Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Thesis and Dissertation Manual

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Parts of a Thesis or Dissertation

The following is the standard order of components of either an electronic thesis or electronic dissertation.  The components will be explained below.

 Preliminary Pages (see Example Preliminary Pages.pdf)
    • Title page (required; do not number this page)
    • Copyright page (required; DO NOT number this page)
    • Abstract (required; number this page ii) – must not exceed 350 words
    • Dedication page (optional)
    • List of abbreviations or symbols (required when symbols are not self-explanatory)
    • Acknowledgments (optional)
    • Table of contents (required; number this page, but do not list among the contents)
    • List of tables (required when tables are used)
    • List of figures or illustrations (required when figures are used)
Body of Manuscript
Supplemental Files (audio or video files that accompany the text/pdf file)

Preliminary Pages

Title Page

The title of the thesis or dissertation (in all caps) should be as brief and concise as possible and should be used consistently in every respect. Word substitutes should be used for Greek letters and symbols that appear in the title. Abbreviated terms should be spelled out.  Phrases such as “AN EXAMINATION OF …” or “A STUDY OF …” should be avoided.

The official designation of the degree (i.e. Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Business Administration, etc.) must be used on the title page. The department or program should be added following the name of the degree. The name on the title page must match exactly the name under which the student is registered at The University of Mississippi. The date used on the title page must be the month (August, December, or May) and year of confirmation at which the degree will be awarded.  Note that this date is not necessarily the month of completion of the final exam and document.

This page is assigned Roman numeral ‘i,’ although the number does not appear on the page.

Copyright Page

This page is a simple declaration that the student author claims copyright of the document.  This page is included whether or not the student pays the additional fee to register copyright through ProQuest/UMI. Note that there is a fee to register copyright.  This page is not numbered.


Every thesis or dissertation must include an abstract.  A typical abstract includes a short statement of the project, a brief exposition of the methods and procedures used in gathering data, a condensed summary of the findings, and conclusions reached in the study. The abstract must not exceed 350 words (about 35 lines or 2,450 total characters counting spaces and punctuation).  The 350 word limit is an absolute requirement when you submit your electronic file to ProQuest/UMI.  You will include the Abstract as part of the document AND you will enter the abstract into a text box when submitting the document online.  For this reason, you need to have the Abstract readily available (for cutting and pasting) when you upload your electronic file to ProQuest/UMI. The first page of the Abstract is numbered “ii.”

Dedication Page

This is an optional page.  If included, the dedication page should be brief. It must be centered, left to right, and top to bottom, on the page, and must be numbered “iii” (or “iv”, depending on the number of pages in the Abstract).

List of Abbreviations or Symbols

If you use abbreviations or symbols that typically require definition, you should also define these abbreviations or symbols on this preliminary page.  The format of this list should conform to the appropriate documentation style.  This page should be numbered “iv” (or sequentially from the previous page).


This page is optional. Acknowledgements, if included, must be written in complete sentences. Avoid direct and informal address (e.g., Thanks Doc!).  On this page a student might thank those who have helped in the process of obtaining the graduate degree. Permissions to quote copyrighted material are also listed here, as well as any acknowledgements for grants or special funding.  This page should be numbered “v” (or sequentially from the previous page).

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents may vary in style and amount of information included.  The preliminary pages (any of the pages that have been assigned Roman numerals) are included in the Table of Contents, except that the Table of Contents itself is not listed. The preliminary pages are then followed by the text of the thesis or dissertation, the first page of which is given Arabic number “1.” Chapter or section titles should be listed in the Table of Contents exactly as they appear in the text. A page number should be supplied for each item listed. Page numbers given for the References/Bibliography and Appendix should be those assigned to the separation sheet preceding each of those items.

The Table of Contents must include chapter or section titles, the Bibliography or List of
References, and any Appendices. Generally, it is not necessary to include subheadings in the Table of Contents. However, if they must be listed, a logical system of indentation should be followed. Consistency must be preserved. If a particular level is included at any point in the Table of Contents, all headings of that level must be included. Each page of the Table of Contents is numbered by a Roman numeral, sequentially from the previous page.

List of Tables

Include a List of Tables if there are five or more tables.  Any tables appearing in the Appendix must be included in this list. The title of each table should be unique, and all titles must be entered in the list exactly as they appear in the manuscript. A page number should be supplied for each table listed. Each page of the List of Tables is numbered sequentially by a Roman numeral.

List of Figures or Illustrations

Include a List of Figures or List of Illustrations if there are five or more figures or illustrations.  Any figures appearing in the Appendix must be included in this list. The title of each figure should be unique, and all titles must be entered in the list exactly as they appear in the manuscript. A page number should be supplied for each figure listed. Each page of the List of Figures is numbered sequentially by a Roman numeral.

Body of the Manuscript

The body of the thesis or dissertation is usually organized into chapters, with the chapter title  (in all caps) numbered with either Roman numerals or Arabic numbers (e.g., II. EXPERIMENTAL METHODS). Each chapter may then be subdivided into sections, which are again organized by a combination of Roman numerals, Arabic numbers, and letters.

The first page of the body of the thesis or dissertation is assigned page number “1.”  If the document is divided into separate parts (see Multi-Part Dissertations), you may either continue to number the pages sequentially or you may renumber beginning with the second part (e.g., pages A-1, A-2, A-3, etc., in part “A,” and pages B-1, B-2, B-3 etc., for part B).  You will eventually have to convert your document into a single pdf file. This will be easier if you use continuous page numbering.

All matters related for formatting and style, placement of tables and figures, etc., are addressed in the next section, Preparation of the Manuscript.


The Graduate School does not require a specific citation style. However, usage must be consistent for all entries. The style used for notes, references, and bibliography should be the preferred style of the discipline in which the student is engaged. For instance, MLA is the preferred guide for candidates in the English Department. If in doubt, the student should consult his or her committee.

Whatever style is used, the Bibliography or List of References must be preceded in the manuscript by a numbered page with the title – Bibliography or List of References —centered vertically and horizontally. The Bibliography or List of References is a vital part of every thesis or dissertation. Care should be taken to properly document every source. Failure to document references in a consistent and acceptable style necessitates that the manuscript be returned to you for modification by the Supervisor of Graduate Records.


The Appendix may include materials that are inappropriate for inclusions in the body of the main text, but that still can be converted to a pdf format. Some students choose to place large tables and figures into the Appendix to avoid interrupting the main text.

If an Appendix is included, it should be preceded by a numbered page with the designation – Appendix or List of Appendices — centered vertically and horizontally between the margins.

All Appendix material must conform to the margin and font requirements, to the extent possible, used the rest of the manuscript.


Each degree candidate must include a vita as a component of his or her thesis or dissertation.  The Vita is the last item in the manuscript and appears with no preceding separation page. The heading, VITA, should be centered, typed in full capitals, and should not be underlined. All vita entries should be listed chronologically. The vita includes the dates of degrees and names of colleges or universities (exclude the degree for which the dissertation is written), academic or relevant professional employment, and may, at the student’s discretion, include military service, honors, awards and distinctions.  For your protection, do notinclude your social security number, mailing address, or other such personal information.

Supplemental Files

Supplemental files refer to audio and video files that you wish to submit to ProQuest/UMI as part of your electronic thesis or dissertation.  You should avoid including links to web sites, since there is no guarantee that these links will be maintained.


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