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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

Page format
Use the standard A4 format and set the same margins all around (e.g. 2.5 cm, top/bottom, right/left). Remember that the thesis will be printed and boud and that margins should thus be large enough

Text size and line spacing
The text should be in 11 or 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

Choose a commonly used font that provides a full character set, for example Arial or Times (especially when using languages other than English)

Tables & pictures
Insert tables, graphs and other images directly where they belong in the text. Should it be necessary to introduce coloured pictures, contact the organizing admin. assistant. 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 

The text should be paginated throughout (including notes, bibliographies, annexes). The final thesis will be printed double-sided so you must ensure that blank pages are inserted where necessary in order that new chapters, sections, bibliography etc. fall on the right hand side, on an odd-numbered page (i.e. if the last page of a chapter is 171, insert page 172 as a blank page before starting the new chapter with 173). The page numbering for the title, table of contents and acknowledgements is ususally in Roman numbers. The page numbering in Arabic letters should start with page 1 on the first page of the text. If you have an automatized Table of Contents, check carefully that it is correct, otherwise you may have to insert additional blank pages

The title-pages should be produced according to the rules of the Institute using a specific template: download the template cover-page for PhD theses in English, or ask the administrative assistant if the thesis is in a language other than English. It is important to respect the font type and paragraph formatting of these cover-pages. Remember that theses should be sent in as one pdf file: it is advisable to format the thesis and the title-pages independently, then transform them into pdf and merge them into a single file

Language correction
Theses that have been submitted for language correction should specify this in the 'Researcher declaration to accompany the submission of written work' that is part of the cover-page template 

Thesis abstract
Insert the thesis summary (up to 300 words) after the 'Researcher declaration to accompany the submission of written work' 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 be always in the same size.

Acknowledgements follow the Table of contents. Before writing the acknowledgements you may want to read this blogpost by Prof. Nouwen 

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.

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

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

Page last updated on 27 July 2023

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