What font should I choose for my thesis?

This post is by DrJanene Carey, a freelance writer and editor based in Armidale NSW. She occasionally teaches academic writing at the University of New England and often edits academic theses, articles and reports. Her website is http://www.janenecarey.com

Arguably, this question is a classic time waster and the student who poses it should be told to just get on with writing up their research. But as someone who edits theses for a living, I think a bit of time spent on fonts is part of the process of buffing and polishing what is, after all, one of the most important documents you will ever produce. Just bear in mind that there is no need to immerse yourself so deeply in the topic that you start quibbling about whether it’s a font or a typeface that you are choosing .

Times New Roman is the standard choice for academic documents, and the thesis preparation guidelines of some universities stipulate its use. For many years, it was the default body text for Microsoft Word. With the release of Office 2007, the default became a sans serif typeface called Calibri. Lacking the little projecting bits (serifs) at the end of characters makes Calibri and its many friends, such as Arial, Helvetica and Verdana, look smoother and clearer on a screen, but generally makes them less readable than a serif typeface when used for printed text . The other problem with choosing a sans serif for your body text is that if you want passages in italics (for example, lengthy participant quotes) often this will be displayed as slanted letters, rather than as a true italic font.

You would like your examiners to feel as comfortable as possible while their eyes are traversing the many, many pages of your thesis, so maximising legibility and readability is a good idea. Times New Roman is ubiquitous and familiar, which means it is probably the safest option, but it does have a couple of drawbacks. Originally designed for The Times in London, its characters are slightly narrowed, so that more of them can be squished into a newspaper column. Secondly, some people intensely dislike TNR because they think it has been overused, and regard it as the font you choose when you are not choosing a font .

If you do have the luxury of choice (your university doesn’t insist you use Times New Roman, and you have defined document styles that are easy to modify, and there’s enough time left before the submission deadline) then I think it is worth considering what other typefaces might work well with your thesis. I’m not a typographical expert, but I have the following suggestions.

  • Don’t use Calibri, or any other sans serif font, for your body text, though it is fine for headings. Most people agree that dense chunks of printed text are easier to read if the font is serif, and examiners are likely to expect a typeface that doesn’t stray too far from the standard. To my eye, Calibri looks a little too casual for the body of a thesis.
  • Typefaces like Garamond, Palatino, Century Schoolbook, Georgia, Minion Pro, Cambria and Constantia are all perfectly acceptable, and they come with Microsoft Word. However, some of them (Georgia and Constantia, for example) feature non-lining numerals, which means that instead of all sitting neatly on the base line, some will stand higher or lower than others, just like letters do. This looks nice when they are integrated with the text, but it is probably not what you want for a tabular display.
  • Consider using a different typeface for your headings. It will make them more prominent, which enhances overall readability because the eye scanning the pages can quickly take in the hierarchy of ideas. The easiest way to get a good contrast with your serif body text is to have sans serif headings. Popular combinations are Garamond/Helvetica; Minion Pro/Myriad Pro; Times New Roman/Arial Narrow. But don’t create a dog’s breakfast by having more than two typefaces in your thesis – use point sizes, bold and italics for variety.

Of late, I’ve become quite fond of Constantia. It’s an attractive serif typeface that came out with Office 2007 at the same time as Calibri, and was specifically designed to look good in print and on screen. Increasingly, theses will be read in PDF rather than book format, so screen readability is an important consideration.  Asked to review Microsoft’s six new ClearType fonts prior to their release, typographer Raph Levien said Constantia was likely to be everyone’s favourite, because ‘Even though it’s a highly readable Roman font departing only slightly from the classical model, it still manages to be fresh and new.’

By default, Constantia has non-lining numerals, but from Word 2010 onwards you can set them to be lining via the advanced font/number forms option, either throughout your document or in specific sections, such as within tables.

Here is an excerpt from a thesis, shown twice with different typefaces. The first excerpt features Calibri headings with Constantia body text, and the second has that old favourite, Times New Roman. As these examples have been rendered as screenshots, you will get a better idea of how the fonts actually look if you try them on your own computer and printer.

Calibri Constantia

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Jan 24, 2020

7 Perfect Dissertation Fonts to Impress Your Professors

Dissertation and Thesis, these two terms can be interchangeable and may vary between countries and universities. A dissertation is the most substantial piece of independent work in undergraduate programs whereas a thesis is usually associated with master’s degrees.

A dissertation is a document submitted by students pursuing undergraduate, post-graduate and Ph.D. in support of candidature for their professional or academic qualification. They are supposed to fulfill all the requirements like choosing an accurate research methodology, writing the literature review exploring new facts and findings and precisely discussing the original results and outcomes. Learning abilities and writing skills of students are tested by assigning various types of writing tasks.

Dissertations play an important role in evaluating a student’s learning. So while submitting a dissertation, students need to be careful about the way they present it. Right from choosing the topic to submitting the dissertation, everything should be chosen properly. One of such important thing is the font of the dissertation. Even though everything is done neatly and you end up choosing the wrong font, it won’t be much appealing for the professor to read it. The font of the dissertation is also an important aspect that may earn some extra points.

