Order and Components


  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page (optional)
  3. Abstract
  4. Dedication, Acknowledgement(s) and/or Preface (all optional)
  5. Table of Contents, with page references
  6. List of Tables, with titles and page references (if applicable)
  7. List of Figures or List of Illustrations, with titles and page references (if applicable)
  8. List of Abbreviations (if applicable)
  9. List of Symbols (if applicable)
  10. Chapters, including:
    1. Introduction, if any
    2. Main body (with the larger divisions and more important minor divisions indicated by suitable, consistent headings)
  11. Appendices (if applicable)
  12. Bibliography/References
Note: Many of the components following the title page and copyright page have required headings. Unless otherwise noted, capitalization of those headings is at the discretion of the author. For example, “LIST OF TABLES” and “List of Tables” are both acceptable. Choose one style to follow consistently.

Title Page

The title page of a thesis/dissertation should bear the following information:
  1. The title of the thesis/dissertation, centered 2? below the top of the page.

  2. Your name, centered 1? below the title.

  3. The following statement, within the full margins, 1? below your name:“A dissertation [or thesis] submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of ____________ in the Department [or School or Curriculum] of ____________.”When indicating degree, use full degree name (i.e., Doctor of Philosophy, not Ph.D.). Be sure to list your department, school, or curriculum rather than your subject area or discipline in the second blank. The latter, however, may appear in parentheses—e.g., “School of Dentistry (Endodontics)” or “Department of Romance Languages (French)”.

  4. One inch below the statement, centered, the words “Chapel Hill” and one line below that, the year in which your committee approves the completed thesis/dissertation.

  5. On the right-hand side of the page, “Approved by,” followed by each faculty member’s name. No signatures are needed on the title page.

Copyright Page

If you wish to copyright your thesis, you must include a copyright page with the following information single-spaced and centered on the bottom half of the page:

© Year Full Name (exactly as it appears on the title page) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This page should immediately follow the title page, and should bear the lower case Roman numeral: ii.

See Section III of this Guide for more information on copyrighting your thesis/dissertation.


The word “Abstract” should be centered 2? below the top of the page. Skip one line, then center your name followed by the title of the thesis/dissertation. Use as many lines as necessary. Centered below the title include the phrase, in parentheses, “(Under the direction of  _________)” and include the name(s) of the dissertation advisor(s).

Skip one line and begin the content of the abstract. It should be double-spaced and conform to margin guidelines. An abstract should not exceed 150 words for a thesis and 350 words for a dissertation. The latter is a requirement of both the Graduate School and UMI’s Dissertation Abstracts International.

Because your dissertation abstract will be published, please prepare and proofread it carefully. Print all symbols and foreign words clearly and accurately to avoid errors or delays. Make sure that the title given at the top of the abstract has the same wording as the title shown on your title page. Avoid mathematical formulas, diagrams, and other illustrative materials, and only offer the briefest possible description of your thesis/dissertation and a concise summary of its conclusions. Do not include lengthy explanations and opinions.

The abstract should bear the lower case Roman number ii (if you did not include a copyright page) or iii (if you include a copyright page).

Dedication, Acknowledgements, Preface (all optional)

Each of these should appear on a separate page and be numbered with lower case Roman numerals (starting with the page number after the abstract).

A dedication is an honorific statement from the author to a person or group to whom the author commends the effort and product of the dissertation. Most dedications are short statements of tribute beginning with “To…”. No heading is required on the dedication page. The text of short dedications should be centered between the left and right margins and 2? from the top of the page.

Acknowledgements are the author’s statement of gratitude to and recognition of the people and institutions who helped the author’s research and writing.

A preface is a statement of the author’s reasons for undertaking the work and other personal comments that are not directly germane to the materials presented in other sections of the thesis/dissertation. These reasons tend to be of a personal nature. The acknowledgments and preface both have headings that begin 2? from the top margin of their respective pages. There is no length limit, and subsequent pages of text return to the 1? top margin.

Table of Contents

Include the heading “Table of Contents” and center it 2? below the top of the page. The table of contents should not contain listings for the pages that precede it, but it must list all parts of the thesis/dissertation that follow it. Be sure to include the bibliography and all appendices and the page numbers at which these divisions begin, though these should not be assigned chapter numbers.

Major subheadings within chapters should be included in the table of contents. The subheading(s) should be indented to the right of the margin for chapter titles. The table of contents text should match the wording of titles for the parts, chapters, and subheadings used in the thesis/dissertation itself.

Page numbers in the table of contents should be located just inside the right-hand margin of the paper with leaders (lines of dots) filling out the space between the entry and the page number.

If an entry takes up more than one line, break up the entry about three-fourths of the way across the page and place the rest of it on a second line, single spacing the two lines. Double-space between entries.

List of Tables

Assign each table in your thesis/dissertation an Arabic numeral. You may number tables consecutively throughout the entire work (Table 1, Table 2, etc.), or you may assign each table a two-part Arabic numeral, the first number designating the chapter in which it appears, followed by a period, followed by a second number to indicate its consecutive placement in the chapter (Table 3.2 is the second table in Chapter Three, etc.). Do not include in the text typesetting notations often used when submitting manuscripts to a publisher (i.e., insert table x here).

The heading “List of Tables” should be centered and appear 1? from the top of the page. Double-space between the heading and the first entry. The table number and title should be located on the left margin. Page numbers should be located just inside the right margin of the paper with leaders filling out the space between the entry and the page number. Single-space a table and its title if it takes up more than one line and double-space between each entry. The table number and title in your list of tables should match the number and title appearing in the thesis/dissertation itself.

List of Figures or Illustrations

The heading “List of Figures” or “List of Illustrations” should be centered and appear 1? below the top of the page. Otherwise, follow the instructions given above for the list of tables.

List of Abbreviations

If you use abbreviations extensively in your thesis/dissertation, you should provide a list of abbreviations and their corresponding definitions. The heading “List of Abbreviations” should be centered and appear 1? below the top of the page. Arrange your abbreviations alphabetically at the left margin, single-space within each entry and double-space between entries.

List of Symbols

If you use symbols in your thesis/dissertation, you may combine them with your abbreviations, titling the section “List of Abbreviations and Symbols”, or you may set up a separate list of symbols and their definitions by following the instructions above for abbreviations. The heading you choose should be centered and appear 1? below the top of the page.