Formatting your dissertation (or thesis) will likely take more time than you expect. But using the special features described in this Guide will save you a great deal of work, particularly if you use our template (available in the box below). The earlier you begin to use these tools, the more time you'll save and the less stress you'll have as your submission deadline approaches. Students at the University of Michigan are also encouraged to contact the experts at the Library's ScholarSpace anytime you run into a problem or have a question.
To meet Rackham’s Dissertation Formatting Guidelines you will need to modify the standard settings that Microsoft Word uses. This guide will show you how to use the tools to make the necessary modifications. While we do follow the requirements from Rackham’s formatting guidelines to demonstrate the tools, in the end, you are responsible for verifying that your document meets the requirements that Rackham sets.
To save yourself time and effort, please consider using our Dissertation Template (link available in the box below). Many of the settings discussed in this Guide are already included in that document.
Please note that, as a University of Michigan student, you have free access to the Microsoft Office suite of tools -- including Microsoft Word. Visit this link to learn more and to download Office to your own computer.
LaTeX is a writing and markup language often used in science and engineering documents because it allows for great control in creating complex equations and formulas. ScholarSpace does not maintain a template for dissertations created with LaTeX, and we can only provide very limited support for it. That said, there is a community of U-M folks who actively maintain this LaTeX template to keep it in line with Rackham's guidelines.
Here are some other very useful resources:
No. Google Docs can get you pretty far down the road to something that looks like what Rackham requires, however, it's going to take a lot more work to get that far, and as you approach the finish line there will be obstacles that Google Docs just won't be able to get around. The issue is that Google Docs was not designed for complicated documents like a thesis or dissertation. To get it to do many of the special things that Rackham requires, you'll have to do a lot of work that Word will just do for you. A few examples:
If you're concerned about the learning curve of using Word, please know that this Guide goes over how to do everything, AND the Word template found here has nearly everything already set up for you. We also regularly offer a workshop that serves as an introduction to the most useful features, and you can set up a meeting with a ScholarSpace expert anytime you run into something that you can't figure out.
This Guide is all about how to properly format your dissertation -- how to make it look the way Rackham wants it to look. But what if you need help with the actual composition of your content? Our friends at the Sweetland Writing Center offer such assistance, through their Writing Workshop program. From their website:
These are just a few quick but especially important tips to help you get started. See our more expansive Tips & Troubleshooting section for suggestions that are a little more complex.