General Guidelines for Formatting Dissertation or Thesis
In formatting your dissertation or thesis, you must follow the guidelines for page composition presented on the following requirements.
General guidelines are shown first; specific guidelines relative to each section of your dissertation or thesis follow.
Pagination for Body of Dissertation or Thesis
- Use continuous Arabic numbers (beginning with 1) inthe same size font as the text for the body of the dissertation or thesis.
- Page numbers are placed at the bottom of the page,centered between the margins. There should always be at least a 24-point space between the page number and the text.
- Chapters within the text begin on new pages.
- There are no format requirements for chapter headings. You should use a format that is standard in your field and be consistent for all chapters.
- There should be no page breaks between sections or before tables or figures, unless they occur naturally. (Exception: If the bibliography is placed at the end of each chapter, a page break needs to be placed at the end of the text and the bibliography started on the next page. The page number stays at the bottom of the page.)
- In a dissertation or thesis with two volumes, the second must continue the numbering of the first part. Each volume must contain a title page (labelled beneath the title with the words “Volume I” or “Volume II”), and the title page of the second volume is counted as a text page but the numeral is not printed on the page.
Pagination for Preliminary Pages
- Preliminary pages are numbered consecutively, usinglowercase Roman numerals in the same size font as the text, centered between the margins, at least 0.5 inch from the bottom of the page.
- Page numbering starts with the biographical sketch,which is numbered as “iii.” (The title page and copyright page are counted but not numbered; the abstract is neither counted nor numbered.) Every preliminary page thereafter is numbered, including multiple pages within a section.
Exact margins are absolutely essential so that the dissertation or thesis can be microfilmed in its entirety for interlibrary loan.
After photocopying, margins must be at least:
- Left margin: 1.5 inches or slightly larger.
- Top, bottom, right margins: 1 inch or slightly larger.
(Hint: It is recommended that you set margins at 1.6 inches for the left margin and 1.1 inches for all other margins, since photocopying may enlarge the text by as much as 2 percent.)
These margins apply to all pages, including those with tables and figures.
- Left-aligned, ragged right margins are preferred.
- If you are using a computer or word processor, usejustified margins only if the computer does this well, i.e., does not separate punctuation from characters or leave large gaps in the text.
The dissertation or thesis must contain correct vertical spacing (or 24-point spacing), which is defined as three lines of type and three line spaces per vertical inch throughout the text.
Microsoft Word users: go to Format/Paragraph/Indents and Spacing/Line spacing and choose “Exactly.” Set the points at 24. (To check that the font is three lines per inch, place a ruler vertically on the page and measure from the top of the first line to the top of the fourth line.)
- Quotations and footnotes may be single-spaced within each entry.
- Lengthy tables may be single-spaced.
- In an M.F.A. thesis, irregular spacing is permitted to accommodate poetry, some of which is written single-spaced, some triple-spaced, and some with variable spacing.
The Body of the Dissertation or Thesis
- Appendix (or Appendices) (optional)
- Bibliography (or References or Works Cited)
- If using a PC, the following fonts and font sizes are acceptable:
- Times New Roman 12
- Arial 12
- Bookman 12
- Helvetica 12
- Times 14 (Times 12 is not acceptable)
- Other fonts may be acceptable (but Courier is not).Check the font with the Thesis Advisor.
- Footnotes may be single-spaced in a 10-point size but must be in the same font as the rest of the text.
Equations, Formulas, and Sub- and Superscripts
- All equations and formulas should be typeset.
- When a computer, word processor, or typewriter cannot make the symbol, insertions by hand are acceptable.
- Equations also may be inserted from a non-matching typewriter or laser-printer font.
- All subscripts and superscripts must be large enough to be read on microfilm. (To ensure readability on microfilm, test a page with sub- or superscripts by photocopying the page using a 25 percent text reduction. If the sub- or superscripts are still readable, then they are large enough.)
Strikeovers, correction fluid, and correction tape are not acceptable in the filed copies.
Widows and Headings Separated from Text
- A dissertation or thesis will not be accepted if it contains “widows” (short lines ending a paragraph at the top of a page) at the end of a chapter.
- A dissertation or thesis will not be accepted if it contains a heading or subhead at the bottom of a page that is separate from its respective text on the following page.
- In addition to the general formatting guidelines shown above, the following specific guidelines must be followed for each individual section of your dissertation or thesis.
