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Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

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The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.

Weekly Goals Sheet (a.k.a. Life Map) [Word Doc]

This editable handout provides a place for you to fill in available time blocks on a weekly chart that will help you visualize the amount of time you have available to write. By using this chart, you will be able to work your writing goals into your schedule and put these goals into perspective with your day-to-day plans and responsibilities each week. This handout also contains a formula to help you determine the minimum number of pages you would need to write per day in order to complete your writing on time.

Setting a Production Schedule (Word Doc)

This editable handout can help you make sense of the various steps involved in the production of your thesis or dissertation and determine how long each step might take. A large part of this process involves (1) seeking out the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding specific document formatting requirements, (2) understanding research protocol limitations, (3) making note of deadlines, and (4) understanding your personal writing habits.

Creating a Roadmap (PDF)

Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected. This resource offers guidance on several approaches to creating a roadmap, including creating lists, maps, nut-shells, visuals, and different methods for outlining. It is important to remember that you can create more than one roadmap (or more than one type of roadmap) depending on how the different approaches discussed here meet your needs.

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  • Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Published on 8 June 2022 by Tegan George .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process . It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation, such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)

In the final product, you can also provide a chapter outline for your readers. This is a short paragraph at the end of your introduction to inform readers about the organisational structure of your thesis or dissertation . This chapter outline is also known as a reading guide or summary outline.

Table of contents

How to outline your thesis or dissertation, dissertation and thesis outline templates, chapter outline example, sample sentences for your chapter outline, sample verbs for variation in your chapter outline, frequently asked questions about outlines.

While there are some inter-institutional differences, many outlines proceed in a fairly similar fashion.

  • Working Title
  • ‘Elevator pitch’ of your work (often written last).
  • Introduce your area of study, sharing details about your research question, problem statement , and hypotheses . Situate your research within an existing paradigm or conceptual or theoretical framework .
  • Subdivide as you see fit into main topics and sub-topics.
  • Describe your research methods (e.g., your scope, population , and data collection ).
  • Present your research findings and share about your data analysis methods.
  • Answer the research question in a concise way.
  • Interpret your findings, discuss potential limitations of your own research and speculate about future implications or related opportunities.

To help you get started, we’ve created a full thesis or dissertation template in Word or Google Docs format. It’s easy adapt it to your own requirements.

 Download Word template    Download Google Docs template

Chapter outline example British English

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of overusing the same words or sentence constructions, which can make your work monotonous and repetitive for your readers. Consider utilising some of the alternative constructions presented below.

Example 1: Passive construction

The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise.

Example 2: IS-AV construction

You can also present your information using the ‘IS-AV’ (inanimate subject with an active verb) construction.

A chapter is an inanimate object, so it is not capable of taking an action itself (e.g., presenting or discussing). However, the meaning of the sentence is still easily understandable, so the IS-AV construction can be a good way to add variety to your text.

Example 3: The I construction

Another option is to use the ‘I’ construction, which is often recommended by style manuals (e.g., APA Style and Chicago style ). However, depending on your field of study, this construction is not always considered professional or academic. Ask your supervisor if you’re not sure.

Example 4: Mix-and-match

To truly make the most of these options, consider mixing and matching the passive voice , IS-AV construction , and ‘I’ construction .This can help the flow of your argument and improve the readability of your text.

As you draft the chapter outline, you may also find yourself frequently repeating the same words, such as ‘discuss’, ‘present’, ‘prove’, or ‘show’. Consider branching out to add richness and nuance to your writing. Here are some examples of synonyms you can use.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.

The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .

Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract   in the table of contents.

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How to Structure a Dissertation – A Step by Step Guide

Published by Owen Ingram at August 11th, 2021 , Revised On September 20, 2023

A dissertation – sometimes called a thesis –  is a long piece of information backed up by extensive research. This one, huge piece of research is what matters the most when students – undergraduates and postgraduates – are in their final year of study.

On the other hand, some institutions, especially in the case of undergraduate students, may or may not require students to write a dissertation. Courses are offered instead. This generally depends on the requirements of that particular institution.

If you are unsure about how to structure your dissertation or thesis, this article will offer you some guidelines to work out what the most important segments of a dissertation paper are and how you should organise them. Why is structure so important in research, anyway?

One way to answer that, as Abbie Hoffman aptly put it, is because: “Structure is more important than content in the transmission of information.”

Also Read:   How to write a dissertation – step by step guide .

How to Structure a Dissertation or Thesis

It should be noted that the exact structure of your dissertation will depend on several factors, such as:

  • Your research approach (qualitative/quantitative)
  • The nature of your research design (exploratory/descriptive etc.)
  • The requirements set for forth by your academic institution.
  • The discipline or field your study belongs to. For instance, if you are a humanities student, you will need to develop your dissertation on the same pattern as any long essay .

This will include developing an overall argument to support the thesis statement and organizing chapters around theories or questions. The dissertation will be structured such that it starts with an introduction , develops on the main idea in its main body paragraphs and is then summarised in conclusion .

However, if you are basing your dissertation on primary or empirical research, you will be required to include each of the below components. In most cases of dissertation writing, each of these elements will have to be written as a separate chapter.

But depending on the word count you are provided with and academic subject, you may choose to combine some of these elements.

For example, sciences and engineering students often present results and discussions together in one chapter rather than two different chapters.

If you have any doubts about structuring your dissertation or thesis, it would be a good idea to consult with your academic supervisor and check your department’s requirements.

Parts of  a Dissertation or Thesis

Your dissertation will  start with a t itle page that will contain details of the author/researcher, research topic, degree program (the paper is to be submitted for), and research supervisor. In other words, a title page is the opening page containing all the names and title related to your research.

The name of your university, logo, student ID and submission date can also be presented on the title page. Many academic programs have stringent rules for formatting the dissertation title page.

Acknowledgements

The acknowledgments section allows you to thank those who helped you with your dissertation project. You might want to mention the names of your academic supervisor, family members, friends, God, and participants of your study whose contribution and support enabled you to complete your work.

However, the acknowledgments section is usually optional.

Tip: Many students wrongly assume that they need to thank everyone…even those who had little to no contributions towards the dissertation. This is not the case. You only need to thank those who were directly involved in the research process, such as your participants/volunteers, supervisor(s) etc.

Perhaps the smallest yet important part of a thesis, an abstract contains 5 parts:

  • A brief introduction of your research topic.
  • The significance of your research.
  •  A line or two about the methodology that was used.
  • The results and what they mean (briefly); their interpretation(s).
  • And lastly, a conclusive comment regarding the results’ interpretation(s) as conclusion .

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Tip: Make sure to highlight key points to help readers figure out the scope and findings of your research study without having to read the entire dissertation. The abstract is your first chance to impress your readers. So, make sure to get it right. Here are detailed guidelines on how to write abstract for dissertation .

Table of Contents

Table of contents is the section of a dissertation that guides each section of the dissertation paper’s contents. Depending on the level of detail in a table of contents, the most useful headings are listed to provide the reader the page number on which said information may be found at.

Table of contents can be inserted automatically as well as manually using the Microsoft Word Table of Contents feature.

List of Figures and Tables

If your dissertation paper uses several illustrations, tables and figures, you might want to present them in a numbered list in a separate section . Again, this list of tables and figures can be auto-created and auto inserted using the Microsoft Word built-in feature.

List of Abbreviations

Dissertations that include several abbreviations can also have an independent and separate alphabetised  list of abbreviations so readers can easily figure out their meanings.

If you think you have used terms and phrases in your dissertation that readers might not be familiar with, you can create a  glossary  that lists important phrases and terms with their meanings explained.

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Introduction

Introduction chapter  briefly introduces the purpose and relevance of your research topic.

Here, you will be expected to list the aim and key objectives of your research so your readers can easily understand what the following chapters of the dissertation will cover. A good dissertation introduction section incorporates the following information:

  • It provides background information to give context to your research.
  • It clearly specifies the research problem you wish to address with your research. When creating research questions , it is important to make sure your research’s focus and scope are neither too broad nor too narrow.
  • it demonstrates how your research is relevant and how it would contribute to the existing knowledge.
  • It provides an overview of the structure of your dissertation. The last section of an introduction contains an outline of the following chapters. It could start off with something like: “In the following chapter, past literature has been reviewed and critiqued. The proceeding section lays down major research findings…”
  • Theoretical framework – under a separate sub-heading – is also provided within the introductory chapter. Theoretical framework deals with the basic, underlying theory or theories that the research revolves around.

All the information presented under this section should be relevant, clear, and engaging. The readers should be able to figure out the what, why, when, and how of your study once they have read the introduction. Here are comprehensive guidelines on how to structure the introduction to the dissertation .

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Literature Review 

The  literature review chapter  presents previous research performed on the topic and improves your understanding of the existing literature on your chosen topic. This is usually organised to complement your  primary research  work completed at a later stage.

Make sure that your chosen academic sources are authentic and up-to-date. The literature review chapter must be comprehensive and address the aims and objectives as defined in the introduction chapter. Here is what your literature research chapter should aim to achieve:

  • Data collection from authentic and relevant academic sources such as books, journal articles and research papers.
  • Analytical assessment of the information collected from those sources; this would involve a critiquing the reviewed researches that is, what their strengths/weaknesses are, why the research method they employed is better than others, importance of their findings, etc.
  • Identifying key research gaps, conflicts, patterns, and theories to get your point across to the reader effectively.

