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Format your thesis

You must present your thesis according to the regulations set out here.

Requirements for the presentation of theses

The following outlines the rules for formatting your thesis. Further general guidance can be found below.

These requirements refer primarily to printed copies of theses submitted for examination or deposited after the examination. Electronic copies submitted for examination or deposited after the examination shall be identical in presentation to the printed copies submitted or deposited.

Formatting

  • Word count: As prescribed by your Board of Studies (ask your department for details)
  • Paper size: The text and, wherever possible, all the material of the thesis, including illustrations, should be produced on A4-size (297mm x 210mm) paper. If in exceptional circumstances, arising out of the content, another format is required for the whole thesis, the author should seek permission to use a non-A4-size format from the Standing Committee on Assessment via Research Student Administration (research-student-admin@york.ac.uk). 
  • Font size: For ease of reading, the size of character used in the main text should be no less than 11pt.
  • Typographic design: Text, in general, should be black and should not be embellished i.e. no general use of coloured text or fancy fonts; no section separators, etc.

Title page

The title page of every volume shall give the following information in the order listed, and on separate lines:

  • the full title of the thesis and any subtitle
  • the total number of volumes, if more than one, and the number of the particular volume
  • the full name of the author, followed, if desired, by any qualifications and distinctions
  • the qualification for which the thesis is submitted (e.g., PhD or MA by Research, etc)
  • the name of the University
  • the name of the Department or Centre in which the research was conducted
    (see section six of the Guidance on the presentation and submission of theses for research degree programmes.)
  • the month and year the thesis was first submitted for examination.

Abstract

The abstract shall follow the title page. It shall provide a synopsis of the thesis, stating the nature and scope of work undertaken and the contribution made to knowledge in the subject treated. It shall appear on its own on a single page and shall not exceed 300 words in length. The abstract of the thesis may, after the award of the degree, be published by the University in any manner approved by the Senate, and for this purpose, the copyright of the abstract shall be deemed to be vested in the University.

Author's declaration

When submitting the thesis, the author shall draw attention to any material contained in it that has been presented before including the full references for any papers published or under review. It should confirm that the work in the thesis is your own, and has not been submitted for examination at this or any other institution for another award. If you have included any published work within your thesis, this needs to be indicated in this section, with full references, as does any collaborative work that you may have undertaken with the names of your colleagues. The minimum required is as follows:

I declare that this thesis is a presentation of original work and I am the sole author. This work has not previously been presented for an award at this, or any other, University. All sources are acknowledged as References.

Binding

In all cases, the thesis should be bound in such a way that it can be opened fully, for ease of reading, and the thickness of a single volume (excluding covers) should not be more than 70mm.

  • Copy for examination:
    • All candidates: Softbound
  • Final copy for deposit:
    • All candidates: Hardbound or softbound, plus an electronic submission.
    • MPhil, PhD and EngD students who began their programme before October 2009 may choose to submit two hardbound copies instead of a physical copy + electronic submission.
  • Not spiralbound unless a musical score
  • Thickness: < 70mm per volume (excluding covers)
  • Softbound cover:
    • a copy of the title page, or
    • clear plastic so the title page is visible
  • Hardbound cover:
    • The title of the thesis (in an abbreviated form, if necessary)
    • the author's name
    • the name of qualification for which the thesis is submitted (e.g., PhD, or MA)
    • the year of submission
  • Hardbound spine
    printed along the spine in such a way as to be readable when the volume is lying flat with the front cover uppermost:
    • the author's name
    • the name of qualification for which the thesis is submitted (e.g., PhD, or MA)
    • the name of the department or programme
    • the year of submission

Further information about binding can be found under the 'Binding' tab below.

Digital copy

  • Format: CD or USB
  • File format: PDF or format acceptable to the University and appropriate to the medium
  • Label: The label should detail:
    • the title of the thesis (in abbreviated form, if necessary)
    • the volume number (where applicable)
    • the author’s name
    • the name of the qualification for which the thesis is submitted (e.g., PhD or MA)
    • the year of submission

Recommendations for the presentation of theses

In addition to the requirements above, it is recommended that you prepare your thesis using the guidelines set out below.

Sequence of material

Sequence of material

Not all material may be required but starred* items must appear in every thesis.