Required Sections, Guidelines, and Suggestions
Typeset the title in all capital letters, centered within the left and right margins, correctly spaced, about 1.5 inches from the top of the page.
• Carefully select words for the title of the dissertation or thesis to represent the subject content as accurately as possible. Words in the title are important access points to researchers who may use keyword searches to identify works in various subject areas.
• Use word substitutes for formulas, symbols, superscripts, Greek letters, etc.
Below the title, at the vertical and horizontal center of the margins, correctly spaced, position the following five lines (all centered):
Line 1: A Dissertation [or Thesis]
Line 2: Presented to the Faculty of the Weill Cornell Graduate School
Line 3: of Medical Sciences
Line 4: in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Line 5: Doctor of Philosophy [or other appropriate degree]
• Center the following three lines within the margins, 1.5 inches from the bottom of the page:
Line 1: by
Line 2: [name under which you are registered in the University Registrar’s Office]
Line 3: [month and year of degree conferral, not the date the dissertation or thesis is submitted; no comma between month and year]
A notice of copyright should appear as the sole item on the page (there is no page heading), centered vertically and horizontally within the margins: © 201_ [student’s registered name]
• The copyright symbol is a lower case “c,” which must be circled. (On Macintosh computers, the symbol is typed by pressing the “option” and “g” keys simultaneously. If the font does not have the © symbol, type the “c” and circle it by hand. On PCs, go to the insert menu, choose “symbol,” and highlight the © symbol.)
Required ? Yes
The heading of the abstract in a dissertation is centered between the left and right margins about 1.1 inches down from the top of the page; it includes the following lines:
TITLE OF DISSERTATION
Student’s Name, Ph.D.
Cornell University 201_ [year of conferral]
- Following the heading lines, skip one 24-point-spaced line and begin the text of the abstract on the same page.
- The abstract should state the problem, describe the methods and procedures used, and give the main results or conclusions of the research.
- The abstract must not exceed 350 words in length (generally about one-and-one-half correctly spaced pages; the abstract may not be more than two pages).
- The page heading of the abstract in a thesis is simply the word “ABSTRACT” in all capital letters, centered within the margins at the top of the page. (The thesis abstract does not display the thesis title, author’s name, degree, university, or date of degree conferral.)
- The abstract must not exceed 600 words in length (approximately two-and-one-half to three pages of correctly spaced typing).
The biographical sketch must be written in third-person voice and contain your educational background. It may contain additional biographical facts.
- As a page heading, use “BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- Number this page as iii. (This is the first numbered preliminary page.)
No title is used on the page.
- The text is centered on the page and can be shown in italic or regular type.
- Text on this page does not need to be in English
- The acknowledgments may be written in first-person voice. If your research has been funded by outside grants, you should check with the principal investigator of the grant regarding proper acknowledgment of the funding source. Most outside funding sources require some statement of acknowledgment of the support; some also require a disclaimer from responsibility for the results.
- As a page heading, use “ACKNOWLEDGMENTS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
Table of Contents
As a page heading, use “TABLE OF CONTENTS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- List the sections/chapters of the body of the dissertation or thesis; also list preliminary sections starting with the biographical sketch. (The title page, copyright page, and abstract are not listed.)
- If the dissertation or thesis consists of two volumes, list “Volume II” as a section in the table of contents.
- Page numbers must be listed in a column to the right of each section or chapter title; only the first page of each chapter or section is stated (not a range of page numbers, such as 7–22).
- The table of contents may be single-spaced.
List of Figures and List of Illustrations
Required? If included
As a page heading, use “LIST OF FIGURES” or "LIST OF ILLUSTRACTIONS" in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- The list must contain enough of the titles or descriptions so that readers can locate particular items using the list. (It may not be necessary to include entire figure/illustration captions.)
- The list must contain the page number on which each figure or illustration is found, as in a table of contents.
- The list of figures/ illustrations may be single-spaced.
- Figures/ illustrations 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 figure is placed directly into the text, text may appear above or below the figure/illustration/table; no text may wrap around the figure/illustration/table.
- If a figure/illustration appears on a page without other text, it must be centered vertically within the margins on the page.
- Figures/ Illustrations may not be placed at the end of the chapter or at the end of the dissertation or thesis.
