A consistent appearance is important; all pages in your dissertation should follow a similar format for page numbering, margins, and line spacing.

On this page you'll find sample pages, global formatting, and specific instructions for each section: front matter, body matter, and back matter.

Sample Pages

The following examples illustrate layout and formatting of title, abstract, and body pages.

Doctoral Dissertation Sample Pages Master's Thesis Sample Pages


  • Where a title of Professor is shown, that is how the advisor’s title should be included. Where no title or degree appears in the examples, no title or degree should be used.
  • The spacing shown between lines on the sample page is preferred for ease of reading. As much as possible, follow the spacing horizontally and vertically.

Signature Page

To prevent the release of digital signatures, do not include a scanned copy of the signature page in your submitted manuscript. It is only for your personal or departmental use.

Global Page Settings

Page Numbering
Except for the title page and abstract, number all pages in your dissertation.
  • Page numbers appear in page headers. Consult the help files for your software on how to set up "Page Headers."
  • Front matter:  Number the pages with small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.) at the upper right of the page. However, the page number for the Title Page (i) and the pages of the Abstract (ii...) should not appear on the page(s). See other front matter sections below.
  • Body and back matter: Number all pages with arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) in the upper right.
  • The page number should be no less than one (1) inch down from the top of the page and one (1) inch from the right side.
  • For landscape-oriented tables, the bottom of the table should be on the outside (right) edge of the page. The page number must still be in the upper right corner of the page and face the same way as the other page numbers.
Running Heads
Don’t use running heads.
All margins should be 1 inch wide except the left margin which should be 1.5 inches. This applies to all material including the abstract, headers, footnotes/endnotes and images. If plates or tables are included, use the same margins as the text.
Left justify only, leaving a ragged edge at the right margin. Don’t full justify.
Line Spacing
Body text should be double-spaced. Footnotes/endnotes, bibliographic entries, lists in appendices may be single-spaced.
For optimal readability:
  • Size: Use a 12-point font size for normal body text, but make certain your font size is no less than 10 point.
  • Typeface: Times-Roman fonts are preferred but a block-style font is acceptable. Embedded fonts are required.
  • Style: Don’t use italics, script, or ornamental fonts for the body text. You may use italics for non-English words and quotations.

Front Matter

The front matter section of the dissertation includes everything from your title page through the list of multimedia objects. These components are listed below in the order they must appear in your dissertation.

  1. Title Page
    The following are required elements of the title page.
    This is the full title of your dissertation.
    You alone are the author of your dissertation.
    The official name of your University is "University of Nebraska". Don’t add “–Lincoln” after it.
    Like "Doctor of Philosophy" or "Master of Arts". See list of majors and degrees for official name.
    See list of majors and degrees for official name, or consult Graduate Studies if you are uncertain about the name of your major. Doctoral students who have an official specialization may list it also.
    Advisor/Chair name(s)
    The name(s) of the faculty member(s) who supervised your program and this thesis or dissertation. Their title for this page is Professor--no “Dr.” and no rank (Associate, Assistant, etc.). If you have co-advisors, use "Professors" instead of repeating "Professor" for each.
    City, State
    This should always read "Lincoln, Nebraska". Don’t abbreviate Nebraska.
    Date of defense or graduation date
    Put the date you defended or the date of your graduation (e.g., "October, 1996.") Be sure to put the comma between the month and the date. No specific day is required.
  2. Abstract
    Each thesis or dissertation must be accompanied by an abstract that has been approved by the student's committee. Abstracts will be part of the bibliographic record in the library's online catalog. Abstracts must be double-spaced and limited to 350 words in the text. The abstract is placed immediately after the title page and its pages are not numbered. Additionally, abstracts for dissertations will be published in Dissertation Abstracts.
  3. Copyright Notice (optional)
    In any work, copyright implicitly devolves to the author of that work. One may make this statement of ownership explicit, however, by including a copyright notice, such as "Copyright 1998, John J. Smith." Additionally, you may pay to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office through UMI.
  4. Dedication (optional)
    You may include a dedication.
  5. Author's Acknowledgments (optional)
    You may acknowledge those that assisted you in your work here.
  6. Grant Information (optional)
    You may acknowledge any granting institution or organization here.
  7. Table Of Contents
    Include the chapter and section numbers and title along with the page on which each chapter or section begins.
  8. Lists Of Multimedia Objects
    For each multimedia type (table, graph, diagram, equation, etc.) list the number and title of the object and the page on which it occurs.

Body Matter

At the beginning of each chapter, place the word "CHAPTER," the chapter number, and the chapter title in uppercase.
Use the usual paragraph formatting. Indent block quotes on the left and right.
You may use footnotes and/or end notes.
  • Lengthy footnotes are probably better formatted as end notes.
  • Footnotes in the main body of the text should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals, starting with 1.
  • Footnotes should be single-spaced and placed at the bottom of the page to which they apply unless special instructions are given by your department.
Multimedia Objects
Multimedia object types include tables, complex equations, graphs, diagrams, digital pictures, digital video, digital audio, virtual reality, and even computer software that you have developed.
  • Simple Objects: Most simple objects like tables, graphs, and diagrams can be embedded in your dissertation using your word processor.
    • Put the object at the point of reference or "float" it to the top or bottom of the page, or to the top of the next page.
    • Center the object between the left and right margins of the page.
    • Directly below the object for figures and above for tables, center the type and number according to its position in the chapter (e.g., in Chapter 5 we may have Table 5.1, Table 5.2, and Figures 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3).
    • Give the object a concise, descriptive title.
  • Complex Objects: More complex multimedia objects require special treatment. They either do not fit naturally on a page or the file size is too large to fit reasonably within a document.
    • Place the type and number of the object along with its concise, descriptive title, centered on a line by itself. In parentheses, include the media encoding (e.g., JPEG) and file size (e.g., 1.5 megabytes).
    • Connect each object title to a separate file containing the object. Many complex multimedia object types have a simple object version (often called "thumbnail") that is a reduction of the picture or one frame of video. If possible, include this reduction in the main document along with a PDF link to the complex object. Submit the object file(s) along with your dissertation.

Back Matter

The back matter contains the references (bibliography) and appendices.

Consult your department or discipline-specific guidelines for the standard citation format.
  • Content: You may include the source code or output of computer programs as an enumerated appendix. Place figure references with PDF links to multimedia objects here also.
  • Format: As on the first page of each chapter, place the word "APPENDIX," the appendix letter or letters, and the appendix title in upper case at the beginning of each appendix. Appendices are enumerated alphabetically from A to Z, then AA, AB, and so on to ZZ, then AAA, AAB, etc.