A Manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses

by Susan L. Smith and John M. Robson

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

2nd Edition

This manual was endorsed by the Graduate Studies Committee of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. We would like to thank Purdue University for allowing us to use portions of Purdue's A Manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses, Third Revised Edition, 1982.

Table of Contents


The work you have done up to this point in preparing to write your thesis is outside the province of this manual. It assumes that your research is complete, that your final thesis draft has been examined and approved by your major professor and committee members, and that you are now ready to prepare the thesis in final form.

This manual sets out the requirements for thesis format established by the Graduate Studies Committee of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. These requirements must be met as a minimum in order to procure the approval of the Director of the Library. Individual departments of the Institute may have various additional requirements or may specify in greater detail those that follow. We urge you to learn first from your own graduate committee what, if any, special departmental requirements apply to you and then, taking these into consideration, to prepare your thesis in accordance with the instructions of this manual.

The format approval review of the deposit copy of your thesis is intended to assist you in meeting the requirements of this manual. You are urged to consult the Director of the Library if you have questions. Because there may be problems, do not wait until the deadline periods.

Procedure for Thesis Approval and Deposit

This chapter presents the required procedure for thesis approval and deposit. A candidate who fails to meet these requirements will not graduate and must register for the following quarter. For regulations governing this registration, you are referred to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Thesis Format Approval

The deadline for thesis format approval is two weeks before commencement. Following the defense, take the unbound corrected copy of your completed thesis to the Director of the Library. The paper for the format approval copy must be 8 1/2 by 11 inch but does not have to meet quality requirements. The Director of the Library will provide an approval statement that the student gives to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Duplication of Thesis

After thesis format approval, have the thesis duplicated. Three copies are required by the Graduate Studies Committee. Additional copies may be required by the department or may be produced at the student's option for his or her own use. Duplication costs are the responsibility of the student.

Deposit Copy

One copy of your thesis, called the deposit copy, is deposited with the Director of Graduate Studies for addition to the Institute Library theses collection and must meet the specifications for quality paper, typing, format, duplication, and the other requirements set forth in this manual. You must pay for binding the deposit copy.

Major Professor's Copy

You must give one copy of your thesis to your major professor and it becomes his or her property. You must pay for binding the major professor's copy.

Stack Copy

One copy of your thesis serves as the circulating document. This copy is called the "stack copy." The library will pay for binding the stack copy.

Deposit of Thesis

No later than one week prior to commencement, deliver all copies to the Director of Graduate Studies accompanied by a receipt from the Director of the Library stating that you have paid for all binding.


Library Use of Institute Theses

The deposit copy of each thesis becomes a part of the thesis collection of the Institute Library and is available for review. Although you may wish to examine model theses already in the collection as examples, the guidelines in this manual must be followed. Ask the Director of the Library for model suggestions.

Use of Copyrighted Material in Theses

If you quote extensively from copyrighted material, you should obtain permission from the author or publisher, whichever holds the copyright. Such permission is usually granted on condition that acknowledgment is made. If payment is required, this is your responsibility. Be very sure that you obtain permission to use all such material before you submit your thesis for approval.

Copyrighting of Theses

If you want to have your thesis copyrighted, you must have a letter from your major professor and the head of your department addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies requesting that the thesis be copyrighted. In this letter they should state the reasons they consider it desirable or necessary.

Confidential Status of Thesis

If your thesis is to be placed in confidential status, consult the Director of Graduate Studies for information.

Assistance in Preparation of Thesis

This manual assumes that you have adequate command of the English language and its constructions, spelling, and usage. Assistance, if needed, should be sought in standard dictionaries and handbooks of composition. See Appendix G. You may submit your manuscript for review at the Learning Center.

Manuscript Preparation

We suggest that you become thoroughly familiar with the requirements of this manual and with the special publication requirements of your department. It is imperative that the final manuscript adhere to these rules as set down. You bear the responsibility for the appearance, the form, and content of your thesis. All copies must be identical.

Duplication Processes

Both xerographic copies and copies printed on a letter quality or laser printer are acceptable. In either case, you must use paper which meets the specifications set forth in this manual. The only exception is the listing of a computer program in which case a letter-quality printer need not be used. Typed copies are also acceptable, but not recommended. Any other methods of reproduction must be discussed with the Director of the Library and your duplication service before you begin to prepare your final copy.