While your literature review should summarise previous literature, it is equally important to make sure that you develop a comprehensible argument or structure to justify your research topic. It would help if you considered keeping the following questions in mind when writing the literature review:

  • How does your research work fill a certain gap in exiting literature?
  • Did you adopt/adapt a new research approach to investigate the topic?
  • Does your research solve an unresolved problem?
  • Is your research dealing with some groundbreaking topic or theory that others might have overlooked?
  • Is your research taking forward an existing theoretical discussion?
  • Does your research strengthen and build on current knowledge within your area of study? This is otherwise known as ‘adding to the existing body of knowledge’ in academic circles.

Tip: You might want to establish relationships between variables/concepts to provide descriptive answers to some or all of your research questions. For instance, in case of quantitative research, you might hypothesise that variable A is positively co-related to variable B that is, one increases and so does the other one.

Research Methodology

The methods and techniques ( secondary and/or primar y) employed to collect research data are discussed in detail in the  Methodology chapter. The most commonly used primary data collection methods are:

  • questionnaires
  • focus groups
  • observations

Essentially, the methodology chapter allows the researcher to explain how he/she achieved the findings, why they are reliable and how they helped him/her test the research hypotheses or address the research problem.

You might want to consider the following when writing methodology for the dissertation:

  • Type of research and approach your work is based on. Some of the most widely used types of research include experimental, quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
  • Data collection techniques that were employed such as questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, observations etc.
  • Details of how, when, where, and what of the research that was conducted.
  • Data analysis strategies employed (for instance, regression analysis).
  • Software and tools used for data analysis (Excel, STATA, SPSS, lab equipment, etc.).
  • Research limitations to highlight any hurdles you had to overcome when carrying our research. Limitations might or might not be mentioned within research methodology. Some institutions’ guidelines dictate they be mentioned under a separate section alongside recommendations.
  • Justification of your selection of research approach and research methodology.

Here is a comprehensive article on  how to structure a dissertation methodology .

Research Findings

In this section, you present your research findings. The dissertation findings chapter  is built around the research questions, as outlined in the introduction chapter. Report findings that are directly relevant to your research questions.

Any information that is not directly relevant to research questions or hypotheses but could be useful for the readers can be placed under the  Appendices .

As indicated above, you can either develop a  standalone chapter  to present your findings or combine them with the discussion chapter. This choice depends on  the type of research involved and the academic subject, as well as what your institution’s academic guidelines dictate.

For example, it is common to have both findings and discussion grouped under the same section, particularly if the dissertation is based on qualitative research data.

On the other hand, dissertations that use quantitative or experimental data should present findings and analysis/discussion in two separate chapters. Here are some sample dissertations to help you figure out the best structure for your own project.

Sample Dissertation

Tip: Try to present as many charts, graphs, illustrations and tables in the findings chapter to improve your data presentation. Provide their qualitative interpretations alongside, too. Refrain from explaining the information that is already evident from figures and tables.

The findings are followed by the  Discussion chapter , which is considered the heart of any dissertation paper. The discussion section is an opportunity for you to tie the knots together to address the research questions and present arguments, models and key themes.

This chapter can make or break your research.

The discussion chapter does not require any new data or information because it is more about the interpretation(s) of the data you have already collected and presented. Here are some questions for you to think over when writing the discussion chapter:

  • Did your work answer all the research questions or tested the hypothesis?
  • Did you come up with some unexpected results for which you have to provide an additional explanation or justification?
  • Are there any limitations that could have influenced your research findings?

Here is an article on how to  structure a dissertation discussion .

Conclusions corresponding to each research objective are provided in the  Conclusion section . This is usually done by revisiting the research questions to finally close the dissertation. Some institutions may specifically ask for recommendations to evaluate your critical thinking.

By the end, the readers should have a clear apprehension of your fundamental case with a focus on  what methods of research were employed  and what you achieved from this research.

Quick Question: Does the conclusion chapter reflect on the contributions your research work will make to existing knowledge?

Answer: Yes, the conclusion chapter of the research paper typically includes a reflection on the research’s contributions to existing knowledge.  In the “conclusion chapter”, you have to summarise the key findings and discuss how they add value to the existing literature on the current topic.

Reference list

All academic sources that you collected information from should be cited in-text and also presented in a  reference list (or a bibliography in case you include references that you read for the research but didn’t end up citing in the text), so the readers can easily locate the source of information when/if needed.

At most UK universities, Harvard referencing is the recommended style of referencing. It has strict and specific requirements on how to format a reference resource. Other common styles of referencing include MLA, APA, Footnotes, etc.

Each chapter of the dissertation should have relevant information. Any information that is not directly relevant to your research topic but your readers might be interested in (interview transcripts etc.) should be moved under the Appendices section .

Things like questionnaires, survey items or readings that were used in the study’s experiment are mostly included under appendices.

An Outline of Dissertation/Thesis Structure

An Outline of Dissertation

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FAQs About Structure a Dissertation

What does the title page of a dissertation contain.

The title page will contain details of the author/researcher, research topic , degree program (the paper is to be submitted for) and research supervisor’s name(s). The name of your university, logo, student number and submission date can also be presented on the title page.

What is the purpose of adding acknowledgement?

The acknowledgements section allows you to thank those who helped you with your dissertation project. You might want to mention the names of your academic supervisor, family members, friends, God and participants of your study whose contribution and support enabled you to complete your work.

Can I omit the glossary from the dissertation?

Yes, but only if you think that your paper does not contain any terms or phrases that the reader might not understand. If you think you have used them in the paper,  you must create a glossary that lists important phrases and terms with their meanings explained.

What is the purpose of appendices in a dissertation?

Any information that is not directly relevant to research questions or hypotheses but could be useful for the readers can be placed under the Appendices, such as questionnaire that was used in the study.

Which referencing style should I use in my dissertation?

You can use any of the referencing styles such as APA, MLA, and Harvard, according to the recommendation of your university; however, almost all UK institutions prefer Harvard referencing style .

What is the difference between references and bibliography?

References contain all the works that you read up and used and therefore, cited within the text of your thesis. However, in case you read on some works and resources that you didn’t end up citing in-text, they will be referenced in what is called a bibliography.

Additional readings might also be present alongside each bibliography entry for readers.

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Wish that you had more time to write your dissertation paper? Here are some practical tips for you to learn “How to get dissertation deadline extension”.

Dissertation Methodology is the crux of dissertation project. In this article, we will provide tips for you to write an amazing dissertation methodology.

Appendices or Appendixes are used to provide additional date related to your dissertation research project. Here we explain what is appendix in dissertation

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Thesis and Dissertation Guide

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  • Introduction
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication, Acknowledgements, Preface (optional)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations
  • List of Abbreviations
  • List of Symbols

Non-Traditional Formats

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

  • Internet Distribution
  • Open Access
  • Registering Copyright
  • Using Copyrighted Materials
  • Use of Your Own Previously Published Materials
  • Submission Steps
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  • Sample Pages

Thesis and Dissertation Guide

II. Formatting Guidelines

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

  • Left: 1″ (or 1 1/4" to ensure sufficient room for binding the work if desired)
  • Right: 1″
  • Bottom: 1″ (with allowances for page numbers; see section on Pagination )
  • Top: 1″

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

  • The text must appear in a single column on each page and be double-spaced throughout the document. Do not arrange chapter text in multiple columns.
  • New paragraphs must be indicated by a consistent tab indentation throughout the entire document.
  • The document text must be left-justified, not centered or right-justified.
  • For blocked quotations, indent the entire text of the quotation consistently from the left margin.
  • Ensure headings are not left hanging alone on the bottom of a prior page. The text following should be moved up or the heading should be moved down. This is something to check near the end of formatting, as other adjustments to text and spacing may change where headings appear on the page.

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:

  • Use lower case Roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.) on all pages preceding the first page of chapter one. The title page counts as page i, but the number does not appear. Therefore, the first page showing a number will be the copyright page with ii at the bottom.
  • Arabic numerals (beginning with 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) start at chapter one or the introduction, if applicable. Arabic numbers must be included on all pages of the text, illustrations, notes, and any other materials that follow. Thus, the first page of chapter one will show an Arabic numeral 1, and numbering of all subsequent pages will follow in order.
  • Do not use page numbers accompanied by letters, hyphens, periods, or parentheses (e.g., 1., 1-2, -1-, (1), or 1a).
  • Center all page numbers at the bottom of the page, 1/2″ from the bottom edge.
  • Pages must not contain running headers or footers, aside from page numbers.
  • If your document contains landscape pages (pages in which the top of the page is the long side of a sheet of paper), make sure that your page numbers still appear in the same position and direction as they do on pages with standard portrait orientation for consistency. This likely means the page number will be centered on the short side of the paper and the number will be sideways relative to the landscape page text. See these additional instructions for assistance with pagination on landscape pages in Microsoft Word .

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

  • Footnotes must be placed at the bottom of the page separated from the text by a solid line one to two inches long.
  • Begin at the left page margin, directly below the solid line.
  • Single-space footnotes that are more than one line long.
  • Include one double-spaced line between each note.
  • Most software packages automatically space footnotes at the bottom of the page depending on their length. It is acceptable if the note breaks within a sentence and carries the remainder into the footnote area of the next page. Do not indicate the continuation of a footnote.
  • Number all footnotes with Arabic numerals. You may number notes consecutively within each chapter starting over with number 1 for the first note in each chapter, or you may number notes consecutively throughout the entire document.
  • Footnote numbers must precede the note and be placed slightly above the line (superscripted). Leave no space between the number and the note.
  • While footnotes should be located at the bottom of the page, do not place footnotes in a running page footer, as they must remain within the page margins.

