Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Thesis and Dissertation Manual

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Preparation of the Manuscript

The final manuscript must be a flawless document of professional quality.


Departments often prescribe a particular style of writing that is appropriate for the discipline. If the department does not specify a particular style, the student may consult one of the following sources for guidelines:

  • A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Seventh Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing), 7th ed., by Kate L. Turabian, Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, 2007.  Isbn 978-0226823379.
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed., New York, Modern Language Association of America, 2009.  Isbn 978-1603290241.
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed., American Psychological Association Press, 2009. Isbn 978-1433805615.

The above style guides determine such matters as acceptable reference sources and their mode of citation, acceptable abbreviations and their use, use of italics and boldface type, and use of font attributes in figure captions and table titles. The Graduate School’s determines such matters as page margins, line spacing and indention, page numbering, and the required parts of the document. The following table gives a partial list of items determined by the style guide.

Item in text Question for style guide
Abbreviations Can abbreviations be used for elements, chemicals, or procedures without spelling out the term first? Is there a list of standard abbreviations (for the discipline) that are not spelled out?  Are abbreviations (as either upper or lower case) allowed at the beginning of a sentence?
Figures How are the title and caption capitalized and indented?  Is italic or boldface type used?  How are figures referred to in the text?  If “Fig.#” is used in parentheses, is “Figure” spelled out in the text? What about at the beginning of a sentence?
Font faces Are any particular elements, such as gene names, Latin words, or letters used as variables, always represented in italic, underlined, or boldface type?
Hyphenation Are common prefixes such as pre-, post-, anti-, multi-, and non- hyphenated when they precede a word? When they precede a numeral? What about doubled vowels, as in reentry or re-entry? Are combined numeral-and-measurement modifiers hyphenated when they precede a noun (e.g. a 2-h incubation, a five-minute rest period)?
Mathematical and statistical text How are equations numbered?  If an equation falls at the end of a sentence, is it followed by a period or other end punctuation?  Are commas used after equations when grammatically appropriate?  How are equations referred to in the text (e.g., Eq. 2, Equation 2, equation2, Eq.(2))?  Are spaces used around operation symbols (e.g., x=y or x = y)? Around other symbol-and-numeral combinations?  Is italic or boldface type used for certain elements, such as Latin letters used as variables? What about capitalization?
Numbers and numerals When is it correct to spell out numbers and when should numerals be used?  Are particular elements (e.g., measurements of time) always expressed in numerals?  Can a numeral be used to begin a sentence?  Is a comma used with four-placeholder numerals (e.g., 4000 or 4,000)?
References Is the list ordered by numbers, alphabet, or both?  Are unpublished references allowed?  In multiple citations, how are the individual entries ordered in the text? In the reference list?  What is included in each entry? What order does it come in? How is it punctuated?  Is it appropriate to use “et al.” in the text? In the reference list?  Are journal titles abbreviated in the list?
Tables How is the title capitalized? Is italic or boldface type used?  How are notes formatted?  How are tables referred to in the text?  Are decimal points aligned in the columns?


Format Requirements and Guidelines

The following formatting requirements are imposed by the Graduate School to be consistent with guidelines for publishing electronic theses and dissertations through ProQuest/UMI.  The following formatting requirements supersede any formatting guides described in the above style guides.


Most 12-point non-italicized, serif fonts are acceptable for text and 10-point font for footnotes and subscripts. Fonts less than 10-point are not recommended even for superscripts and subscripts. Generally, “Times New Roman” font in 12-point is an appropriate choice.  There must be a consistent font used throughout the manuscript.

Spacing:  All standard manuscript copy must be double-spaced. Use a 0.5 inch standard indention for the first line of all paragraphs. Text within a chapter must be continuous.  Add extra space following a section or subsection title, but add no more than one extra line of space between paragraphs. (See also the paragraph below about the placement of figures and tables and the spacing around these elements.)

Single spacing may be used for long tables, block quotations, subheadings and chapter titles, figure legends, footnotes or notes, appendix material, and all bibliographic entries.


Top, right, and bottom margins must be 1 inch. For an electronic thesis or dissertation, the left margin should also be 1 inch for all pages beyond the Preliminary Pages.  The Preliminary Pages should have a 2” top margin.

The first page of each chapter, including the first chapter, should have a 2” top margin. All other text pages, including those with figures or legends, should have a 1” top margin.

