Western Kentucky University

The Graduate School - Document Preparation and Formatting Guidelines

Introduction

This document is produced by the Graduate School and Graduate Council to assist graduate students in successfully creating and depositing a dissertation, thesis, or specialist project reports. All policies and rules are approved by the Graduate Council and can be modified at any time. This document is not intended to provide a detailed description of proper formatting but rather a general discussion of how to construct a document and how to prevent common formatting mistakes. While many different document styles can be employed for an acceptable dissertation, thesis, or specialist project report, the college has a few mandatory formatting requirements which must be followed. These requirements are outlined in this document.

Choosing a Style

The student must choose a style for the document early in their graduate career. 'Style' refers to the layout of text, paragraphs, tables and legends, as well as the formatting and layout of cited literature. Any published style guideline may be followed; however, it is customary for particular disciplines to write using particular styles. For example, many workers in the humanities use the style guidelines of the American Psychological Association or follow The Chicago Manual of Style. Scientific and professional societies vary widely in the format of their respective publications, any of which could be suitable here. The student is required to consult with his/her mentor to decide which style to use. Some mentors may not necessarily state a style preference while others require a particular style.

Students are obligated to follow a particular style if required by their graduate advisors. If a graduate advisor requires a particular style, then he/she must provide sufficiently detailed guidelines to the student.

Often the chosen style guidelines do not exhaustively address all of the format considerations faced by an author. If this should occur, the student must arbitrarily chose a format (perhaps consulting a different style guideline) then consistently follow that choice for the rest of the document. For example, what do the chosen style guidelines say in regard to placement of page numbers on landscaped pages? If the chosen guidelines are silent, then one does not know what is correct. In this case the student must arbitrarily decide where to place the page number and then place all subsequent page numbers of landscapes pages consistently in the same location.

Font Type & Size

The font size of the text should be 12 pt using a traditional font type (Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial) and used throughout the document. The font size of headings, subheadings, etc. may vary according to style. Size of symbols and mathematical formula may also vary from 12 pt where necessary.

Line Spacing, Justification, Indentation & Margins

Lines should be double spaced throughout the document. Exceptions may include inset quotations, footnotes, tabular forms, and the bibliography, as dictated by the specific style guidelines. Text should be left-justified and paragraphs should be tab indented. Page margins should be:

• Left: 1.5 inches (for binding)

• Top: 1.0 inch

• Right: 1.0 inch

• Bottom: 1.0 inch

Page Size & Pagination

Standard page size of 8 1/2 x 11 inches is used throughout the document. Without exception, all page numerals should be centered at the bottom of the page.

The front matter consists of all sections preceding the narrative and should be numbered using roman numerals; the first page to be considered for numbering is the title page. Fly sheets are not considered for numbering. The ABSTRACT is the final section in the front matter. The title, dedication (if included) and signature pages should be considered in the numbering but not actually numbered. For example, if a dedication page is included, the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS page is numbered, iv, or numbered iii if a dedication page is not included. In this example, the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS page is the first page to be numbered. Either upper or lower case Roman numerals are acceptable and the author should consult the chosen style guidelines for clarification.

Arabic numerals, beginning with one (1) should be used at the beginning of the narrative and continue through to the end of the document with the exception of the last fly sheet.

Landscape pages may be used if necessary. Landscaping is especially useful for tables or figures which do not conveniently fit onto the portrait orientation of standard pages. However, the binding requirements of the document must be respected. Thus the 'top' of a landscaped page (i.e. the top edge of the page oriented (11 inches) with the landscaped material) is the edge where binding will occur thus must have a 1.5 inch margin. The other three margins on a landscape page must have a 1 inch margin.

Pagination in landscape pages may vary depending upon the style. Either placement of the page number as all other page numbers in the document (Figure 1) or on the side a landscaped page oriented in the same direction as the figure/table contents (Figure 2) is acceptable. The student should consult the chosen style guidelines for clarification.

Figure 1. Placement of page number on bottom of landscaped page.Figure 2. Placement of page number on side of landscaped page.

Tables

Tables should only be used to present three (3) or more items; otherwise, the data should be described in the narrative. Tables should be arranged so like material appears in columns, not rows. Information presented in tables should be sufficiently clear so frequent reference to the narrative is unnecessary. Each table should have a title, generally appearing above the table itself (depending upon the chosen style). The table title and other items may be footnoted, although extensive explanations appearing in footnotes should be avoided. All abbreviations and symbols should be defined.

Tables are generally no more than what can be printed on one page, but occasionally multi-paged tables are necessary and are acceptable. Tables may appear on pages which contain narrative text or tables may appear singularly on a page (i.e. one table per page and only the table appears on the page). The author should consult their chosen style guidelines for clarification.

