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Formatting and Style Guide

Length and Content

The length of a master’s thesis or dissertation varies, depending on the topic, methods and analytical approach used. It is important to consult your adviser or committee members regarding the acceptable or appropriate length of your thesis. Although the parts of a dissertation is similar to that of a master’s thesis, it is generally longer (i.e., more than 80 pages). Remember to write concisely and clearly—aim for quality, not quantity.

Figure 1: Basic document specifications

Paper SizeA4
Text – Font and Point SizeTimes New Roman 12 pt
Line SpacingSingle spaced, except in cases where the use of mathematical symbols would make the text difficult to read.

Left margin: 3.0 cm

Right margin: 2.5 cm

Top margin: 2.5 cm

Bottom margin: 2.5 cm

Submission and Reproduction of the Final Draft

Requirements may vary from School to School. Check with your advisor or the School Secretary to confirm the process for submission, production and binding of your final draft. The final version of the thesis should be submitted to the Chair of the Academic Committee or the School Secretary on or before the announced date prior to graduation.

Title Page ( no page number)


The maximum number of words for a title is 12 words and “should be typed in upper and lowercase letters, centered between the left and right margins, and positioned in the upper half of the page” (Publication Manual, 2.01). Only words that are relevant and serves a particular purpose should be used not only to shorten the title, but also for indexing and compiling purposes. Therefore, the articles, a, an, and the, are normally excluded at the beginning of the title.


The first word of titles must be capitalized as well as all important words in the title and words of four letters or more. Major words in the title and the second part of the hyphenated compound word must be capitalized (e.g., Self-Report). In the case of a prefix, only the first letter of the word is capitalized (e.g., Pre-editing). The first letter of the word after a colon or a dash must also be capitalized. ‘A’ would be capitalized following this rule.

Acronyms or Abbreviations

Abbreviations in titles must be written in parenthesis AFTER the full name or term (e.g., Computer-Mediated Communication [CMC]) and must be consistently used all throughout the paper.

The AIT approved format for the title page must be followed precisely, and all title pages must be approved by the Language Center and the Registry.

General template thesis proposal (coming soon)

For Master’s Students

Click here for Thesis Title Page Format                       Master’s Thesis Title Page Sample

For Doctoral Students

Click here for Thesis/Dissertation Title Page Format           Thesis/Dissertation Title Page Sample            

Five steps for having your title page approved:

  • Print out your title page.
  • Have your advisor approve your title by signing on the title page
  • Write your email address, student ID number and field of study at the top of the signed title page.
  • Submit your signed title page to the Language Center for grammar checking.
  • Collect your title page from the Language Center after 1 – 2 days, and then, submit it to the Registry.

Acknowledgement (page i)

Number this page with a lower case Roman numeral i (one).

Abstract (page ii)

The abstract should not be more than 200 words. If your abstract exceeds 200 words, shorten it. Abstracts are commonly entered into computer databases where storage capacity is a consideration.

Number this page with a lower case Roman numeral ii (two).

Table of Contents (page iii)

There are two styles for chapter titles and so there are two styles for the Table-of-Contents page. They are the word – processed style and the type written style. Choose one style and be consistent. Make sure every chapter and section is entitled in the same style both in the Table of Contents and throughout the document. For both styles, follow these rules.

Omit third level sub-section headings from the table of contents.

Second level section headings may use either title capitalization or sentence capitalization (i.e., as in sentences only the first letter of the first word and names (proper nouns and adjectives) are capitalized; all other words in the title appear in lower case). Normally third level headings (subsection headings) follow sentence capitalization.

Compare Example 1 and 2 below. Note that first level chapter titles differ in the two styles. Note that these are written in bold type in both styles.

Figure 2:  Chapter titles in two styles

Number the Table of Contents page with a lower case Roman numeral iii (three).

See Figure 3 below for a sample of a word-processed table-of-contents page. The page has been manually constructed by a three-column table in Microsoft Word. See Figure 3 below for the table with gridlines.

Figure 3: Sample word-processed table-of-contents page

As mentioned in the previous page, the Table of Contents section shown above was created manually. The table’s gridlines and paragraph boundaries are visible in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Sample table- of-contents page with MS Word gridlines.

Download the Table of Contents template here.

Chapter Titles and Section Headings

Chapter titles or section headings should give the reader a clear indication of the content that follows. Chapter titles should be centered and bold. Sections may be bold; first level headings must use title capitalization or ALL CAPS while second level headings must use title or sentence capitalization –not all caps. Third level headings should be in sentence capitalization. Compare the two styles in Examples 1 and 2 below.

Example 1 – Word-processed style

First level- Chapter Title  
(title capitalization)Centered Chapter 1 Introduction
Second level- Section heading(title capitalization)Left-aligned

1.1 Background of the Study1.2 Statement of the Problem

1.3 Objectives of the Research

Third level – Subsection (sentence capitalization)Left-aligned1.3.1 Overall objective1.3.2 Specific objectives


  Example 1 – Typewritten style

First level –  Chapter TitleCenteredCHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
Second level – Section heading(sentence capitalization)Left-aligned

1.1 Background of the study1.2 Statement of the problem

1.3 Objectives of the research

Third level Subsection (sentence capitalization)Left-aligned1.3.1 Overall objective1.3.2 Specific objectives

Try to avoid a fourth level subsection (e.g. Discuss appropriate chapter titles and section headings with your advisor.

To prepare for your thesis proposal, see Thesis Structure and Content—Part 1. 

If you are preparing to write the remaining chapters of your thesis or dissertation, see Thesis Structure and Content—Part 2.

Following the APA style guide, the References section presents a list of all works the writer has cited or referred to in the texts. See the next part of this section for a specific guide to citing or referencing sources of information—Citations and References – The APA Style Guide.