If you are a college student and want to choose a font for your dissertation, here are 7 perfect dissertation fonts to impress your professors.

7 Ideal Fonts for Dissertation Writing

Times New Roman

The Times New Roman was originally designed for The Times newspaper of London and also a classified serif font. It is widely used and appreciated for its formal style and aesthetic and that is the reason why most of the universities prescribe this font for writing all sorts of academic assignments including dissertations.

Verdana font is also widely used for its clean and smooth look on the screen of the computer. One thing to look out for is that this font does not provide much readability in the printed form.

Georgia is very appropriate as they have a pleasant appearance on Microsoft Word. But, one drawback of Georgia font is unaligned numerals. The numbers in the content will have no specific size.

If we are talking about a printed work, then Arial is the best font that uses serif letter. It looks very formal in presentation and very easy for the eye to capture information from the paper.

Though the majority of the institutes prefer the Times New Roman for the body text of the paper, you can use other fonts for the headings. Calibri is a good option in such cases because of its sans serif typeface.

Garamond is another font that has a pleasant-looking appearance on dissertation writing and is also considered as an old-style serif typeface. It was named after 16th-century Parisian engraver Claude Garamond.

Constantia and Cambria

Inspired by Perpetua, Constantia is clear nice and clear. Though greatly normalized, it performs well. On the other hand, Cambria looks a little stiff and provides nice clarity due to its open aperture. It is more economical due to its relatively condensed proportions.

Tips to choose the right font style:

· Use serif fonts: Most experts agree that serif fonts are easier to read if the text is too long and divided into larger chunks.

· Always keep an eye on the alignment of the numerals.

· Don’t use multiple columns for the text of the different chapters of your dissertation. The text of your dissertation should appear in one single column on every page of your dissertation.

· Use different font styles for paragraphs and a different one for headings.

· The font size should be at points 10, 11 or 12 and the subscripts and superscripts should be 2 points smaller than the size you have used for the body text.

· Indentation should be the same when starting new paragraphs.

· Don’t forget to justify the word document.

· Don’t write heading at the bottom of any page even if there’s space left for it.

Before making a decision regarding which font you should choose for your dissertation, you should go through the guidelines of the University for being aware of the fonts that are preferred by the professors. If you discover that already some rules are provided about font size and typefaces, you need to comply with the rules of the University and compose your dissertation paper accordingly to fetch good grades.

If you are still not sure how to compose your dissertation, then get professional assistance from HelpwithAssignment.com. HelpwithAssignment.com provides dissertation writing services for all college and University students and covers all the subjects. We have a fleet of experts who hold Ph.D. degrees from reputed universities around the world. Helpwithassignment.com brings students who need assignment help and brilliant experienced tutors from around the world together.

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Great fonts for a PhD thesis – and terrible ones

There are thousands of fonts out there – which one should you choose for a great-looking PhD thesis? I will explain the differences between serif and sans-serif fonts, what ligatures are and why you shouldn’t use that fun free font you found on the internet.

Great fonts for a PhD thesis: Serif vs. sans-serif

As I explained in my Ultimate Guide to preparing a PhD thesis for printing , there are two basic kinds of fonts: Serif fonts and sans-serif fonts. Serif fonts have small lines – serifs – at the ends of all lines. Sans-serif fonts don’t have those lines. Compare these two, Palatino Linotype and Arial:

Great fonts for a PhD thesis

Serifs guide the reader’s eyes, making sure that they stay in the same line while reading a printed text. In turn, your reader’s brain won’t get tired so quickly and they can read for longer.

But there is another feature that many serif fonts have. Look at these three (which are all great fonts to use in your PhD thesis, btw):

Great fonts for a PhD thesis

If you look closely, you will see that serif fonts often have different stroke thicknesses within every letter. This is called “weight contrast”. A subtle weight contrast further improves legibility of a printed text. Hence, I recommend you use a serif font with a bit of a weight contrast for your main text.

Which serif font should you choose?

But whatever you do, this one thing is extremely important: Choose a font that offers all styles: regular, italics , bold , and bold italics . Since these four styles all need to be designed separately, many fonts don’t offer all of them. Especially bold italics is absent in most free internet fonts and even from many fonts that come with your operating system or word processor.

Also: In your bibliography and in-text citations (if you go with an author-year citation style) you will have to display author’s names from all over the world. Many of them will contain special letters. For example German umlauts (ä, ö, ü), accented letters used in lots of of languages, i.e. French or Spanish (à, é, ñ, etc.), and dozens of other special letters from all kinds of languages (ç, ı, ł, ø, etc.). Be aware that only a very limited number of fonts offer all of these!

If you have mathematical equations in your thesis that require more than +, – and =, your font choices are limited even further . After all, the vast majority of fonts do not offer special operators.

