Organizing Your Dissertation / Thesis

Videos about formatting your dissertation/thesis can be found here.

Dissertations and Thesis Writing Consultations - Center for Communication Excellence

Iowa State University requires all Dissertations and Theses to be electronically submitted. All students whose programs of study require a Dissertation or Thesis must comply with Iowa State dissertation/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 dissertation/thesis, click on the SUBMIT button below to continue in the process for submitting your dissertation/thesis 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 dissertation/thesis, but required when submitting dissertation/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 dissertation/thesis

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

** If you have a List of Figures, you must also have a List of Tables if you use tables in your dissertation/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 dissertation/thesis can be promptly approved for your graduation.

Use the 'Submit Your Dissertation/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 Dissertation/Thesis Checklist or in all the links in Organizing Your Dissertation/Thesis.

Submit Your Dissertation/Thesis