Formatting for any type of publication can be worrisome. When it comes to a thesis or dissertation, the stakes are high and after putting so much research and effort into the project, it feels like everything has to be exactly perfect. It’s stressful, yes, but you can handle this!
First things first: Don’t try to get everything perfectly aligned and formatted on your first draft. You’re going to rewrite, edit, and likely copy and paste a bunch of things. Trying to keep track of formatting in the middle of that is more headache than you need.
As you work on your first draft, include your headings and subheadings, but leave everything left justified. You want your formatting and headings to be a guidepost as you’re writing so putting them in is important. At this point, you can use bold or italic fonts as applicable, but you can also leave that until the end.
After you’ve edited and gotten feedback on your chapters, you can go through and check your formatting to make sure you put everything in order. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Follow your department or school thesis/dissertation style guide
- Follow your chosen format style guide
- If there are discrepancies between the formal style guide and the department style guide, ask your professor for guidance.
- Double check your table and image captions to ensure you’ve written captions in a uniform manner.
- Format your table of contents so that the page numbers match the final draft of your thesis/dissertation.
- Change your page view to ‘multiple pages’ or ‘read mode’ to look for any headings that might be incorrect. This change from the way you’ve been staring at the pages for weeks can be enough to make inconsistencies stand out that you wouldn’t catch in normal writing or edit view.
Don’t stress out about getting things perfect on the first pass. You’ll have time to work on second and third drafts after you get get critiques from professors and peers. You can finalize formatting once your editing and proofreading are complete.
Still having trouble with your formatting? I can help! Email me to discuss your project and needs.