As you can see, these criteria severely limit your choice of font for the main text. Needless to say, they rule out free fonts you can download from dafont.com or 1001fonts.com . That is why I urge you to go with a classic font. To make things easier for you, here is a table with serif fonts that offer all the characters you could dream of:

Failsafe serif fonts for your PhD thesis

These fonts are heavily based on fonts that have been in use since the invention of the mechanical printing press in the 15th century. Hence, these types of fonts have been tried and tested for more than 500 years. Hard to argue with that!

But which of these fonts is The Best TM for a PhD thesis? That depends on how much text you have in your thesis vs. how many figures, tables, equations, etc. As I have noted in the table, fonts have different widths. Look at this image showing the same text in Times New Roman (TNR), Cambria, and Sitka Text; all at the same size:

thesis writing font

Hence, setting entire pages of text in TNR will make the page look quite dense and dark. So, a thesis with a lot of text and few figures is best set in a wider font like Sitka Text. On the other hand, if you have a lot of figures, tables, etc., TNR is a good choice because it keeps paragraphs of text compact and therefore the page from looking too empty. Medium-width fonts like Cambria are a good compromise between the two.

To see some of these fonts in action, check out this example PhD thesis where I show all sorts of font combinations and page layouts.

When to use a sans-serif font in your PhD thesis

This covers serif fonts. But which sans-serif fonts are great for your PhD thesis? And when do you use them?

As mentioned above, serif fonts are good for the main text of your thesis. But titles and headings are a different story. There, a sans-serif font will look very nice. Plus, using a different font in your headings than in the main text will help the reader recognize when a new section begins.

Here are some examples for good sans-serif fonts:

Great fonts for a PhD thesis - sans-serif

Each of these fonts – Futura, Franklin Gothic Book, and Gill Sans – are wonderful for headings in a PhD thesis. Why? Because they are easily readable, well-balanced and don’t call undue attention to themselves. Also, they have many options: regular, light, medium, bold, extra bold, including italics for all of them. And most operating systems or word processors have them pre-installed.

The criteria for heading fonts are not nearly as strict as those for main text fonts. If you have Latin species names in your headings, make sure the font offers (bold) italics. If you need to display Greek letters in your headings, make sure the font offers those. Done.

However, there are some criteria for headings. Just for fun, let’s have a look at some sans-serif fonts that would be a bad choice for a thesis:

Great fonts for a PhD thesis - sans-serif

I’d like to explicitly state that these are wonderful, well-designed fonts – you just shouldn’t use them in a scientific document. Heattenschweiler is too narrow, Broadway has too much weight contrast and Aspergit Light is too thin. All of these things impair readability and might make your opponents squint at your headings. Of course, you will want to do everything in your power to make the experience of reading your thesis as pleasant a possible for your opponents!

How are these fonts great for my PhD thesis? They are boring!

Why yes, they are, thanks for noticing!

Seriously though, the fonts not being interesting is the point. Your PhD thesis is a scientific document showing your expertise in your field and your ability to do independent research. The content of your thesis, the science, should be the sole focus. A PhD thesis is not the place to show off your quirky personality by way of an illegible font.

However, you can infuse your personality into your thesis cover and chapter start pages. There, you can use a fun font, since you probably don’t have to display any special characters.

Choosing the right font is too much pressure? Contact me for help with your layout!

Don’t use fonts made for non-Latin alphabets (Cyrillic, Hanzi, etc.)

Every computer nowadays comes pre-installed with a number of fonts made for displaying languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet (Latin alphabet = The alphabet in which this very article is displayed). Prominent examples for languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet are Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, etc. Other examples include the Arabic, Brahmic, and Cyrillic script. But there are many more fonts for a myriad of non-Latin alphabets. These fonts were optimized to make the characters of their languages easily readable.

However (and this is why I’ve written this entire section) they usually also contain Latin characters to be able to display the occasional foreign word.

Hence, you might want to honour your roots by using a font in your thesis that was made for your native language, by someone from your home country. It is tempting, because all the Latin characters are there, right? I completely understand this wish, but I strongly advise against it since there are some serious drawbacks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not throwing shade on these fonts, they are fantastic at what they were made for. Displaying long stretches of text in the Latin alphabet, however, is not one of those things. Let me explain why.

They don’t offer all necessary characters

Firstly, fonts made to display languages with a non-Latin alphabet contain the bare minimum of Latin characters. That is, the basic letters and the most important punctuation marks. Hence, they don’t have all those math operators and special characters I talked about in the section about serif fonts.

Also, the Latin characters in these fonts are usually sans-serif, so less suitable for long text.

But let’s say the non-Latin alphabet font you chose does offer all special characters and has serifs. Unfortunately, they are still not suitable to use in your PhD thesis, for the following reasons:

They are often too small or large for use with greek letters

Do you mention β-Mercaptoethanol or α-Histidin antibodies in your Materials and Methods? Or any other Greek letter? Since Latin characters are scaled differently in fonts made for non-Latin alphabets, Greek letters will not be the same size as the rest of the text anymore. For example, look at this text, where I rendered everything (I swear!) in the specified font size:

non-latin fonts don't offer ligatures

In the first panel (Cambria), the Greek letters are the same size and weight as the main text. As I have said, Cambria is one of the fonts explicitly recommended for your thesis. If you look closely at the enlarged line on the bottom of the panel, you can see that the alpha is the same height as the lower-case letters, whereas the beta is the same height as the upper-case letters. It looks neat and tidy.