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

Endnotes with mesaurements described in surrounding text

  • Always begin endnotes on a separate page either immediately following the end of each chapter, or at the end of your entire document. If you place all endnotes at the end of the entire document, they must appear after the appendices and before the references.
  • Include the heading “ENDNOTES” in all capital letters, and center it 1″ below the top of the first page of your endnotes section(s).
  • Single-space endnotes that are more than one line long.
  • Number all endnotes with Arabic numerals. You may number notes consecutively within each chapter starting over with number 1 for the first note in each chapter, or you may number notes consecutively throughout the entire document.
  • Endnote numbers must precede the note and be placed slightly above the line (superscripted). Leave no space between the number and the note.

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

  • Appendices must appear at the end of the document (before references) and not the chapter to which they pertain.
  • When there is more than one appendix, assign each appendix a number or a letter heading (e.g., “APPENDIX 1” or “APPENDIX A”) and a descriptive title. You may number consecutively throughout the entire work (e.g., 1, 2 or A, B), or you may assign a two-part Arabic numeral with the first number designating the chapter in which it appears, separated by a period, followed by a second number or letter to indicate its consecutive placement (e.g., “APPENDIX 3.2” is the second appendix referred to in Chapter Three).
  • Include the chosen headings in all capital letters, and center them 1″ below the top of the page.
  • All appendix headings and titles must be included in the table of contents.
  • Page numbering must continue throughout your appendix or appendices. Ensure each appendix complies with margin and pagination requirements.

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:

  • If you place references after each chapter, the references for the last chapter must be placed immediately following the chapter and before the appendices.
  • If you place all references at the end of the thesis or dissertation, they must appear after the appendices as the final component in the document.
  • Select an appropriate heading for this section based on the style manual you are using (e.g., “REFERENCES”, “BIBLIOGRAPHY”, or “WORKS CITED”).
  • Include the chosen heading in all capital letters, and center it 1″ below the top of the page.
  • References must be single-spaced within each entry.
  • Include one double-spaced line between each reference.
  • Page numbering must continue throughout your references section. Ensure references comply with margin and pagination requirements.

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

  • Fonts, margins, chapter headings, citations, and references must all match the formatting and placement used within the rest of the thesis or dissertation.
  • If appropriate, published articles can be included as separate individual chapters within the thesis or dissertation.
  • A separate abstract to each chapter should not be included.
  • The citation for previously published work must be included as the first footnote (or endnote) on the first page of the chapter.
  • Do not include typesetting notations often used when submitting manuscripts to a publisher (i.e., insert table x here).
  • The date on the title page should be the year in which your committee approves the thesis or dissertation, regardless of the date of completion or publication of individual chapters.
  • If you would like to include additional details about the previously published work, this information can be included in the preface for the thesis or dissertation.

Previous: Order and Components

Next: Distribution

  • Formatting Your Dissertation
  • Introduction

Harvard Griffin GSAS strives to provide students with timely, accurate, and clear information. If you need help understanding a specific policy, please contact the office that administers that policy.

  • Application for Degree
  • Credit for Completed Graduate Work
  • Ad Hoc Degree Programs
  • Acknowledging the Work of Others
  • Advanced Planning
  • Dissertation Submission Checklist
  • Publishing Options
  • Submitting Your Dissertation
  • English Language Proficiency
  • PhD Program Requirements
  • Secondary Fields
  • Year of Graduate Study (G-Year)
  • Master's Degrees
  • Grade and Examination Requirements
  • Conduct and Safety
  • Financial Aid
  • Registration

On this page:

Language of the Dissertation

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

  • Table of Contents

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.

  • 8½ x 11 inches, unless a musical score is included
  • 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

Fonts and Point Size

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.
  • 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.
  • Check the box next to Embed fonts in the file.
  • Click the OK button.
  • Save the document.

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:

  • Click the circular Office button in the upper left corner of Microsoft Word.
  • A new window will display. In the bottom right corner select Word Options . 
  • Choose Save from the left sidebar.

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):  

  • Open your document in Microsoft Word. 
  • Click on the Adobe PDF tab at the top. Select "Change Conversion Settings." 
  • Click on Advanced Settings. 
  • Click on the Fonts folder on the left side of the new window. In the lower box on the right, delete any fonts that appear in the "Never Embed" box. Then click "OK." 
  • If prompted to save these new settings, save them as "Embed all fonts." 
  • Now the Change Conversion Settings window should show "embed all fonts" in the Conversion Settings drop-down list and it should be selected. Click "OK" again. 
  • Click on the Adobe PDF link at the top again. This time select Convert to Adobe PDF. Depending on the size of your document and the speed of your computer, this process can take 1-15 minutes. 
  • After your document is converted, select the "File" tab at the top of the page. Then select "Document Properties." 
  • Click on the "Fonts" tab. Carefully check all of your fonts. They should all show "(Embedded Subset)" after the font name. 
  •  If you see "(Embedded Subset)" after all fonts, you have succeeded.

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, Harvard Griffin 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 author name and date on the DAC and title page should be the same. 

The dissertation begins with the title page; the title should be as concise as possible and should provide an accurate description of the dissertation. The author name and date on the DAC and title page should be the same. 

  • Do not print a page number on the title page. It is understood to be page  i  for counting purposes only.

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.)

  • Do  not  print a page number on the copyright page. It is understood to be page  ii  for counting purposes only.

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. 

  • double-spaced
  • left-justified
  • indented on the first line of each paragraph
  • The author’s name, right justified
  • The words “Dissertation Advisor:” followed by the advisor’s name, left-justified (a maximum of two advisors is allowed)
  • Title of the dissertation, centered, several lines below author and advisor

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

  • Front Matter
  • Body of Text
  • Back Matter

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):

  • bibliography
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Writing your dissertation - structure and sections

Posted in: dissertations

dissertation writing layout

In this post, we look at the structural elements of a typical dissertation. Your department may wish you to include additional sections but the following covers all core elements you will need to work on when designing and developing your final assignment.

The table below illustrates a classic dissertation layout with approximate lengths for each section.

dissertation writing layout

Hopkins, D. and Reid, T., 2018.  The Academic Skills Handbook: Your Guid e to Success in Writing, Thinking and Communicating at University . Sage.

Your title should be clear, succinct and tell the reader exactly what your dissertation is about. If it is too vague or confusing, then it is likely your dissertation will be too vague and confusing. It is important therefore to spend time on this to ensure you get it right, and be ready to adapt to fit any changes of direction in your research or focus.

In the following examples, across a variety of subjects, you can see how the students have clearly identified the focus of their dissertation, and in some cases target a problem that they will address:

An econometric analysis of the demand for road transport within the united Kingdom from  1965 to 2000

To what extent does payment card fraud affect UK bank profitability and bank stakeholders?  Does this justify fraud prevention?

A meta-analysis of implant materials for intervertebral disc replacement and regeneration.

The role of ethnic institutions in social development; the case of Mombasa, Kenya.

Why haven’t biomass crops been adopted more widely as a source of renewable energy in the United Kingdom?

Mapping the criminal mind: Profiling and its limitation.

The Relative Effectiveness of Interferon Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C

Under what conditions did the European Union exhibit leadership in international climate change negotiations from 1992-1997, 1997-2005 and 2005-Copenhagen respectively?

The first thing your reader will read (after the title) is your abstract. However, you need to write this last. Your abstract is a summary of the whole project, and will include aims and objectives, methods, results and conclusions. You cannot write this until you have completed your write-up (look at our six point checklist for writing an abstract ).

Introduction

Your introduction should include the same elements found in most academic essay or report assignments, with the possible inclusion of research questions. The aim of the introduction is to set the scene, contextualise your research, introduce your focus topic and research questions, and tell the reader what you will be covering.  It should move from the general  and work towards the specific. You should include the following:

  • Attention-grabbing statement (a controversy, a topical issue, a contentious view, a recent problem etc)
  • Background and context
  • Introduce the topic, key theories, concepts, terms of reference, practices, (advocates and critic)
  • Introduce the problem and focus of your research
  • Set out your research question(s) (this could be set out in a separate section)
  • Your approach to answering your research questions.

See also Writing your introduction .

Literature review

Your literature review is the section of your report where you show what is already known about the area under investigation and demonstrate the need for your particular study. This is a significant section in your dissertation (30%) and you should allow plenty of time to carry out a thorough exploration of your focus topic and use it to help you identify a specific problem and formulate your research questions.

You should approach the literature review with the critical analysis dial turned up to full volume. This is not simply a description, list, or summary  of everything you have read. Instead, it is a synthesis of your reading, and should include analysis and evaluation of readings, evidence, studies and data, cases, real world applications and views/opinions expressed.  Your supervisor is looking for this detailed critical approach in your literature review, where you unpack sources, identify strengths and weaknesses and find gaps in the research.

In other words, your literature review is your opportunity to show the reader why your paper is important and your research is significant, as it addresses the gap or on-going issue you have uncovered.

See also:  Developing your literature review - getting started  and   Developing your literature review - top tips

You need to tell the reader what was done. This means describing the research methods and explaining your choice. This will include information on the following:

  • Are your methods qualitative or quantitative... or both? And if so, why?
  • Who (if any) are the participants?
  • Are you analysing any documents, systems, organisations? If so what are they and why are you analysing them?
  • What did you do first, second, etc?
  • What ethical considerations are there?

