Thesis and Dissertation Formatting


For theses, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute has adopted the APA, parenthetical citation format as implemented by Purdue University as the format for theses and dissertations. For students in departmental or school MS programs (AT, BCM, CGT, CIT and TLI [IT]), additional information may be available on your department's graduate web site.

Formatting Your Thesis

TECH 646 (a required course for most students) assists the student in developing their proposal and therefore covers how to format the thesis or dissertation. Students who are not required to take TECH 646 may use the following guidelines to ensure their thesis or dissertation is acceptably formatted.

Foremost, students should use the University Microsoft Word Thesis template which is available on the graduate school's web site. This template has styles included within it to make formatting less cumbersome. The Graduate School also holds seminars on use of the template and following the formatting requirements.

Students should NOT use the LaTeX format provided by the university. Instead, if a student desires to use LaTeX, they should use the attached template.

Note that there are a few things that the Word template will not do. Even when using the thesis template, students must:


  1. Ensure that they do not use vertical lines in tables.
  2. Properly format captions for tables and figures (including proper italics for each).
  3. Ensure proper tabs for each paragraph and proper hanging indents on references.

Other specifics of the format can be seen in this example document that can be used as a guide for formatting theses and dissertations.

Formatting Review for Theses

Students are required to meet with the their Thesis Format Advisor at least two weeks before they defend their thesis. The last date to meet with the Thesis Advisor for a thesis formatting appointment is two weeks prior to the last day to defend the thesis. A thesis formatting appointment is mandatory. Students who do not meet with the Purdue Polytechnic Thesis Advisor and get the appropriate approval signature on the Form 9 will not graduate at the end of the semester.

Thesis advisors in the Purdue Polytechnic include the following:

Department Advisor To Schedule Appointment Contact
PhD Kathy Newton Felicia Anderson

The Thesis Formatting Review requires the following steps:

  1. Scheduling the meeting to occur before the thesis/dissertation defense.
  2. Submitting an electronic copy of the thesis via email to the Thesis Advisor two days prior to the review meeting for submission to the iThenticate plagiarism checking software.
  3. Attending the Thesis review meeting.

Note that the thesis format review does not apply to directed projects. Only theses and dissertations are reviewed for format requirements.

Scheduling Formatting Appointment

To make a thesis formatting appointment with the Thesis Advisor, students will need to email the contact shown above. Once the thesis has been approved, the student may schedule a defense. It is recommended that students make an appointment with the thesis advisor as early as possible.

Providing an iThenticate Copy

Two days prior to your scheduled Thesis Advising appointment, you should email a complete copy of your thesis as a single Word or PDF document with no images to your Thesis Advisor. After receiving your document, the Thesis Advisor will submit your electronic document to the iThenticate application to verify there is no plagiarism within the document. At the Thesis Advising appointment you will be able to review the results of the check as well as receive the electronic results.

NOTE: You should bring a USB drive or other storage media with you to the Thesis Advising appoint so that you may receive a copy of the iThenticate results.

Attending the Formatting Appointment

Please e-mail Dr. Newton ( a copy of your dissertation two days prior to your formatting appointment.

Thesis Pre-review

If a student is in doubt whether their document is formatted correctly, they may email a sample from their thesis to the Thesis Format Advisor for review and comment. “Pre-review” meetings are also a possibility but must occur before the sixth (6th) week of each semester.

Three-Article Dissertation Format (Alternative)

Having an article-based dissertation is a collection of 3 (minimum) published (or accepted for publication without further revision) research articles in high quality refereed journals related to a common theme. Prior to submission to the journals for publication, the candidate must obtain approval of each article and the journals from all current Committee members. The relationship between the articles and theory bases they are drawn from must be described in an introductory chapter. Crosscutting themes, conclusions, implications and recommendations that may be drawn from across the articles must be described in a concluding chapter. 

Students are required to be first author, and confirm their contributions of each article before their listings according to the following Multiple Author Policy.


Multiple Author Policy

(Adapted from Morgan, 1984)

A author is a person who has used professional skills to make a significant contribution to a published article and who can take public responsibility for its content.

A significant contribution is a contribution without which the article would have been seriously compromised in scope or quality. A significant contribution to a research project may be made by an author in one or more of the following research phases:

  • Conceptualization and design,
  • Methodology and/or simulation design,
  • Execution,
  • Data Collection,
  • Analysis,
  • Findings,
  • Conclusions, and/or
  • Recommendations

Types of work that are specifically excluded from this definition are as follows:

  • Referring subjects to researchers,
  • Performing routine laboratory work, data entry, or analysis,
  • Any nonprofessional work, and
  • Proofreading or correction of the format or style of the article.

Unjustified multiple authorship dilutes the value of authorship, reduces the credibility of the study and can violate the essential principle that science can advance only through the work of those who understand what they are saying.

Reference: Morgan, P. P. (1984). How many authors can dance on the head of an article? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 130, 842.

Student authors are required to confirm contributions to each paper with the following statement.  My contributions within the parameters of this article are:  _____________________________________________.  List each author and their contribution to this article. An example may look like this style from the Transportation Research Record:

Author Contributions

The authors confirm contribution to the paper as follows: study conception and design: Author1lastname, I.; data collection: Author2lastname, X.; analysis and interpretation of results: Author3last, Z, and Author1lastname, I.; draft manuscript preparation: Author1lastname, I. and Author4last, Y. All authors reviewed the results and approved the final version of the manuscript.

A dissertation authored using this structure will need to include acknowledgement of prior publication within the respective chapter, and permission from the Journal for publication with the following statements.  The Journal of ________________________ ________________________________ provided permission for me to publish this article titled ___________________________________________ in this dissertation.  Please attach permission letters in Appendices.

Although each journal may have specific statement requirements, the acknowledgment should be single spaced and appear 3 single spaces under the chapter title. Consult your publisher regarding required information that should appear in this acknowledgment.

Three-Article Dissertation Contents

All dissertations will conform to Purdue Polytechnic and Purdue Graduate School formatting and format review guidelines. A typical article-based dissertation will use the following structure:

Preliminary pages

  • Title page
  • Statement of Approval and authorship page
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Acknowledgments (optional)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Abstract

Main Body pages

  • Introduction of Dissertation Research and Overview of Purpose and Significance of Research.  Research question(s) addressed overall, and the question(s) addressed in each published article. Discussion of how these articles address the research question. Additional information may need to be provided; e.g. the survey development may need more discussion and to be supplemented with the IRB information and a copy of the survey instrument; or other pertinent research details that may not appear in the specific articles. 
  • Published Article #1
  • Published Article #2
  • Published Article #3
  • Additional Published Articles numbered
  • Discussion of overall contribution supported by the contributions of each article. Crosscutting themes, conclusions, implications and recommendations that may be drawn from across the articles must be described.

Back Matter pages

  • Appendix (Include Permission Letters for Previously Published Articles)
  • References
  • Vita (optional)
  • List of Publications (optional)