However, by using a non-Latin font for your PhD thesis, you are asking for trouble.

In the second panel, I show Cordia New, a font for Thai script. At 12 pt, it is way smaller than the Latin font. The Greek letters – which are also at 12 pt! – stand out awkwardly. Also, Cordia New produces a line distance that is larger than it should be when using it for a text in the Latin alphabet.

In the last panel I show Microsoft YaHei for displaying Hanzi characters. Here, the Latin characters are larger. This leads to the Greek letters being too small. And, as you can see in the second and third lines of the paragraph of text, the line distance is quite narrow. However, the Greek letter β requires a regular line distance. So, it pushes the following line down, making the paragraph look uneven.

They don’t offer ligatures

Now, what on earth are ligatures? I could dive into the history of book printing here but I’ll spare you those details. In essence, Ligatures are two or more letters that are printed as one single glyph. Let me show you:

what are ligatures

In the top line, you can see that the characters inside the boxes “melt” into each other. This single shape made out of several letter is called a ligature. They are mostly common with the small letter f. If you take a magnifying glass and look at the pages of a novel, you will quickly find these same ligatures. E-readers also display ligatures. Heck, even WhatsApp does it!

Ligatures also make the text easier to read. However, in order to display them, a font actually has to have the glyphs for the ligatures. And many fonts don’t. In order to find out whether a font you chose offers them, go to the character map of that font. (In Windows 10, simply click the windows logo in the corner of your screen and start typing the word “character”.) Pick a font in the drop-down menu. Now, search for the word “ligature” in the character map. If the map is empty after this, the font has no ligature glyphs.

All that being said, ligatures are not super important. I just wanted to mention them.

You can still use fonts made for non-Latin alphabets

If you want to honour your roots by way of a font, you can still do this. For example in your thesis title and/or for the chapter start pages.

In a word: Don’t go crazy with those fonts! Let your science do the talking. If you want to see what your thesis could look like with some of the fonts I recommended, check out the example PhD thesis .

Do you want to see a font combination that’s not in the example thesis? Contact me and I’ll set a few pages in your desired font, free of charge!

Click here for help with your PhD thesis layout!

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Format a Thesis or Dissertation in MS Word: General Advice

Some rules of thumb for your thesis-writing process:

Both dissertations and master's theses must be submitted electronically as PDF files. However, the processes for submitting them differ. Consult the Graduate School’s Web site for more information.

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11 Ideal Fonts for Dissertation Writing

Times New Roman, Georgia, Garamond, Arial, Verdana, Cambria, Century Gothic, Constantia, and Arial Narrow are some of the ideal fonts for writing a dissertation.

What is Dissertation Writing?

In the term – Dissertation writing, the word “Dissertation” has originated from the Latin language where ‘ dissertare’ means ‘to debate’. This word was first used in the English language in around 1651 which gave us a definition to write extensively on a certain subject. It is also defined as a long piece of writing on any particular topic which you have studied.

best font for dissertation

In a dissertation writing the writer should always choose to write with the help of using a clear font like Arial, Times New Roman, etc. They should also set perfect font sizes such are 10 to 12 also the line spacing should be done of 1.15 or 1.5 which is generally accepted as it makes the document appear more neat and tidy and allows the reader to put comments in between.

Mistakes that should be avoided while choosing the Font for dissertation writing :

11 Best Font Styles for Dissertation Writing

Times new roman:.

This font was originally designed for Times Newspaper of London. This font has a separate and different aesthetician a formal style that is prescribed or assigned by many universities and colleges. It is also quite easy to read.

This is a serif type font designed by Matthew Carter and was founded by Microsoft Corporation. It was created and released in 1993 and 1996 respectively.

This another font which has a pleasant-looking appearance on dissertation writing and is also considered as an old-style serif typeface which was named for 16th-century Parisian engraver Claude Garamond. This font is very much popular and is used for printing books etc.

This is also a Serif style typeface commissioned by Microsoft which was designed by Steve Matteson, Robin Nicholas and Jelle Bosma in 2004. It is distributed by windows and office.

Century Gothic:

This is also designed in a sans serif typeface style and a geometric style that was released in 1991 by Monotype Imaging. 

Palatino Linotype:

This font was first released in 1949 by Stempel foundry. This serif typeface style font was designed by Hermann Zapf. It has bee also classified as old style font.

This font style is one of the commonly used font styles which is also displayed sometimes as Arial MT. It has been classified as neo-grotesque sans-serif which was released in 1982 and was designed by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders.

This font style is widely used for writing dissertations or any other academic papers as they provide a very cleaned and very simple – smooth look to the paper and also to the eyes of the reader. This was designed by Matthew Carter for Microsoft Corporation.


This was designed by John Hudson, a serif style design that was commissioned by Microsoft. The developmental work for this writing began in 2003 and was finally released in 2006

Century schoolbook:

It is again a serif style typeface that was designed by Linn Boyd and Morris F Benton. This belongs to the century writing font family which was released in between 1894-1923.

