Skip to main content

ETD Guide

Detailed Guide through the ETD process

Formatting Overview

Incorrectly formatted documents require a lot of student and administrative time, as they must be evaluated by our staff, sent back to the student, then re-evaluated by the UGS staff.  Most theses and dissertations range from 30-300 pages, so it's important that the formatting rules are followed. 

Start with the ETD PREPARATION MANUAL, then use this guide and its tutorials as a supplement. I also suggest having a look at the Common Error Checklist and the ETD Workshop Slides. The Common Error Checklist is the same checklist that is used to evaluate your D5/M3 draft and the final version of your ETD manuscript. The PowerPoint slides are from the ETD portion of the Graduation workshop held by UGS each semester.

Formatting Rules

1. The title for the thesis or dissertation should include meaningful keywords descriptive of the subject and content to facilitate its location on a subject index. This is particularly important for doctoral candidates, since titles are the basis for computer searches. "Catchy" titles should be avoided. A thesis concerning "The Purchasing Power of Teenage Girls," for example, would be difficult to locate if titled "Susie Needs A New Wardrobe."

Formulae, symbols, superscripts, Greek letters, acronyms, and abbreviated forms in general MUST be spelled out (e.g., K3 Mn(CN)6 is written Potassium Manganicyanide; MMPI is written Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory; TESL is written Teaching English as a Second Language).  Bolding is NOT allowed, while quotes are allowed for signaling another work (E.g. “Title of an Article”), and italics is allowed only for Latin and formulas.

2. The major in which the candidate is earning the degree must be written as the approved University major listed in the FIU Graduate Catalog. For example, FIU awards a degree of Master of Science in Biology, not a Master of Science in Biological Sciences.  Also, some degrees will not have an 'in' (e.g. Master of Music).  You should not list subplans like Master of Music in Guitar Performance. If there are any questions about the degree name, the candidate should consult the current FIU Graduate Catalog.  Also double checking PantherSoft could reveal the exact major under the student plan - don't list the subplan.

3. The candidate's name must be the name under which he or she is registered at FIU and must match the name that appears on the approval forms, copyright page (if the copyright is being registered), signature page, and abstract. If the student wishes to change the name of record, an appropriate petition must be filed in the Office of the Registrar.

The date at the bottom of the title page is the year in which the degree is awarded. This is the same year in which the manuscript is filed, except in the case when the manuscript is filed with the University Graduate School after the published deadline. For example, if a student files the manuscript after the fall semester deadline, the degree will be awarded in the spring semester of the following year and is to be dated accordingly.

There is no page number on the title page.  The title page is counted as the first preliminary page but is not numbered. For architecture manuscripts with an oversize volume, see also Section E in Chapter I.



The signature page is always page ii of the manuscript, and it is the first page on which a number appears (ii appears 1/2 to 3/4 inch from the bottom of the page). Every page from this page on is numbered. The preliminary pages are in Roman numerals (i, ii, iii), and the body text pages are in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3).

The candidate's name as recorded by the FIU Office of Registration and Records appears on the signature page. The name should be the same as that which appears on the first page of the abstract, the title page, copyright page (if the copyright is being registered), and the Final ETD Approval form.  

The names of the major professor and of each signing committee members are to be typed under the appropriate signature lines. The name of the Major Professor should be listed last. On the signature page, the title "Major Professor" follows that individual’s name. If there are two major professors, each is titled "Co-Major Professor".  Adjust the spacing between the committee members' names to ensure that there is enough space for signatures.  The signature page should only be one page.  Do NOT include Dr., Professor, or any titles or academic letters for the Major Professor or committee members (e.g.  Dr. Peter Jordan is not acceptable while Peter Jordan is acceptable).

The date when the oral defense took place is typed after the signature of the Major Professor. The last signature on the page is that of the Dean of the University Graduate School. The date at the bottom of the page is the year in which the degree is awarded and is the same as the year on the title page and the abstract.

