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Guidelines for the General Format of a Ph.D. Thesis


The production of a thesis should follow the following guidelines. For further details, or in case of uncertainty, please refer to the administrative assistant who organizes the defence. Researchers should send the thesis as one PDF file.

General format and layout

  • Paper format: Use the standard A4 format and set the same margins all around (e.g. 2.5 cm, top/bottom, right/left)
  • Size & line spacing: The text should be in 12 point character and 1.5 spaced lines. Footnotes should be in 10 point character and single spaced lines. Text and footnotes should be justified
  • Font: Choose a commonly used font that provides a full character set, for example Times (especially when using languages other than English)
  • Tables & pictures: Insert tables, graphs and other images directly where they belong in the text. Tables should always be on one page, never divide a table between different pages. Do not use colours in tables or graphs: use instead bold, punctuated or dashed lines for graphical images. Should it be necessary to introduce coloured pictures, contact the organizing admin. assistant
  • Pagination:  The text should be paginated throughout (including notes, bibliographies, annexes). Odd page numbers are on the right and chapters should always start with an odd page. If one chapter finishes with an odd page, a white even page should be inserted before starting the new chapter with the following odd numbering (i.e. if the last page of a chapter is 171, consider page 172 a blank page before starting the new chapter with 173). The page numbering for the title, table of contents and acknowledgements should be in Roman letters. The page numbering in Arabic letters should start with page 1 on the first page of the text. If you do an automatized Table of Contents, check carefully that this is done properly, otherwise you have to insert an additional white page
  • Title-pages: The first two title-pages should be produced according to the rules of the Institute using specific templates. it is important to respect font type and paragraph formatting
  • Language correction: Theses that have been submitted for language correction should specify this on the first inside page of the final draft
  • Thesis abstract: Insert the thesis summary (up to 300 words) after the title page and before the Table of Contents
  • Table of contents: Use capital letters, highlighting or indenting to differentiate between main and sub-chapters. Page numbering should appear always in the same size. Acknowledgements follow the Table of contents 

On a more general note it is advisable to prepare the general style-sheets and formatting of the thesis in a sample chapter and then write/insert the text into the pre-defined files. This is more consistent and makes it easier to handle the work, rather than having to format each chapter.

While proofreading the thesis, it may be useful to double-check our Brief Guide for Academic English

  • Note: The final title of the thesis has to be agreed upon together with the Supervisor

Page last updated on 18 August 2017