To be understood, your thesis or dissertation must be in good English, but it must also be easy for the eye to follow.

The look of the page

  • – Use a good clear font (Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial are wise choices)
  • – Use a clear font size (12 point is usual)
  • – Stick to the same font throughout, including the title page
  • – Double-space the text
  • – Leave decent sized margins right and left
  • – Align left, but don’t tidy up the right hand margin; the convention is to leave the text ragged that side
  • – Use single spacing for quotations longer than about 40 words; indent quotations too, and separate them from the main text by a single line space before and after
  • – But don’t indent the first line of your paragraphs; leave a single line space between them instead
  • – Leave two line spaces at the end of a section or subsection
  • – Start each new chapter on a fresh page


  • – Don’t write headings all in capitals
  • – Don’t use a capital to begin every word; use upper and lower cases, the same as in the body of the text
  • – Use bold for headings; don’t underline
  • – Either leave a space between heading and text, using the Page Layout “Spacing” button on your toolbar …
  • … or do the same thing manually, using the line space key
  • – Leave a line space, too, between heading and subheading, or subheading and sub-subheading
  • – Don’t put a full stop after the heading number
  • – Save your full stops for subheading numbers (e.g. “1.4”, “7.4.3” etc)
  • – Number appendices with Roman numerals: Appendix I, II, III, etc

Whatever you do, be consistent!