  1. Title and subtitle* (see above)
  2. Abstract* (see above)
  3. List of contents*: The List of Contents should reference the starting page number for ALL the relevant sections in your thesis. The sections to include, where present, are listed below:

    1. Abstract
    2. List of Contents
    3. List of Tables (if any)
    4. List of Figures (if any)
    5. List of Illustrations (if any)
    6. List of Accompanying Material (if any)
    7. Preface (if any)
    8. Acknowledgements (if any)
    9. Declaration
    10. all relevant sub-divisions of the thesis, including the titles of chapters, sections and subsections;
    11. Appendices (if any)
    12. Abbreviations and / or  Glossary (if any)
    13. Bibliography and / or References
    14. Index (if any)

      If a thesis consists of more than one volume, the contents of the whole thesis should be shown in the first volume and the contents of subsequent volumes in a separate contents list in the following volumes.
      Please note that the title page of the thesis should be page 1, but the numbering is hidden. The abstract should be page 2 and so on sequentially throughout the thesis. For theses comprising more than one volume, the numbering should be continuous across all volumes (again, the title page of the second volume should be counted but hidden).
  4. List of tables, list of figures, list of illustrations, etc
  5. List of accompanying material: E.g. data sets on spreadsheets which cannot be bound within the thesis itself and which will be presented on a separate CD to accompany the work.
  6. Preface: An introduction to the thesis as a whole - not to be confused with Chapter 1.
  7. Acknowledgements: You may wish to acknowledge the help and support of colleagues, friends and family. This should not be confused with your author’s declaration.
  8. Author's declaration* (see above)
  9. Text*: This is the main body of your thesis, divided into chapters, sections, etc.
  10. Appendices: Appendices may consist of material of considerable length or of lists, documents, commentaries, tables or other evidence that, if included in the main text, would interrupt its flow. The presentation of appendices, including character size, should be consistent with the style of the main text.
  11. Glossary and/or Abbreviations: Terms that require explanation should be defined in a glossary, which should include a key to any abbreviations used. For an abbreviation not in common use, the term shall be given in full at the first instance followed by the abbreviation in brackets.
  12. References and/or Bibliography: A bibliography is a list of all of the sources you have used (whether referenced or not) in the process of researching your work. A References list only comprises references to those items actually cited in the paper. You may include both combined in one, or address them separately.
  13. Index: If an index has been produced, insert it as the final section of your thesis.

Formatting

Formatting

All copies shall be legible and of good print quality.

Production of text

Text may be produced (i) single sided on the front of pages; (ii) mostly single sided, but occasionally printed on the back (e.g. to allow a diagram to face related text); or (iii) on both sides of the paper, providing the paper is opaque enough to avoid show-through.

Typographic design

Text should be set with even or proportionate spacing between words. Word division at the ends of lines should be avoided, if possible.

It is recommended that one-and-a-half line spacing or equivalent is used. Lines that contain mathematical formulae, diacritical marks or strings of capital letters may need additional space. It should be clear when a new paragraph is starting and where matter in the text is being quoted.

Text, in general, should be black and should not be embellished i.e. no general use of coloured text or fancy fonts; no section separators, etc.

Margins

It is recommended that, in order to allow for binding, reading, and reproduction, the margin on the binding edge of the page, i.e. the left-hand edge of the front and the right-hand edge of the back of a page, is not less than 40mm, and that other margins are not less than 15mm. The character size and line length should also be taken into account when deciding margin width. Any running heads and page numbers should be within the recommended margins at the top and bottom of the page, and preferably no nearer the edge of the paper than half the margin width. It is recommended that margins around all illustrations and off-prints are no smaller than those of the text, if they are bound into the thesis.

Page Headers

Page headers may be used but, for ease of reading, it is recommended that the font used is smaller than the main body of the text and that no underline is used. Headers should not include personal information, such as your name or student number.

Headings

Headings should be used to indicate the hierarchical structure of the text. There should normally be not more than four levels, including the chapter headings as the first level. It is recommended that each level is distinguished from the others by position or typography, or both, and that the space that precedes and follows a heading is not less than the space between paragraphs. Headings should not normally be centred (except, possibly, for chapter and part headings).

Numbering

Arabic numerals should normally be used for numbering all sequences within a thesis.

