Format and Style Guidelines

Regardless of whether the thesis or dissertation is submitted electronically or in print, it must adhere to the formatting and style guidelines outlined on this page.

To determine which style manual to use for your thesis or dissertation, connect with your department/advisor. Whatever style you choose must be used consistently throughout the entire document.

Frequently Recommended Style Manuals:
  • Chicago Manual of Style. - University of Chicago Press 
  • Form and Style: Research Papers, Reports, Theses. - By Carol Slade 
  • A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. - By Kate Turabian 
  • MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. - By Joseph Gibaldi 
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA Manual). - American Psychological Association 

Our margin requirements may differ from those listed in your style manual. In this case, follow the university guidelines specified below. 

No specific typeface is required. The chosen typeface should be clear and easy to read.

  • 12-point font size is recommended. With the exception of appendices, the same typeface and font size must be used throughout the entire document.

  • The entire paper must be double-spaced and single-sided (except for the Abstract Page which is single-spaced)

Numerical formatting is different for the front matter of the paper vs. the main-body text; see below for details.

  • Top and Left Margins = 1.5 inches
  • Right and Bottom Margins = 1 inch
  • Page numbers are placed 1 inch from the the top and 1 inch from the right-side of each page.
  • Do not add a running header to the document.
Title Page: Do not add a page number to this page. Do not count this page when numbering your paper. All other pages of the text (including the reference and appendices) are numbered.
Front-Matter Pages: These include the Endorsement/Signature page, Table of Contents, Abstract Page, and Acknowledgements Page (optional).
  • These pages are numbered using lower-case roman numerals. For example: i, ii, iii…etc.
Main-Body Pages: Page numbering for this section begins with the first page of the actual text and continues throughout the remainder of the document.
  • These pages are numbered using standard arabic numerals (1, 2, 3… etc). The very first page of the text (Introduction Page and/or Chapter 1) is numbered as page 1.

Instructions for numbering different sections of your Word document: Instructions for Word Users.
Tables and Figures: The font size may be smaller for tables and figures but they must fit within the margin guidelines detailed above when included in the main text.
  • For printed papers: if absolutely necessary, larger tables/figures may be included and folded to measure no more than 7 by 10 inches with sufficient margins on the left to allow for binding.

Each of the front-matter pages listed below must be included in the proper order within your document, formatted correctly, and include signatures if appropriate.

Order of Front-Matter Pages:

  1. Title Page
  2. Endorsement/Signature Page
  3. Acknowledgments (This page is optional)
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Abstract  

Title Page

Do not include a page number on the title page. Do not count the title page when numbering the total pages of your paper. Do not include a running header.

The title page must include the following:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Identifying Legend - "A [thesis (or) dissertation] submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of [degree][area of study] at Minnesota State University, Mankato"
    1. The identifying legend will specify 'thesis' or 'dissertation' but never both.
    2. The identifying legend will include the student's degree and area of study followed by Minnesota State University, Mankato.
  4. University location (city and state)
  5. Month and year of graduation

Title Page Example

Endorsement (Signature) Page

The endorsement (referred to as a signature page) is included directly after the title page.

The endorsement page must include the following:

  1. Date of approval
  2. Title
  3. Author
  4. Statement of Approval - "This [thesis (or) dissertation] has been examined and approved  by the following members of the student's committee:"
    1. The statement of approval will specify 'thesis' or 'dissertation' but never both.
  5. Signatures from all members of the student's examining committee. Names and titles of the committee members are printed below their respective signature lines.
    1. Signatures for online submissions: an unsigned endorsement page is included directly after the title page and uploaded online. The signed copy of the endorsement page is submitted directly to the Office of Graduate Studies via email to, in person, or via inter-campus mail.
    2. Signatures for printed submissions: Each copy of the thesis or dissertation must include a signed endorsement page directly after the title page.

Endorsement Page Example

Abstract Page

The abstract page is placed directly after the table of contents. It does not require a page number. If a page number is included, it must be numbered with the front-matter pages and not the main-body text. (See the Margins and Page Numbers section above). The abstract page must be no longer than 350 words.

The abstract page must include the following:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Degree and area of study
  4. Name and location of the university (city and state)
  5. Year
  6. Statement of Problem
  7. Procedure (methods employed)
  8. Findings (conclusions)
  9. Single-spaced and fit on one page

Abstract Page Example