Before You Prepare Your Draft

There are several steps that you need to go through before you begin formatting your dissertation.

  1. Take note of the published deadlines. These deadlines indicate the date by which your academically complete document must be submitted to the system. An academically complete document is one to which all examinining committee-ordered revisions have been made.
    Any formatting changes requested by the Graduate School can be made after the ETD editors evaluate your document during the submission process.
    As long as your academically complete document is submitted by the deadline (even without correct Graduate School formatting), it is considered to have met the deadline.
  2. Understand the Formatting Requirements in this document, the UMBC ETD Style Guide. This Style Guide outlines all the formatting element that the Graduate School requires for your dissertation or thesis.
    Do not use a previously published University of Maryland, Baltimore County Dissertation or Thesis as a model. Format requirements may have changed, and the model may not be appropriate for your discipline or needs. Please note that the formatting requirements of of the Graduate School supersede guidelines in any other style manual.
    You may wish to make use of the MS Word ETD Templates that the Graduate School has created. These documents are pre-formatted to Graduate School formatting standards. A LATEχ template is also available.
  3. Choose an appropriate Style Manual. The ETD Style Guide does not offer guidelines for formatting all elements of the document; it only outlines elements required by the Graduate School at the Unviersity of Maryland, Baltimore County. For all other elements, please default to the standard style manual in your discipline.
    To determine the preferred style manual in your discipline, consult your advisor or program. Refer to a style manual for systems of scholarly reference, setting off direct quotations, numbering figures and tables, presentation of data, and similar features. In general, it is advisable to become familiar with a professional style manual at this time in your academic career, if you have not already done so. Thus, a psychologist will use the APA (American Psychological Association) manual; a student of literature, the MLA (Modern Language Association) manual. Click here for a list of common academic style guides.
  4. Obtain Written Permission (If Needed) for Using Copyrighted Material. The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 established the concept of "fair use" of copyright material in published work, but it does not provide absolute guidelines. Although Proquest will publish your dissertation, Proquest does NOT have the responsibility of seeking permissions for you. Proquest uses The Chicago Manual of Style definition of “fair use.” You should become familiar with the concepts outlined there. Generally, the use of a complete unit (a poem, journal article, photograph, map, letter, and so on) requires permission. It is more difficult to define at what point a lengthy excerpt exceeds fair use. Good judgment will tell you that reproducing a significant proportion of another author's work is not "fair." However, be aware that "fair use" also touches on scholarly ethics or the use to which the quotation or excerpt will be put in your work. Another author's work should not be used as a substitute for your own analysis and argument. When in doubt, seek permission; it is usually granted. For a sample letter requesting reprint permission, please see Sample Letters and Pages.
  5. Obtain Permission for Use of Human or Animal Subjects. Prior to undertaking research using human or animal subjects, you will have had to seek and obtain approval. Be sure that the graduate program human subjects review board or university Institutional Review Board ( approval is indicated on the Nomination of Examining Committee form. If your research involves hazardous materials—biological or chemical agents or recombinant RNA/DNA—you must have approval from the appropriate university committee(s) and campus Department of Environmental Safety (call Timothy A. Sparklin at 410-455-2737, or located online at the following URL:
  6. Investigate Possible Patent and Public Disclosure Issues. A significant number of invention disclosures submitted by graduate students are related to materials contained within that student's thesis or dissertation. If your thesis or dissertation describes a new technology, any publication (digital or otherwise), presentation, or public posting—such as submission to Proquest Learning Services / Digital Dissertations, or the Albin O. Kuhn Library —may be considered a “public disclosure” of the invention. If such public disclosure is made prior to applying for a patent, certain patent and intellectual property rights may be compromised.

It is the responsibility of the author of a work submitted to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Program at UMBC to notify the Office of Technology Development of such submission if the work has been, or will be, submitted in part or in its entirety as an invention disclosure. Note: Posting may compromise certain patent rights.

The Office of Technology Development can be reached via its website:, or at the following addresses:

Office of Technology Development
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
5523 Research Park Drive, Suite 310
Baltimore, Maryland 21288
410-455-1414 (Phone)
410-455-8750 (Fax)