It is a common style convention to write what was done rather than what you did, and write it so that someone else would be able to replicate your study.

Here you describe what you have found out. You need to identify the most significant patterns in your data, and use tables and figures to support your description. Your tables and figures are a visual representation of your findings, but remember to describe what they show in your writing. There should be no critical analysis in this part (unless you have combined results and discussion sections).

Here you show the significance of your results or findings. You critically analyse what they mean, and what the implications may be. Talk about any limitations to your study, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your own research, and make suggestions for further studies to build on your findings. In this section, your supervisor will expect you to dig deep into your findings and critically evaluate what they mean in relation to previous studies, theories, views and opinions.

This is a summary of your project, reminding the reader of the background to your study, your objectives, and showing how you met them. Do not include any new information that you have not discussed before.

This is the list of all the sources you have cited in your dissertation. Ensure you are consistent and follow the conventions for the particular referencing system you are using. (Note: you shouldn't include books you've read but do not appear in your dissertation).

Include any extra information that your reader may like to read. It should not be essential for your reader to read them in order to understand your dissertation. Your appendices should be labelled (e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B, etc). Examples of material for the appendices include detailed data tables (summarised in your results section), the complete version of a document you have used an extract from, etc.

Adapted from: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/all-resources/writing/writing-resources/planning-and-conducting-a-dissertation-research-project

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Grad Coach (R)

What’s Included: The Dissertation Template

If you’re preparing to write your dissertation, thesis or research project, our free dissertation template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your dissertation or thesis will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The dissertation template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures /list of tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction  (also available: in-depth introduction template )
  • Chapter 2: Literature review  (also available: in-depth LR template )
  • Chapter 3: Methodology (also available: in-depth methodology template )
  • Chapter 4: Research findings /results (also available: results template )
  • Chapter 5: Discussion /analysis of findings (also available: discussion template )
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion (also available: in-depth conclusion template )
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included practical examples to help you understand exactly what’s required in each section.

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Dissertation Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The dissertation template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of dissertations/theses can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research projects such as dissertations or theses, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Will this work for a research paper?

A research paper follows a similar format, but there are a few differences. You can find our research paper template here .

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a dissertation, thesis or research project at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my dissertation/thesis be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, Masters-level projects are usually 15,000 – 20,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects are often in excess of 60,000 words.

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this dissertation template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my dissertation/thesis?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our dissertation and thesis coaching services .

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How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

Published on September 21, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

When starting your thesis or dissertation process, one of the first requirements is a research proposal or a prospectus. It describes what or who you want to examine, delving into why, when, where, and how you will do so, stemming from your research question and a relevant topic .

The proposal or prospectus stage is crucial for the development of your research. It helps you choose a type of research to pursue, as well as whether to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.

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Table of contents

What should your proposal contain, dissertation question examples, what should your proposal look like, dissertation prospectus examples, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about proposals.

Prior to jumping into the research for your thesis or dissertation, you first need to develop your research proposal and have it approved by your supervisor. It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives .

Depending on your department’s requirements, there may be a defense component involved, where you present your research plan in prospectus format to your committee for their approval.

Your proposal should answer the following questions:

  • Why is your research necessary?
  • What is already known about your topic?
  • Where and when will your research be conducted?
  • Who should be studied?
  • How can the research best be done?

Ultimately, your proposal should persuade your supervisor or committee that your proposed project is worth pursuing.

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Strong research kicks off with a solid research question , and dissertations are no exception to this.

Dissertation research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly
  • What are the main factors enticing people under 30 in suburban areas to engage in the gig economy?
  • Which techniques prove most effective for 1st-grade teachers at local elementary schools in engaging students with special needs?
  • Which communication streams are the most effective for getting those aged 18-30 to the polls on Election Day?

An easy rule of thumb is that your proposal will usually resemble a (much) shorter version of your thesis or dissertation. While of course it won’t include the results section , discussion section , or conclusion , it serves as a “mini” version or roadmap for what you eventually seek to write.

Be sure to include:

  • A succinct introduction to your topic and problem statement
  • A brief literature review situating your topic within existing research
  • A basic outline of the research methods you think will best answer your research question
  • The perceived implications for future research
  • A reference list in the citation style of your choice

The length of your proposal varies quite a bit depending on your discipline and type of work you’re conducting. While a thesis proposal is often only 3-7 pages long, a prospectus for your dissertation is usually much longer, with more detailed analysis. Dissertation proposals can be up to 25-30 pages in length.

Writing a proposal or prospectus can be a challenge, but we’ve compiled some examples for you to get your started.

  • Example #1: “Geographic Representations of the Planet Mars, 1867-1907” by Maria Lane
  • Example #2: “Individuals and the State in Late Bronze Age Greece: Messenian Perspectives on Mycenaean Society” by Dimitri Nakassis
  • Example #3: “Manhood Up in the Air: A Study of Male Flight Attendants, Queerness, and Corporate Capitalism during the Cold War Era” by Phil Tiemeyer

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The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims, that you collect high-quality data, and that you use the right kind of analysis to answer your questions, utilizing credible sources . This allows you to draw valid , trustworthy conclusions.

The priorities of a research design can vary depending on the field, but you usually have to specify:

  • Your research questions and/or hypotheses
  • Your overall approach (e.g., qualitative or quantitative )
  • The type of design you’re using (e.g., a survey , experiment , or case study )
  • Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., questionnaires , observations)
  • Your data collection procedures (e.g., operationalization , timing and data management)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical tests  or thematic analysis )

A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.

It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives , ready to be approved by your supervisor or committee.

Note that some departments require a defense component, where you present your prospectus to your committee orally.

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

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How to write an undergraduate university dissertation

Writing a dissertation is a daunting task, but these tips will help you prepare for all the common challenges students face before deadline day.

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Writing a dissertation is one of the most challenging aspects of university. However, it is the chance for students to demonstrate what they have learned during their degree and to explore a topic in depth.

In this article, we look at 10 top tips for writing a successful dissertation and break down how to write each section of a dissertation in detail.

10 tips for writing an undergraduate dissertation

1. Select an engaging topic Choose a subject that aligns with your interests and allows you to showcase the skills and knowledge you have acquired through your degree.

2. Research your supervisor Undergraduate students will often be assigned a supervisor based on their research specialisms. Do some research on your supervisor and make sure that they align with your dissertation goals.

3. Understand the dissertation structure Familiarise yourself with the structure (introduction, review of existing research, methodology, findings, results and conclusion). This will vary based on your subject.

4. Write a schedule As soon as you have finalised your topic and looked over the deadline, create a rough plan of how much work you have to do and create mini-deadlines along the way to make sure don’t find yourself having to write your entire dissertation in the final few weeks.

5. Determine requirements Ensure that you know which format your dissertation should be presented in. Check the word count and the referencing style.

6. Organise references from the beginning Maintain an alphabetically arranged reference list or bibliography in the designated style as you do your reading. This will make it a lot easier to finalise your references at the end.

7. Create a detailed plan Once you have done your initial research and have an idea of the shape your dissertation will take, write a detailed essay plan outlining your research questions, SMART objectives and dissertation structure.

8. Keep a dissertation journal Track your progress, record your research and your reading, and document challenges. This will be helpful as you discuss your work with your supervisor and organise your notes.

9. Schedule regular check-ins with your supervisor Make sure you stay in touch with your supervisor throughout the process, scheduling regular meetings and keeping good notes so you can update them on your progress.

10. Employ effective proofreading techniques Ask friends and family to help you proofread your work or use different fonts to help make the text look different. This will help you check for missing sections, grammatical mistakes and typos.

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is a long piece of academic writing or a research project that you have to write as part of your undergraduate university degree.

It’s usually a long essay in which you explore your chosen topic, present your ideas and show that you understand and can apply what you’ve learned during your studies. Informally, the terms “dissertation” and “thesis” are often used interchangeably.

How do I select a dissertation topic?

First, choose a topic that you find interesting. You will be working on your dissertation for several months, so finding a research topic that you are passionate about and that demonstrates your strength in your subject is best. You want your topic to show all the skills you have developed during your degree. It would be a bonus if you can link your work to your chosen career path, but it’s not necessary.

Second, begin by exploring relevant literature in your field, including academic journals, books and articles. This will help you identify gaps in existing knowledge and areas that may need further exploration. You may not be able to think of a truly original piece of research, but it’s always good to know what has already been written about your chosen topic.

Consider the practical aspects of your chosen topic, ensuring that it is possible within the time frame and available resources. Assess the availability of data, research materials and the overall practicality of conducting the research.

When picking a dissertation topic, you also want to try to choose something that adds new ideas or perspectives to what’s already known in your field. As you narrow your focus, remember that a more targeted approach usually leads to a dissertation that’s easier to manage and has a bigger impact. Be ready to change your plans based on feedback and new information you discover during your research.

How to work with your dissertation supervisor?

Your supervisor is there to provide guidance on your chosen topic, direct your research efforts, and offer assistance and suggestions when you have queries. It’s crucial to establish a comfortable and open line of communication with them throughout the process. Their knowledge can greatly benefit your work. Keep them informed about your progress, seek their advice, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

1. Keep them updated Regularly tell your supervisor how your work is going and if you’re having any problems. You can do this through emails, meetings or progress reports.

2. Plan meetings Schedule regular meetings with your supervisor. These can be in person or online. These are your time to discuss your progress and ask for help.