Page Numbers

Page numbers must be centered and should be between 0.5 to 0.75” from the bottom of the page.


Every page in the manuscript must be numbered except for two: the title page and the copyright page (which does not count as a page). The title page is counted as Roman numeral page “i.” However, for reasons of appearance, the title page must not show this numeral.  Due to this consideration, the first page number to appear on the manuscript will be the lower case Roman numeral ‘ii’ on the first page of the Abstract.

LOWER CASE ROMAN NUMERALS (ii, iii, iv, v) must be used to number the preliminary pages.

ARABIC NUMBERS (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) must be used to number the text through the References. The first page of text must be numbered “1.” The remaining pages will be numbered sequentially using Arabic numbers.

Page Breaks

Start a new chapter or major section on a fresh page.  Do not divide words at the bottom of a page and carry them over to the next page.  A sentence ending a paragraph should not end as a partial line at the top of the next page.

Running Heads

Do not use running heads.


The formatting requirements detailed in this manual must be met throughout the entire manuscript.  ANY material included in the thesis or dissertation must fit within the required margins, pagination scheme, font size and style, etc. The thesis or dissertation must be a document of professional quality, one that is consistent in style and format.

Placement of Tables and Figures

Tables and figures can add significantly to the presentation of scholarship.  In deciding upon the organization or design of a table or figure, consider how these are presented in other scholarly publications in the discipline.

Tables and figures should be numbered consecutively and should appear near their first mention but not necessarily directly after it. When short tables or figures are included on the same page as text, leave at least one single-spaced blank line before and after the figure or table. Do not include a table on the same page as text unless the table is short enough to be complete on that page.

Figures should have a title and may also have a caption.  The title is a brief description of the figure, which is included in the List of Figures (if there are five or more figures in the document).  A caption is additional text that describes the information in the figure.  The title and caption may both be placed below the figure, or the title may be placed above the figure (typically centered), with the caption placed below.  Check the style used in your discipline.  An example of a Figure title (“Comparison of…”) and caption (“Data are shown…”) is as follows:

Figure 3.  Comparison of Ten-Year Trends of First Year Retention Rates.  Data are shown for the period 1999-2009 for the freshmen retention rates at the University of Mississippi (○), Mississippi State University (□), and the University of Southern Mississippi (■).

A figure legend and caption should be single-spaced.  Any text or numbers within a figure can be in any type font and size, provided the print is readable.  The font and point size used for the title and caption should be consistent with the rest of the document.  Figures must be within the margins of the document.

Tables should have a title placed at the top (usually centered).  Any additional “legend” information is usually entered at the bottom of the table.  This may be done as one or more footnotes to the table.  The font and point size used for the title and legend should be consistent with the rest of the document.  All text and figures in the body of a table should be readable. It is preferable to use the same font for text in a table as used in the rest of the document.  Tables must be within the margins of the document.

Large figures and tables can be displayed as landscape on a separate page(s).

If a figure or table is placed in the Appendix, this should be indicated in the body of the document (e.g., Table 3, Appendix).  If all figures or tables are placed in the Appendix, this fact should be stated in a footnote in the body of the text at the first mention of a table or appendix item.

Word Processing Templates and Examples

The Graduate School has created templates to aid in the correct formatting of theses and dissertations. For best results, these template documents should be used while composing and editing a thesis or dissertation. Because word processing programs often copy the original formatting with the text, “cutting” and “pasting” from an another document into one of these templates may change the formatting that is required for all theses and dissertations presented for final approval at The University of Mississippi.
These templates are provided only as helpful tools. Use of these templates does not guarantee that a dissertation or thesis has been formatted correctly. Because of the variations among software features and components, formatting and appearance in these templates may vary for individual users. To ensure that your thesis or dissertation manuscript meets the requirements outlined in this Manual, you should double-check your manuscript to make sure that all margins, page numbers, and other elements are properly formatted, aligned, and arranged.

Following the format of someone else’s previously submitted thesis or dissertation can lead to problems, if the previous document was prepared using an earlier set of formatting guidelines.  The guidelines were changed significantly in 2011, with the advent of the ETD submission process, making it important that you use the most recent formatting guidelines.

The templates can be found on the Graduate School Thesis Dissertation Prep page.

Also at the above link you will find the following file, which shows the formatting details of the Preliminary Pages.

For technical assistance with these templates and other word processing questions, consult the IT Helpdesk at (662) 915-5222 or go to their website at



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