Dissertation & Thesis Formatting

The CGL is available to assist graduate students in the formatting of their dissertation or thesis.  Below are some basic tips to get you started:

Manual of Formatting Requirements for Dissertations and Thesis 2015
Designed to assist graduate students, major professors and other members of the graduate advisory committees in understanding the formatting requirements for theses and dissertations at UNC Charlotte. 

Submission Procedures
An aid in understanding the procedures to follow when submitting your dissertation and/or thesis.

Sample Pages
Examples of dissertation and thesis pages, including:


Tips to Formatting a Dissertation and Thesis

  • Become familiar with the Dissertation and Thesis Formatting Manual (above). It is strongly suggested that you print a copy of this manual for ready reference.
  • Make an appointment with Ms. Anita Smith in the Graduate School to perform an initial review of your dissertation or thesis before your defense.  A post-defense review of your dissertation/thesis is necessary after you have defended and completed the final draft.  Bring a printed copy of your document to the review appointment. Appointment times are available Monday through Thursday. To make an appointment, email Ms. Anita Smith at afsmith@uncc.edu.
  • After all necessary revisions are complete, convert the final version of the dissertation or thesis to ".pdf" format in preparation for electronic submission. The name of the .pdf file should be in this format “lastname-firstname-year-degree.pdf”—e.g., doe-john-2007-phd.pdf, all lowercase.

After converting your file to the ".pdf" format, be sure to check it for the following:

  • Did you name the main file in the proper format? (lastname-firstname-year-degree.pdf—e.g., doe-john-2007-phd.pdf).
  • Is the ETD file name in lower case letters?
  • Check that the ETD has the proper pagination format: title/signature page (no page number), copyright page, abstract page and other preliminary pages (lower case Roman numeral); main body (Arabic page numbers, beginning with 1 and numbered consecutively to the end, including any appendices - note: the first page of each chapter is counted but not numbered).
  • Are all margins, spacing, page number locations, etc. as required by the Manual of Formatting Requirements for Thesis and Dissertations?
  • Does the Table of Contents match the actual text in the main body, and do the page numbers match?
  • Have you checked for missing pages, poor font translation, and other anomalies?
  • Make corrections to the ETD, if needed, and re-save the corrected version under the same file name.

ETD Preparation

At UNC Charlotte, doctoral and master students are allowed to submit an Adobe Acrobat PDF version of their dissertation for Graduate School approval. Links to specific Graduate School requirements for the physical formatting of ETDs are shown below. There are also links to the ETD websites of several other groups and universities that contain many hints and specific instructions for the preparation of ETDs. We urge you to review this information carefully.

It is the student’s fundamental responsibility to –

  • Prepare and submit an Electronic Dissertation or Thesis (ETD) that meets the Graduate School’s format requirements;
  • Test that the printed pdf version will be clear and legible, including any figures or images; and
  • Properly embed fonts.

Some requirements for all ETDs:

  • Compression or password protection must not be used.
  • Fonts: All fonts used should be embedded in the document. If they are not, your work may not display properly when accessed and the text may not be fully searchable.
  • Links in Document: internal links to multimedia files are acceptable. If such elements are used, file formats should be identified in the Abstract.
  • Only selected multimedia file formats are automatically approved for inclusion (see list of approved file formats below).
  • Printed Documents to Include: All doctoral and master ETDs must be accompanied by paper copies of any reprint permission letters and any required third-party software licenses. Dissertations and theses must also be accompanied by paper copies of the signed Title/Signature Page and the ETD Signature Form.
  • Naming Convention: The main file name should conform to the following naming convention: last name-first initial of firstname-year-degree.pdf (e.g. doe-j-2004-phd.pdf). Use English letters, Arabic numbers, and dashes (-) only; no extra punctuation or diacritical marks or blank spaces. Associated files (for example, video or sound) should follow this same convention with the addition of an indicator of the type of file (video example = doe-j-2004-phd-video1.mov; sound example = doe-j-2004-phd-sound1.wav).

