The Graduate School Manual - Theses and Dissertations

Guidelines for Preparing or Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation

Manual of Style

You should consult with your department to determine the preferred textual arrangement and manual of style, including the presentation of footnotes/endnotes and the manner in which references are to be cited. In the absence of a departmental preference, the recommended style manual is the Chicago Manual of Style, published by the University of Chicago Press.

All text should be black; font size should be no smaller than 10-point and no larger than 14-point.


Sequence of Pages

  • Title page
  • Copyright notice
  • Committee page
  • Abstract
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of contents
  • List of tables
  • List of figures
  • List of plates
  • Body of manuscript
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

The title page, copyright page, committee page, table of contents, and abstract page are mandatory. All students must include copyright notices in their theses and dissertations even if they do not pay the $55 fee through ProQuest/UMI to have the thesis or dissertation registered with the federal copyright office.


Title Page

The title page consists of three main parts: title, author and degrees, and submission statement.

  • Center all lines on the page.
  • Title
    • Type the title 2 inches from the top of the page.
    • Use all capital letters in the title. Font size should be no smaller than 10-point and no larger than 16-point.
    • Underline only words that would appear in italics.
    • Single space if the title is two lines. Double space if the title is more than two lines.
    • If the title is more than one line, use an inverted pyramid form, dividing lines by thought groups if possible.
  • Author and degrees
    • Type the author's name in all capital letters at the center of the page.
    • Type the word BY in all capital letters two lines above the name.
    • Type previous degree(s) earned two lines below the name using the format shown on the Thesis/Dissertation Sample.
    • Make sure there is the same amount of space between the title and the word "by" as there is between the previous degrees and the submission statement.
  • Submission statement
    • Type the word DISSERTATION or THESIS in all capital letters two lines above the submission statement.
    • Type the submission statement as shown on the Thesis/Dissertation Sample, using single spacing and dividing the lines exactly as shown.
    • Type the year your degree is to be awarded one line below the submission statement. This line should be 1 inch from the bottom of the page.

View the Thesis/Dissertation Sample with additional formatting tips.


Copyright Notice

To protect the right of authorship by copyright, it is only necessary under current law to affix a notice of copyright to the page following the title page. The copyright notice should give the full legal name of the author, centered at the bottom of the page as per this sample:

© Copyright by Suzette Van Brown 2012

All Rights Reserved

or centered, placed in the middle of the page, and double-spaced as per this sample:

copyright by

Johnathan Agonistes


Unless a thesis or dissertation is copyrighted in this way, it becomes part of the public domain as soon as it is accepted by the Graduate School and delivered to the ProQuest/UMI website.

The Graduate School also urges students to register their thesis and dissertations with the federal copyright office. The advantage of taking this step could be considerable. In the case of plagiarism, for example, the author may bring an action against the guilty party and recover damages. In the case of scholarly work, proving and recovering damages may be difficult, if not impossible. But if the work bears a notice of copyright and has also been registered with the copyright office, statutory damages may be awarded, and may include attorney's fees incurred in prosecuting the suit. Registration of the thesis or dissertation with the copyright office entails applying at the ProQuest/UMI website and payment of a $55 fee through that website. However, even without registering the dissertation with the copyright office, the copyright notice on the page following the title page is sufficient to effect a copyright for the author.


Committee Page

  • The acceptance statement must end 1 inch from the bottom of the page. Therefore, the first line of text will start approximately more than halfway down the page. See sample committee page for proper vertical alignment.
  • Acceptance statement is to be single-spaced, worded, and line divided as shown in sample.
  • List date of final acceptance below acceptance statement.
  • List committee members, department, outside examiner (if applicable), and affiliated university of each member.
  • Signatures are not allowed in the electronic submission.

Since the shift to electronic filing of theses and dissertations in Fall 2005, it is no longer mandatory for the student to submit a committee page with signatures of its members. 

View the Thesis/Dissertation Sample.


Table of Contents

Effective with the dissertation and theses submissions for Spring 2008 and forward, certain items ARE NOT to be included in the Table of Contents.

Do not include line entries for the title page, copyright page, committee page, or table of contents. Per the Chicago Manual of Style, only pages appearing AFTER the Table of Contents (e.g., List of Tables, List of Figures, chapters and subsections, etc.) should be included within the contents table.


Spacing and Margins

The text of the manuscript is double-spaced. Footnotes, bibliography or list of references, tables and figure captions are single-spaced. Bibliographic entries are separated by double spacing. Margins should be 1 inch on the top, bottom and right side; and 1.5" on the left side. Each chapter starts on a new page, with a 2-inch top margin. Justifying the text at the right margin is optional. All textual material must be double-spaced. Long quotations may be indented and single-spaced, although some disciplines prefer them to be indented and double-spaced. Footnotes/endnotes should be single-spaced. Leave a double space between notes.



Abstract is mandatory.

