Useful Tips for Formatting a Document

  • Try and find a few recently-submitted theses or dissertations from your faculty or from your college library website. Look through these to familiarize yourself with the layout and style. The reason it is important to choose recent papers is because style rules often change!
  • Type your paper using your preferred word processing system or the one you are most familiar with (refer also to our article on Formatting a Thesis). It is best to use a standard font type, e.g., Helvetica, Times, Courier or Arial. Using unusual or fancy fonts can be a problem for readers and in the print version of documents.
  • Use any templates provided by your school or college for creating front matter such as title page, abstract, acknowledgements, dedications, copyright notices, tables of content, and so on. These should be created in a separate file and not included in your paper’s main text.
  • Your main document and any files containing front matter should be converted to .pdf files. Adobe Acrobat has a feature that allows you combine two or more files into a single entity.
  • Hand in this one .pdf file to your tutor or examinations office to have the format checked. (Please refer to our section on Checking Format for more information). Do not forget to give your file a correct or appropriate name e.g. do not use “MyFirstThesis.pdf.” You may think this is funny but it happens many times every term.
  • Correct Naming Convention

The following is an example of an acceptable file name for a dissertation: yoursurname_yourfirstname_yourmiddleinitial_monthandyearof graduation_degreename.pdf e.g. smith_jane_k_052012_sciencephd.pdf

  • Any required corrections should be made to your word processor-created file and not the .pdf file.
  • Re-convert any amended files into one .pdf file.
  • Hand in this one .pdf file to your tutor or examinations office for one last check – with an appropriate file name!
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