Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding thesis and dissertation (ETD) formatting. Click on the links below to see frequently asked questions in specific areas. If you have any questions specifically about formatting, vising our Formatting FAQ or contact the Formatting Advisor!

Formatting Questions

The Graduate School does not provide technical support. However, we have a Formatting FAQ with our most common questions.

The Graduate School does not provide technical support for Microsoft Word. However, you can review Microsoft’s Word Help or take a Computer Applications course through the Gallatin College in Bozeman or MSU's Extended University. The MSU library also has an on-going series of workshops and has a subscription to Linkedin Learning.

The Graduate School also does not provide technical support for LaTeX. You can contact your department for help finding a LaTeX expert, review the Helpful Links on our LaTeX Guide, or visit Professor Mark Owkes' LaTeX Wiki.

You can also hire a typist or editor. Check out our Typist/Editor List.

Publishing Questions

No. The final upload to the Submission Portal replaces the old Certificate of Approval form, which was signed by your committee.

Montana State University gives you two options regarding electronic access to your ETD. The two options, which are listed during the final ETD upload through the Submission Portal are:

  1. Freely available worldwide.
  2. Restrict access for a period of a one year, even disallowing access by the University community. This option addresses situations such as when a patents application is planned, or when proprietary interests are at stake.

Consider these options carefully. You can learn more about MSU Intellectual Property or ask Legal Counsel for advice, and be sure to discuss this with your advisor. If you intend to work with a publisher regarding journal or book publications, be sure you understand their policies and any agreements you might sign.

Doctoral students must consider their options when uploading their dissertation to the ProQuest/UMI website (upload to ProQuest is optional). Please review the Open Access Compared to Traditional Publishing (PDF) and guide on Embargoes and Restrictions (PDF).

If you have published an article or articles before you turn in your thesis or dissertation and you wish to accordingly receive credit for your graduate requirements, you have several options. These options should be discussed with your committee and possibly with your publisher:

  • Cite that publication in your references.
  • Link to the publication if it is online.
  • Include the publication in your thesis or dissertation (with a release from the publisher). Check out this sample permission letter. To find out if you qualify for the manuscript option, visit the manuscript info page.

If the publisher restricts access in its release, you may want to have two versions of your thesis or dissertation — one with and one without the chapter in question.

ScholarWorks is the open-access digital repository for the research and creative work of the University community and is maintained by the MSU Library. After ETDs are approved by The Graduate School, they will be posted on ScholarWorks in the MSU Library according to the release option selected on the Certificate of Approval form. The Graduate School handles this process for students. 

ProQuest/UMI is a corporation based in Ann Arbor, Michigan that maintains a microform archive of about 1.5 million dissertations they have received since 1996. Most dissertations written in the US are submitted to ProQuest/UMI for archiving on microfilm, from which microform or paper copies can be produced. ProQuest/UMI functions as an on-demand book publisher that eliminates the editorial process. One of the services they offer is to help you with copyright and working with publishers. All dissertations at MSU can optionally be submitted to ProQuest/UMI as of August 2020.

Before the ETD initiative, students had to fill out paperwork and provide an additional paper copy of their entire dissertation. When you submit a dissertation electronically, you go directly to the ProQuest ETD Administrator to upload a PDF of your dissertation.

NB: ProQuest/UMI only prints double-sided so if you choose to order hard copies of your dissertation through ProQuest/UMI, your recto/verso margins may appear to shift.

The University of Cincinnati has developed a database of links to publishers’ journal policies called the Academic Journal Policy Database (AJPD). Since publishers vary widely in their policies, it is wise to discuss your plans with publishers to which you are likely to submit your work. Here are details regarding protecting your work (PDF) from ProQuest. 

Faculty Questions

Theses and Dissertations represent the culmination of a student’s research or creative endeavors while at MSU. A well‐prepared document speaks highly of a student’s abilities as a scholar and the Graduate School is available to ensure ETD formatting is of the highest quality. The Formatting Advisor ensures ETDs conform to the formatting guidelines and officially accepts ETDs on behalf of the Graduate School. Students should contact the Formatting Advisor with any questions and review the guidelines before submitting a draft.

  • The Standard Option is appropriate for most students and involves following The Graduate School approved guidelines for formatting (e.g. margins, headers, spacing etc.). 
  • The Manuscript Option is available to those who have or will publish chapter(s) from their ETD.
  • Students may use the style manual accepted by their discipline for formatting references, citations, etc. Students should review the applicable formatting guidelines and checklist before submitting a draft. Students are encouraged to review the Sample Pages (PDF) and utilize the Templates available online. Should students choose to use the LaTeX Template, they are responsible for ensuring the resulting document conforms to the formatting guidelines.

All ETDs must be approved on/before the deadline date of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. It is highly recommended that students submit a draft for initial review in advance of the deadline. Students can submit their ETD as a draft via the Submission Portal for feedback.

PhD and EDD students will also complete a short survey online.

The final, defended, and committee-approved PDF can also be uploaded to the Submission Portal. The Formatting Advisor will either request changes or approve the final document, which will send an email notification with a copy of the PDF to the student's committee. The final upload to the Submission Portal will replace the Certificate of Approval form.

Students are responsible for making changes required by the Formatting Advisor resubmitting their document for final approval in time to meet the deadline. Changes required by the committee must also be made in time to meet the deadline. Although it is possible to defend on the deadline day, if the ETD deadline and defense deadline are the same, it is not recommended as substantive or formatting changes may be required. Students are advised to submit a draft to the Formatting Advisor 2‐4 weeks prior to the defense/ETD deadline date.

The Formatting Advisor will review each ETD in the order received and the student and committee will be emailed when the document is approved. This email serves as official notification that an ETD has been accepted by the Graduate School. The Graduate School handles the remainder of the publication process for students. Once a document has been approved changes cannot be made so students should be sure to check for typos and numerical errors.

Other Questions

The Graduate School does not endorse any local or online printing companies. However, online options are readily available and offer many special printing options.

Doctoral students who optionally upload through ProQuest/UMI may purchase a copy during the submission process; however, ProQuest/UMI offers only double-sided printing and thus margins will appear to shift from recto to verso pages. 

NB: Neither the Graduate School nor the Library requires a hard bound copy be submitted.

MSU libraries commit to electronic archiving of works received, making sure that these will be accessible in the future, regardless of changes in media and standards. By not accepting paper copies, the University reduces handling and library costs, saves you money, and makes it possible for access to increase.

NB: Your committee and/or department may still want a paper version.

Older bound copies of theses and dissertations are no longer available.

In 2015, the library made significant efforts to digitize old documents making the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation of nearly every graduate student since 1902 available on ScholarWorks, the Montana State library’s open access repository of intellectual work. You can read about the project thesis and dissertation project.

You can also search for theses and dissertations in ScholarWorks.