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Microsoft Word for Dissertations

Helps you use Microsoft Word for your dissertation. Topics include: formatting page numbers, using chapter templates, footnotes, images, and figures.

Introduction to Word for Dissertation

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. 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 – as well as any set by your school or department – you will need to modify the default, standard Word document. This online guide is intended to 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 to the right). 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.

Guide Contents

Word for Dissertation Content and Resources

  • Introduction
  • Getting Help
  • Tips
  • Video Contents

Insertions

  • Inserting Footnotes and Endnotes
  • Using Images, Charts and Other Non-Text Objects
  • Inserting Captions
  • Using Cross-references

Working with Styles

  • Applying and Choosing a Style
  • Modifying Styles
  • Modifying Heading 1 Example
  • Setting Margins
    • Setting a Two-Inch Margin Using Styles

Automatic Numbering

  • Customizing Your Numbers
  • Outline Numbering in Appendices

Creating and Using Templates

Combining Chapters

Finalizing Dissertation Without Styles

Adding Page Numbers

  • Adding page numbers general information
  • Using sections to control page numbering
  • Breaking the connection between sections
  • Adding the page numbers

Landscape Pages

  • Creating a Landscape Section
  • Disconnecting the Landscape Section
  • Adding Page Numbers to the Landscape Pages

Automatic Table of Contents and Lists

  • Create an Automatic Table of Contents
  • Create Automatic Lists of Figures, Tables and Equations
  • Appendices

Commenting and Reviewing

  • Using Tracked Changes
  • Merging Comments and Changes into One Document
  • Accepting and Rejecting Changes

Tips

  • Save early, save often, and create backup versions as you go along.
  • Try to avoid switching between platforms as you work on your document. Frequently switching between Mac and Windows can sometimes introduce odd problems.
  • Share your file(s) with your advisors using Tracked Changes (Commenting and Reviewing).
  • Be sure to toggle the visibility of non-printing characters, so you can see how your document is being formatted, and you can better avoid accidentally deleting section and page breaks. Deleting these can affect Style formatting, page numbering, and other aspects of your document.
  • If you use EndNote to manage your citations and create your bibliography, use only one EndNote library for your entire dissertation (see our EndNote Basics guide).
  • Use styles to control the formatting of your dissertation and create a template (or download ours) to use for all of your chapters. The bulk of this document revolves around the use of styles.
    • Set the margins including the two-inch margin for chapters titles (Setting Margins).
    • Define styles for Headings 1-3, Normal, Captions, and Quotes – these are most common; you may need others (Working with Styles).
    • If headings need to be numbered (for example, 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, etc.), define a multi-level list (Automatic Numbering).
    • If captions need to include the chapter number, define a multi-level list (Automatic Numbering).

Word Handouts & Dissertation Templates

Dissertation Formatting Checklist

Rackham's list of formatting issues to check on your dissertation. 

Help with Microsoft Word

Members of the University of Michigan community can get dissertation & thesis formatting assistance from the experts at ScholarSpace:

Please visit this link to make an appointment, or send an email to scholarspace@umich.edu. We're here to solve any formatting problems you've run into, and can give you guidance about captioning figures, solving numbering issues, creating a List of Tables/Figures/Appendices, and more.