Arial Narrow:

This is a high style font that is available for free download for personal and commercial use. However, the free version provides all upper case and lower case with some special character and features.

Therefore above are some of the most popularly used ideal fonts for dissertation writing . Times Roman is the most chosen font styles for thesis and dissertation writing but still, it has some common drawbacks as this font was created mostly to create spaces in between the words and letters but according to some professionals, the usage of this font causes overuse of view.

Similarly, Verdana and Arial might provide a simple and clear look on the screen but on the paper, it appears a little congested and a little less formal. But still, all of these fonts discussed above are some of the most appropriate fonts which are ideally used in writing a thesis, dissertation, essays or any writing assignment given to a student in college.

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KU Thesis and Dissertation Formatting: Home

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Upcoming ETD Workshops 

For weekday ETD workshops on the Lawrence campus, click here for the KU Information Technology calendar .

For Saturday workshops on the Lawrence or Edwards campuses, click here for the Writing Center's Graduate Research and Write-In Information page .

There are a lot more workshops available, such as Abstract Writing, Finding Funding, Grant Writing, and Dissertation Completion, as well as an additional ETD seminar held once per semester to help guide students through the final steps of the thesis or dissertation process and submitting the completed manuscript to ProQuest. For more information on any of these workshops, click here for the KU Graduate School News & Events page.

A video-recording of the 2016 ETD Formatting and Copyright workshop is also available.

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Note that there are different documents for KUMC and Lawrence campuses and for theses or dissertations.

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If you're ready to submit your final thesis or dissertation, click the blue text above to link over to ProQuest/UMI from the KU Graduate School. When you get there, click on Submit my Thesis or Dissertation then create a new student account or log in to an account you have already created. This is a separate account from KU so your KU login will not work.

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Formatting Your Dissertation

On this page:

Language of the Dissertation

Page and text requirements, body of text, tables, figures, and captions, dissertation acceptance certificate, copyright statement.

Front and Back Matter

Supplemental material, dissertations comprising previously published works, top ten formatting errors, further questions.

Related Contacts and Forms

When preparing the dissertation for submission, students must follow strict formatting requirements. Any deviation from these requirements may lead to rejection of the dissertation and delay in the conferral of the degree.

The language of the dissertation is ordinarily English, although some departments whose subject matter involves foreign languages may accept a dissertation written in a language other than English.

Most dissertations are 100 to 300 pages in length. All dissertations should be divided into appropriate sections, and long dissertations may need chapters, main divisions, and subdivisions.

At least 1 inch for all margins

Body of text: double spacing

Block quotations, footnotes, and bibliographies: single spacing within each entry but double spacing between each entry

Table of contents, list of tables, list of figures or illustrations, and lengthy tables: single spacing may be used


Use 10-12 point size. Fonts must be embedded in the PDF file to ensure all characters display correctly. 

Recommended Fonts

If you are unsure whether your chosen font will display correctly, use one of the following fonts: 

If fonts are not embedded, non-English characters may not appear as intended. Fonts embedded improperly will be published to DASH as-is. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that fonts are embedded properly prior to submission. 

Instructions for Embedding Fonts

To embed your fonts in recent versions of word, follow these instructions from microsoft:.

Click the File tab and then click Options .

In the left column, select the Save tab.

At the bottom, under Preserve fidelity when sharing this document , select the Embed fonts in the file check box.

Clear the Do not embed common system fonts check box.

For reference, below are some instructions from ProQuest UMI for embedding fonts in older file formats:

To embed your fonts in Microsoft Word 2010:

In the File pull-down menu click on Options .

Choose Save on the left sidebar.

Note that when saving as a PDF, make sure to go to “more options” and save as “PDF/A compliant”

To embed your fonts in Microsoft Word 2007:

Using Microsoft Word on a Mac:

Microsoft Word 2008 on a Mac OS X computer will automatically embed your fonts while converting your document to a PDF file.

If you are converting to PDF using Acrobat Professional (instructions courtesy of the Graduate Thesis Office at Iowa State University):  

The font used in the body of the text must also be used in headers, page numbers, and footnotes. Exceptions are made only for tables and figures created with different software and inserted into the document.

Tables and figures must be placed as close as possible to their first mention in the text. They may be placed on a page with no text above or below, or they may be placed directly into the text. If a table or a figure is alone on a page (with no narrative), it should be centered within the margins on the page. Tables may take up more than one page as long as they obey all rules about margins. Tables and figures referred to in the text may not be placed at the end of the chapter or at the end of the dissertation.

Given the standards of the discipline, dissertations in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Department of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning often place illustrations at the end of the dissertation.

Figure and table numbering must be continuous throughout the dissertation or by chapter (e.g., 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc.). Two figures or tables cannot be designated with the same number. If you have repeating images that you need to cite more than once, label them with their number and A, B, etc. 

Headings should be placed at the top of tables. While no specific rules for the format of table headings and figure captions are required, a consistent format must be used throughout the dissertation (contact your department for style manuals appropriate to the field).

