Your doctoral dissertation must comply with certain formatting guidelines. Be sure to read the list of requirements thoroughly before you begin, and check the list carefully before you submit.

  • Required and Optional Sections

    Dissertation front matter should be in the following order. The front matter refers to the title page through the end of the table of contents/supplemental materials.Required sections are indicated in bold while optional sections are italicized.

    • Title Page (required)
    • Acceptance Page (required)
    • Copyright Page (optional)
    • Dedication (optional)
    • Acknowledgements (optional)
    • Preface (optional)
    • Abstract (required)
    • Table of Contents (required)
    • Supplemental Materials (lists of tables, figures, appendices, etc) (optional)

    Additionally, all students are required to include their resume/curriculum vitae at the end of their dissertation.

    For more information about each section, please see below.

    Title Page—Required

    The title page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. All content on this page should be centered horizontally and vertically. Keep in mind that the title must be able to fit on the spine of a bound manuscript.

    See a sample Title Page
    Tips for Title Page Formatting

    Acceptance Page – Required

    This page confirms the committee's approval and acceptance of your dissertation.

    The acceptance page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. 

    See a sample Acceptance Page
    Tips for Acceptance Page Formatting  

    Learn about submission methods »

    Copyright Page – Optional

    If you choose to copyright your dissertation, you should include a copyright page. The copyright page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. All content on this page should be centered horizontally and vertically.

    Copyright © [year]

    [Student's Name]

    Dedication, Acknowledgements, or Preface - Optional

    Depending on your personal inclination, you may wish to include a dedication, a preface, or a set of acknowledgments. The latter are designed to recognize people or agencies to whom you feel grateful for any academic, technical, financial, or personal aid in the preparation of your thesis. As a matter of courtesy, you would ordinarily mention the members of your committee here, as well as institutions that provided funding or anyone else who helped. For the dedication page, all content  should be centered horizontally and vertically. Only the dedication itself should be on the dedication page; no title should appear. Acknowledgements and Prefaces pages should have a title.

    Abstract – Required

    As many people will learn about your work through your abstract published in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database, you should spend a good bit of effort in the composition of both the abstract and the title of your work. Try to convey the flavor of your work, not just the bare bones of your findings. You should also work to phrase your title so that it truly describes the contents and will be easily found in the index of the database. The index is based on key words, so be as specific as you can be about your subject. Go to the database »

    Have your committee sign the page at the defense and submit the signed abstract to the University Graduate School. 

    See a sample Abstract Page
    Tips for Abstract Page Formatting                                      

    Table of Contents – Required

    Include a table of contents to guide readership of your dissertation.

    Add an entry for your curriculum vitae (CV) to the table of contents. The CV should be the last item in your dissertation and listed last on the table of contents.  Since CV pages should not have a page number, the table of contents entry for it should note only the presence of the CV at the end with no page number indicated.

    Add an entry/entries (as is appropriate) for the reference/bibliography page/pages to the table of contents.

    Supplemental Materials – Optional

    Include lists of tables, figures, appendixes, abbreviations, or other supplemental materials, if appropriate.

    Resume/Curriculum Vitae - Required

    Include a resume/curriculum vitae at the end of the dissertation, after the main content. Do not add any page number(s) to the resume/curriculum vitae.

    Your CV should be in the same font and have the same margins as the rest of your dissertation and should not contain your home address, phone number, nor any page number. Please list your PhD degree as completed in the same month as listed on the title page.

  • Paper

    If submitting via the unbound paper method, the document must be printed on paper that meets the following requirements. Learn about submission methods »

    • Watermarked, 100 percent cotton, 20- or 24-pound bond paper, 8½" x 11" sheets.
    • IU Bond, which bears the IU watermark or seal, is not 100 percent cotton and not acceptable.
    • The unbound version and the first of the bound copies must be on paper of this quality.
    • The second bound copy of your dissertation goes to your department and may not need to be on cotton paper. Check your departmental requirements.
  • Fonts

    Font size should be either 11 or 12 point for the entire document with the only exception being the title on the title page, footnotes, tables/charts, and picture/table descriptions. Font up to size 16 point may be used for the document’s title on the title page, only. Font as small as 10 point may be used for footnotes, the content of tables/charts, and picture/table/chart descriptions.