Figures & Figure Legends

Figures present charts, graphs, or images to the reader. Figure legends should be sufficiently detailed to allow the reader to understand without frequent reference to the narrative. However, overly detailed descriptions should be avoided. All abbreviations and symbols should be defined. Figure legends should appear on the same page and in the same orientation as the figure. For example, if the figure appears in landscape mode then the legend should also appear in landscape mode. If the figure legend is too lengthy to appear on the same page as the figure, then the legend, in its entirety, must appear on the next page.

Similar to tables, figures are usually constructed to be no more than what can appear on one page, but occasionally multi-paged figures are necessary. Figures may also appear singularly on pages or on pages containing narrative text. The author should consult the chosen style guidelines for clarification in either case.

Order of Appearance

Structure of dissertations, theses and specialist project reports should contain the following sections in the stated order. Those indicated as optional need not be included, but if included, must adhere to the formatting rules described in the following sections.

1. First Fly Sheet (blank page, not considered in numbering)

2. Title Page (required; considered as page number 'i' though not numbered)

3. Signature Page (required; considered as page number 'ii' though not numbered)

4. Dedication (optional; considered in numbering though not numbered)

5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (optional but recommended, numbered (Roman))

6. PREFACE (optional, numbered (Roman))

7. CONTENTS (required, numbered (Roman))

8. LIST OF FIGURES (optional, numbered (Roman))

9. LIST OF TABLES (optional, numbered (Roman))

10. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (optional, numbered (Roman))

11. ABSTRACT (required, numbered (Roman))

12. Narrative Section (required, numbered throughout (Arabic))

13. APPENDIX (optional, numbered throughout (Arabic))

14. Bibliography (required, numbered throughout (Arabic))

15. CURRICULUM VITAE (optional, numbered throughout (Arabic))

16. INDEX (optional,numbered throughout (Arabic))

17. GLOSSARY (optional, numbered throughout (Arabic))

18. ABBREVIATIONS (optional, numbered throughout (Arabic))

19. Second Fly Sheet (blank page, not considered in numbering)

Format: Title Page

The title page must be prepared as illustrated in the example. The title must be identical to the title on the ABSTRACT page. The title page is considered in the numbering but is not actually numbered and does not appear in the CONTENTS. Please refer to the example documents for the proper format and spacing. The “Month Year” must be the month (either May, August, or December) and year (e.g. 2014) the degree will be awarded.

A comprehensive list of degrees granted at WKU that should be used verbatim on the title page are listed below. Please note you should not include your major. Only your degree should be listed on the title page following the language "In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree...(then choose one from the list below)".

  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Science
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  •  Specialist in Education
  • Doctor of Education
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

Format: Signature Page

The signature page is considered in the numbering but is not actually numbered and does not appear in the CONTENTS. Please refer to the example documents for the proper format. The name of the committee members should appear below the line containing their signature. A hard copy of the signature page (containing signatures) must be submitted to the office of the Graduate School upon deposition. The page will be complete once signed by the Dean.

Format: Dedication Page (optional)

The dedication is an honorific statement from the author to someone or some group supporting the student and/or completion of the work. The term “dedication” does not appear on the page. The text should be brief, center justified and begin 2 inches from the top edge of the paper. Also, this is the only section of the document which may be written in a non-English language. The dedication page is considered in the numbering but not actually numbered and does not appear in the CONTENTS. See the sample theses for an example.

Format: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (optional but recommended)

The ACKNOWLEDGMENTS page is optional but strongly recommended. This page should thank or recognize individuals and institutions that have provided assistance either directly or indirectly to the success of the candidate. This page is considered in the numbering but not listed in the CONTENTS. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the text should follow.

Format: PREFACE (optional)

The PREFACE briefly informs the reader as to why the author wrote the document or chose to work in this academic area and also describes any particular events or feelings the author encountered while performing this work. This section is considered in the numbering. PREFACE should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the text should follow.

Format: CONTENTS (required)

The CONTENTS is a table which contains page assignments of the sections listed below. CONTENTS should not contain the title page, signature page, dedication, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS page, or preface. The page can also be titled TABLE OF CONTENTS. TABLE OF CONTENTS or CONTENTS should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page with the table following.

Format: LIST OF FIGURES (optional)

A LIST OF FIGURES is optional but is often included in scholarly works. Should a LIST OF FIGURES or a LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS be included all figures appearing in the document are required to be present. Figure legends appearing in the LIST OF FIGURES must appear: 1) EXACTLY as in the figure or 2) in a truncated form in which only the initial portion of the figure legend appears. If the latter form is followed the portion of the legend included in the LIST OF FIGURES should be of sufficient length to provide a unique description of the figure and not appear describing another figure in the LIST OF FIGURES. LIST OF FIGURES should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the table should follow.

