Preparing Your Draft

Since the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is now accepting Theses and Dissertations primarily in electronic format, this Style Guide is focused on assisting your preparation of an electronic file that conforms to the standards set by the Graduate School. This electronic file will be submitted directly to Proquest Information and Learning via the World Wide Web and evaluated by the Graduate School online.

Basic Requirements

The final electronic file that you submit to Proquest and The Graduate School must meet the following conditions. The final document must:

  • be submitted in PDF format. Conversion utilities for Microsoft Word (.doc) and Rich Text Format (.rtf) documents are available.
  • be in an approved font. The Graduate School strongly recommends Times New Roman 12.
  • have acceptable margins, line spacing, page numbering, and page layout.
  • contain all required Formal Elements of the Thesis / Dissertation.

The Graduate School has developed a number of Thesis and Dissertation templates for users of MS Word. These templates can serve as a guide for students creating an acceptable Thesis or Dissertation document, and are available here. “Lite” or simplified versions of the templates are also available for documents with few chapter sub-sections.

File Format

Proquest requires that the final Thesis document is submitted in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Microsoft Word (.doc) and Rich Text Format (.rtf) files are easily convertible to PDF documents using conversion utilities provided by Adobe ( and on the Proquest thesis submission site. A full-function tryout version of Adobe Acrobat (PDF creation software) is available at

Microsoft software, including Microsoft Word, is widely available, and is present on most UMBC-owned computers. Most commercially available word processing software packages, including WordPerfect (versions 6.0 and above) have the capability to save in Rich Text Format (.rtf); this is a text-based format that allows for the use of features such as bolding, italics, and underline. LATEχ and other technical software packages often have PDF creation utilities bundled with them or available as an add-in. The PDF document that Proquest receives is the document that will be published; take appropriate steps to ensure that the PDF you submit accurately reflects your work.

No matter what method you choose for preparing your draft, BACK UP YOUR WORK ON AT LEAST TWO DIFFERENT DISKS and keep those disks in safe places. It is often advisable to make CD Rom archive copies of your work.

Font / Type Style

The same font should be used throughout the Thesis, for text, headings, captions, labels, and references; the Graduate School strongly recommends using Times New Roman 12, a widely accessible standard font that will minimize software and reader compatibility problems. Tables, captions, and footnotes should use the same font face, but can be in a smaller size. Font sizes smaller than 10, however, tend to be difficult to read in print and PDF format. You may create chapter and section headings that are two or three points larger than your standard typeface at your discretion.

While the Graduate School strongly recommends Times New Roman 12, some other fonts are acceptable as well. Fonts that will definitely be approved by the Graduate School:

  • Arial 12
  • Bookman 12
  • Times New Roman 12
  • Times New Roman 14

LATEχ Users: The Computer Modern fonts in LATEχ are in most cases an acceptable substitute for the above fonts. Please keep in mind, however, that other defaults, including margins and headings in technical software such as LATEχ may not conform to Graduate School standards.

For symbols, use Symbol 12 or a symbol font compatible with your base font. Most word processors include basic character fonts.

Instructions for altering the font of your document in Word are available here.


Each page must have at least a 1.5" left-hand margin, and at least 1" top, bottom, and right margins. Most word-processing packages provide a style or template that will set these automatically for your document. Margins may be wider but not narrower than these standards. Please note that all pages must meet these requirements, including the Title Page, illustrations, tables, appendices, and curriculum vitae.

Instructions on setting the margins of your document in Word are available here.


Type may be left justified, which leaves a “ragged right” margin (as is used in this manual), or may be full-justified, which establishes even margins on the left and right. You may wish to consult with your department as to the standards in your discipline.

Instructions on setting the justification of your document in Word are available here.

Line Spacing

Each page must be double-spaced, with the following exceptions:

  • Front matter such as the title page, table of contents, lists of tables and figures may be single-spaced.
  • Tables within the text may be single-spaced.
  • Extended citations within the text may be set off and single-spaced. Consult your style manual for details.
  • Definitions within glossaries or questions within surveys may be single-spaced, but double-spaced between entries. Scholarly references--footnotes, endnotes, bibliography or list of references--may be single-spaced, but double-spaced between entries.
Page Number Placement

Page numbers must be placed either at the bottom center, bottom right, or the top right of each page. If you choose the top right, you may place the page number at the bottom center when beginning a new chapter. Otherwise, maintain a consistent placement throughout your manuscript.

Instructions on formatting page numbers in Word are available here.

Widows and Orphans

A “widow” is a short line or single word ending a paragraph at the top of the next page. An “orphan” is a heading or subheading that appears at the bottom of a page with the text beginning on the following page. These are not desirable for reasons of aesthetics and readability, and they are prohibited. Word processing software can be set to avoid both “widows” and “orphans” automatically.


Begin each chapter on a new page, except for APA format, and number the pages consecutively. Do not use a secondary page numbering system for sections within chapters.

