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Dissertations must be properly formatted according to the style guidelines and other requirements of your college or university. Students must adhere to these guidelines and requirements in order for their dissertations to pass and consequently earn their Ph.D.
How to Format Your Dissertation
There are many aspects to consider when formatting a paper. This includes the title, headings, subheadings, margins, spacing, and typefaces.
Naturally, the first requirement to formatting is the ability of the student or writer to read and follow instructions. Everything should be in the guidelines and all you have to do is to read it thoroughly and then follow it.
If you are given free hand to format your paper, which is unlikely, you can consider your audience or readers so you can select which paper format will be most appropriate.
As a first tip, you might want to use MS Word for your dissertation formatting as the application makes it easier and faster for you.
General Guidelines for Formatting
- Note down your primary and secondary sources at the very start instead of going back to these sources to collect for their vital information. When gathering and collecting for your source materials, note down the necessary information you need to use to properly cite these sources. That includes the authors’ names, book titles, pages, and publication dates. Note that even online sources should be properly cited.
- Apply the style manual or guideline required by your college or university for the thesis format. The two most common style guides are APA and MLA.
- If you are not familiar with either of the two, these style manuals should be available online for download. It would be best to familiarize yourself first with these manuals before you proceed so you can apply it from the very start and avoid having to edit and proofread a lot of things by the end of your first draft.
Steps on How to Format Your Dissertation
First, you must know the main parts of your dissertation: title page, abstract, introduction, methodology, analysis, conclusion, and bibliography. All these parts make up a dissertation and should not be done in separate documents.
Second, your title page must consist of the title of your dissertation, your name, name of your college or university. Do not forget your header which includes the title of your dissertation and the page number. All these items, except for the header, should be at the center of the page.
Third, format your abstract. It is a 150-300 word-long summary of your results and analyses that will give your readers an overview of your dissertation.
Mind your headings, margins, and pages. The standard guidelines include setting your margins at one inch per edge. Use double-spaced text throughout your paper. Set your font at 12 using a serif typeface. Number your pages from the title page to the very last page of your dissertation. Headings are usually centered, boldface type while subheadings are left-aligned, boldface type.
Use headings as necessary to organize your dissertation and make it easier for your audience or readers to follow your train of thought. If your dissertation is quite lengthy, it could be useful to have subheadings as well so you can differentiate one topic from another.
Throughout your dissertation, your primary and secondary sources should be properly cited. This is to give credit to your sources which you based your results and analyses from. Citations include the authors and the years they were published. Citation guides provide for the proper way to cite your sources so review that one and follow accordingly. The Chicago style appears to be one of the most popular guides for social sciences papers.
At the end of your paper, you will have a list of references or your bibliography which is technically an expanded version of your citations. While your citations include only the authors and public dates, your references will include an extensive bibliographical information.
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