Captions should appear at the bottom of any figures. If the figure takes up the entire page, the caption should be placed alone on the preceding page, centered vertically and horizontally within the margins.

Each page receives a separate page number. When a figure or table title is on a preceding page, the second and subsequent pages of the figure or table should say, for example, “Figure 5 (Continued).” In such an instance, the list of figures or tables will list the page number containing the title. The word “figure” should be written in full (not abbreviated), and the “F” should be capitalized (e.g., Figure 5). In instances where the caption continues on a second page, the “(Continued)” notation should appear on the second and any subsequent page. The figure/table and the caption are viewed as one entity and the numbering should show correlation between all pages. Each page must include a header.

Landscape orientation figures and tables must be positioned correctly and bound at the top so that the top of the figure or table will be at the left margin. Figure and table headings/captions are placed with the same orientation as the figure or table when on the same page. When on a separate page, headings/captions are always placed in portrait orientation, regardless of the orientation of the figure or table. Page numbers are always placed as if the figure were vertical on the page.

If a graphic artist does the figures, GSAS will accept lettering done by the artist only within the figure. Figures done with software are acceptable if the figures are clear and legible. Legends and titles done by the same process as the figures will be accepted if they too are clear, legible, and run at least 10 or 12 characters per inch. Otherwise, legends and captions should be printed with the same font used in the text.

Original illustrations, photographs, and fine arts prints may be scanned and included, centered between the margins on a page with no text above or below.

Use of Third-Party Content

In addition to the student's own writing, dissertations often contain third-party content or in-copyright content owned by parties other than you, the student who authored the dissertation. The Office for Scholarly Communication recommends consulting the information below about fair use, which allows individuals to use in-copyright content, on a limited basis and for specific purposes, without seeking permission from copyright holders.

Because your dissertation will be made available for online distribution through DASH , Harvard's open-access repository, it is important that any third-party content in it may be made available in this way.

Fair Use and Copyright 

What is fair use?

Fair use is a provision in copyright law that allows the use of a certain amount of copyrighted material without seeking permission. Fair use is format- and media-agnostic. This means fair use may apply to images (including photographs, illustrations, and paintings), quoting at length from literature, videos, and music regardless of the format. 

How do I determine whether my use of an image or other third-party content in my dissertation is fair use?  

There are four factors you will need to consider when making a fair use claim.

1) For what purpose is your work going to be used?

Nonprofit, educational, scholarly, or research use favors fair use. Commercial, non-educational uses, often do not favor fair use.

A transformative use (repurposing or recontextualizing the in-copyright material) favors fair use. Examining, analyzing, and explicating the material in a meaningful way, so as to enhance a reader's understanding, strengthens your fair use argument. In other words, can you make the point in the thesis without using, for instance, an in-copyright image? Is that image necessary to your dissertation? If not, perhaps, for copyright reasons, you should not include the image.  

2) What is the nature of the work to be used?

Published, fact-based content favors fair use and includes scholarly analysis in published academic venues. 

Creative works, including artistic images, are afforded more protection under copyright, and depending on your use in light of the other factors, may be less likely to favor fair use; however, this does not preclude considerations of fair use for creative content altogether.

3) How much of the work is going to be used?  

Small, or less significant, amounts favor fair use. A good rule of thumb is to use only as much of the in-copyright content as necessary to serve your purpose. Can you use a thumbnail rather than a full-resolution image? Can you use a black-and-white photo instead of color? Can you quote select passages instead of including several pages of the content? These simple changes bolster your fair use of the material.

4) What potential effect on the market for that work may your use have?

If there is a market for licensing this exact use or type of educational material, then this weighs against fair use. If however, there would likely be no effect on the potential commercial market, or if it is not possible to obtain permission to use the work, then this favors fair use. 

For further assistance with fair use, consult the Office for Scholarly Communication's guide, Fair Use: Made for the Harvard Community and the Office of the General Counsel's Copyright and Fair Use: A Guide for the Harvard Community .

What are my options if I don’t have a strong fair use claim? 

Consider the following options if you find you cannot reasonably make a fair use claim for the content you wish to incorporate:

Seek permission from the copyright holder. 

Use openly licensed content as an alternative to the original third-party content you intended to use. Openly-licensed content grants permission up-front for reuse of in-copyright content, provided your use meets the terms of the open license.

Use content in the public domain, as this content is not in-copyright and is therefore free of all copyright restrictions. Whereas third-party content is owned by parties other than you, no one owns content in the public domain; everyone, therefore, has the right to use it.

For use of images in your dissertation, please consult this guide to Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media , which is a great resource for finding images without copyright restrictions. 

Who can help me with questions about copyright and fair use?

Contact your Copyright First Responder . Please note, Copyright First Responders assist with questions concerning copyright and fair use, but do not assist with the process of obtaining permission from copyright holders.

Pages should be assigned a number except for the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate . Preliminary pages (abstract, table of contents, list of tables, graphs, illustrations, and preface) should use small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). All pages must contain text or images.  

