the following way:

  1. cover page;
  2. copyright page;
  3. acknowledgements;
  4. TOC;
  5. list of figures, charts, and other illustrative material if there is any;
  6. introduction (if any);
  7. text;
  8. references;
  9. appendices (if presented).

Title Page

Format your title page as it is shown in the example given below.

Copyright Page

The copyright date and your name have to be presented in the middle of the page, centered between the left and right margins from top to bottom. The year when your degree is conferred on you is the copyright date. Apply the following dissertation format:

dissertation formatting

The copyright page is marked as ii. No number is to be placed on this page.

TOC and the List of Figures/Tables

A table of contents has to be clear. Here, the headings and subheadings should be presented in the way they are mentioned in the paper including the Level 2. Indicating the headings belonging to lower levels is not obligatory. The headings should be indented according to their level. Look at the example presented below:

dissertation formatting

Do not forget to provide readers with explanatory material you are using in your work. The lists of musical pieces or art works, data about movies, etc. have to be formatted in the same way as the lists of figures/tables.

Headings and Titles of Chapters

These items should be placed by 2″ from the top of a page. Consider the following example:

dissertation formatting

Demonstrate the importance of the discussed issues by formatting the chapter headings according to the rules provided in the style manual you are using or the form given below.

Leave three blank lines before every heading, after every principal paper section and chapter heading. Leave a blank line between the headings if they follow each other. Apply double spacing to every heading. The first letter of the words a heading includes (except for articles, prepositions, and conjunctions) has to be capitalized.

Pay attention to the order the headings should be presented in:

dissertation formatting

Make certain there are a couple of lines of text below the headings presented at the bottom of the page. The TOC should include the Level 1 and Level 2 headings. Those of lower levels may not be presented in the TOC unless they give readers important data.


Use the uppercase Roman numerals for chapters. No period is needed, e.g., CHAPTER III. Use Arabic numerals to identify other items. Appendices should be capitalized, e.g., APPENDIX A, etc.

Letters or numbers should be used for identifying other items if needed. Apply 1), or a) in the text, and 1. or a. in the numbered list. If any of the entries in the numbered list occupy more than two lines, extra lines may start at the margin or indent the whole paragraph to the right of the indicated numbers.

Spell out the numbers starting a sentence and those below 10 if they occur within the text.

Reducing the Size of Illustrative Material

In case any of the explanatory material, i.e. table, chart, etc., cannot be properly presented within the margins because of the size, make it smaller. Avoid inserting the tables that can be read only if to turn a sheet of paper upside down. If such material is essential, embed it by presenting its heading along the binding. A condensed typeface may be used as well.

Bibliography Items

In diverse citation styles, APA excluded, avoid repeating author’s name if you are using several of his/her works. In case the next source has the same author as the preceding one, use ten underscore items ending with a period, and a comma in case the author is indicated first in the sequence of new authors. Apply single spacing to the source, and double spacing between the sources. The second and the following lines should be indented at 0.5″.

dissertation formatting

If the author has two initials, there should be a space between them after the period, e.g. Adamson, J. T. Initials should not be separated by lines.

Avoid breaking entries apart. The cited source has to be entirely presented on one page.


When making reference to the author whose ideas you are presenting, use the author-date format like in APA, e.g., Martin, 2014 (the first sentence in the table given below). Format direct quotations in the same way. Do not forget to add a page number the quotation was taken from (second sentence in the table). Particular paraphrased ideas and data require a page number as well.

dissertation formatting

Ensure each source is properly cited in the paper and added to the bibliography.

Block Quotes

Quotations four or more lines long should be single-spaced and separated from the main text by a double space. No quotation marks are to be applied. Indent the whole block at 0.5″. Block may include double quotations. Do not indent the first quotation line. Still, that of a paragraph within the quote should start with an extra indent at 0.5″. In MLA and APA, block quotes may be double-spaced.


No title page is to be placed before each appendix. The word "Appendix" should be centered between the left and right margins and put by 2″ from the top of a page.

Agreement Form

Use a title page for each appendix in case you provide the material that, due to its format, requires it. The data within the appendices has to fit the space within the margins.

Permission Letters

Letters of permission are required for copying the copyrighted data. Do not include the copies of letters into your dissertation.


An abstract briefly summaries the main points of a dissertation. Start typing it 2″ from the top of a new page. Apply double spacing, use the same font and set the same margins as for the dissertation. Do not exceed the limit of 350 words. An abstract should be separated from a dissertation, and kept in the upper left corner. A copy of the title page of an abstract should be signed by the head of the committee. If you have no idea about how to format a dissertation, you are welcome to use our thesis & dissertation formatting service.

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Dissertation Formatting Help

Formatting is an essential requirement for every academic paper. Proper formatting not only makes your piece presentable, but also contributes greatly to the overall grade on the entire work. If you adhere to the general and specific formatting guidelines, you will manage to make your paper a high quality document. Remember that it is essential to meet the required formatting standards. If you find formatting very complicated, turn to us. When formatting papers, we pay close attention to footnotes and other formatting items. Adding missing information is also a part of our formatting agenda.

We pay special attention to preserving the initial structure of the document. Formatting will be performed strictly according to the provided instructions. Formatting of a dissertation takes a few steps. First, attention is paid to the first few pages of your piece of writing. Formatting of the first few pages of the document plays an important role in making a good impression on the reader.

The second aspect is pagination of the entire document. The third aspect is providing facts and figures in the document. The use of these elements will make the text catchy and easy to understand. An appropriate use of headings and subheadings is also a part of formatting technique. Headings and subheadings briefly describe the theme of the paper. Headings define what the whole document is meant to say and the following subheadings describe the subsections of the work.

Document formatting is an art. Thus, we are here to help you make this part of dissertation writing much easier. Give us an opportunity to help you!

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