For ease of reading, it is recommended that page numbers are visibly clear of the text. The pages of the thesis should be numbered in a single sequence beginning with the title page, which should be counted but not numbered, and including pages that carry tables, illustrations, appendices, etc. The use of blank pages should be avoided, if possible. 

Chapters should be numbered from the start to the finish of the thesis, continuing across volumes if necessary. Appendices should be numbered in a separate sequence from that used for chapters.

Illustrations should be numbered consecutively in a single sequence, generally without distinguishing between different kinds of illustration. Tables or Figures within the text should be numbered consecutively in a single sequence, each separate from illustrations.

The components of material that cannot be bound, e.g. frames of a film, should be numbered in a manner appropriate to their form, e.g. 'microfiche frame D7'.

Illustrations

An illustration should normally appear near the first reference made to it in the text. The desirability of grouping illustrations at the back of a volume or in a separate volume should be considered if they need to be compared with one another, are referred to frequently in the text, or need to be separate because of their nature, e.g. their size or method of production.

Illustrations should be of a technical quality that reproduces well.

Every illustration, including appendices and material that cannot be bound, should be included in the list of illustrations with page numbers or other identification.

It is recommended that any label within an illustration is positioned so that the part it applies to cannot be confused with any other, or linked to the part by a thin line; the lettering should be large and clear enough to remain legible when the illustration is photographed and subsequently copied. A short legend should appear beneath each illustration.

Photographic prints; large illustrations

It is recommended that photographic prints, if bound with the text, are printed on medium-weight photographic paper (e.g. paper of a thickness equivalent to that of uncoated paper of substance within the range 70 g/m2 to 100 g/m2) or permanently mounted on A4-size card or substantial paper.

If it is necessary to bind in an illustration on a paper size larger than A4, it should be produced on paper that can be folded to fit within the thesis; illustrations should not be pasted across both pages of an open volume.

Bibliographical references

A bibliographical reference should be given for every work, published or unpublished, cited in the text. Please refer to the Academic Integrity guidelines issued by your department for referencing guidance and expectations.

The bibliography, if present, should list all sources referred to or consulted in writing the thesis, but not necessarily all material relevant to it. A consistent form of presentation should be used for all bibliographical references throughout the thesis.

Binding

Binding

In all cases, the thesis should be bound in such a way that it can be opened fully, for ease of reading, and the thickness of a single volume (excluding covers) should not be more than 70mm.

Softbound theses

The thesis should be securely bound either between card covers (the front cover to be a copy of the title page) or between clear plastic covers. The spine should be taped, and not spiral bound.

Hardbound theses

The thesis should be bound in cloth covered boards, the binding being of a fixed kind in which leaves are permanently secured.

Lettering on the cover and spine of the thesis should be large enough to be legible when the volume is on a library shelf. Normally, lettering of 8mm capital height will be required if the lettering is all in capitals and 10mm capital height if capitals and lower case are used.

The front cover should bear the title of the thesis (in an abbreviated form, if necessary), the author's name, the name of qualification for which the thesis is submitted (e.g., PhD, or MA), and the year of submission.

The spine of the thesis should bear the author's name, the name of qualification for which the thesis is submitted (e.g., PhD, or MA), the name of the department or programme and the year of submission. This information should be printed along the spine in such a way as to be readable when the volume is lying flat with the front cover uppermost.

If the thesis consists of more than one volume the front cover and the spine must also bear the number of each volume.

Material that cannot be bound

Material that cannot be bound

It may be that the thesis includes material that cannot conveniently be bound near the related text in it, e.g. cassettes, slides, large maps or architectural drawings, large music scores, microform, computer discs or computer printout.

Unbound material causes difficulties in binding and reproduction and is at risk of being lost. Its use should therefore be avoided, if at all possible. If, however, its use is inescapable, it should either: be packaged in such a way that it can be bound with the thesis, e.g. stored in a pocket attached to the inside back cover of the appropriate volume; or be gathered into another volume and stored in a rigid container of the same size and colour as that of the bound thesis. If the material which cannot conveniently be submitted in bound form constitutes the whole of the thesis, it should be packaged in a rigid container. In every case, the rigid container shall either bear on its front cover the information required for a title page (if softbound) or be constructed of cloth covered boards and lettered on the cover and spine (if hardbound), in accordance with the requirements guidance on the presentation and submission of theses for research degree programmes.