UMI/ProQuest set all but the requirements listed above with the exception of the naming convention which is required for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's archives.

Graduate School PDF Format Requirements

Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) software essentially prepares a page-oriented electronic document. What you see on the monitor and what you print out on paper should be formatted in standard 8½ x 11" page size. Owing to this fundamental page orientation and also to keep requirements specific to ETDs as simple as possible, the student should use the physical formatting instructions exactly as stated in the current version of the Graduate School's Dissertation and Thesis Formatting Manual (above).

Approved Multimedia Enhancement Formats

Inclusion of enhanced multimedia elements in the basic pdf document is completely optional. Owing to the large number of formats available for various multimedia enhancements, the fact that they quickly rise and fall in popularity, and the difficulty inherent in long-term archiving and migrating of these formats as software evolves and changes, only the selected multimedia listed below are approved for inclusion in EDs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

A word of caution, however. There are essentially three levels of commitment the University has made in regard to the long-term archiving of ETDs. (1) A very strong commitment to migrate the body of the work in the basic pdf format, much the same as that for the paper copies that have been submitted for decades. We will do everything possible to ensure long-term availability. (2) A strong commitment to migrate the added multimedia elements in the formats that have been approved. (3) Little or no commitment to migrate any non-approved multimedia formats. These are included at the author's risk. Please note that when UMI/ProQuest prepares and sells a paper copy of your dissertation or thesis, they provide only the printable portion to a customer.

There is a long-term risk associated with the inclusion of multimedia enhancements. An ETD must therefore be carefully prepared with this in mind. The body of the ETD must therefore be written so that all the important information is contained in the body of the basic pdf document. For example, images need to be inserted into the main document, and links to higher-resolution or enhanced TIFF or JPEG versions may be included.

A student who wishes to include an optional multimedia enhancement in a non-approved format must submit to the Graduate School for approval a request in writing stating the reasons for including this format.

Approved Formats for Optional Multimedia Enhancements

Images

  • PDF (.pdf) use Type I PostScript fonts
  • CompuServe GIF (.gif)
  • JPEG (.jpg)
  • TIF (.tif)
  • (Recommend a minimum resolution of 600 dpi for images of pages with text, and suggest that imbedded images be available in several possible resolutions)

Video

  • Apple Quick Time (.mov)
  • MPEG (i.e., MPEG-1, MPEG-2) (.mpg)
  • Microsoft Audio Video Interleaved (.avi)

Audio

  • AIF (.aif)
  • CD-DA
  • CD-ROM/XA (A or B or C)
  • MIDI (with timing information) (.midi)
  • MPEG-2 (.mpg)
  • WAV (.wav)
  • SND (.snd)

Special

  • Spreadsheet - Excel (.xls)

General Hints and Instructions

Color. Color can add vitality to an ETD. Remember, however, that an ETD is a scholarly document. Please, no orange text on a lime-green background unless this is intrinsic to the creative nature of the work itself, such as in a Fine Arts thesis. Use color carefully. Note that problems can be encountered when colored material is printed on a black-and-white printer or copier; some colors may no longer be distinguishable, especially if the printer/copier is set to a high-contrast mode. Some colors may be so light as to be illegible after printing or in a photostatic copy. In particular, when UMI/ProQuest prepares a microform or paper version of your ETD, colors are lost, and so also may be the readability. Do not use only different colors to distinguish multiple lines in a plot or figure. Use lines that are segmented in various ways or data points of different shapes.

Embellishments. Avoid use of flashing text, animated areas, and "dramatic" sound clips (tadaa!) in your ETD unless intrinsic to the nature of the work. Some adornments can certainly have a dramatic effect and catch the reader's attention, but these cannot be used as a substitute for, nor overshadow the content of, the document. An ETD is fundamentally a scholarly document, not a cartoon.