3. Share your writing Give your supervisor parts of your writing or an outline. This helps them see what you’re thinking so they can advise you on how to develop it.

5. Ask specific questions When you need help, ask specific questions instead of general ones. This makes it easier for your supervisor to help you.

6. Listen to feedback Be open to what your supervisor says. If they suggest changes, try to make them. It makes your dissertation better and shows you can work together.

7. Talk about problems If something is hard or you’re worried, talk to your supervisor about it. They can give you advice or tell you where to find help.

8. Take charge Be responsible for your work. Let your supervisor know if your plans change, and don’t wait if you need help urgently.

Remember, talking openly with your supervisor helps you both understand each other better, improves your dissertation and ensures that you get the support you need.

How to write a successful research piece at university How to choose a topic for your dissertation Tips for writing a convincing thesis

How do I plan my dissertation?

It’s important to start with a detailed plan that will serve as your road map throughout the entire process of writing your dissertation. As Jumana Labib, a master’s student at the University of Manchester  studying digital media, culture and society, suggests: “Pace yourself – definitely don’t leave the entire thing for the last few days or weeks.”

Decide what your research question or questions will be for your chosen topic.

Break that down into smaller SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) objectives.

Speak to your supervisor about any overlooked areas.

Create a breakdown of chapters using the structure listed below (for example, a methodology chapter).

Define objectives, key points and evidence for each chapter.

Define your research approach (qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods).

Outline your research methods and analysis techniques.

Develop a timeline with regular moments for review and feedback.

Allocate time for revision, editing and breaks.

Consider any ethical considerations related to your research.

Stay organised and add to your references and bibliography throughout the process.

Remain flexible to possible reviews or changes as you go along.

A well thought-out plan not only makes the writing process more manageable but also increases the likelihood of producing a high-quality piece of research.

How to structure a dissertation?

The structure can depend on your field of study, but this is a rough outline for science and social science dissertations:

Introduce your topic.

Complete a source or literature review.

Describe your research methodology (including the methods for gathering and filtering information, analysis techniques, materials, tools or resources used, limitations of your method, and any considerations of reliability).

Summarise your findings.

Discuss the results and what they mean.

Conclude your point and explain how your work contributes to your field.

On the other hand, humanities and arts dissertations often take the form of an extended essay. This involves constructing an argument or exploring a particular theory or analysis through the analysis of primary and secondary sources. Your essay will be structured through chapters arranged around themes or case studies.

All dissertations include a title page, an abstract and a reference list. Some may also need a table of contents at the beginning. Always check with your university department for its dissertation guidelines, and check with your supervisor as you begin to plan your structure to ensure that you have the right layout.

How long is an undergraduate dissertation?

The length of an undergraduate dissertation can vary depending on the specific guidelines provided by your university and your subject department. However, in many cases, undergraduate dissertations are typically about 8,000 to 12,000 words in length.

“Eat away at it; try to write for at least 30 minutes every day, even if it feels relatively unproductive to you in the moment,” Jumana advises.

How do I add references to my dissertation?

References are the section of your dissertation where you acknowledge the sources you have quoted or referred to in your writing. It’s a way of supporting your ideas, evidencing what research you have used and avoiding plagiarism (claiming someone else’s work as your own), and giving credit to the original authors.

Referencing typically includes in-text citations and a reference list or bibliography with full source details. Different referencing styles exist, such as Harvard, APA and MLA, each favoured in specific fields. Your university will tell you the preferred style.

Using tools and guides provided by universities can make the referencing process more manageable, but be sure they are approved by your university before using any.

How do I write a bibliography or list my references for my dissertation?

The requirement of a bibliography depends on the style of referencing you need to use. Styles such as OSCOLA or Chicago may not require a separate bibliography. In these styles, full source information is often incorporated into footnotes throughout the piece, doing away with the need for a separate bibliography section.

Typically, reference lists or bibliographies are organised alphabetically based on the author’s last name. They usually include essential details about each source, providing a quick overview for readers who want more information. Some styles ask that you include references that you didn’t use in your final piece as they were still a part of the overall research.

It is important to maintain this list as soon as you start your research. As you complete your research, you can add more sources to your bibliography to ensure that you have a comprehensive list throughout the dissertation process.

How to proofread an undergraduate dissertation?

Throughout your dissertation writing, attention to detail will be your greatest asset. The best way to avoid making mistakes is to continuously proofread and edit your work.

Proofreading is a great way to catch any missing sections, grammatical errors or typos. There are many tips to help you proofread:

Ask someone to read your piece and highlight any mistakes they find.

Change the font so you notice any mistakes.

Format your piece as you go, headings and sections will make it easier to spot any problems.

Separate editing and proofreading. Editing is your chance to rewrite sections, add more detail or change any points. Proofreading should be where you get into the final touches, really polish what you have and make sure it’s ready to be submitted.

Stick to your citation style and make sure every resource listed in your dissertation is cited in the reference list or bibliography.

How to write a conclusion for my dissertation?

Writing a dissertation conclusion is your chance to leave the reader impressed by your work.

Start by summarising your findings, highlighting your key points and the outcome of your research. Refer back to the original research question or hypotheses to provide context to your conclusion.

You can then delve into whether you achieved the goals you set at the beginning and reflect on whether your research addressed the topic as expected. Make sure you link your findings to existing literature or sources you have included throughout your work and how your own research could contribute to your field.

Be honest about any limitations or issues you faced during your research and consider any questions that went unanswered that you would consider in the future. Make sure that your conclusion is clear and concise, and sum up the overall impact and importance of your work.

Remember, keep the tone confident and authoritative, avoiding the introduction of new information. This should simply be a summary of everything you have already said throughout the dissertation.

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Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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The Perfect Guide to Layout and Formatting for Dissertations in 2024

Sitting in your penultimate semester and worried about writing your dissertation/thesis for the next one.

Well, your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you would do, and it can turn out to be the most intimidating one when you don’t know the starting point. To solve all your queries, here’s a quick guide on Dissertation Formatting and Layout which you can use to structure your write-up. This article is curated to help you work out exactly what you should include in your dissertation. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is dissertation.

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, usually submitted as part of a PhD or master’s, and sometimes as part of a bachelor’s degree. There is a standard structure for dissertation which is being used by all the students, which includes-

  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures and tables
  • List of abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Reference list

In addition to the structure, a standard Layout and Formatting is used to make your dissertation presentable and clear for your readers. Generally, the layout requirements for a dissertation are determined by Institutions or Supervisors. However, there are certain guidelines common to almost every program.

Layout and Formatting guidelines used in Dissertation-

  • Use Standard Font, font size, and line spacing – To make your document readable and clear, you have to use a professional font. Some examples include Verdana, Times New Roman, and Calibri (Calibri font is already set on default in Word). Use a Font size of 10 or 11 with line spacing of 1.15 or 1.5.
  • Numbering Tables and figures – It is important to give your tables and figures a clear title and designated number. Using numbers with your tables/graphic makes it easier for you to refer to a specific graphic or table within the text, while the title allows the reader to see what the graphic/table is about at quick glance.

Note: When you are working with tables, always place the number and title above it; with figures and all other illustrations, the number and title should be placed below.

  • Use different Styles – To help your reader in differentiating between chapters and sections you must use different heading styles. Example, you may choose to bold all chapter headings, underline your headings and italicize sub-headings. This creates a clear differentiation between your texts and understanding for your readers.

Note: Be consistent throughout your dissertation once you finalize on one style pattern to avoid any confusion for your readers. Use the “Styles” feature of Microsoft Word for working with different styles.

  • Use Paragraph marks – Click on the paragraph symbol in your home tool bar (as shown in the below illustration). You will find a black paragraph symbol after every paragraph and it will also show hidden formatting symbols. These marks will allow you to see how the layout is constructed. Paragraph symbol is helpful when you are trying to determine the cause of mysterious jumps and other problems.
  • Include Headers and footers- Headers and footers make it clear to your readers what document is before them and also gives your dissertation a very professional look. You can find the header or footer option in Insert tab. Following are the common choices which could be included when opting for headers and footers:
  • The title of your dissertation (Header/footer)
  • The name/logo of your educational institution ( Header)
  • Page numbers ( footer)
  • Date ( footer)

Note: Always include page numbers in your dissertation. It gives a professional look and also helps your readers to locate the contents accordingly.

  • Include Title page- A clear and well-presented title page is a nice finishing touch for your dissertation. The title page will include following information- Dissertation title, Your name, The type of document (eg dissertation), Your department and institution name, Your degree program (eg Master of Arts) and the date of submission.
  • Include References – Citing your sources are must when you wish to stand tall in your dissertation. Including references takes away your plagiarism badge and gives your readers an overview of the indepth research you’ve done for your project. 

Note: For References, The APA standard format is most commonly used-

Author’s surname, initial(s). Date Published. Title of source. Location of Publisher. Publisher. Retrieved from URL

In conclusion, crafting a dissertation requires careful attention to both structure and formatting. The standard elements, including the title page, acknowledgments, abstract, and reference list, form the backbone of a well-organized dissertation.

Additionally, adherence to formatting guidelines is crucial for readability and professionalism. Utilizing a standard font, appropriate line spacing, and numbering tables and figures ensures clarity. Differentiating sections with varied heading styles aids reader comprehension, and the use of paragraph marks helps maintain a consistent layout. Incorporating headers, footers, and a well-designed title page adds a professional touch.