    Black font is used throughout the dissertation with the only exception being areas where a different font color serves a purpose in explaining or highlighting some aspect of the research/dissertation in a way black font could not. 

    Be consistent in font style throughout your dissertation. The following font styles are recommended for the ease with which they convert to a PDF. All dissertations have to be converted to a PDF in the electronic submission process.

    •   Arial
    •   Bookman Old Style
    •   Calibri
    •   Cambria
    •   Lucida Bright
    •   Times New Roman  
  • Spacing

    The material should be double-spaced. Long quotations within the text should be typed single-spaced with wider margins.

  • Photographs and Images

    If photographs or detailed graphics are part of the work, make sure they are crisp and clear when printed. It is OK to use special laser or photo paper for the page of the dissertation that contains images to achieve the best possible quality.

  • Margins
    • Margins should be at least 1½" on the left and 1" on the top, right and bottom. One-inch margins on all sides is acceptable for electronic submissions. Learn about submission methods »
    • Make sure that when photocopied or printed, your documents have this much actual white space—it is critical for proper binding. Binderies sew along the left-hand margin and then trim the other sides. Inadequate margins can result in part of your material being lost after the combination of copying and binding. Even if all the material remains, insufficient margins can affect the readability and appearance of your work.
    • These margin requirements apply to all materials included in the dissertation, including figures, tables, maps, plates, etc., and any preliminary material you choose to include.
  • Page Layout

    Ordinarily, the text and any other materials will appear on the right-hand page only. If, however, you and your committee agree that it is necessary to include facing material on the left-hand page as well, be sure to leave 1½" on the right-hand side of the facing page.

    Running heads are not used in dissertation submissions. Please limit the content of your header and footer space to the page number, only.

  • Page Numbers
    • Page numbers must be clear, consecutive, and printed on every page, including appendixes, tables, figures, maps, charts photographs, etc., except for the title page and vita page.
    • Lowercase Roman numbers (e.g., i, ii, iii) are used for the pages preceding the main body of work.
    • Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3) are used in the body of the work, the bibliography and the appendices.
    • The title page counts as page i but does not bear a number.
    • Begin the actual numbering with the acceptance page as page ii, and continue with lowercase Roman numerals until the start of the actual body of the dissertation. That page, whether part of your full introduction or of your first chapter, should be numbered using the Arabic numeral 1, and every page thereafter should be numbered consecutively until you reach the vita page.
    • Ordinarily, page numbers should be centered at the top or bottom of the page, entered midway between the edge of paper and the text to prevent their loss during the binding process.
  • Language

    Dissertations should be written in English, unless you and your department/committee have decided otherwise.

  • References, Citations, Bibliography, and Footnotes

    Check with your department on this requirement. This format depends largely on your particular field or topic.

    For example, footnotes can appear either on the page where the annotation occurs, the end of each chapter, or the end of the thesis. Be sure to follow the conventions of your department or discipline.

  • Binding

    If submitting via the unbound paper method, the document must be bound according to the following requirements.

    Learn about submission methods »

    • Before you have the copies bound, check with your department about whether it prefers to bind the abstract with the rest of the text.
    • The University Graduate School accepts only binding that uses the oversewn method. Velo binding available from some photocopying businesses is not acceptable.
    • Ask the bindery to put the dissertation or thesis title and your full name on the front covers and the title and your last name on the spines of the bound copies. Keep in mind that this title needs to fit along the spine of the bound dissertation.
    • If you are not in town, call one of the binderies we’ve listed, and ask what the normal specs are for an IU dissertation, and then relay that information to a bindery near you. See the list »
    • You may arrange for the bindery to send the finished book directly to the University Graduate School:

      Indiana University Graduate School
      Attn: Shelly Gerber-Sparks (Doctoral)
      Attn:  (Master’s)
      Wells Library, E546
      1320 E 1oth St. E546
      Bloomington, IN 47405-7104

  • Recommended Style Manuals
    • “The Chicago Manual of Style”
    • Turabian, Kate L., “A Manual for Writers”
    • Modern Language Association (MLA) style sheet
    • American Psychological Association (APA) style sheet (especially for works in the social sciences)
  • Recommended Dictionaries for Spelling and Usage
    • Webster’s Third International Dictionary
    • Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
  • Printing


    If submitting via the unbound paper method, the document must be typed and printed.

    Learn about submission methods >>