Put it all in the Text. It is especially important to include all of the critical information in your dissertation in the body of the text in the case of an ETD. The written exposition is the core of the dissertation. We have made a very strong commitment to the student that we will make every effort possible to archive and "migrate" the main body of your work into the future as software and operating systems evolve. It is just not possible to make this same level of guarantee in the case of all the possible optional multimedia enhancements, for example. This imposes a somewhat increased burden on the author to explain or summarize in words all the important material in the work, but not that much more than is the case in a well-crafted printed dissertation. For example, for a linked image file does not simply say, "Figure 2 shows the changes in…" Note or summarize what the important changes are. For an audio or video file, summarize the broad, important features of what would be displayed or heard. For data and calculated quantities in a linked spreadsheet that the reader can manipulate, it might be desirable to duplicate (some of ) the information or embedded equations in a table or appendix in text format.

Navigational Aids. To assist the reader in readily navigating your ETD document, we recommend that you build sufficient internal navigational aids into your work. This is especially desirable if your ETD will be submitted as a single long pdf document. This can be done by adding internal links to the first page of each chapter and to other major parts listed in the Table of Contents, perhaps to each figure and table from the List of Figures/Tables, etc. Use of Adobe Acrobat's "Bookmarks" feature is a particularly easy way to include navigational links. Acrobat can automatically generate Bookmarks, which will appear in a window on the left side of the screen, from the Table of Contents generated from several modern word processors, including Microsoft Word. The creator of a pdf document can create additional bookmarks in an existing pdf document to another pdf document or to a Web page.

Instructions. The UNC Charlotte ETD submission website maintains a complete set of instructions for the submission of an ETD. The website also provides a resource section for students, a discussion of UMI requirements for electronic submission, and a PDF Help Center.


UMI/ProQuest Publishing Guidelines

UMI, formerly University Microfilms International, is now a subsidiary of ProQuest Information and Learning. The University sends a copy of all doctoral dissertations and master theses to UMI/ProQuest to be "published": UMI/ProQuest prints the abstract in Dissertation and Thesis Abstracts, and sells copies of the dissertation or thesis to the public in paper, microform, and electronic format. At this time, UMI/ProQuest will accept ETDs only in Adobe pdf format.

UMI makes available information on their website concerning "Submitting Your Dissertation or Thesis to UMI.". Every student should review this information very early in his or her graduate career.


Information About Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Systems Incorporated is the company that produces and sells Adobe Acrobat, the proprietary software used to produce documents in PDF (Portable Document Format). A distinction needs to be made between the full Adobe Acrobat suite, which permits the preparation and editing of pdf documents and must be purchased, and the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which only permits the reading and printing of documents already in pdf format, and is available free for download onto your computer. The full Adobe Acrobat program is needed to produce an ETD.

There are several ways in which UNC Charlotte students may access Adobe Acrobat to convert their word processing files into the PDF file format.

  1. The UNC Charlotte Atkins Library has Adobe Acrobat available on several computers.
  2. Adobe maintains a submission website where an individual may "upload" up to 5 documents for conversion to PDF file format for free.
  3. Acrobat may be downloaded from the Adobe Website and utilized for a free 30 day "tryout" period.
  4. Students may purchase copies of Adobe Acrobat at special educational prices from online stores such as campusEstore.com.

ETD Hints from Other Universities

A number of universities have been working with and accepting ETDs for several years now, and have developed extensive websites with information about and instruction in preparing them. We urge you to review their Websites.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) has been the national leader in ETDs. They were the first university to require that all students submit ETDs, beginning in 1997. Their ETD website is extensive.

The University of Texas-Austin now requires that all doctoral students who shall graduate after the Spring 2001 Semester submit an electronic dissertation. Their Electronic Dissertations page includes links to reasonable tutorials on creating pdf documents from Word, WordPerfect, or postscript documents whether you are using Microsoft Windows or Macintosh. It includes the instructions for the handling of Images, Tables, and Graphs in pdf.

North Carolina State University has recently begun requiring ETDs of all graduate students. Their ETD site is fairly extensive and provides complete information on creating PDF files.

Helpful Links