Formatting Your Document With MS Word

This chapter is intended as a resource to assist you in formatting your Thesis or Dissertation document with Microsoft Word. In this section, we address many of the technical issues that students have with formatting their document; this includes setting font, margins, and justification, as well as the (at times counter intuitive) method for using multiple page numbering schemes within a single document. For purposes of this brief tutorial, Word 2000 is used. Word XP and Word 97 have similar interfaces.

The Graduate School has prepared some MS Word Templates that come pre-formatted to UMBC Thesis and Dissertation standards. You may wish to use these documents instead of formatting your thesis yourself; the choice, however, is yours.


The Graduate School requires that each page of the Thesis or Dissertation must have at least a 1.5" left-hand margin, and at least 1" top, bottom, and right margins. To set the margins of your Word document:

  1. Click File on the top menu bar, which should look something like this:
  2. Then click on Page Setup from the drop-down menu. You'll get an interface similar to the following:
  3. Click on the Margins tab (the default in Word 2000) if it is not already selected. You can then enter the required values in each field.
  4. Click OK.

To change your font in Word:

  1. Select the text that you want to change. If you want to change the entire document, click Edit and then Select All.
  2. Go to the formatting toolbar at the top of the Word 2000 screen. It should look something like this:
  3. You should see the default font of the document in the toolbar window (usually Times New Roman). Click on the down arrow to see the list of Word fonts available.
  4. Click on the font you wish your text to change to.

In Thesis / Dissertation documents, text may be left-justified, which leaves a ragged-right margin (as in this document), or text may be full justified, which creates even margins on the left and right sides of the page. To change the justification of your document:

  1. Select the text for which you want to change justification. If changing the justification for an entire document, click Edit and then Select All.
  2. Go to the formatting toolbar.
  3. You should see a number of buttons with horizontal lines on them; they should look something like this:
  4. The button on the top (with the uneven right side) is the button for LEFT justification. The button in the middle is for FULL justification, which has even margins on both sides. The button on the bottom is the button for CENTER justification, where the text is centered on the page.
Page Numbering in MS Word

This is often the most infuriating part of formatting a thesis or dissertation. The Graduate School requires three different page numbering schemes in each thesis dissertation:

  • No Page Numbers: Signature page, Cirriculum Vitae, Abstract, Title Page and Copyright Page
  • Lower-Case Roman Numerals (ii, iii, iv, v, vi, viii): Front Matter (Table of Contents, List of Figures, Tables, Acknowledgements, etc.)
  • Arabic Numerals (1,2,3,4): Main Body Text, Reference, Appendices, Bibliography
Page Numbering and Document Sections

In Word, page numbers are properties of document subdivisions, called sections. One Word file (a single document) can have an unlimited number of sections; as a document author, you control how your document is subdivided into sections by inserting section breaks.

Each section of your document can have different properties: layout and orientation (columns, portrait / landscape), borders and line spacing, and of course page numbering.

For a University of Maryland, Baltimore County thesis done in MS Word, you'll need 3 different page numbering schemes; as such, you will need to divide your document into three sections.

Inserting section breaks, dividers between sections, is easy. Word documents by default contain only 1 section. We will be inserting 2 breaks to divide the document into 3 sections, each of which will have a different page numbering scheme. We'll first divide the document into sections, and then insert the page numbers.

First Section Break: After Signature page, Cirriculum Vitae, Abstract, Title Page, and Copyright page, before Front Matter. Place your cursor at the very bottom of your Copyright page (about 9 down). Then click Insert on the menu bar:

From the drop-down Insert menu, select Break You should get a menu that looks something like this:

From this menu, select under Section Break types a Continuous break. This will insert a Section Break without a forcing a new page in your document. If you would like Word to force a new page after the Title Page, insert a Next Page break instead. Note.: If you switch to the Normal document view (Click View—>Normal), you can see which section breaks exist in your document—you can also delete them from that view.

At the bottom left corner of your Word screen, you should see information that tells you the page you care currently working on. Just to the right of that information, you should see something that tells you which section the page is located in (usually reads Sec 1, Sec 2, Sec 3.) After inserting your first break, your document should be divided into two sections one for the Signature page, Cirriculum Vitae, Abstract, Title Page, and Copyright page, and one for the rest of the document. You should notice no formatting differences between sections at this point.

Repeat this process on the last page of your Front Matter (Table of Contents, List of Figures, Tables, Abbreviations, etc.) to create a break between the Front Matter and the Main Body Text of your Thesis / Dissertation.

You should now have 3 sections in your document. You are now ready to insert page numbers. This process can be a bit counter-intuitive, since we're not simply numbering everything consecutively.

First, go to the first page of your document (the top). Click Insert–>Page Numbers. You should get an interface that looks like this:

Choose the page location of your page numbers. The Graduate School requires either bottom (footer) right, bottom (footer) center, or top (header) right placement. Click OK. This should insert Arabic page numbers throughout your ENTIRE document, from Signature page through Appendices. We'll be changing the number format (to non-numbered, to Roman numerals, to Arabic) for each section in a moment.

This is the counterintuitive part one would think that it would be enough to simply go to each section and change the format, but this is not so. Each section's headers and footers are linked to each other, so that a change made in section 1's header carries through to the headers of each subsequent section. This makes changing page numbering for each section a bit tricky. What we'll have to do is un-link the headers and / or footers before we try to change the page number format.

If you chose to put the page number at the top of the page, you'll need to edit headers. If you chose the bottom of the page, you'll need to edit the footers.

First, go to the beginning of your second section, which will be the beginning of the Front Matter. Click View–>Headers and Footers.

Your document should go gray, and you'll see text boxes at the top and bottom of the screen. Each should look something like this:

What the header / footer view also shows is the linked status of the header / footer on the top right corner of each header / footer box, you should see Same As Previous. This indicates that the header format is linked to the previous section's format. When you activate the header and footer menu, you also activate the header and footer toolbar from this toolbar, you can turn Same as Previous formatting off, and un-link the header / footer. The "Same As Previous" button should be depressed by default when you bring up the header / footer view; click on it to un-select it. Your section 2 page numbers will now be disconnected with the first section's formatting.

Repeat this action on the first page of your Main Body text; disconnect the header of section 3 from that of section 2.

Now we can change the format of each section's page numbers. For section 1 (Signature page, Cirriculum Vitae, Abstract, Title Page, Copyright page), on the first page of the section, go to header / footer view, and simply delete the page number from the header or footer. There will be no page numbering on these pages.

For section 2 (Front Matter), it is a bit more complicated. While on the first page of section 2, click Insert–>Page Numbers. Then select Format from this menu. It should look something like this:

For this section, select the Roman Numerals from the drop-down Number format menu. Then select ii from the Start at menu. This will re-start the page numbering from the first page of section 2, starting at ii.

For section 3, the Main Body text, do the same thing. Go to the first page of your main body text (the first page of section 3), click Insert–>Page Numbers–>Format, and change the format to Arabic Numbers, starting at 1.