- Figure/illustration must be either continuous throughout the dissertation or thesis, or by chapter (e.g., 1.1, 1.2; 2.1, 2.2, etc.). The word “Figure,” "Illustration" must be spelled out (not abbreviated), and the first letter must be capitalized.
- A caption for a figure/illustration must be placed at the bottom of the figure.
- If the figure/illustration not including the caption, takes up the entire page, the figure/illustration caption must be placed alone on the preceding page and centered vertically and horizontally within the margins. (When the caption is on a separate page, the List of Figures, List of Illustrations will list the page number containing the caption.)
- If the figure/illustration not including the caption, takes up more than two pages it must be preceded by a page consisting of the caption only. The first page of the figure/illustration must include the figure/illustration (no caption), and the second and subsequent pages of the figure/illustration/table must also include, at the top of the figure/illustration/table, words that indicate its continuance—for example, “Figure 5 (Continued)”—and on these pages the caption is omitted.
- If figures/illustrations are too large, they may be slightly reduced so as to render a satisfactory product or they must either be split into several pages or be redone. If a figure/illustration is reduced, all lettering must be clear, readable, and large enough to be legible. All lettering, including subscripts, must still be readable when reduced 25 percent beyond the final version. All page margin requirements must be maintained. Page numbers and headings must not be reduced. Figure/illustration captions must be in the same font and font size as the text, not reduced.
- The caption of a figure may be single-spaced, but then captions for all figures/illustrations/tables must be single-spaced.
- Horizontal figures/ illustrations must be positioned correctly—i.e., the top of the figure/illustration will be at the left margin of the vertical page of the dissertation or thesis (remember: pages are bound on the left margin). Figure/illustration headings/captions are placed with the same orientation as the figure/illustration when they are on the same page as the figure/illustration. When they are on a separate page, headings/captions are always placed in vertical orientation, regardless of the orientation of the figure/ illustration.
- Page numbers are always placed as if the figure/illustration was vertical on the page.
List of Tables
Required? If included
- As a page heading, use ““LIST OF TABLES” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- There must be separate pages for “LIST OF TABLES” even if there is only one example of each.
- The list must contain enough of the titles or descriptions so that readers can locate particular items using the list. (It may not be necessary to include entire table captions.)
- The list must contain the page number on which each table is found, as in a table of contents.
- The list of tables may be single-spaced.
- Tables 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 is placed directly into the text, text may appear above or below the figure/illustration/table; no text may wrap around the figure/illustration/table.
- If a table appears on a page without other text, it must be centered vertically within the margins on the page.
- Tables may not be placed at the end of the chapter or at the end of the dissertation or thesis.
- Table numbering must be either continuous throughout the dissertation or thesis, or by chapter (e.g., 1.1, 1.2; 2.1, 2.2, etc.). The word “Table” must be spelled out (not abbreviated), and the first letter must be capitalized.
- A caption for a table must be placed above the table.
- If the table, not including the caption, takes up the entire page, the table caption must be placed alone on the preceding page and centered vertically and horizontally within the margins. (When the caption is on a separate page, the List of Tables will list the page number containing the caption.)
- If the table, not including the caption, takes up more than two pages it must be preceded by a page consisting of the caption only. The first page of the table must include the table (no caption), and the second and subsequent pages of the table must also include, at the top of the table, words that indicate its continuance—for example, “Figure 5 (Continued)”—and on these pages the caption is omitted.
- If tables are too large, they may be slightly reduced so as to render a satisfactory product or they must either be split into several pages or be redone. If a table is reduced, all lettering must be clear, readable, and large enough to be legible. All lettering, including subscripts, must still be readable when reduced 25 percent beyond the final version. All page margin requirements must be maintained. Page numbers and headings must not be reduced.
- Table captions must be in the same font and font size as the text, not reduced.
- The caption of a figure/illustration/table may be single-spaced, but then captions for all figures/illustrations/tables must be single-spaced.
- Horizontal tables must be positioned correctly—i.e., the top of the table will be at the left margin of the vertical page of the dissertation or thesis (remember: pages are bound on the left margin). Table headings/captions are placed with the same orientation as the table when they are on the same page as the table. When they are on a separate page, headings/captions are always placed in vertical orientation, regardless of the orientation of the table.