Count the title page as page i and the copyright page as page ii, but do not print page numbers on either page .

For the body of text, use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) starting with page 1 on the first page of text. Page numbers must be centered throughout the manuscript at the top or bottom. Every numbered page must be consecutively ordered, including tables, graphs, illustrations, and bibliography/index (if included); letter suffixes (such as 10a, 10b, etc.) are not allowed. It is customary not to have a page number on the page containing a chapter heading.

Check pagination carefully. Account for all pages.

A copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC) should appear as the first page. This page should not be counted or numbered. The DAC will appear in the online version of the published dissertation.

The dissertation begins with the title page; the title should be as concise as possible and should provide an accurate description of the dissertation.

A copyright notice should appear on a separate page immediately following the title page and include the copyright symbol ©, the year of first publication of the work, and the name of the author:

© [ year ] [ Author’s Name ] All rights reserved.

Alternatively, students may choose to license their work openly under a  Creative Commons  license. The author remains the copyright holder while at the same time granting up-front permission to others to read, share, and (depending on the license) adapt the work, so long as proper attribution is given. (By default, under copyright law, the author reserves all rights; under a Creative Commons license, the author reserves some rights.)

An abstract, numbered as page  iii , should immediately follow the copyright page and should state the problem, describe the methods and procedures used, and give the main results or conclusions of the research. The abstract will appear in the online and bound versions of the dissertation and will be published by ProQuest. There is no maximum word count for the abstract. 

Dissertations divided into sections must contain a table of contents that lists, at minimum, the major headings in the following order:

Front matter includes (if applicable):

acknowledgements of help or encouragement from individuals or institutions

a dedication

a list of illustrations or tables

a glossary of terms

one or more epigraphs.

Back matter includes (if applicable):


supplemental materials, including figures and tables

an index (in rare instances).

Supplemental figures and tables must be placed at the end of the dissertation in an appendix, not within or at the end of a chapter. If additional digital information (including audio, video, image, or datasets) will accompany the main body of the dissertation, it should be uploaded as a supplemental file through ProQuest ETD . Supplemental material will be available in DASH and ProQuest and preserved digitally in the Harvard University Archives.

As a matter of copyright, dissertations comprising the student's previously published works must be authorized for distribution from DASH. The guidelines in this section pertain to any previously published material that requires permission from publishers or other rightsholders before it may be distributed from DASH. Please note:

Authors whose publishing agreements grant the publisher exclusive rights to display, distribute, and create derivative works will need to seek the publisher's permission for nonexclusive use of the underlying works before the dissertation may be distributed from DASH.

Authors whose publishing agreements indicate the authors have retained the relevant nonexclusive rights to the original materials for display, distribution, and the creation of derivative works may distribute the dissertation as a whole from DASH without need for further permissions.

It is recommended that authors consult their publishing agreements directly to determine whether and to what extent they may have transferred exclusive rights under copyright. The Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC) is available to help the author determine whether she has retained the necessary rights or requires permission. Please note, however, the Office of Scholarly Communication is not able to assist with the permissions process itself.

Missing Dissertation Acceptance Certificate.  The first page of the PDF dissertation file should be a scanned copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC). This page should not be counted or numbered as a part of the dissertation pagination.

Conflicts Between the DAC and the Title Page.  The DAC and the dissertation title page must match exactly, meaning that the author name and the title on the title page must match that on the DAC. If you use your full middle name or just an initial on one document, it must be the same on the other document.  

Abstract Formatting Errors. The advisor name should be left-justified, and the author's name should be right-justified. Up to two advisor names are allowed. The Abstract should be double spaced and include the page title “Abstract,” as well as the page number “iii.” There is no maximum word count for the abstract. 


 The front matter should be numbered using Roman numerals (iii, iv, v, …). The title page and the copyright page should be counted but not numbered. The first printed page number should appear on the Abstract page (iii). 

The body of the dissertation should be numbered using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, …). The first page of the body of the text should begin with page 1. Pagination may not continue from the front matter. 

All page numbers should be centered either at the top or the bottom of the page.

Figures and tables Figures and tables must be placed within the text, as close to their first mention as possible. Figures and tables that span more than one page must be labeled on each page. Any second and subsequent page of the figure/table must include the “(Continued)” notation. This applies to figure captions as well as images. Each page of a figure/table must be accounted for and appropriately labeled. All figures/tables must have a unique number. They may not repeat within the dissertation.

Horizontal Figures and Tables 

Any figures/tables placed in a horizontal orientation must be placed with the top of the figure/ table on the left-hand side. The top of the figure/table should be aligned with the spine of the dissertation when it is bound. 

Page numbers must be placed in the same location on all pages of the dissertation, centered, at the bottom or top of the page. Page numbers may not appear under the table/ figure.

Supplemental Figures and Tables. Supplemental figures and tables must be placed at the back of the dissertation in an appendix. They should not be placed at the back of the chapter. 

Permission Letters Copyright. permission letters must be uploaded as a supplemental file, titled ‘do_not_publish_permission_letters,” within the dissertation submission tool.

