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.
Especially for graduate writers
Why graduate writers benefit from Student Writing Support
Writers don’t have to be alone to be productive. Although completing a graduate seminar paper, thesis, or dissertation requires focused, sustained individual work, the writing process is emphatically not a solitary one. Because much of what they write has a life outside the narrow confines of the degree program, graduate writers need feedback from multiple readers in order to make informed decisions about how they can best communicate their ideas in writing. Student Writing Support is a safe, responsive environment in which graduate writers can develop and test their ideas with non-specialist but highly trained and interested readers.
To check availability, learn about our consultants, and make an appointment, log in at mySWS.
Student Writing Support resources for graduate students
To learn more about what to expect and how to get the most from your visit to the Center, look at our graduate-student-focused informational handout and watch our video about SWS:
Everybody writes. We'll help you you get better at it.
Click here for information on the annual Dissertation Writing Retreat.
Graduate students may be especially interested in our quicktips on getting the most from a writing group, paper cohesion and flow, and editing and proofreading strategies.
Please see our getting the most from student writing support informational handout (PDF) for more about Student Writing Support resources and policies.
Other Center for Writing resources
For workshops, online resources, and individual consultations on any aspect of teaching with writing, from syllabus design to grading, visit our Teaching With Writing program.
For information on organizing your courses for a flexible, interdisciplinary graduate minor and thereby becoming part of a community of scholars interested in issues of literacy and rhetoric, as well as becoming eligible for travel and research grants, visit our Literacy and Rhetorical Studies Minor program.
Writing a dissertation
The Graduate School Writer’s Nexus
A comprehensive resource from the University of Minnesota Graduate School that offers help with writing and research, information on funding, and support for international students.
This online tool from the University of Minnesota helps students navigate the process of writing a dissertation. The Dissertation Calculator breaks down the process into manageable stages with suggested deadlines, and provides students with important resources and advice tailored to the University context. (This tool was created by the Center for Writing in partnership with the University Libraries, the Center for Teaching and Learning Services, and the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy.)
What's a Scholarly Workflow—and Why Do I Want One?
This blog entry offers suggestions about how to manage and process all of the information scholars acquire.
Writing Thesis, Dissertation, and Conference Proposals
From the Graduate Writing Center at Penn State, this PDF breaks down the purpose and sections of a proposal for thesis or dissertation research; it also offers strategies and a sample conference proposal.
Writing and Presenting Your Thesis Or Dissertation
This comprehensive guide from Michigan State’s Dr. S. Joseph Levine offers both practical and comforting advice to make the process of writing a dissertation—from preparing to write the proposal to writing the dissertation itself to handling the defense—more manageable, and even (on one’s best days) exciting.
How to Organize Your Thesis
This advice from Carleton University (Ottawa) computer science professor John W. Chinneck is widely generalizable across the disciplines. Not only does Chinneck offer a clear basic outline for a dissertation, but he helps writers conceptualize the project of a dissertation in the first place (see section entitled “What Graduate Research Is All About”).
Applying for a job
Building Your Career
From the U of MN Graduate School, resources on career planning and networking; writing résumés, CVs, and cover letters; interviewing for jobs; and seeking both academic and non-academic employment.
CVs, Cover Letters, and Teaching Portfolios (pdf)
From Stanford University, brief advice on the academic job application process followed by a rich collection of sample CVs from the Humanities, Education, and Science/Engineering, along with sample cover letters for jobs and postdocs.
Dr. Karen's Rules of the Academic CV
One blogger's detailed set of expectations for printed CVs.
Cover Letters for Academic Positions (pdf)
Advice and two sample cover letters for academic faculty positions, courtesy of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois.
This advice on writing the research statement from University of Pennsylvania Career Services includes the statement's purpose, a timeline for writing it, examples, and further resources.
Dr. Karen's Rules of the Research Statement
This blogger offers very specific advice about writing the research statement.
Writing Diversity Statements
Resources from the University of California, Davis to help navigate the importance of diversity statements, view example statements, and provide real prompts from current universities and colleges asking for a statement.
Academic and Professional Development
Links to internal and external resources for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees from the University of Minnesota Graduate School.