List of Abbreviations
- As a page heading, use “LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
List of Symbols
- As a page heading, use “LIST OF SYMBOLS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- As a page heading, use “PREFACE” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
Body of the Dissertation or Thesis: Text, Appendix, Bibliography
- Chapter headings may be included that conform to the standard of your academic field.
- Textual notes that provide supplementary information, opinions, explanations, or suggestions that are not part of the text must appear at the bottom of the page as footnotes. Lengthy footnotes may be continued on the next page. Placement of footnotes at the bottom of the page ensures that they will appear as close as possible in the microfilm to the referenced passage.
- Footnotes may be single-spaced in a 10-point size but must be in the same font as the text.
- Footnotes should be numbered with superscripted Arabic numerals. Numbering can be continuous throughout the dissertation or thesis or may start again for each chapter or page, but the method used must be consistent throughout the document. (Once footnotes have been numbered, any footnotes that are inserted later will require the renumbering of all footnotes to accommodate the newly inserted one. Amending the existing footnote numbers by adding letters to distinguish repeated Arabic numerals—for example, 12a, 12b—is not allowed.)
- If the material in any chapter has already been published or accepted for publication, written permission from the publisher authorizing the student to use it in the dissertation must be submitted.
- On the first page of all published chapters, type an asterisk (*) next to the title(s). The asterisk should appear again at the bottom of the page, followed by a complete reference to the publication.
Appendix (or Appendices)
- As a page heading, use “APPENDIX” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- Place in an appendix any material that is peripheral but relevant to the main text of the dissertation or thesis, such as survey instruments, additional data, computer printouts, details of a procedure or analysis, a relevant paper that you wrote, etc.
- The appendix may include text that does not meet the general font and spacing requirements of the other sections of the dissertation or thesis.
Bibliography (or References or Works Cited)
- As a page heading, use “BIBLIOGRAPHY” (or “REFERENCES” or “WORKS CITED”) in all capital letters, centered on the page.
- Bibliographies may be single-spaced within each entry but must be 24-point-spaced between entries.
- The Graduate School recommends that you follow the standard citation format used by a major journal in your academic field and that the style be consistent throughout the dissertation or thesis. (Also see “References for Style and Format.”)
For more information please read the Graduate Degree Requirements: Instructions for Doctoral Dissertation and Thesis Preparation:
Fair Use, Copyright, Patent, and Publishing Options
1. Is information that you plan to include from others considered “fair use” and are you acknowledging these sources correctly?
You are responsible for acknowledging any facts, ideas, or materials of others that you include in your work. You must follow the guidelines for acknowledging the work of others in the “Code of Academic Integrity and Acknowledging the Work of Others” (published in the Policy Notebook for the Cornell Community).
If you use any copyrighted material in the dissertation or thesis, it is your responsibility to give full credit to the author and publisher of work quoted. The acknowledgment should be placed in a footnote at the bottom of the first page of the paper or chapter. Additionally, you must determine whether use of the material can be classified as a “fair use” by performing an analysis of your use of each copyrighted item. Please access the Copyright sources at Weill Cornell Library here. These resources are helpful tools for performing this analysis. (See also, Copyright Law and the Doctoral Dissertation: Guidelines to Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities , published by ProQuest, or The Chicago Manual of Style, published by the University of Chicago Press.)
If your use of material is not considered a “fair use,” you must obtain written permission from the copyright owner. Two copies of each permission letter must be submitted with the dissertation or thesis. ProQuest has specific requirements for the content of the permission letter. For these guidelines, consult the ProQuest Doctoral Dissertation Agreement form (published by ProQuest).
If you have already published or had accepted for publication part of your own dissertation or thesis material in a journal, depending on the terms of your publication agreement, it may be necessary to write to that journal and obtain written authorization to use the material in your dissertation.
2. Embargo of online copies
The value of your dissertation extends well beyond your graduation requirements. It’s important that you make an informed decision about providing online access, via ProQuest and eCommons, to your work. This decision can expand the visibility and impact of your work, but it can also shape the options available to you for publishing subsequent works based on your dissertation.