Unlocking the Templates

You may need to unlock these templates to copy and paste them into your document or change the font type to match the rest of your document. 


Windows Instructions

1. Click File --> Info --> Protect Document --> Restrict Editing. The Restrict Editing pane will open on the right side of the page.

2. Click Stop Protection at the bottom of the Restrict Editing pane.


Mac Instructions

In the Mac version of Word, you'll need to make sure the Developer tab is visible before you can unlock the templates:

1. Click the Word menu.

2. Click Preferences.

3. In the Authoring and Proofing Tools section, click View.

4. In the Ribbon section, select the Show Developer Tab check box.

5. Click the Developer tab, then Protect Form.


The following information must appear centered (vertically and horizontally) on the copyright page:


© Copyright 1998 by Jennifer Anne Garcia 
All rights reserved.


To be consistent, use your name as it appears in title page, signature page, and abstract.  The format for the copyright page is the same for the master's thesis and the doctoral dissertation. If the copyright has already been registered, insert the registration number after the author's name, the year the copyright was obtained in place of the year the degree was awarded.

The candidate can insert the copyright page regardless of whether they register the copyright or not.

The candidate is responsible for acknowledging each permission to reproduce an external work in accordance with the wishes of those granting permission (this can be done on the acknowledgments page).


NOTE: You should only need to worry about registering your copyright if you foresee a need for litigation for damages.  Otherwise, you have copyright as soon as you fix your work in tangible form.

This page is optional, but, if included, it will always be numbered and is to be double-spaced (even between DEDICATION and the body of text).  No bolding, italics, or quotation marks.  If the length of the dedication is short (less than half a page), center the text vertically on the page.

This page is to thank those who have helped in the process of obtaining the graduate degree. Acknowledgments are optional, except when you have external funding e.g., fellowships, grants, etc.  

Acknowledgments are to be typed double-spaced under the heading ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (centered, all capital letters, no underlining, no italics, no bold).  The text must acknowledge any FIU fellowships.  No bolding, quotation marks, or italics in body of text.  

NOTE: The most common error on this page is the spelling of acknowledgments.  Do not spell acknowledgEments.  For FIU purposes, please spell 'acknowledgments' (without the E before the M).

The words ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION (doctorate) or ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS (master) appear in capital letters at the top margin. Double space everything. The title, candidate's name, year of degree, and name of the major professor must match the spelling used on other preliminary pages and the approval forms.

The title "Professor" precedes the name of the major professor (no matter what the individual's normal title is). The title "Major Professor" follows the name.  If you have Co-Major Professors, both Professors should appear as the following: Professor *** ****, Co-Major Professor. 

The abstract is published without further editing or revisions; therefore, special care must be taken in its preparation.

Master's thesis abstract is not to exceed 150 words.

Doctoral dissertation abstract must not exceed 350 words. 

The table of contents should have a heading of TABLE OF CONTENTS in capital letters, centered at the top margin (1'').  Right below the main heading, the subheadings CHAPTER and PAGE MUST be separated from title (above) and entries (below) by double spacing. The contents should begin with the first chapter title (e.g. Preface, Introduction, Chapter I) and continue until the last chapter of the manuscript is listed.  This applies to the list of references, appendices and vita (where applicable).

Be sure to match the titles in spelling and style (e.g. CHAPTER I on table of contents should match CHAPTER I on page 1).  

Do NOT include preliminary pages in the table of contents.

Do NOT list all the appendices, but include the page number where they start, and make sure that page matches what the table of contents list in terms of spelling and style (e.g. CAPS).

Page numbers must be given for each item listed, and the page numbers must be aligned.

Single space within a chapter, but double space between chapters.

The lists of tables, figures, symbols, abbreviations and acronyms, and plates should have a heading of LIST OF TABLES (FIGURES, etc.) in capital letters, centered at the top margin (1''). You can use the Table of Contents template to format these pages.  

