Select Page
Home » Navigating Your Degree » Formatting Guidelines

Formatting Guidelines

Visit the U-M Library Research Guide, Microsoft Word for Dissertations, for help with formatting. There are no approved Rackham templates, but the template available in this guide is a good place to start. The guide is maintained by ScholarSpace (located on the second floor of the Hatcher Library), which offers walk-in hours and scheduled consultations, as well as email and phone assistance.

Do not use any other student’s dissertation or thesis as an example of how to format your dissertation. Your dissertation must follow these guidelines. To view a sample of a correctly formatted document, view the Dissertation Handbook.


Margins are a minimum of one inch on each side.


Embedded fonts are required to ensure that all information used to make the document is stored correctly in the PDF file so that the dissertation will appear as it was created when viewed on a reader’s computer. The text body should be in a standard professional-looking 12 point font designed for screen legibility. Standard fonts such as Arial, Times, or Times New Roman are recommended.

Font size for footnotes, endnotes, captions, tables, figures, and equations may be smaller than the font for the text body, generally 9 point.

Font color must be black, although figures, tables, etc., may be in color.

Line Spacing

Line spacing is 1½ or double with the exception of tables, lists, quotations, footnotes/endnotes, figure/table legends/captions, and bibliographic entries, which should be single-line spaced.

First Page of Each Section

The first page of each section (Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, Lists, etc.), chapter, and appendix should start on a new page and should have a two-inch top margin.


Bibliography or Reference section(s) is at the end of each chapter or the very end of the dissertation, in the format preferred by the discipline.


If including more than one figure, table, illustration, appendix, etc., there are separate lists of each that include the figure/table number, caption/legend, and page number on which it begins.

Tables, figures, illustrations, etc., are uniquely and consecutively numbered throughout.

Chapter Numbers, Chapter Titles, and Page Numbers

Chapter numbers, chapter titles, and the first page number for each are listed in the Table of Contents. The word “Chapter” must appear before each chapter number (or as a heading) in the Table of Contents and on the first page of the chapter.

Arabic numerals are used consecutively for all pages following the front matter and starting with the first chapter, including appendices, bibliography, etc.

Front Matter

Front matter page numbers are lowercase Roman numerals, starting with page ii (preferably centered at the bottom of the page). Dissertation text starts with page 1.

Front Matter Order

Front matter is in the following order (first numbered page must be page ii)

  1. Title page: Mandatory; no page number (see Dissertation Handbook for format)
  2. Frontispiece: Optional; no page number
  3. Identifier/copyright page: required; no page number (copyright optional, recommended)
  4. Dedication: Optional; must have page number (lowercase Roman numerals start here)
  5. Acknowledgements: Optional; must have page number
  6. Preface: Optional; must have page number
  7. Table of Contents: Mandatory; must have page number
  8. List of Tables, List of Figures, etc.: Mandatory when there are more than one; must have page number
  9. List of Appendices: Mandatory when there are more than one; must have page number
  10. List of Abbreviations, List of Acronyms, List of Symbols: Optional; must have page number
  11. Abstract: Mandatory; must have page number

Abstract for Online Submission

Separate abstract text of up to 550 words, with no special characters, is required for the online submission of the dissertation. This abstract should be given to the committee with the dissertation before the defense.

Contact Academic Records and Dissertations

0120 Rackham Building
915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070
Phone: 734.763.0171
Fax: 734.936.3335


Academic Records and Dissertations is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.