The Formal Elements: Abstract, Title Page, Lists, Tables, and Appendices

The formal elements are described below. The Abstract, Title Page, Copyright Page, and Table of Contents must to be formatted in the method described; other pages, as long as they adhere to the previously stipulated requirements (font, margins, justification, etc.) may be designed as the author deems appropriate.

Below is the required order of the formal elements of the dissertation:

  1. Blank page (must be first, required, non-numbered)
  2. Approval sheet (required, non-numbered)
  3. Curriculum Vitae (required, non-numbered)
  4. Abstract (required, non-numbered)
  5. Title page (must follow Abstract, required, non-numbered)
  6. Copyright statement (highly recommended, non-numbered)
  7. Blank page (required, non-numbered)
  8. Preface or Foreword (if present, start at lower-case Roman numeral ii)
  9. Dedication (if present, lower-case Roman)
  10. Acknowledgements (if present, lower-case Roman)
  11. Table of Contents (required, lower-case Roman)
  12. List of Tables (lower-case Roman)
  13. List of Figures (lower-case Roman)
  14. List of Abbreviations (if present, lower-case Roman)
  15. Body of Text (required, start at Arabic numeral 1)
  16. Appendices (if any, Arabic)
  17. Glossary (if any, Arabic)
  18. References or Bibliography (required, Arabic)
  19. Index (if any, Arabic)
  20. Blank page (required, non-numbered)

Front Matter:

Approval sheet

(Required; not numbered). The signature page must be filled out appropriately.

Curriculum Vitae (C.V.)

(Required; not numbered). Inclusion of your academic curriculum vitae is required. Please note that it follows the approval sheet and is not numbered. It must have the same page layout as the rest of the dissertation, including margins.


(Required; not numbered; double-spaced). Your abstract provides a summary of the thesis / dissertation. Its purpose is to convey the essence of your work to those who may not wish to read the entire document. Abstracts include a statement of the problem, a summary of methods or procedures, the results, and the conclusions.

Abstracts for the master's thesis must be no longer than 250 words. Abstracts for doctoral dissertations must not exceed 350 words (2450 characters). If the abstract is longer, it will be cut arbitrarily at the word limit, and so published in Dissertation Abstracts International / Digital Dissertations. The abstract must be in English. Dissertation Abstracts International (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Proquest, 1969-) is issued in two sets, one for humanities and social sciences, and one for sciences. Digital Dissertations is Proquest's online resource and archive of Theses and Dissertations. It is available on the World Wide Web at Dissertations or theses are required to be in English.

Title Page

(Required; not numbered). The title page MUST include the following information:

  • the full title of your thesis / dissertation
  • your name as it appears in university records
  • the year of the degree (not month or day)
  • a standardized degree statement typed in inverted pyramid form (given below)

Word your title very carefully. Electronic databases, citation indices, and bibliographies search using key words, so choose terms carefully to reflect accurately the content of your thesis / dissertation. Be sure that the title is exactly the same on the abstract and title page. The title page must not include italics, unless foreign words or botanical terms form part of the title itself. Do not use abbreviations. Formulas, symbols, superscripts, Greek letters or chemical names must be expressed as words wherever this is possible and consistent with disciplinary standards.

Standard Degree Statement. Use the following wording, inserting the correct degree title and the year (only the year) of your graduation, and typing in inverted pyramid style:

Thesis [or Dissertation] submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Maryland, Baltimore County in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
[complete degree title]
[year of graduation]

There is a title page format sample here that is acceptable for both the master's thesis and doctoral dissertation.

Copyright Page

(Highly Suggested; not numbered). Both master's degree and doctoral candidates may register their copyright on theses or dissertations. This can be done through the electronic submission process (via Proquest) or through the Library of Congress. Follow the directions on the Proquest website when you submit your document to have Proquest register copyright on your behalf, or visit for information on registering directly with the Library of Congress.

Preface or Foreword/Dedication/Acknowledgements

(Optional; if used, begin numbering using lower-case Roman numeral ii). All, some or none of these elements may be included. Many theses do not include any of these elements. Check your style manual for the preferred order in your discipline.

According to The Chicago Manual of Style, a Foreword includes a statement about the work by someone other than the principal author. A Preface contains the author's own statement about a work, sometimes including acknowledgments and permissions. If all you want to do is acknowledge others' assistance and support, then label the page "Acknowledgements," not "Preface." Acknowledgements are made for special assistance or unusual permissions granted. You may wish to dedicate the work to a special mentor, but avoid elaborate or fulsome language.

Table of Contents

(Required; if no optional elements precede, begin numbering with lower-case Roman numeral ii; otherwise, continue in sequence using lower-case Roman numeral). A table of contents is required in all theses. Most word processing software allows you to mark each chapter heading and subsection in the text and then generate a table of contents automatically with correct page numbers retained. You may single-space between chapter subheadings, but be sure to double-space between chapters or major sections. You may choose to use dot leaders or not, as you wish. Most software-generated tables of contents would be acceptable.

Please note that the numbering of the entries in the table of contents must be absolutely consistent with any numbering system used in the text. Thus, if you number subheadings within Chapter 1 as 1.1, 1.2, and so on, this same numbering must be used in the table of contents. You need not number or label subheadings, however. At the end of this chapter there is an example of the table of contents that is valid for both the master's thesis and doctoral dissertation.

