Skip to Main Content

Microsoft Word for Dissertations

Describes many of the special features of Microsoft Word you can use to make formatting your dissertation easier. While it's focused on dissertations, this information is useful for any long document.

Finalizing Your Dissertation if You Haven't Used Styles

If you have not been using styles in your document (or if you don’t know what ‘styles’ are) AND are within days of having to turn in your document, then trying to incorporate styles might be difficult. You can manually make a table of contents and list of figures as well as other adjustments to your margins and page numbers.

Creating the Table of Contents and Figures -- as well as page and caption numbering -- may be less painful if you combine all of your chapters into one large file. However, sometimes when the chapters are combined, the formatting can go haywire. If you try it and things go bad, then you might want to keep them separate and adjust the steps below as needed for each file.

If you combined the chapters into one file, follow the steps below to add the two-inch margin for chapter titles and a manual table of contents – inserting footnotes, pages numbers, etc. is the same for those who used styles and are in the rest of this document.

Two-Inch Margins

  1. Click on the text that needs a 2 inch margin. In the Home Ribbon, click on the Expand icon in the Paragraph Group.  The Paragraph dialog box will appear.
  2. In the Spacing section of the Paragraph dialog box, set the Before setting to 1 in. or 72 pt (these are equivalent values). This one inch of space before your chapter heading, combined with the normal 1 inch margin will give you two inches of space.
  3. Click OK until you are back at your document.
  4. Repeat these steps on every page for which you need a two-inch margin.

Table of Contents

  1. Put your cursor where the Table of Contents should appear.
  2. Modify the tab settings to get the page numbers to line up correctly on the right side of the page.
    • In the Home Ribbon, click on the Expand icon in the Paragraph Group.  The Paragraph dialog box will appear.
    • Click the Tabs… button. In the Tabs dialog box, type in 6” in the Tab Stop Position box, select Right as the alignment, then choose Option 2 (the “….”) as the leader.
    • Click OK.
    • Type in the text for the item in the table of contents, press the Tab key, then type in the page number.
    • Since we’ve changed the tab setting, you can’t use the Tab key to indent your text for the subheadings by ½ and inch anymore.  In this situation, click the Increase Indent icon in the Paragraph Group of the Home Ribbon to indent the text.