ProQuest’s ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT) database indexes almost all dissertations published in the U.S. and provides subscription access online to the full text of more recent dissertations. ProQuest also sells print copies of dissertations, paying royalties to authors, when they exceed a minimum threshold. Authors retain copyright in the works they submit to ProQuest.
eCommons is a service of the Cornell University Library that provides long-term, online access to Cornell-related content of enduring value. Electronic theses and dissertations deposited in eCommons, unless subject to embargo, are freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection. When submitting to eCommons, you retain copyright in your work. Ph.D. dissertations and master’s theses submitted to ProQuest are automatically submitted to eCommons, subject to the same embargo you select for ProQuest.
Electronic copies of dissertations in PQDT or eCommons may be made accessible immediately upon submission or after an embargo period of six months, one year, or two years. You may wish to consider an embargo period which helps address publishers’ interests in being the first to publish scholarly books or articles, while also ensuring that scholarship is accessible to the general public within a reasonable period of time. Your decision should be made in consultation with your special committee.
3. Creative Commons license
Creative Commons licenses provide authors with a straightforward and standardized means of prospectively granting certain permissions to potential users of the author’s material. Authors may request proper attribution, permit copying and the creation of derivative works, request that others share derivative works under the same terms and allow or disallow commercial uses. Authors may even choose to place their works directly into the public domain. You will have the option of selecting a Creative Commons license when you upload your dissertation or thesis to ProQuest, and your choice will automatically be applied to the copy of your work in eCommons.
4. Has a patent application been filed (or will one be) on the basis of your thesis or dissertation research?
Cornell University Policy 1.5 governs inventions and related property rights and MSK’s Policy on Intellectual Property. Inventions made by faculty, staff, and students must be disclosed to the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University (CTL). Theses and dissertations describing patentable research should be withheld from publication, in order to avoid premature public disclosure.
Use the delayed release (embargo) option if a patent application is or will be in process, noting the reason for the delay as “patent pending.” If you have any questions, please contact Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing at 607-254-4698 or email@example.com.
5. Register for copyright?
Copyright law involves many complex issues that are relevant to you as a graduate student, both in protecting your own work and in referencing the work of others. Discussion of copyright in this publication is not meant to substitute for the legal advice of qualified attorneys. A more detailed discussion of copyright law can be found in the publication from ProQuest entitled Copyright Law and the Doctoral Dissertation: Guidelines to Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities by Kenneth D. Crews.
Copyright protection automatically exists from the time the work is created in fixed form and the copyright immediately becomes the property of the author. Registration with the United States Copyright Office is not required to secure copyright; rather it is a legal formality to place on public record the basic facts of a particular copyright. Although not a condition of copyright protection itself, registering the copyright is ordinarily necessary before any infringement suits can be filed in court.
To register a copyright for your dissertation or thesis, register online or download printable forms. You may also request forms by mail from the Information Section, U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20559, or contact them by telephone at 202-707-3000.
Doctoral candidates: You may authorize ProQuest to file, on your behalf, an application for copyright registration. This option will be presented to you as part of the submission process.
6. Supplementary materials
If supplementary materials (audio, video, datasets, etc., up to 2GB per file) are part of your thesis or dissertation, you may submit them as supplementary files during the online submission process. For help selecting long-lived file formats, note ProQuest’s guidance in their document, “Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission (Including Supplemental Files).” File formats for which ProQuest does not guarantee migration may still have a high likelihood of preservation in Cornell’s digital repository; please see the eCommons help page for further guidance.
Do not embed media files in the PDF version of your thesis or dissertation, as this can significantly increase the size of the file and make it difficult to download and access. Include a description of each supplementary file in the abstract of your thesis or dissertation. You may include an additional supplementary file containing more detailed information about the supplementary materials as a “readme” file or other form of documentation; this is particularly advisable for data sets or code. The Research Data Management Service Group (firstname.lastname@example.org) offers assistance in preparing and documenting data sets for online distribution.
7. Make your work discoverable on search engines?
ProQuest offers authors the option of making their graduate work discoverable through major search engines including Yahoo, Google, Google Scholar, and Google Books. If you chose the Search Engine option on their dissertation “paper” publishing agreement or within ProQuest’s PROQUEST ETD Administrator (electronic submission service), you can expect to have your work appear in the major search engines.
If you change your mind and do not want your work to be made available through search engines, you can contact customer service at email@example.com or 800-521-0600 ext. 77020. In addition, if you did not initially adopt this option but now want your works made available through this service, contact the customer service group to change your selection.
Please note that search engines index content in eCommons, regardless of the choice you make for ProQuest.