For further assistance in achieving impeccable layout and formatting, consider enlisting the expertise of reputable dissertation writing services such as TrueEditor , PaperTrue , and WriteSmartly . They have professional dissertation editors who can ensure the precision and coherence of your document. If you seek meticulous attention to detail and a polished final product, relying on the skills of these professional dissertation editors is a prudent choice. These services can enhance the presentation of your dissertation, ensuring a polished and impactful academic document. Good luck with your dissertation journey!

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The Dissertation Proposal Writing Process and Conference Preparation

The past few months of my PhD journey have been an absolute whirlwind! Aside from my typical class and GTA responsiblities, I was juggling my dissertation proposal, an ASEE conference paper, and preparing for the KEEN (Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network) National Conference! It was a lot of work at times and a little daunting, but whenever I took a step back from it all, I realized how cool all the work is that I’m doing and how amazing it is to be doing it as a PhD student. Along the way, I learned several important lessons that will inform how move through Engineering Education moving forward.

A long term goal of mine was to finish my dissertation proposal, send it to my committee, and formally start my candidacy exam on February 1st which happened! I blocked of time weekly to work on my proposal and flesh out my research design since the Summer of 2023, and seeing the kind of progress and growth I was making was incredible. For some time, I had learned about all the different elements of research design, what kinds of things I need to consider, and what decisions need to be justified, and finally putting all this knowledge into practice helped to make all this conceptual knowledge more tangible. This process also showed me the power of setting aside dedicated work time for specific projects. With each passing week, I could see the progress I was making and always ended each week a few steps ahead than where I started.

While finishing up my proposal and sending that to my committee, I was able to work on an ASEE paper with fellow RIME members, Amanda Singer and Carter Huber, along with Drs. Kajfez and Kecskemety! This paper focused on the application of some indirect assessments our KEEN Research & Assessment Team developed in the honors track of our first-year program. We had some interesting findings in our data analysis and it’s exciting to put this out into the world for other practitioners to reference as they help their students develop an entrepreneurial mindset. It was also very cool to begin collaborating with my peers on research! I think we all brought something valuable to our work and that helped to make our findings shine.

The submission of both my proposal and this ASEE paper culminated with a trip to the KEEN National Conference (KNC) which was held in Austin, Texas this year! It was refreshing to be with a group of educators who are also invested in how we teach students and making sure it’s done in a way that benefits their growth. The conferenced largely focused on different kinds of workshops and helping educators see how they could bring new ideas and practices into their classrooms to enhance student learning. But, the best parts of the conference were attending with Dr. Kajfez and meeting up with fellow RIME member, Meg West, and RIME alumn, Abby Clark (see photo below).

Looking forward, I will soon begin working on the written portion of my candidacy exam. While it can be a little intimidating, it will encourage me to think deeply about different pieces and parts of my study design and make sure I’m ready to think through any curveballs that come my way post-candidacy. I’m excited to begin this part of my PhD journey and see what my study design will look like by the end of the spring semester!

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Creating effective technical documentation

Author avatar

Effective feature documentation is important in enhancing a user's experience with the feature. Good documentation is like a piece of the puzzle that makes everything click — the key for encouraging feature adoption.

To support you in creating effective technical documentation, this article provides an overview of the core principles of technical writing. It also highlights the best practices for creating clear and accessible documentation. Applying these technical writing principles helps us maintain the high quality of content on MDN. Whether you're documenting your own project or product or contributing to technical content in various settings, you can improve the quality of your work by following these best practices.

Adopt clarity, conciseness, and consistency

These three Cs form the core principles of technical writing. They can take you a long way in producing quality documentation.

For achieving clarity in your writing, apply the following guidelines:

  • Use simple words and clear language. Keep in mind the audience, especially if it includes non-native English speakers.
  • Be clear about who needs to perform the action. Writing in active voice is not strictly required. However, you should use it when you want to be clear about who needs to perform the action. For example, clarify whether a function is triggered by an event or if the user needs to explicitly call the function.
  • Clearly introduce and explain new terms. This helps to lay the foundation for concepts that are covered later in the documentation.
Tip : Replace "it", "this", and "these" with proper nouns if they can refer to more than one thing in the given context.
  • Aim for one idea per sentence to improve readability.
  • Stick to one main idea per paragraph. Each sentence in a paragraph should logically connect to the one before it. Imagine if each sentence in a paragraph was a link in a chain. If you pick up the first link, the other links in the chain should follow, forming a continuous sequence. This is how the sentences should connect to each other, ensuring a seamless flow of a single idea.

Conciseness

Keep sentences short. This automatically increases the readability and clarity of your document. It also helps in quick comprehension. Long sentences can be more challenging to understand quickly due to their complex structures.

Tip : Based on common readability standards, aim for 15-20 words per sentence.

For additional insights on sentence length and readability strategies, see Simple sentences (on https://readabilityguidelines.co.uk ) and Popular readability formulas , including the Flesch-Kincaid index, on Wikipedia.

Consistency

Use the same terminology throughout your documentation to ensure a seamless reader experience. For example, if you start referring to "user agents" as browsers, stick with that term consistently. This avoids confusion that can arise from using words interchangeably, even when they share the same meaning.

Additionally, maintain consistent word casing and follow a uniform formatting style throughout your documentation. These practices not only enhance readability but also contribute to a professional presentation of your documentation.

Organize your content for maximum impact

Apply the same principles for organizing your content as you would for organizing your code: spend some time setting a clear goal and thinking about the desired structure for your documentation. Ensure that each subsection contributes to this goal incrementally.

Start with an introduction

In the introduction, first describe the feature you're documenting. Next, set the context by explaining why learning about the feature would be beneficial to the readers. This can include describing real-life scenarios where the feature can be useful. The more relevance you add to the topic, the easier it will be for readers to understand and engage with the content.

Progress logically

The following questions can help you ensure that your content is progressing logically:

  • Is your document structured to guide readers from foundational concepts to more advanced ones? Are there sections to introduce the " what " to establish a base before delving into the " why " and " how "? Consider whether the document structure mirrors the natural learning path for the topic. Aligning the document's structure with the natural progression of learning helps readers build their knowledge step-by-step and also enhances the overall learning experience.
  • Are there sufficient how-to guides or examples following the conceptual sections?
  • Consider the flow of the content. Is it following a logical sequence — from one sentence to the next, from one paragraph to the next, and from one section to the next? Does each section logically build on the information presented previously, avoiding abrupt jumps or gaps in the content?

Additionally, as you work on the draft, always ask yourself:

  • What reader questions am I addressing with this sentence?
  • Can I add a simplistic or real-life use case to explain this concept?

Include examples

Imagine sitting next to someone as you explain the concepts to them. Preempt their questions and address them in your writing. Use this approach to add as many relevant examples as possible.

When adding examples, don't restrict yourself to only code; include non-code scenarios to demonstrate a feature's utility. This helps readers understand the concepts better and also caters to different learning styles. Consider providing real-world scenarios or use cases to illustrate how the feature or concept applies in practical situations.

Optimize the document structure and length

Evaluate your documentation's structure to ensure it maintains a logical and balanced hierarchy.

  • Ensure that each section and subsection has a clear purpose and sufficient content.
  • Look for instances where a main section contains only one subsection (orphan), such as a single H3 section under an H2 section. This indicates that you need to reorganize your content or make some additions.
  • Check if there are lower-level headings such as H4 . Too many subsections can be overwhelming for readers, making it difficult for them to grasp the information. In such cases, consider presenting the content as a bulleted list instead to help readers retain the key points more effectively. This approach helps to simplify the hierarchy and also contributes to easier navigation.
  • While there should be sufficient content for each section, pay attention to the overall length. If any section becomes too extensive, it can be overwhelming for readers. Split large sections into multiple logical subsections or restructure the content into new sections and subsections. Grouping content into digestible pieces helps maintain focus and improve navigation for readers.

Proofread your writing

One aspect that cannot be stressed enough is the importance of self-reviewing and proofreading what you've written. Whether you're creating a large document or a short paragraph, this step is crucial.

Taking the time to fully review your work will help you identify sections that don't flow well or can be improved for clarity. During self-review, aim to spot and remove redundancy (repetition of ideas without adding value) and repetitiveness (overuse of words or phrases). These refinements will ensure your documentation is clear and coherent and conveys your ideas as intended.

Proofread and then take a break before you review again. Only then submit your work. While spell checkers can flag spelling errors, they might not flag incorrect use of words, such as an unintended use of "he" instead of "the". It's best to take a break and return with fresh eyes to catch any errors you might have missed. Pay close attention to identify inconsistencies in tone, style, tense, or formatting and make the necessary adjustments.

Additional tips

To improve the clarity and accessibility of your documentation, also keep the following guidelines and tips in mind. To go in-depth into any of the topics, feel free to consult our Writing style guide .

  • Bulleted vs numbered lists : Lists, in general, make documentation easier to scan. Use bulleted lists when there is no specific order of the items. Use numbered lists when the steps need to be followed in the specific order. Always include a lead-sentence before beginning a list to provide context.
  • Commas : Use a comma after an introductory clause to improve readability and to clarify the sentence structure. Use a comma to separate items in a list to ensure clarity.
  • Alt text : Always provide an alternative text for the images you add to content. This makes your documentation accessible to people using screen readers. In addition to images, ensure that video and audio files have accompanying descriptive texts.
  • Descriptive link text : Make sure each link text is clear even out of context and clearly indicates where the link leads. Descriptive link texts also help people using screen readers understand the destination of links. For example, use "Read our writing style guide to learn more" instead of "Click here to learn more".
  • Inclusive language : Make your documentation welcoming to everyone. Strive to use words that respect and acknowledge the diversity of your audience.

