Graduate School

Graduate Thesis and Dissertation Handbook

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In 1999, OhioLINK created the OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Center in Columbus, at the request of the Ohio Board of Regents’ Advisory Committee on Graduate Study (RACGS). The ETD center was launched in 2001 as an online repository for master’s theses and doctoral dissertations produced by students studying at Ohio institutions.

In Winter Quarter 2006, the Wright State University Graduate Council approved the conversion from paper to electronic (i.e., ETD) copies for Wright State theses and dissertations deposited for graduation in Fall Quarter 2006 and beyond.

Until Fall Quarter 2006, the submission of a thesis or dissertation in ETD format was an option. Theses and dissertations submitted for Fall Quarter 2006 and beyond must be deposited with OhioLINK and filed as ETD’s on OhioLINK’s servers.

OhioLINK, therefore, is the ETD repository for the state universities system in Ohio.

I. Procedures

This handbook sets forth minimum requirements to be followed in all master's theses and doctoral dissertations submitted to OhioLINK or to the Graduate School. For purposes of brevity and clarity, in this handbook, the terms "thesis" and "theses" will be used to discuss both master's theses and doctoral dissertations. This handbook is basically a guide to format, not an exhaustive guide to style or to the process of developing and writing a thesis. Individual departments or programs may stipulate additional requirements, and, in matters of format, style, and procedure not specified in this handbook, students should seek the advice of their thesis directors. For matters not specified by this handbook, or by departments, you should consult the latest edition of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian. It should be followed when departments do not specify a style manual. Other manuals can also be used, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual, The Modern Language Association of America (MLA) Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, the Chicago Manual of Style, etc. All of these manuals are available as library reference materials or they may be purchased at most bookstores. Also, the University Writing Center (031 Dunbar Library) sells reasonably priced mini-manuals, which provide basic format and citation information for APA and MLA styles. The important point to remember is that the thesis must be consistent in both the style employed and the format selected. If you have any questions or concerns about style and/or format, you should contact the Graduate School, E344 Student Union, telephone (937) 775-2976, or e-mail

Format Check

At your request, the Graduate School will make a format check of any thesis prior to final deposit. The format check should be submitted electronically to This review will evaluate the thesis for format and style as established in this handbook. This review is intended to minimize the likelihood of thesis rejection after the deposit deadline. However, it in no way guarantees the acceptability of the final copy. To allow ample time for completing the final deposit copy, you are advised to arrange for a format check well in advance of the deposit deadline. Format checks will be done as soon as possible, but please allow at least two (2) days for completion.

Final Deposit

OhioLINK requires that the ETD must be submitted in PDF format. One copy of the PDF thesis must be deposited at the OhioLINK ETD Center by going to not later than 30 days after the end of the semester in which the degree will be granted (due dates are published by the Graduate School and distributed to the departments and program offices). This final copy should follow the form prescribed in this handbook and should be carefully produced, free of errors in style, mechanics, and format 

Instructions for submitting your ETD are on the OhioLINK Web site.  You will be asked to create a user account and then provide identifying information about yourself, your department, and your ETD, and then you will be permitted to upload your pdf thesis to the OhioLINK site. If you have technical questions about putting your ETD together, converting it to a pdf document, or submitting it to OhioLINK, you should visit the Student Technology Assistance Center (STAC), 240 Paul Laurence Dunbar Library, telephone: (937) 775-2656 for help and assistance. STAC’s facilities are modern and up-to-date, its staff is helpful and professional, its hours of operation offer much flexibility, and its services are free. 

The Graduate School is notified by OhioLINK when an ETD is deposited, and final approval is the Graduate School’s responsibility, not OhioLINK’s. Final copies will not be approved at OhioLINK if errors in format require corrections.

* The PDF file must include the typed thesis approval page, but without signatures.

* One (1) copy of the typed thesis approval page with signatures must be submitted to the Graduate School for filing. The ETD cannot be approved until the Graduate School receives the signed thesis approval page.

You should check with your advisor to determine if your department or program requires additional electronic or paper copies.

In cases where a thesis cannot be prepared as an ETD (e.g., some creative theses, etc.), the student may request a waiver to the ETD requirement by submitting an academic petition to the Graduate School in advance of the due date.