 DAC Attachment. The signed Dissertation Acceptance Certificate must additionally be uploaded as a document in the "Administrative Documents" section when submitting in Proquest ETD . Dissertation submission is not complete until all documents have been received and accepted.

Overall Formatting. The entire document should be checked after all revisions, and before submitting online, to spot any inconsistencies or PDF conversion glitches.

You can view dissertations successfully published from your department in DASH . This is a great place to check for specific formatting and area-specific conventions.

Contact the  Office of Student Affairs  with further questions.


Office of Student Affairs

UCI Libraries Mobile Site

Libaries home page

Thesis / Dissertation Formatting Manual (2022)

Selecting a Font (Typeface)

Be consistent in the use of font/typeface throughout your manuscript. All text material must be in the same font/typeface; all headings and figure/table titles/captions must be in a consistent typeface.

Please select a font and size that is highly legible and will reproduce clearly. Ornate or decorative fonts such as script, calligraphy, gothic, italics, or specialized art fonts are not acceptable. For electronic submissions, embedded fonts are required.

Any symbols, equations, figures, drawings, diacritical marks, or lines that cannot be typed, and therefore are drawn, must be added in permanent black ink.

Below are suggested fonts and sizes.

Table listing permissible fonts for thesis/dissertation manuscripts. Fonts listed are Arial, Century, Courier New, Garamond, Georgia, Lucida Bright, Microsoft Sans Serif, Tahoma, Times, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, and CMR for LaTex.. 11 or 12 pt font is recommended.

Establish and follow a consistent pattern for layout of all headings.  All headings should use the same font size, font weight, typeface, etc.

For example: center all major headings; place secondary headings at least two lines below major headings.

Typeface/Printing Quality (Paper Submissions Only)

If you are submitting your manuscript on paper, printer quality is critical to produce a clean, clear image. You are strongly urged to use a laser printer, as ink jet and line printers generally do not produce fully clear, legible results. Dot matrix-type printers are not acceptable.

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Software VPN is not available for guests, so they may not have access to some content when connecting from off-campus.

Thesis and Dissertation Guide

pdf icon

Non-Traditional Formats

Font type and size, spacing and indentation, tables, figures, and illustrations, formatting previously published work.

Thesis and Dissertation Guide

II. Formatting Guidelines

All copies of a thesis or dissertation must have the following uniform margins throughout the entire document:

Exceptions : The first page of each chapter (including the introduction, if any) begins 2″ from the top of the page. Also, the headings on the title page, abstract, first page of the dedication/ acknowledgements/preface (if any), and first page of the table of contents begin 2″ from the top of the page.

Non-traditional theses or dissertations such as whole works comprised of digital, artistic, video, or performance materials (i.e., no written text, chapters, or articles) are acceptable if approved by your committee and graduate program. A PDF document with a title page, copyright page, and abstract at minimum are required to be submitted along with any relevant supplemental files.

Fonts must be 10, 11, or 12 points in size. Superscripts and subscripts (e.g., formulas, or footnote or endnote numbers) should be no more than 2 points smaller than the font size used for the body of the text.

Space and indent your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Spacing and Indentation with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Exceptions : Blocked quotations, notes, captions, legends, and long headings must be single-spaced throughout the document and double-spaced between items.

Paginate your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Pagination example with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Format footnotes for your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Footnote spacing  with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Endnotes are an acceptable alternative to footnotes. Format endnotes for your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Endnotes with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Tables, figures, and illustrations vary widely by discipline. Therefore, formatting of these components is largely at the discretion of the author.

For example, headings and captions may appear above or below each of these components.

These components may each be placed within the main text of the document or grouped together in a separate section.

Space permitting, headings and captions for the associated table, figure, or illustration must be on the same page.

The use of color is permitted as long as it is consistently applied as part of the finished component (e.g., a color-coded pie chart) and not extraneous or unprofessional (e.g., highlighting intended solely to draw a reader's attention to a key phrase). The use of color should be reserved primarily for tables, figures, illustrations, and active website or document links throughout your thesis or dissertation.

The format you choose for these components must be consistent throughout the thesis or dissertation.

Ensure each component complies with margin and pagination requirements.

Refer to the List of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations section for additional information.

If your thesis or dissertation has appendices, they must be prepared following these guidelines:

Appendices with mesaurements described in surrounding text

You are required to list all the references you consulted. For specific details on formatting your references, consult and follow a style manual or professional journal that is used for formatting publications and citations in your discipline.

References with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Your reference pages must be prepared following these guidelines:

In some cases, students gain approval from their academic program to include in their thesis or dissertation previously published (or submitted, in press, or under review) journal articles or similar materials that they have authored. For more information about including previously published works in your thesis or dissertation, see the section on Use of Your Own Previously Published Materials and the section on Copyrighting.

If your academic program has approved inclusion of such materials, please note that these materials must match the formatting guidelines set forth in this Guide regardless of how the material was formatted for publication.

Some specific formatting guidelines to consider include:

Formatting previously published work with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Previous: Order and Components

Next: Distribution


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