Your master’s thesis must comply with certain formatting guidelines. Be sure to read through this list of requirements thoroughly before you submit.
Before you turn in your copies for binding, make sure that all of the pages are in correct numerical order and that they are right-side up.
Required and Optional Sections
Here is the order of pages your master’s thesis must include. Optional pages are listed as such.
Note that the resume/curriculum vitae belongs at the end of the thesis, after the main content, whereas all other sections belong before the main content.
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.
TITLE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
Submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
Master of [Arts or Science]
in the Department [or School] of [Department/School Name],
* Month Year
* The month and year is the date when all requirements have been completed for the awarding of your master’s degree by the University Graduate School. This is not necessarily the month in which you submit your thesis.
Acceptance Page – Required
This page confirms the committee's approval and acceptance of your thesis.
The acceptance page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. Adding lines for the signatures is optional. The first sentence should be centered, “Master’s Thesis Committee” should be left-aligned, and all other content should be right-aligned.
Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Master's Thesis Committee
[Chairperson's name typed, Ph.D.]
[Second reader's signature]
[Third reader's signature]
If you are submitting electronically, the acceptance page cannot contain signatures. Signatures should only be on the loose copy submitted to the University Graduate School.
If you are submitting a bound version, the page with the original signatures should be included in one of the bound copies after the title page. Photocopies of the signed acceptance may be used in additional bound volumes.
Copyright Page – Optional
The copyright page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. All content on this page should be centered.
Copyright © [year]
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.
Abstract – Unsigned and Optional by Department
The abstract page should be a separate page and no longer than one page. Your name and the thesis title should be centered, while the rest of the content should be left-justified. Do not type “Abstract” at the top of the page.
The abstract is double-spaced and limited to 350 words. In an average abstract, there will be about 70 characters per line, with a maximum of 35 lines.
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.
[Thesis Title (may be underlined or in caps)]
Table of Contents – Required
Include a table of contents to guide readership of your thesis.
Supplemental Materials – If Appropriate
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 thesis, after the main content. This should not include page numbers.
If choosing the paper method of submission, your document must be printed on paper that meets the following requirements.
- Watermarked, 100 percent cotton. 20- or 24-pound bond paper, 8½” x 11” sheets.
- IU Bond is not 100 percent cotton and not acceptable.
Script fonts (e.g., Monotype Corsica) and italicizing large sections of text are not allowed for the main body of your text, although italics may be used appropriately.
- 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 acceptable to use special laser or photo paper for the page of the thesis that contains images to achieve the best possible quality. The IU Seal or Branding should not be used on any portion of the submission. These items may be used only with the written permission of the university.
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.
- Tip: 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 thesis, including figures, tables, maps, plates, etc., and any preliminary material you choose to include.
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.
- 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 from matter.
- 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 thesis. 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.
Theses 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.
If submitting via the bound paper method, the document must be bound according to the following requirements.
- 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 thesis.
- If you are not in town, call one of the binderies we’ve listed, ask what the normal specs are for an IU thesis, 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: Erica Whichello (Master’s)
Wells Library, E546
1320 E 10th St. Room 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