For example, assume the following legend appears as part of a figure in the document:

Figure 1. PCA analysis of samples from Experiment B. Principal Component Analysis of gel profiles of bacterial rRNA genes present in cecal samples from mice fed a control diet (red) or protein diet (green), respectively. A: Protein in diet constituted 2.3%. B: Protein in diet constituted 0.56%.

The two forms appearing in the LIST OF FIGURES could be the following. The first is verbatim and the second is truncated but sufficiently unique so as not to appear again in the LIST OF FIGURES.

Figure 1. PCA analysis of samples from Experiment B. Principal Component Analysis of gel profiles of bacterial rRNA genes present in cecal samples from mice fed a control diet (red) or protein diet (green), respectively. A: Protein in diet constituted 2.3%. B: Protein in diet constituted 0.56%.

Figure 1. PCA analysis of samples from Experiment B.

Format: LIST OF TABLES (optional)

A LIST OF TABLES is optional but is often included in scholarly works. Should a LIST OF TABLES or a LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS be included all tables appearing in the document must be present. Table titles appearing in the LIST OF TABLES must appear: 1) EXACTLY as for table or 2) in a truncated form in which only the initial portion of the table title appears. If the latter form is followed the portion of the title included in the LIST OF TABLES should be of sufficient length to provide a unique description of the table. LIST OF TABLES should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the table should follow.

Assume the following title appears associated with a table in the document.

Table 1. List of fungal strains used in the biochemical analysis; toxin subtype designation, sequencing types and alleles.

Two forms appearing in the LIST OF TABLES could be the following. The first is verbatim and the second is truncated but sufficiently unique so as not to appear again in the LIST OF TABLES.

Table 1. List of fungal strains used in the biochemical analysis; toxin subtype designation, sequencing types and alleles.
Table 1. List of fungal strains used in the biochemical analysis.

Format: LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (optional)

A LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS is optional but, if used, serves as an alternative to a LIST OF FIGURES and/or a LIST OF TABLES, thus will only appear if a LIST OF TABLES and LIST OF FIGURES do not appear. A LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS includes both figures and tables. Figure legends and table titles must appear using the same rules as described for the LIST OF FIGURES and LIST OF TABLES, respectively. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the table should follow.

Format: Abstract

The abstract should be formatted as indicated in the example documents. The title must be identical to that which appears on the title page, and the “Month Year” must be the month (either May, August, or December) and year (e.g. 2014) the degree will be awarded. The ABSTRACT is a summary of all the material presented in the document. The abstract will include the problem being addressed, the design of the experiment or project, methods, results and conclusions. The abstract should not be greater than 350 words.

The abstract should not be directly duplicated in other parts of the document. If chapters are used (see below) then each chapter may contain an abstract, but this chapter abstract will only encompass material in that chapter. The abstracts appearing in the chapters are separate and distinct from the abstract in the front matter. Authors should note, abstracts appearing in the chapters need not follow the format of the abstract appearing in the front matter. Abstracts in the chapters may follow the format of the journal targeted for publication.

Format: Narrative Section

The narrative of the document should follow the guidelines set forth above, however this leaves much flexibility for style. Sources of commonly used styles include (but not limited to): American Psychological Association, American Anthropological Association, Modern Language Association. and The Chicago Manual of Style. Also, many journals have unique style requirements which the author may choose to adopt. It is incumbent upon the author, in consultation with the author's mentor, to select a published style for use in the document. Some mentors require graduate documents be prepared in a particular style; if so, the student is obligated to follow the mentor's guidelines. Also, GSR or the college reader will not necessarily review the document for usage of correct style; however, GSR and the college reader will review for CONSISTENCY of style. Consistency of style is paramount for successful deposition and GSR will not accept any graduate document styled inconsistently. However, should GSR or the college reader review the document for style, the author may be asked to modify the style to adhere to the chosen style guideline as well as provide the style citation.

Format: Bibliography (required)

The bibliography section will contain a list of all of the referenced material in the document. The section does not necessarily need to be entitled BIBLIOGRAPHY, but may be entitled consistent with the chosen style. For example, other titles may be LITERATURE CITED or REFERENCES. The format of the entries of this section and the format of citations appearing in the narrative will be consistent with the chosen style.

Format: APPENDICES (optional)

The APPENDIX contains supporting information presented in the narrative or other types of information the author believes would assist the reader in understanding the document content. This section may include text, figures or tables. APPENDIX should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the text should follow. The style of the APPENDIX should be consistent with the narrative section.

