Thesis Format Guidelines

Your senior thesis is the final product of months, perhaps years, of hard work. It is important that the thesis be printed in a standard, professional way so that it will give a good impression to future generations of faculty, students, and current and future alumni. Following these guidelines will also give you practice using a format that, with some modifications, is used in much of the geologic profession.

Thesis Format Guidelines

Due Date: The complete thesis (but not extra copies) is due on the day two weeks prior to the last day of classes in the term that the thesis is to be finished. The thesis must be complete in all respects, including all preface pages, text, figures, tables, references, and appendices, all in the the proper format specified here.

Paper, Typing, Margins: The thesis must be typed on a word processor, and the final printout must be done on a laser printer or other good-quality plain white 11″ by 8.5″ printer. The final copy should be singlesided, double spaced, with 1.5″ margins on the left side of the paper and 1″ margins on all other sides. The type used in all text, tables, and captions should be Helvetica 10 point, as is used here, or a font as similar to Helvetica 10 as possible (e.g., Ariel). All text, including captions and references, should be justified left and right. First lines of paragraphs should be indented about 0.4 inches, and blank lines should not separate paragraphs. Two blank spaces should separate sentences.

Sections of the Thesis: The thesis will have sections placed in the following order:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Body of the text divided into its own sections, with figures and tables
  • References Cited
  • Appendices (optional)

Pagination of the Thesis: All preface pages including the Title Page, Abstract, Dedication, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, List of Figures, and List of Tables, should be numbered in sequence with lower case roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.). The title page is the first page (page i) but is not numbered. All other pages from the first page of text to the end of the document should be numbered in sequence with Arabic numerals. All page numbers should be centered at the bottom of each page 0.5″ above the bottom margin, except the title page (page i) which is not numbered. Figures, tables, and appendices should be numbered in the same sequence they are referred to in the text. Most word processors have automatic functions for numbering pages, but do it last to avoid the headaches of repaginating every draft.

Levels of Headings: The various levels of headings separate your thesis into its different parts. No more than three levels of headings are allowed. First order headings separate the thesis into its major parts, such as the Abstract, Introduction, Conclusions, and References. Second order headings separate the major parts into intermediate parts. Third order headings separate the intermediate parts into minor parts. Headings of any order must be on the same page as the first line of text below it (that is, headings may not be alone on the bottom of a page).

  1. First order headings are FULLY CAPITALIZED, centered, and in bold type.
  2. Second order headings have Major Words Capitalized, are centered, and are in bold type.
  3. Third order headings have Major Words Capitalized, are left justified, and are in bold type.
The Body of the Text

Title Page: The format of the title page must follow that shown in the example below. The title should give the reader a clear idea of the nature of the material in the thesis. It is important that the title be clear and informative rather than mysterious or imaginative.

Abstract: The abstract should be on its own page and may not exceed 250 words. Most word processors have a function to count words. The abstract should succinctly state the nature of the thesis project, the reasons for conducting the work, the results of the research, and your conclusions.

Text, Figures, and Tables: The body of the text also contains the figures and tables, all of which must be cited in sequential order in the text. Each figure and table should be located as soon after its first citation in the text as is reasonably possible. Figures and tables should be cited using the full capitalized word, for example “Figure 1″ and “Table 1″. Each figure and table caption should start with the figure or table number, followed by the text of the caption (for example: “Figure 6. Photo of fault zone interior, Mr. Bill for scale.”). Captions should appear above tables, and below figures. Captions should be single-spaced, fully justified (if possible) with no indents or hanging indents.

Number of Copies to Make: You should make one copy for the Geology Department.  Additionally, one complete copy must be submitted electronically via Nexus. Only the original is due two weeks prior to the last day of classes, in the same term the thesis is due. Do not submit extra copies at that time. No punched holes, staples, or tape are allowed.

References: All references cited anywhere in the thesis must have a complete citation in the Reference Cited section. The formats for citing other peoples’ work in the text and in the reference section should be the same as in the Geological Society of America Bulletin; see The first line of each reference should be printed with a hanging indent (see below).

Steinmetz Symposium

All theses should be presented as poster or oral papers at the annual Union College Steinmetz Symposium, which is usually held in early May.

References Cited

Mylonite, J.F., 1992, Garnet pseudomorphs of Devonian rugose coral in a skarn inclusion in the Schenectady kimberlite pipe: Journal of Paleontology, v. 29, p. 56-65.

Optic, K.N. and Axis, L.M., 1878, The 2V of uniaxial and isotropic minerals: American Mineralogist, v. 1, p. 1.

Shaw, George, 1993, Reversing the Earth’s magnetic field using an equatorial solenoid: potential for innovative, simultaneous experiments in undergraduate science labs throughout the world: Midnight Star, v. 57, no. 5, p. 6.

Appendix 1

Appendices should contain any substantial length of material that, while pertinent to the thesis, would detract from reading the thesis if left in the body of the text. In general, material that is important to the thesis but not critical for understanding the main points are put in appendices. Such things include lengthy tabular data, values from model calculations, lengthy details of mathematical or analytical procedures, or sample location and specimen descriptions. Appendices should be cited in the text as APPENDIX 1, APPENDIX 2, etc., and labeled as such in first order headings. The usual text, caption, figure, table, and citation guidelines apply. Table and figure numbers should continue the numbering used in the text, but should not be cited in the text (if they are, they belong in the text). For example, if Table 7 is the last table in the body of the text, the first table in the appendix will be Table 8. All appendices must be cited in the body of the text (e.g., see Appendix 2) like figures, tables, and references. If there is only one appendix, it should be labeled APPENDIX 1.