That's it for this article. I hope you found these tips helpful as a quick refresher on technical writing best practices. Remember that learning how to create effective and easy-to-use documentation is an ongoing process. It starts with understanding your audience and the goals of your documentation. By applying these technical writing principles and tips, you'll certainly be able to enhance the clarity and overall quality of your documentation.

Let me know if you learned something new or if there's any idea that resonated with you. I'd also like to hear if there are any best practices you use in your technical documentation workflow. Share with us on Mastodon or Discord .

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dissertation writing layout

Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

In Word, you can create a form that others can fill out and save or print.  To do this, you will start with baseline content in a document, potentially via a form template.  Then you can add content controls for elements such as check boxes, text boxes, date pickers, and drop-down lists. Optionally, these content controls can be linked to database information.  Following are the recommended action steps in sequence.  

Show the Developer tab

In Word, be sure you have the Developer tab displayed in the ribbon.  (See how here:  Show the developer tab .)

Open a template or a blank document on which to base the form

You can start with a template or just start from scratch with a blank document.

Start with a form template

Go to File > New .

In the  Search for online templates  field, type  Forms or the kind of form you want. Then press Enter .

In the displayed results, right-click any item, then select  Create. 

Start with a blank document 

Select Blank document .

Add content to the form

Go to the  Developer  tab Controls section where you can choose controls to add to your document or form. Hover over any icon therein to see what control type it represents. The various control types are described below. You can set properties on a control once it has been inserted.

To delete a content control, right-click it, then select Remove content control  in the pop-up menu. 

Note:  You can print a form that was created via content controls. However, the boxes around the content controls will not print.

Insert a text control

The rich text content control enables users to format text (e.g., bold, italic) and type multiple paragraphs. To limit these capabilities, use the plain text content control . 

Click or tap where you want to insert the control.

Rich text control button

To learn about setting specific properties on these controls, see Set or change properties for content controls .

Insert a picture control

A picture control is most often used for templates, but you can also add a picture control to a form.

Picture control button

Insert a building block control

Use a building block control  when you want users to choose a specific block of text. These are helpful when you need to add different boilerplate text depending on the document's specific purpose. You can create rich text content controls for each version of the boilerplate text, and then use a building block control as the container for the rich text content controls.

building block gallery control

Select Developer and content controls for the building block.

Developer tab showing content controls

Insert a combo box or a drop-down list

In a combo box, users can select from a list of choices that you provide or they can type in their own information. In a drop-down list, users can only select from the list of choices.

combo box button

Select the content control, and then select Properties .

To create a list of choices, select Add under Drop-Down List Properties .

Type a choice in Display Name , such as Yes , No , or Maybe .

Repeat this step until all of the choices are in the drop-down list.

Fill in any other properties that you want.

Note:  If you select the Contents cannot be edited check box, users won’t be able to click a choice.

Insert a date picker

Click or tap where you want to insert the date picker control.

Date picker button

Insert a check box

Click or tap where you want to insert the check box control.

Check box button

Use the legacy form controls

Legacy form controls are for compatibility with older versions of Word and consist of legacy form and Active X controls.

Click or tap where you want to insert a legacy control.

Legacy control button

Select the Legacy Form control or Active X Control that you want to include.

Set or change properties for content controls

Each content control has properties that you can set or change. For example, the Date Picker control offers options for the format you want to use to display the date.

Select the content control that you want to change.

Go to Developer > Properties .

Controls Properties  button

Change the properties that you want.

Add protection to a form

If you want to limit how much others can edit or format a form, use the Restrict Editing command:

Open the form that you want to lock or protect.

Select Developer > Restrict Editing .

Restrict editing button

After selecting restrictions, select Yes, Start Enforcing Protection .

Restrict editing panel

Advanced Tip:

If you want to protect only parts of the document, separate the document into sections and only protect the sections you want.

To do this, choose Select Sections in the Restrict Editing panel. For more info on sections, see Insert a section break .

Sections selector on Resrict sections panel

If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab .

Open a template or use a blank document

To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls. Content controls include things like check boxes, text boxes, and drop-down lists. If you’re familiar with databases, these content controls can even be linked to data.

Go to File > New from Template .

New from template option

In Search, type form .

Double-click the template you want to use.

Select File > Save As , and pick a location to save the form.

In Save As , type a file name and then select Save .

Start with a blank document

Go to File > New Document .

New document option

Go to File > Save As .

Go to Developer , and then choose the controls that you want to add to the document or form. To remove a content control, select the control and press Delete. You can set Options on controls once inserted. From Options, you can add entry and exit macros to run when users interact with the controls, as well as list items for combo boxes, .

Adding content controls to your form

In the document, click or tap where you want to add a content control.

On Developer , select Text Box , Check Box , or Combo Box .

Developer tab with content controls

To set specific properties for the control, select Options , and set .

Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each control that you want to add.

Set options

Options let you set common settings, as well as control specific settings. Select a control and then select Options to set up or make changes.

Set common properties.

Select Macro to Run on lets you choose a recorded or custom macro to run on Entry or Exit from the field.

Bookmark Set a unique name or bookmark for each control.

Calculate on exit This forces Word to run or refresh any calculations, such as total price when the user exits the field.

Add Help Text Give hints or instructions for each field.

OK Saves settings and exits the panel.

Cancel Forgets changes and exits the panel.

Set specific properties for a Text box

Type Select form Regular text, Number, Date, Current Date, Current Time, or Calculation.

Default text sets optional instructional text that's displayed in the text box before the user types in the field. Set Text box enabled to allow the user to enter text into the field.

Maximum length sets the length of text that a user can enter. The default is Unlimited .

Text format can set whether text automatically formats to Uppercase , Lowercase , First capital, or Title case .

Text box enabled Lets the user enter text into a field. If there is default text, user text replaces it.

Set specific properties for a Check box .

Default Value Choose between Not checked or checked as default.

Checkbox size Set a size Exactly or Auto to change size as needed.

Check box enabled Lets the user check or clear the text box.

Set specific properties for a Combo box

Drop-down item Type in strings for the list box items. Press + or Enter to add an item to the list.

Items in drop-down list Shows your current list. Select an item and use the up or down arrows to change the order, Press - to remove a selected item.

Drop-down enabled Lets the user open the combo box and make selections.

Protect the form

Go to Developer > Protect Form .

Protect form button on the Developer tab

Note:  To unprotect the form and continue editing, select Protect Form again.

Save and close the form.

Test the form (optional)

If you want, you can test the form before you distribute it.

Protect the form.

Reopen the form, fill it out as the user would, and then save a copy.

Creating fillable forms isn’t available in Word for the web.

You can create the form with the desktop version of Word with the instructions in Create a fillable form .

When you save the document and reopen it in Word for the web, you’ll see the changes you made.

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How to use Copilot Pro to write, edit, and analyze your Word documents

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Microsoft's Copilot Pro AI offers a few benefits for $20 per month. But the most helpful one is the AI-powered integration with the different Microsoft 365 apps. For those of you who use Microsoft Word, for instance, Copilot Pro can help you write and revise your text, provide summaries of your documents, and answer questions about any document.

First, you'll need a subscription to either Microsoft 365 Personal or Family . Priced at $70 per year, the Personal edition is geared for one individual signed into as many as five devices. At $100 per year, the Family edition is aimed at up to six people on as many as five devices. The core apps in the suite include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.

Also: Microsoft Copilot vs. Copilot Pro: Is the subscription fee worth it?

Second, you'll need the subscription to Copilot Pro if you don't already have one. To sign up, head to the Copilot Pro website . Click the Get Copilot Pro button. Confirm the subscription and the payment. The next time you use Copilot on the website, in Windows, or with the mobile apps, the Pro version will be in effect.

How to use Copilot Pro in Word

1. open word.

Launch Microsoft Word and open a blank document. Let's say you need help writing a particular type of document and want Copilot to create a draft. 

Also: Microsoft Copilot Pro vs. OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus: Which is worth your $20 a month?

A small "Draft with Copilot" window appears on the screen. If you don't see it, click the tiny "Draft with Copilot icon in the left margin."

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2. Submit your request

At the text field in the window, type a description of the text you need and click the "Generate" button.

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Submit your request.

3. Review the response and your options

Copilot generates and displays its response. After reading the response, you're presented with a few different options.

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Review the response and your options.

4. Keep, regenerate, or remove the draft

If you like the draft, click "Keep it." The draft is then inserted into your document where you can work with it. If you don't like the draft, click the "Regenerate" button, and a new draft is created. 

Also: What is Copilot (formerly Bing Chat)? Here's everything you need to know

If you'd prefer to throw out the entire draft and start from scratch, click the trash can icon.

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Keep, regenerate, or remove the draft.

5. Alter the draft

Alternatively, you can try to modify the draft by typing a specific request in the text field, such as "Make it more formal," "Make it shorter," or "Make it more casual."

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Alter the draft.

6. Review the different versions

If you opt to regenerate the draft, you can switch between the different versions by clicking the left or right arrow next to the number. You can then choose to keep the draft you prefer.

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7. Revise existing text

Copilot will also help you fine-tune existing text. Select the text you want to revise. Click the Copilot icon in the left margin and select "Rewrite with Copilot."

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Revise existing text.