The maximum acceptable length for an abstract to be published is 350 words for Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI) and 150 words for Masters Thesis Directories (MTD). However, an abstract within the dissertation or thesis need not be limited. The student may prepare a lengthy abstract for inclusion in the thesis or dissertation and a more concise summary for publication in DAI/MTD. The abstract is expected to give a succinct account of the student's work so that a reader can quickly learn the essential contents and results. A typical abstract includes a statement of the problem, an account of procedure or methods followed, and an account of main results and conclusions.

Abstracts must be prepared carefully, since they are published in DAI/MTD without editing or revision.


Page Numbering

Each page must be numbered, with the exception of the title page and the copyright page. The number may be centered at the top or bottom of the page or may appear at the top right corner. For the preliminary pages, use lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.), beginning with "iii". The title page and the copyright page count as "i" and "ii", but the numbers do not appear. For the remainder of the manuscript, including all text, illustrations, appendices and bibliography, use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). The numbering begins with "1" on the first page of text and runs consecutively to the end of the manuscript. Page numbers may fall within the one-inch top or bottom margin, but at least a 0.5-inch margin should remain between the page number and the edge of the page.


Corrections and Hand Lettering

No marks or corrections in pen or pencil are acceptable. Symbols, accent marks, and equations must all be typescript.


Illustrative Materials

Static graphics (photographs, etc.) should be inserted into the body of the document. Supplementary files (images, sounds, etc.) should be submitted separately.


Tables and Figures

Tables and figures must conform to the same margins as the text. Oversized computer-generated tables can be reduced and included in the original. If a table or figure must be placed in landscape orientation (horizontally on the page), the margins and page number location must be the same as on a regular page. Captions for tables and figures and page numbers should be in the same type as the body of the text.


Bibliography or References

The style for references should follow the format used for journal publications in the student's field of study and must be consistent throughout the manuscript. The accepted placement of the bibliography or references is at the end of the manuscript.


Print Quality

The manuscript should be clearly readable throughout, for both electronic and printed documents. If there are questions regarding print quality, the student is encouraged to consult the Graduate School.



All of the following steps must take place by the thesis/dissertation deadline indicated on the degree completion calendar: register at the ProQuest/University Microfilms International (UMI) website, enter basic information about you and your work, complete the non-exclusive publishing agreement, attach your document, and click the final "Submit" button. No part of the submission is registered until you click the final "Submit" button. The Graduate School then reviews your submission and checks for formatting errors and makes sure that your academic record is complete and that all required fees are paid and forms are submitted. Once the Graduate School has accepted your paper and received all required items, the Graduate School delivers your work to ProQuest/UMI. You will be notified by email about the status of your submission. UMI will prepare archival digital copies and microfilm copies, both of which are maintained in perpetuity and migrated to new storage media as necessary, in accord with UMI's contract with the Library of Congress. UMI then disseminates your work to various bibliographic databases and indexes and publishes a full-text copy of your work on a website available to the Binghamton University community. Readers outside of Binghamton University may find your dissertation and purchase copies directly from UMI.

Before you begin, be sure that you have the following:

  • Full text of your thesis or dissertation in PDF format in one file. It is generally advisable to convert your own work to PDF format before beginning the electronic submission process. If your manuscript is in Word or RTF format, you may convert it to PDF format on the ProQuest/UMI website. You will be able to review your final PDF at any time. You may also convert your work to PDF format using:
    • A free virtual print spooler
    • A free document conversion tool
    • Adobe's free web-hosted service, available at
    • Adobe software
  • ProQuest/UMI abstract for DAI or MTD (350-word limit for doctoral dissertations; 150-word limit for master's theses). The ProQuest/UMI abstract may be an edited version of the full abstract in the document.
  • Optional supplementary files (images, sound, etc.) that are an integral part of the dissertation, but not part of the full text.

Thesis or dissertation formatting questions should be directed to the Degree Completion Team at



After submitting your thesis/dissertation electronically, submit the following materials:

The processing fees cover electronic submission; indexing and abstract services; microfilming and archiving; and digital storage and access. The thesis processing fee is $85, and the dissertation processing fee is $100.

You do not need to provide the Graduate School with any paper copies of your dissertation/thesis. Your department may require a bound hard copy, which can be ordered through ProQuest/UMI or another binding company. Many departments do not require bound hard copies. Check with your department for details. Please view the list of departments/programs that have informed the Graduate School that they do not require bound hard copies below: 

  • Biological Sciences
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Community and Public Affairs
  • Computer Science (Required for doctoral degree students, but not required for master's degree students)
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • English
  • Management
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Higher Education and Student Affairs
  • Teaching, Learning and Educational Leadership
  • Theatre 

During the submission process, you will have the option to request that ProQuest/UMI file for copyright on your behalf. If you choose this option, there will be an additional $55 fee payable directly to ProQuest/UMI.