List of Figures/List of Tables/List of Abbreviations

(Optional; number consecutively following the table of contents using lower-case Roman numerals). If you have at least one figure or one table, or more than one page of abbreviations, you must include the appropriate list. A table includes written material or data, whereas a figure refers to non-textual illustrative material. The easiest way to generate these lists is to create a secondary table of contents if your word processor permits. Unless your Style Guide directs otherwise, use the table and figure captions from your text to identify these in the list. Be sure all captions and numbering correspond exactly to those within the text. Check your style manual for the preferred order in your discipline. Remember to keep the required 1.5” left hand margin.


(Begin page numbering with Arabic numeral 1 and number all subsequent pages consecutively to the end.) The body of the thesis / dissertation should be typed continuously (except if your word processor is set to avoid “widows” and “orphans”), double-spaced, with each new chapter beginning on a fresh page. The chapter title may be typed no more than 3" from the top of the page, and may be typed in a font not more than two or three points larger than the base font. However, you need not place the chapter heading lower on the page or use a larger font, if you prefer.

Illustrations and Non-Text Elements

In this Guide, the term "illustration" is meant to cover all non-text elements of the thesis / dissertation, such as figures, tables, maps, plates, photographs, drawings, and so on. Each illustration must be numbered consecutively. Consult your style manual for a consistent numbering and identification system. Illustrations must be listed by category in the preliminary pages. All illustrations must conform to the minimum margin formats. If illustrations are larger, then use photographic reduction to achieve an appropriate size. However, figure captions should be consistent with the body of the thesis / dissertation text—these, like footnotes, can be 2 points smaller than the text, but no smaller than 10 point.

Images / Photographs

Since Theses and Dissertations are accepted only electronically, all images, photographs, plates, and illustrations should be included in the electronic file, via scanning or other method of reproduction. Most word processing programs (MS Word, WordPerfect) have a feature that enables one to embed objects, such as images, into the text. For information on including copyrighted images in your work, please see Submitting Your Thesis or Dissertation.

Other Materials

Some few theses will include video or audio tapes; films or slides, or computer or compact discs. These materials should be converted into digital format (MP3 or WMA for audio files, MPEG, AVI or QuickTime for video files) for submission to Proquest through the electronic submission process. If these materials cannot be submitted electronically, 2 copies of each should be submitted in hard copy to the Graduate School. Attach a copy of your Abstract page and Title page to any materials you submit. For more information, please see Submitting Your Thesis or Dissertation.


Illustrations should be placed in the text as close to the first mention of the figure or table as possible--either on the same or on the following page, but never before the first reference. In some cases, tables and figures can be assembled in an Appendix.


All illustrations must be identified by captions, preferably on the same page. If a figure or table is too large or the caption too long for both to fit on the same page, the caption should appear on the preceding page.

If you have any questions or concerns about incorporating illustrative materials into your thesis/ dissertation, please consult with the staff of the Graduate School for guidance before you begin to prepare the final manuscript.



(Optional; pages numbered consecutively with the text). Follow the recommendations in your chosen style manual for materials appropriately presented in an Appendix rather than in the body of the text. You may have multiple appendices, which must be labeled consecutively (A, B, C, etc. or I, II, II, etc., as appropriate to your discipline). Be sure to include all appendices in your table of contents. An original survey instrument prepared in a typeface different from that of the thesis / dissertation is acceptable.

If used, scanned supporting materials reproduced from other sources (with permission) must meet the same requirements for margins and clarity as the rest of the dissertation. Copies from books, journals, maps, and so on must be completely clean and legible. Residual shadows from page edges, as may be created in the process of scanning, are not acceptable.


(Optional; pages numbered consecutively with the text). Please note that the Graduate School requires the glossary to be placed at the end of document, prior to the list of scholarly references. Definitions may be single-spaced, but double-space before beginning a new one.

Scholarly References

(Required; pages numbered consecutively with the text).

Footnotes and Endnotes: Whether you choose to place footnotes for each chapter at the bottom of the page, gather notes for each chapter at the end of the chapter, gather all notes at the end of the dissertation, or use inter-textual parenthetical notes with a list of references at the end, be sure that placement and style are consistent throughout. Do not place some notes at the bottom of the page, and gather others at the end of chapters. Do not use both parenthetical notes and citation footnotes (explanatory footnotes are acceptable). Prepare a sample page featuring your notes early in the typing process, to check that the font, margins and spacing conform with the formats required. Note that some word processing software will use the default initial font for footnotes, so check your document style to be sure that footnotes appear in the standard font you have chosen.

List of References: Each UMBC Thesis or Dissertation must have a comprehensive list of references included in it, even if such references are already included in footnotes or endnotes. Your List of References (References) or Bibliography must be placed at the end of the thesis / dissertation, or after each chapter. Follow what your chosen style manual recommends.


If your thesis / dissertation features an index, place it after the reference page. Follow the format described above for optional formal elements.