8. Review the different versions

Copilot creates a few different versions of the text. Click the arrow keys to view each version.

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Review the different versions.

9. Replace or Insert

If you find one you like, click "Replace" to replace the text you selected. 

Also: ChatGPT vs. Microsoft Copilot vs. Gemini: Which is the best AI chatbot?

Click "Insert below" to insert the new draft below the existing words so you can compare the two.

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Replace or Insert.

10. Adjust the tone

Click "Regenerate" to ask Copilot to try again. Click the "Adjust Tone" button and select a different tone to generate another draft.

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Adjust the tone.

11. Turn text into a table

Sometimes you have text that would look and work better as a table. Copilot can help. Select the text you wish to turn into a table. Click the Copilot icon and select "Visualize as a Table."

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Turn text into a table.

12. Respond to the table

In response, click "Keep it" to retain the table. Click "Regenerate" to try again. Click the trash can icon to delete it. Otherwise, type a request in the text field, such as "remove the second row" or "make the last column wider."

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Respond to the table.

13. Summarize a document

Copilot Pro can provide a summary of a document with its key points. To try this, open the document you want to summarize and then click the Copilot icon on the Ribbon. 

Also: The best AI chatbots

The right sidebar displays several prompts you can use to start your question. Click the one for "Summarize this doc."

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Summarize a document.

14. Review the summary

View the generated summary in the sidebar. If you like it as is, click the "Copy" button to copy the summary and paste it elsewhere.

 width=

Review the summary.

15. Revise the summary

Otherwise, choose one of the suggested questions or ask your own question to revise the summary. For example, you could tell Copilot to make the summary longer, shorter, more formal, or less formal. 

Also: The best AI image generators

You could also ask it to expand on one of the points in the summary or provide more details on a certain point. A specific response is then generated based on your request.

 width=

Revise the summary.

16. Ask questions about a document

Next, you can ask specific questions about any of the content in a document. Again, click the Copilot icon to display the sidebar. In the prompt area, type and submit your question. Copilot displays the response in the sidebar. You can then ask follow-up questions as needed.

 width=

Ask questions about a document.

More how-tos

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Microsoft to add Copilot AI to OneDrive, but it will cost you

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Microsoft expands Copilot data protection so more users can chat with ease

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Get Microsoft Office Professional for Mac or PC for $60 with this deal: Last chance

IMAGES

  1. 6+ Dissertation Outline Template

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  2. Dissertation Examples

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  3. Dissertation Template Example

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  4. Thesis Format

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  5. Thesis Layout Template

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  6. Choose From 40 Research Proposal Templates & Examples 100% Free

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VIDEO

  1. How to Write Dissertation Introduction

  2. How to Write Thesis? Thesis Writing Tips #thesis #shorts #assignment

  3. Dissertation Writing Tutorial||Topic Selection to Chapter 1|| Cleverbee Research

  4. Guide to Thesis and Dissertation Writing

  5. How to Write Thesis or Dissertation? ll Complete TU Thesis, Dissertation Formatting Guidelines

  6. AWR001 Academic Writing Part 1 A

COMMENTS

  1. What Is a Dissertation?

    What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed.

  2. Dissertation Structure & Layout 101 (+ Examples)

    Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project. By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019 So, you've got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is, you've chosen your topic and hopefully you've received approval for your research proposal. Awesome!

  3. How to Write a Dissertation

    The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter). The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes: An introduction to your topic A literature review that surveys relevant sources

  4. Dissertation layout and formatting

    The layout requirements for a dissertation are often determined by your supervisor or department. However, there are certain guidelines that are common to almost every program, such as including page numbers and a table of contents. If you are writing a paper in the MLA citation style, you can use our MLA format guide. Table of contents

  5. Getting Started

    Creating a Roadmap (PDF) Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected.

  6. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    "Elevator pitch" of your work (often written last). Introduction Introduce your area of study, sharing details about your research question, problem statement, and hypotheses. Situate your research within an existing paradigm or conceptual or theoretical framework. Literature Review Subdivide as you see fit into main topics and sub-topics.

  7. Writing a Dissertation: A Complete Guide

    A dissertation is a lengthy research paper written as a requirement to earn an academic degree. Typically, students must write a dissertation toward the end of their program to both prove their knowledge and contribute new research to their field. The term dissertation is sometimes used interchangeably with thesis paper.

  8. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on 8 June 2022 by Tegan George . A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you'd like to undertake.

  9. How to Structure Your Dissertation

    It can intimidating to know where to start your dissertation, which is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever written. In this video, you'll learn...

  10. PDF Formatting your dissertation/thesis

    Make the formatting changes in the Formatting area [1]: Click on the Format button [2], and select the Paragraph option from the list. 2. Apply paragraph 'Spacing' [3] to your headings using the arrow buttons to increase/decrease, or type directly into the 'Before' and/or 'After' boxes. 3.

  11. How to Structure a Dissertation

    The dissertation will be structured such that it starts with an introduction, develops on the main idea in its main body paragraphs and is then summarised in conclusion. However, if you are basing your dissertation on primary or empirical research, you will be required to include each of the below components.

  12. Formatting Guidelines

    Footnotes. Format footnotes for your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines: Footnotes must be placed at the bottom of the page separated from the text by a solid line one to two inches long. Begin at the left page margin, directly below the solid line. Single-space footnotes that are more than one line long.

  13. Formatting Your Dissertation

    Check the box next to Embed fonts in the file. Click the OK button. Save the document. 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: Click the circular Office button in the upper left corner of Microsoft Word.

  14. PDF APA Style Dissertation Guidelines: Formatting Your Dissertation

    help with writing/formatting your dissertation, please email . [email protected] . or call (973)- 655-7442 for more information on how to schedule a writing consultation at the CWE. For doctoral students, the Center for Writing Excellence offers the following writing resources: • Writing Your Thesis, Prospectus, or Dissertation • APA 7 th

  15. Writing your dissertation

    The table below illustrates a classic dissertation layout with approximate lengths for each section. Hopkins, D. and Reid, T., 2018. The Academic Skills Handbook: Your Guide to Success in Writing, Thinking and Communicating at University. Sage. Title. Your title should be clear, succinct and tell the reader exactly what your dissertation is about.

  16. Free Dissertation & Thesis Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    If you're preparing to write your dissertation, thesis or research project, our free dissertation template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples. The template's structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal ...

  17. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    Published on September 21, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023. When starting your thesis or dissertation process, one of the first requirements is a research proposal or a prospectus.

  18. PDF A Complete Dissertation

    DISSERTATION CHAPTERS Order and format of dissertation chapters may vary by institution and department. 1. Introduction 2. Literature review 3. Methodology 4. Findings 5. Analysis and synthesis 6. Conclusions and recommendations Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter makes a case for the signifi-cance of the problem, contextualizes the

  19. PDF A Practical Guide to Dissertation and Thesis Writing

    study for your dissertation/thesis as a research problem. Actively ask critical questions that will build a solid base for the development of your dissertation/thesis. Critically assess the significance of your research problem. Avoid common mistakes made by students when expressing their social science issue as a research problem.

  20. How to write an undergraduate university dissertation

    6. Organise references from the beginning Maintain an alphabetically arranged reference list or bibliography in the designated style as you do your reading. This will make it a lot easier to finalise your references at the end. 7. Create a detailed plan Once you have done your initial research and have an idea of the shape your dissertation will take, write a detailed essay plan outlining your ...

  21. Essay and dissertation writing skills

    A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.. Short videos to support your essay writing skills. There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing ...

  22. Thesis Format

    January 6, 2024 by Muhammad Hassan Table of Contents Thesis Format Thesis format refers to the structure and layout of a research thesis or dissertation. It typically includes several chapters, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of the research topic.

  23. The Perfect Guide to Layout and Formatting for Dissertations in 2024

    What is Dissertation? A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, usually submitted as part of a PhD or master's, and sometimes as part of a bachelor's degree. There is a standard structure for dissertation which is being used by all the students, which includes-Title page; Acknowledgements

  24. The Dissertation Proposal Writing Process and Conference Preparation

    A long term goal of mine was to finish my dissertation proposal, send it to my committee, and formally start my candidacy exam on February 1st which happened! I blocked of time weekly to work on my proposal and flesh out my research design since the Summer of 2023, and seeing the kind of progress and growth I was making was incredible.

  25. On the Dissertation: You Don't Have to Write It in Order

    Write that idea out anyway and store it in a file without worrying about exactly where it'll go. The material you've set aside can prove a frugal source later on. When you finish your main ...

  26. Creating effective technical documentation

    To support you in creating effective technical documentation, this article provides an overview of the core principles of technical writing. It also highlights the best practices for creating clear and accessible documentation. Applying these technical writing principles helps us maintain the high quality of content on MDN.

  27. Create a form in Word that users can complete or print

    Show the Developer tab. If the developer tab isn't displayed in the ribbon, see Show the Developer tab.. Open a template or use a blank document. To create a form in Word that others can fill out, start with a template or document and add content controls.

  28. Vanderbilt Writing Studio Dissertation Writers' Retreat

    Vanderbilt Writing Studio Dissertation Writers' Retreat . Posted by hagansa2 on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 in Announcements. Share this post: Tweet; Tags: Events, Workshops and Seminars Return to blog; Categories ...

  29. How to use Copilot Pro to write, edit, and analyze your Word ...

    For those of you who use Microsoft Word, for instance, Copilot Pro can help you write and revise your text, provide summaries of your documents, and answer questions about any document.