II. Responsibilities

Graduate School

The Graduate School is responsible for determining that all deposit copies conform to the requirements set forth in this handbook. The Graduate School reserves the right to refuse, for final deposit, any thesis that does not meet these requirements. Your final copy must be approved and signed by the Dean of the Graduate School before your degree will be posted to your academic record.

Departments and Programs

Departments and programs are responsible for developing and enforcing the procedures and regulations guiding the process of writing and approving a thesis, and for establishing matters of format and style not prescribed by this handbook. They are also responsible for making these procedures and regulations known to you. The signatures of your thesis committee members on the approval sheet certify that the content of your thesis meets an acceptable standard of scholarship and reflects a level of research, originality, and writing style appropriate for master's and doctoral candidates. In addition, the signature of the department chair/program director verifies that you have successfully passed the oral defense of the thesis and that the format is acceptable to the department/program. It is the department's responsibility to ensure that all committee members have appropriate graduate faculty status.


The student is responsible for following all of the procedures and regulations governing the preparation of an approved thesis, including the standards and requirements of the department or program and the Graduate School as outlined in this handbook. You have the ultimate responsibility for the content, scholarship, and style of your thesis, and for maintaining a high standard of written expression. If you need editorial assistance, you are responsible for securing it. Your thesis director and advisory committee members will work with you on thesis content and scholarship standards. While they may also help you in the composition and construction of the thesis document itself, please remember that proofreading and other editorial chores are not the duty of your thesis advisors. You are responsible for making any corrections and/or additions as required by the thesis director, the thesis committee, and the Graduate School. Submission and retrieval of thesis format check documents at the Graduate School, as well as mailing costs, when necessary, are also student responsibilities.

III. Section of the Thesis

Order of Sections

The prescribed order is given below. Asterisked (*) sections are optional (at the discretion of the student, advisor, or department) except that lists of figures and tables are required when figures and tables appear in the text. Theses which do not follow the prescribed order will be rejected for improper format.

preliminary pages

title page
*copyright page
approval sheet   (signed copy to the Graduate School; unsigned copy with ETD to OhioLINK)
table of contents
*list of figures or illustrations
*list of tables


text of thesis

reference pages

bibliography (or references)

Title Page

The title page must conform exactly in spacing and capitalization to the sample in Appendix A (Master's) or Appendix K (Doctoral). Your name should be given in full and in all capital letters and must be followed by previous degree(s). The date at the bottom of the page should indicate the year in which your degree will be conferred. The title should clearly describe the contents of the thesis. If possible, word substitutes should be used for formulas, symbols, superscripts, Greek letters, and so on.

Below is a template for the Title Page that can be downloaded, completed, and then copied into the beginning of the thesis/dissertation Word document. 

Title Page Fillable Form (DOCX)


A copyright gives the author of a thesis or dissertation the right to exclude others from reproducing or displaying one's original work. If you are interested in applying to copyright your thesis or dissertation, you should visit the U.S. Copyright Office's official Website for information and downloading forms. (See sample copyright page at Appendix L.)

In cases where a patent, copyright, or other intellectual property issue is involved, the student and advisor can request a publication delay, or embargo, of the ETD from the Dean of the Graduate School, for up to one year at a time. In this case, the ETD is placed on a secure OhioLINK server.  It is not released to an Ohio LINK public server until approved by the University.

Approval (Signature) Sheet

As stated above, a paper copy of your signed approval sheet must be submitted to the Graduate School when or before you submit your final ETD to OhioLINK. Approval sheets are to be prepared by the students and are not supplied by the Graduate School. The approval sheets may be duplicated, but all signatures on them must be originals. The approval sheet should conform to the sample in Appendix B (Master's) or Appendix M (Doctoral). You may submit additional copies of the approval sheet for the Graduate Dean's signature which can be returned to you, as needed. You must come to the Graduate School to reclaim approval sheets, as they will not be forwarded to you.

The approval sheet in the electronic file should have printed names (see sample approval sheets at Appendices B and M but no signatures. The copy delivered to and retained by the Graduate School must be signed; the copy sent to OhioLINK with your ETD must not be signed.

