7 Things To Know About The Format Of A Master's Dissertation

There are 7 key things you need to know when you format your Master’s dissertation. Following through with these items will ensure your dissertation is following expected designs. Although exact rules may vary somewhat from one academic institution to another, these are generally covered in similar form in most programs.

  1. Title page – format according to given template. Check the title is correct. Usually counted as page one but the page number shouldn’t appear on it.
  2. Abstract – must meet the word limits you are given. This is an essential requirement. Do what’s necessary to adjust the content if necessary to fall into the proper limits.
  3. Table of contents – check that all page numbers and headings are correct. The table of contents should also include pages such as the abstract, appendices, references and so on. All pages within your Master’s dissertation should be listed in the table except the table of contents pages themselves.
  4. Body of your dissertation – divided into sections and chapters, the font and style of all the headings and sub headings should be consistent within the entire paper.
  5. References – whatever style or format your academic institution expects. Make sure you keep style, font etc. consistent throughout.
  6. All parts should be clear, readable and concise. This includes figures, diagrams, and tables. The style should be consistent. This is probably the key factor of formatting your Master’s dissertation: consistency.
  7. Margins, page numeration and type of paper to be used may have to meet guidelines of your program’s requirements. If there are none given, it’s expected to have 1 ½ inch margins on the left and 1 inch on all other edges. Each page is assigned a number even if the number is not to appear on the page. Front matter may use Roman numerals. All numbers must match up with numbers given in the table of contents. Paper is usually high quality cotton, watermarked and 20 – 24 pound bond in 8 ½ x 11” size.

If you are confused about the formatting of your Master’s dissertation, the three most important things to do in this order, are to first follow the rules of your school or committee. Second, follow the rules of the style you are assigned to, such as APA or Chicago style. The third and last is that if you aren’t given any rules or style to follow, then use general guidelines such as those given above.

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