In the lists of tables and figures, the subheadings TABLE (FIGURE) and PAGE should be typed double-space below the main heading. Table and figure titles should be single-spaced with double spacing between entries. Page numbers must be given for each table and figure listed. The titles should be listed word-for-word as they appear in the text. 

Include a list of tables or list of figures only if there are five or more tables or figures in the manuscript.  The list of tables and list of figures should not be combined into one list.

Note: The last page of the table of contents or the lists of tables, figures, symbols, abbreviations and acronyms, and plates (if any) is the last page of the preliminary pages and the last page numbered with Roman numerals. Any other item in a manuscript that has not been specifically listed and discussed above must not be included in the preliminary pages.

  • Do not leave big gaps on the pages.
  • Double space between references and footnotes, BUT single space within each entry.
  • All non-textual insertions must be decipherable and clear even if you have to take up the whole page.  
  • The body starts with page 1.
  • Landscape pages are fine.
  • Make sure the chapter and sub-chapter headings are formatted exactly how they appear on the Table of Contents.
  • Make sure the chapter and sub-chapter headings are found on the same pages that the Table of Contents lists them.
  • Do NOT use more than one font type and size.  This includes headings, titles, etc. Captions may be a smaller font size than the rest of the body text but must still be the same font type.
  • Do NOT leave a widow/orphan. A widow is the last line of a paragraph at the to of a page, appearing by itself; an orphan is the first line of a paragraph or heading at the bottom of a page. 
  • Single-space within figure and table captions.
  • If the manuscript is a collection of works, each work should be treated as a separate chapter.  It's acceptable to have a title page for each work/chapter.
  1. Single space within an entry, & double space between entries for references and footnotes.  
  2. Between REFERENCES (page title) and first entry, there should be no more and no less than a double space.
  3. Do NOT bold the REFERENCES heading.
  4. REFERENCES should be at the 1'' top margin. If each chapter contains its own references section, that section should begin beneath the final line of text in the chapter and not on a separate page.
  5. Footnotes can be as small as a size 10 font, BUT make sure the font type matches the rest of the document.

1) Inserting Images:  It's important to optimize your images so that your ETD file stays a modest file size (<1-10MBs).  Best way is to convert large file formats like TIFF to smaller formats like JPEG.  This isn't an exact rule, but if your Word document is over 50MB, then that's probably too much.  The video below explains how to optimize images.

2) Inserting Charts/Graphs:  Microsoft Excel offers several options for importing graphs or charts into Word.  The only acceptable way to do this is by pasting or importing as a picture.  Do not link the data as this will cause conversion problems when the library attempts to create a robust preservation copy of your work.

3) Inserting Equations:  First, we suggest you use the most current version of Microsoft Word, which all students are entitled to a free copy of.  Second, students should, if possible, use the Microsoft Equation 3.0 tool.  The Equations tool (pi symbol) may be used, but it can cause font problems.  Please watch the video for explanation.

The vita is required for doctoral dissertations ONLY. The vita provides a brief biographical background of the candidate. It is not intended to be a comprehensive resume or curriculum vitae. The heading, VITA (centered, in capital letters, and not underlined), should be typed below the top margin. All vita entries should be listed in strict chronological order, with no subcategories or subheadings. The vita can include place of birth, dates of degrees and names of colleges or universities (exclude the degree for which this dissertation is written), academic or professional employment, publications and presentations.

If the candidate wishes, it may also include military service, honors, awards and distinctions. The vita should not exceed two pages.

If including publications and presentations do not break them into two separate categories. Type a heading PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS as illustrated in the sample page. List all entries in strict alphabetical order by first author's last name. List presentation entries using a standard citation format. If a presentation paper has not been subsequently published and the candidate is uncertain about citation format, a style manual should be consulted for correct formats for unpublished presentation papers.

LaTex Package

Click the link above to download our LaTex template package. This package was developed by a faculty member and provided to UGS.  Overall, it conforms to many of our formatting requirements, but we may still ask you to adjust the format of your unique manuscript.  Hopefully more support comes as we learn more about LaTex.