Below is a template for the Approval Page that can be downloaded, completed, and then copied into the beginning of the thesis/dissertation Word document. 

Thesis Signature Sheet Fillable Form (DOCX)

Dissertation Signature Sheet Fillable Form (DOCX)


The abstract should succinctly summarize the contents of the thesis, stating the problem, the procedure or methods used, the results, and any conclusions. Doctoral dissertation abstracts should not exceed 350 words. Master's thesis abstracts should not exceed 150 words. For the format, see the sample in Appendix C.

Below is a template for the Abstract Page that can be downloaded, completed, and then copied into the beginning of the thesis/dissertation Word document. 

Abstract Fillable Form (DOCX)

Other Sections

For details of format and style relating to other sections of the thesis (including footnote and bibliography style), students should consult Turabian, the style manual recommended by their department or program, or any other standard style manual being used. The sample table of contents, list of figures, and list of tables in Appendices D, E, and F, respectively, provide examples of suitable formats for those parts of the thesis. Appendix G provides a suitable sample format for the text of your thesis. Appendix H provides a sample thesis appendix. Appendix I provides a sample bibliography. Appendix J provides a sample reference, or literature cited, list which may be used either with, or in place of, the bibliography. (In certain scientific fields, a list of "References" or "Literature Cited" may be more appropriate than a standard "Bibliography". While Appendix J represents one approach, please note that lists of References or Literature Cited formats differ among various scientific fields. You should check with your thesis advisor, or refer to one of the standardized thesis preparation manuals for the format which is appropriate to your academic field.) Care should be taken to maintain consistency of style and format throughout the thesis.

IV. Preparation of the Manuscript


All pages are to have approximately 1 1/2" margins on the left, and approximately 1" margins on the right, bottom, and top. The only exception is that the first page of a chapter or section must have an approximate 2" margin at the top (see Appendices A through M). Supplementary materials (printouts, tables, photographs, questionnaires, etc.) must also meet these margin requirements.


The general text must be double-spaced. The spacing of long quotations, footnotes, tables, bibliographies, captions, etc., should conform to the specifications of this handbook, the style manual adopted by the student's department/program, or to Turabian. Spacing must be consistent throughout. See Appendix G for an example of the recommended layout and spacing for chapter titles, subheadings, etc.


Preliminary pages. The pages preceding the text (e.g., abstract, table of contents, dedication, etc.) are to be numbered in lower case Roman numerals (i.e., iii, iv, xi, etc.; see Appendices C, D, E, and F) and centered five lines (or, approximately 3/4") above the bottom of the page. The title page and the approval sheet are counted as preliminary pages, but they are not to be numbered. Preliminary pages are numbered consecutively, beginning with "iii" on the first page of the abstract. If, however, a copyright page is used, then the numbering begins with "iv" on the first page of the abstract.

Text and reference pages. Starting with the first page of the text, or body of the thesis, the remaining pages of the thesis (including the bibliography and appendices) are numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals (i.e., 1, 2, 3, etc.), starting with page number 1 on the first page of the text. Numbers on the first page of a chapter or a section are to be centered five lines (or, approximately 3/4") above the bottom of the page. All succeeding numbers in the chapter or section are to be typed in the upper right hand corner, five lines (or, approximately 3/4") below the top edge of the page and 3/4" to 1" from the right side of the page. As an option, page numbers may be placed five lines (or, approximately 3/4") above the bottom of the page (and centered) on all pages. Do not use punctuation marks before or after page numbers, do not use the word "page" with the number, and do not underline the page numbers (see Appendix G) for examples of this requirement).

Sample Pages (Appendices A through M)

The following appendices are taken from parts of several theses submitted and approved by the Graduate School. You should view these samples as guidelines to the appropriate style and format for your thesis. Appendices A through F and K through M are samples of a standardized Wright State University format which should be followed, in all particulars, when preparing your thesis. The text of your thesis should conform to the Sample Format for Text (Appendix G) in terms of pagination, spacing, and structure. The appendices and bibliography (or references) should conform to the samples at Appendices H, I, and J. Footnoting and the displaying of tables and figures may vary, depending on the style manual used or recommended by your department or program (e.g., Turabian, APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

Appendix (PDF)