Format: INDEX (optional)

An INDEX is an alphabetized list of important terms used in the narrative which includes the page(s) where the term is found. Should the author choose to include an index, the pages on which the chosen terms appear must be exhaustive. For example, if the term 'discipline' appears in the index, all of the pages on which the term 'discipline' appears must be listed. INDEX should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the table should follow.

Format: GLOSSARY (optional)

A GLOSSARY is an alphabetized list of important or specialized terms used in the narrative which includes their definition. The author may define terms in ways specific to the project and/or use standard definitions. The author need not indicate the source, if any, of definitions. The GLOSSARY is sometimes also referred to as the NOMENCLATURE. GLOSSARY or NOMENCLATURE should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the table should follow. If using a list of acronyms please include it in the glossary section.

Format: ABBREVIATIONS (optional)

The author may choose to list abbreviations in the ABBREVIATIONS section. If this option is chosen, ALL abbreviations must be listed in alphabetical order using the format shown in the examples. ABBREVIATIONS should be centered, all caps, on the first line of the page; the table should follow. Independent of whether an ABBREVIATIONS section is used, abbreviations MUST be defined in the text by enclosing the shortened word in parentheses following the word/ phrase, see below.

Abbreviations are a shortened forms of written words or phrases used in place of the whole and should be used to make the document easier to read and understand. Typically, if a large or awkward word or phrase is used 5 or more times, the author should consider using an abbreviation. Often editors encourage use of abbreviations to save space on the printed page, but that is not a concern here. Abbreviations must be denoted immediately after the first occurrence of the word or phrase and must be used for all subsequent occurrences.

An example of denoting an abbreviation and subsequent use:

“..........all analytes were detected using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).”

“Phenol was detected by GC/MS but was not detected using thin layer chromatography..........”

Guidelines: Narrative as Chapters

Use of chapters in the dissertations, theses, and specialist project reports is common but not necessarily required. Often it is unclear to the author if a chapter format is necessary or useful. If the work is presented in two or more distinct projects, breaking the narrative into separate chapters is justified. If the author is having difficulty determining where to break the material into chapters, the following choices may help clarify. 1) Consult the graduate mentor. 2) Do not use chapters. 3) Employ peer-review publication standards as the metric to determine the scope of each chapter. Here, each chapter is prepared as a self-standing manuscript. For example, if the dissertation will be (or could be) published in three papers, then preparing the dissertation broken into three separate chapters could be justified.

If used, the author has some flexibility as to how to compose the chapters. It is generally expected the chapters will be constructed identically. For example: Introduction, Material and Methods, Results, Conclusions, and References may be the subheading in all chapters. However, if different chapters are targeted for publication in different journals, each chapter may adopt the structure of that journal. For example, Chapter One might contain those subheading mentioned above, but Chapter Two might use: Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results, Discussion and Literature Cited. Similarly, two chapters may use two distinct citation and bibliography formats if the targeted journals use different formats.

Guidelines: Spelling & Grammar

It is the responsibility of the author, the research supervisor, and the author's research committee to ensure the document is submitted using correct spelling and proper grammar. GSR or college readers will not necessarily review each submission for correct spelling and grammar; however, if errors are found, GSR and the college readers may return the document for correction.

Guidelines: Headers & Footers

Running headers and/or footers are not allowed. However, footnotes and endnotes are allowed if desired. Please consult the chosen style manual for specifics.

Guidelines: Non-English Languages

All dissertations, theses, and specialist project reports must be written in English. Documents prepared in languages other than English will not be accepted. Two special conditions are: 1) the dedication page may include non-English text; and 2) the content of a project may encompass use of a non-English language (e.g. analysis of Portuguese irregular verbs). In case of the latter, non-English text may appear as subject material or data but should not appear as narrative.

Guidelines: Statements of Compliance

Confirmation of compliance with all international, federal, state, local and other applicable public and private regulations must appear in the document. Typically, the necessary information is stated in the materials and methods or results section of the narrative. The author may include extensive documentation of compliance in the APPENDIX or simply provide as a separate, supporting file. The supervising bodies providing compliance supervision may include (but not limited to):

• IACUC, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (animal use)

• Institutional Review Board (human use)

• Institutional Biosafety Committee (Risk Group 2 organisms and recombinant DNA)

• Environmental Health and Safety (use of radionuclides etc.)

• Private or public agencies (permission to access collections, acquire samples, make observations etc).

Format for Documents and Associated Files

Theses, specialist reports and dissertations will be deposited in standard file format, these include MS Word (all varieties), rich text, or PDF. Associated files may be submitted in any format. All submitted files will be uploaded in TopScholar and should be assumed to be freely available to the public.

Approved by the Graduate Council: 16-Dec-2010

Last Update: 16-Dec-2010

 Last Modified 4/21/14