Montana State University

The Graduate School - Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Standard Formatting Option Guidelines

Below is the Standard Formatting Guide from the Graduate School. A Manuscript Format Option is also available. Students should first check with their department if this option is available for their thesis/dissertation..


All page margins must be 1 inch except for the left hand margin which needs to be 1 ½ inches.

Page numbers must be below the 1 inch top margin.

Numbering of Pages and Composition
View examples by clicking on the this link

Every page in a thesis/dissertation, except the copyright notice is counted and must be assigned a page number. There are two separate series of page numbers. The first, in lower case Roman numerals, begins with the title page, and ends with the abstract. The second series, in Arabic numerals, begins with the first page in chapter one and continues throughout the thesis/dissertation, the literature cited, and the appendicies.

Each chapter must begin on a new page.

Front Matter

The front matter contains the following items, in the order each should appear: All front matter is in roman numerals.

Page Numbers:
must be centered and below the 1 inch top margin.


Title Page (first page in the example)

Counted as page i, but not numbered. Must include full legal name (middle included). Official degree title, no emphasis. Month and year accepted by graduate vice provost.

Copyright Page (second page in the example)

Not counted or numbered. This page must be included in every ETD.

Approval Page
This page is no longer required

This page is no longer required

Statement of Permission to Use
This page is no longer required

This page is no longer required.

Dedication, vita, acknowledgements (optional)

Continue in roman numerals. Frontispiece or dedication may be no longer than one page, single spaced. If you include a vita, it usually contains the full name of the author, date and place of birth, parentage, secondary education, and collegiate degrees. The vita should be written in essay form in the third person, and may not exceed one single-spaced page. Acknowledgements are double spaced.

Table of Contents

Continue in roman numerals. Complete and detailed listing of all subdivisions in thesis. Identically worded to subdivisions in thesis. Use Table of Contents in guide as a reference for completing the table of contents. Front matter is not included in the Table of Contents.

List of Tables, Figures, and Images

List of Tables

List of Figures

Continue in roman numerals. List of Tables should come before List of Figures. Each should be on a separate page.

Glossary or Nomenclature (optional)

Continue in roman numerals

Abstract Last roman numeral page. Single spaced and no more than 350 words. The abstract must contain the following elements: (1) statement of the problem, (2) procedure or methods, (3) results, and (4) conclusions. Mathematical formulas, abbreviations, diagrams, and other illustrative materials should not be included. It should be written to be understood by a person who does not have expertise in the field.

Body Matter


sample of level headings

sample of table/figure/image

Chapter 1 begins Arabic numbered pages; continue Arabic numbers through the end of the thesis or dissertation.

Back (Reference) Matter

The back matter contains the following items, in the order each should appear:

Bibliography, Literature Cited, or References Cited

Continue Arabic numbers after last page of body matter. Should be single spaced with double space between citations.

Use a References Cited title page as shown in the example ONLY if you have appendices. Otherwise, type References Cited heading on same page as your references.

Appendix or Appendices

Continue Arabic numbers after Reference matter. The bibliography will precede the appendices except when the appendices contain references that have not previously appeared in the text.

Appendix material should be subdivided into logical classifications and each appendix should be given a separate letter and title.



The body of the thesis/dissertation must be double-spaced. The abstract must be single spaced.

Indented paragraph style is required.

Chapter Heading Levels

A consistent system of spacing for headings and subheadings, tables and figures, etc must be used throughout the entire document.

Chapter titles – All caps, centered in page
1 st level headings – Centered, upper and lower case, underlined
2 nd level headings – Left margin, upper and lower case, underlined
3 rd level headings – indented from left margin, upper and lower case, underlined, text starts on same line.


Consistent and Readable.

Any easily readable standard type font is acceptable. Script, for example, is not considered standard type. Fonts should be at least 12 points, smaller than 10 points is not acceptable anywhere in your document.

Italic, script, or other nonstandard font styles are not acceptable except for emphasis or other special purposes.

You should use consistent type throughout your document: all sections of your document should use the same font and font size. The titles of tables and figure captions should use this standard font and size.
There are two exceptions:

  • The contents of a table may use a smaller size of your standard font to allow a large table to fit on a page; however, the text must be clearly readable.
  • The contents of a figure may contain text in any typeface, as part of the original figure; however, it too must be clearly readable.


The use of color in the Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) is acceptable if it adds meaning to the content of your work.

Supplemental Files

If your ETD contains supplemental files (such as DVD or CD), you may list the location of those files and how to request the files through interlibrary loan. See example

Supplemental Form & Style Manual

If an additional style manual is needed for supplemental assistance in the preparation of the thesis/dissertation, select only one manual and be consistent in its use.


Direct quotations of less than four lines may be run into the text and enclosed in double quotation marks. Direct quotations of four lines or more must be single-spaced and set off in an indented separate paragraph.

Tables, Figures, Illustrations, etc.

Figures may be located in one of two places in your document.  You must choose one system, and use it consistently throughout your work.

  •  Insert the figure within the text, as close as possible after the first reference is made to it.
  • Place your figures at the end of the chapter in which it is first discussed or referenced.

Place figure captions below the figure and table captions above the table. 

Journal Articles

Most theses can be adequately organized into chapters as described in previous sections of this Guide; therefore, the Graduate School does not recommend the combination of journal articles. However, occasionally it may be desirable to group journal articles with individual titles.

A combination of journal articles must have an introduction to the entire thesis as the first chapter that indicates the relationship of the articles. Multi article theses with unrelated articles are never acceptable. In cases where a student is required to research more than one topic, separate theses should be submitted if the topics are unrelated. The last chapter must be a discussion/summary/conclusion encompassing the entire thesis.

Page numbers must run consecutively throughout the theses, the same as for regular theses. Figures, tables, and other illustrations may be numbered either consecutively throughout the thesis or within each chapter, i.e., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3; 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.

The same font style, size and spacing must be used throughout the entire thesis, even if this was not done for the separate journal articles. If necessary, reformat articles to be consistent with each other and with the requirements of this Guide. It is the student’s responsibility to submit the thesis or dissertation in the correct format.

A single table of contents must be used and placed as in a regular thesis. References cited may be included at the end of each chapter or as a single listing following the final chapter of the thesis.

View ETDs

View previously submitted ETDs.

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