Organizing Your Thesis

Videos about formatting your thesis can be found here.

Thesis and Dissertation Writing Consultations - Center for Communication Excellence

Iowa State University requires all Theses and Dissertations to be electronically submitted. All students whose programs of study require a Thesis or Dissertation must comply with Iowa State thesis requirements in order to graduate.

  1. Click on each major heading to access detailed checklists and examples for formatting that section.
  2. After reviewing all formatting for your thesis, click on the SUBMIT button below to continue in the process for submitting your thesis/dissertation electronically.
Sequence of pages
(Major Headings)
Required or Optional Page Numbering
Title Page Required no page number (implied i)
Dedication Optional lower case Roman numeral (ii)
Table of Contents Required lower case Roman numeral (ii, iii,...)
List of Figures** Optional lower case Roman numeral (iii, iv,...)
List of Tables* Optional lower case Roman numeral (iii, iv,...)
List of Nomenclature or other lists needed Optional lower case Roman numeral (iii, iv,...)
Acknowledgements Optional lower case Roman numeral (iii, iv,...) if in preliminary pages
Abstract Optional in thesis, but required when submitting thesis to ProQuest lower case Roman numeral (iv, v, iv...)
Body of Manuscript - Non-journal Format Required Arabic (Chapter 1 always starts with page 1)
Body of Manuscript - Journal Paper Format Optional Arabic (10, 11, 12)
Tables and Figures Optional Arabic (10, 11, 12)
Bibliography or References Required Arabic (100, 101, 102...) If included at the end of each chapter, an all inclusive list is not needed.
Appendix(ices) Optional Arabic (70,71,72...) Very large appendices may be placed after the bibliography or included to ProQuest as supplemental files.
Notes Optional Arabic (80, 81, 82...)
Vita Optional Arabic (110, 111, 112...)
Acknowledgements Optional Arabic (120, 121, 122...) if placed at the end of thesis

* If you have a List of Tables, you must also have a List of Figures if you use figures in your thesis.

** If you have a List of Figures, you must also have a List of Tables if you use tables in your thesis.

Specific Detail Format Options
Font size Generally 12 pt. 10 pt. can be used for table/figure captions; Up to 16 pt. can be used for major headings.
Font type Font needs to be embedded in the PDF format. Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Cambria, or a similar proportional font
Margins: Left bound manuscript 1.5' left; 1' top; 1' right; 1' bottom
Margins: Unbound manuscript 1' left; 1' top; 1' right; 1' bottom
Page numbers 1/2' from the top center
Paragraphs Indented Consistent throughout paper.
Major headings (Listed above) ALL CAPS, centered, double spaced No larger than 16 pt. font, used consistently.
First level heading Initial caps (each word), centered
Second level heading First word capitalized, left margin
Remaining headings Your choice, they just need to be different from the headers listed above and must be consistent throughout paper
Table captions Above tables 10 or 12 pt., Single spaced
Figure captions Below figures 10 or 12 pt., Single spaced

It is important that you have met all the formatting requirements so that your thesis can be promptly approved for your graduation.

Use the 'Submit Your Thesis' link below to go to the next step. By using to the link below, you verify that you have checked all the formatting guidelines listed in the Thesis Checklist or in all the links in Organizing Your Thesis.

  • After clicking the submit button below, you will be taken to the website for uploading your thesis to ProQuest.
  • Once your thesis has been uploaded, be sure to check the e-mail address you entered on a frequent basis.
  • You will receive a request to make changes or an acceptance e-mail.
  • If any changes are needed, they should be made within 24 hours if at all possible.
  • You will need to receive an acceptance e-mail before you will be allowed to graduate.

Submit Your Thesis