Guide on How to Format a Dissertation

When writing a dissertation, it’s important to adhere to a certain dissertation format. This post discusses the various format aspects of this type of dissertation writing:

  • Dissertation Abstract

This is essentially a synopsis of your dissertation, and should ideally not exceed 350 words. This is where you briefly outline the topic of the dissertation, the methodology used by you to examine it or analyse it, the results that follow and your overall conclusion. The abstract is what helps people decide whether or not they should take the time to read your paper so make it short, informative and interesting.

  • Optional elements

After the title page and the abstract, you can include:

– The copyright page if you have decided to copyright your dissertation;

– A dedication page in case you want to dedicate the dissertation to someone;

– An acknowledgement page to thank those who have helped you put together your dissertation, especially your guide;

– A preface can be included in the dissertations format to outline its objective and content;

– Glossary and/or list of abbreviations: This helps you avoid using long terms repeatedly and simplifies jargon for the layman.

  • Table of Contents

This mentions the various sections of the main body of your dissertation and of some additional elements included after that, such as end notes and bibliography. You should also include a separate index for the various tables, charts and diagrams included in your presentation. Pages before this are either not numbered or denoted by Roman numerals.

  • Main Text

This is of course the main component on the dissertation, which contains all your research and analysis. If your university does not give any guidelines regarding format of this then it’s advised to use a 10 or 12 size font and to have one-and-a-half line or double spacing. Margins should be uniform. Divide the text into various sections and chapters for an easy-to-read dissertation format. You can also annotate the text with notes, explained either at the bottom, or at the end of each chapter or even at the end of the text portion.

  • Appendix

This is where you mention other information that you want the reader to refer to. For instance if you haven’t included tables, charts, images etc in the main text, then they would be included in this section. You could also include samples of illustrative documents, for instance if you are writing a dissertation on propaganda then you could include a copy of a propagandist’s organization/entity’s pamphlet. Of course, all items in this section must be numbered and mentioned in the Table of Contents.

  • Bibliography

This is where you mention the various sources that you have referred to. If there are more than five sources then it is generally advised to divide them into various sections. One method of classification is to divide them as primary, secondary and tertiary source; another method is to divide them by type of publication such as books, journals, magazines etc.

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