Our thesis formatting tutorial takes you step-by-step through the process of formatting your thesis from our template file. For more information on how to format and edit your manuscript, see our Thesis & Dissertation Formatting General Advice page.
Note: Therules and guidelines for thesis and dissertation formatting are developed by the Graduate School. Questions about the guidelines, or interpretation of them, should be directed to the Office of Degree Requirements at (413) 545-0025.
Download the Tutorials & Template Files
Find your version of Word below to download the tutorial appropriate to your needs. We also provide a template for creating your thesis and an example of what a final thesis should look like. The Graduate School rules permit three different heading and Table of Contents formats. To provide support for the greatest possible number of students, these files help you use the two most-frequently-used formats, numeric (Scientific) and simple (Traditional). See the Graduate School Guidelines for Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations for more information on the permitted formats. Please read the tutorial appropriate to your version of Microsoft Word before you decide which format to use.
* You can use your computer's built-in Archive or Unzip utility to open these .zip files and access the individual sample files. You can also unzip them using dedicated .zip utilities, such as 7-Zip (Windows) or StuffIt Expander (Macintosh). Consult the Help documentation for your computer or program of choice for more information.
The only PhD Thesis/Masters Dissertation template for Microsoft Word you will ever need
As I start to move into the writing up stage of my thesis, I have started to focus on the structure and layout of the final document. I’ve been particularly keen to minimise the amount of formatting and editing I have to do by automating as much of the process as possible. I also want my thesis to look professional, and not just another generic Word document. I know many scientists swear by LaTeX but I’ve always disliked writing in markup and to be perfectly honest I can be bothered to learn how to use it, especially when I am so familiar with Word.
I spent some time looking for a good thesis or dissertation template. While many universities produce one; they were all incomplete in terms of automated functionality or ugly. Kayla Friedman and I have spent several months working out what makes a good looking thesis or dissertation and how to make it in Microsoft Word. The template we have created is an excellent starting point for any PhD Thesis or Masters Dissertation and is easy to use. It’s free for anybody to use, although an acknowledgment to Kayla and myself is appreciated.
If you are using the template please leave a comment below, we know that hundreds of people a month download the template, and we would like to hear feedback.
The Template is in two forms a normal DOCX document which includes useful help information and a DOTX Word Template which can be applied to new and existing word documents.
DOCX Format Plain Word Document
DOTX Format Word Template
Microsoft Office Theme File – This contains additional font & colour information and can be used to style Excel and PowerPoint content in the same style as your Thesis/Dissertation.
Power Point on Word for Thesis Writing
The DOTX template can also be used by people using older versions of the Template. Go to:
Developer Tab > Document Template > Attach
Then select the DOTX template, and click Open. Also, tick the box market Automatically update document styles. Then click OK.
CSD Thesis Template by Kayla Friedman and Malcolm Morgan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Why use the PhD Thesis / Masters Dissertation Template?
The whole point of this template is that it is easy to use and automatic. If you want to put the minimum amount of effort into the styling your thesis, using this template will give you an excellent professional looking document, that won’t just look like a generic Word document. Kayla and I have put a lot of work into choosing fonts, layouts, and colour schemes, which give a professional academic appearance, and are easy to read on screen and especially on paper.
This makes a big differenceto you when you come to submit. Even the quality of your work is outstanding, the presentation of your thesis or dissertation will have a big effect on how your examiners judge it. If your document looks good, and includes all the right parts in the right places the examiners are going to be more inclined to believe you know what you are talking about.
It will save you lots of time. The template comes built in with lots of features that takes ages to set up such as heading numbers, and lists of different content e.g figures, tables, appendices. Using the template means you don’t need to find out how to do these things, and then fret about it not working. A lot of templates for other sources are not automated, so they look good, but the moment you start using them they break.
However, if you want to express your own creativity it is easy to change fonts, colour schemes and layout options without having to loose all the automation benefits of using the template.
Sections Included in the PhD/Masters Template
Cover Page, Dedication (optional), Personal Statement/Quote (optional), Declaration, Summary / Abstract, Acknowledgements, Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, List of Abbreviations and Acronyms, Introduction, References, Appendices.
The template also included example content and information on how to use Word, how to use the PhD Thesis/ Masters Dissertation Template and Information and Requirements for Cambridge University and the Department of Engineering. If you are not at Cambridge you must check your own department’s rules as they may differ from the Cambridge rules. The template has been built to match Cambridge University’s rules.
Major Features of the Template Include:
- Standard University of Cambridge cover page, with hidden blank inside page;
- Two page margins, with wider margins on opposite sides of odd/even pages for balanced appearance when printed and bound.
- Footers with page numbers on opposite sides for odd/even pages;
- Footers with chapter titles automatically inserted;
- Headers with Thesis title, author’s name, and month and year automatically added;
- Roman Numerals for front matter page numbers, Arabic Numerals for other pages;
- Automatically produced tables of contents, including headings, but excluding Appendices, and front matter;
- Automatically produced lists of tables, figures, appendices
- Customised styles, colours, and themes, to give a consistent appearance and professional feel;
- Automatically numbered headings;
- 1/3 page Chapter Headings with styled spacing and indented numbering;
The template is very loosely based on the Bartlett School of Architectures MSc Thesis Template and may contain some of their original content.
The PhD Thesis/Masters Dissertation Template was created in Microsoft Word 2010 in the .docx and .dotx formats, but should also be fully compatible with Word 2007 and Word 2013. I have not checked it with Word for Mac. If you are using Word for Mac please comment on this post if you have any trouble as I would be interested to know.
I’m not promising any support or updates to the Template, but if you do have any suggestions or find any problems put them in the comments below, as it is not totally impossible that I might read them and make changes.
- Some of the headers and footers may have an error message if the template is used in a non-English version of Office. This can be fixed by deleting the error message and manually adding the text for the headers and footers.
- The formatting on the table of contents can go wrong, this can be fixed by right clicking and selecting update.
Updated PhD / Masters template to version 6 on 15/11/13
- Fixed error with footnotes
- Fixed error with list of figures
Updated PhD / Masters template to version 7 on 13/3/14
- Tweaked appearance of footnote so that the take up less space
- Updated content on how to use the template
- Updated blog post with more information about the template
- Added .dotx file support
- Set default table appearance
- Updated Footnotes and Endnotes support
Updated PhD / Masters template to version 8 on 09/05/14
- Updated / Improved help text in the DOCX version
- Improved headers, automatically produced by completing the cover page
- Improved headers, support for longer thesis titles
Updated PhD / Masters template to version 9 on 10/02/15
- Changes base front from Cambria to Times New Roman to match new Cambridge University PhD requirements
- Increased font size to 12 point, and increased line spacing to 1.5 to match new Cambridge University PhD requirements
- Increased spacing and reformatted headers and footers
Charles Weir is producing his own version of the template for Lancaster University at https://github.com/charlesweir/LUThesisTemplate