Note: Preparation and duplication of theses can be expensive. It is suggested that you have a clear understanding in advance of the cost of photographic work, drawings, and duplication before final typing is started. You should consult the Institute Printing and Duplication Center for information about special materials required for the reproducing of the graphics used in illustrating your thesis.


Opening Component

Title Page

A title page is required. This page is the primary way by which the thesis will be identified. This page is not numbered, but it is counted as the first page (i) of the opening component. The contents of the title page are as follows:

Abstract Page

An abstract page must accompany all theses for approval. Along with text of the abstract itself, the abstract page must contain a heading, the candidate's names as it appears on the title page with the last name first, the abbreviation of the degree, the name of the institution granting the degree, the month and year the degree is obtained, the title of the thesis (wording and punctuation to agree exactly with the Title Page) and the name of the major professor.

Place the heading ABSTRACT, in capital letters, centered, without punctuation, two inches from the top of the page. The rest of the text begins four spaces below the heading, is double-spaced, and is flush with the left-hand margin. The text of the abstract should include a statement of the thesis problem, a brief exposition of the research, and a condensed summary of findings. Remember, the abstract may be used separate from the main text of the thesis for reference purposes. Therefore, the abstract should not make reference to any tables or figures nor to other works. Also, all nonstandard symbols or abbreviations should be defined and the use of equations should be avoided. The maximum length of the abstract is 350 words not including the first paragraph as described above. The abstract is neither counted nor numbered.


A dedication is optional. If used, it should be brief and centered on its own page. No heading is necessary.


Acknowledgments are also optional, but most theses do include a brief statement of appreciation or recognition of special assistance. If you intend to include them, place them on their own page with the heading, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, in capital letters, centered, without punctuation, two inches from the top of the page. The text begins four spaces below.

Table of Contents

A table of contents is required. The function of a table of contents is to allow the thesis to be used efficiently. It provides an overview of the thesis' structure and an index for selective reading of the thesis. All materials following the Table of Contents are listed in it. No preceding material is listed. The titles of parts, sections, or chapters, and their principal subdivisions should be listed in the Table of Contents and must be worded exactly as they appear in the body of the thesis. The heading TABLE OF CONTENTS, in capital letters, is centered, without punctuation, two inches from the top of the page. The listing begins at the left-hand margin four spaces below the heading.

List of Tables and Figures

You should list any tables or figures used in the thesis on a separate page. The listing begins at the left-hand margin four spaces below the heading. The List of Tables or List of Figures uses exactly the same numbers and captions as appear with the tables and figures in the text or in the appendices. The heading LIST OF TABLES or LIST OF FIGURES, in capital letters, is centered, without punctuation two inches from the top of the page.

Lists of Symbols, Abbreviations, Nomenclature; Glossary

If needed in your thesis, place these lists after the Lists of Tables and Figures in the Preliminaries. Follow a form acceptable to your field of study.


There are no specific requirements of the Graduate Studies Committee for the internal organization of your text. The requirements are only that you use some standard scheme of organization and that you use one system consistently throughout the thesis. The recommendations presented here are not intended to be restrictive. You can chose your own system, if your major professor agrees.


The Introduction may constitute either the entire first chapter or only the opening statement of the first chapter. If the introduction is to be included as a separate chapter, the heading, INTRODUCTION, is the title of the first chapter (or major division) and its placement is consistent with that of other chapter titles. If the introduction is included only as an opening statement, it requires no special treatment.

Body of the Thesis

This is the substance of the thesis, the detailed written statement of your research. The internal organization of this material into chapters, sections, and subsections is up to you and your major professor. Divisions and subdivisions should be introduced by brief descriptive headings which, by variations of format, indicate the relative importance of the text divisions.

Summary and Conclusions

These are usually treated as the last major division of the Text.


The Recommendations section follows the Conclusions only if the subject matter permits and if you wishe to include it.

Reference Material

There is a wide diversity of content and location of notes in the publications of the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. You are strongly encouraged to use the in-text or parenthetical system of documentation which cites the work by its designated number in the List of References and relevant paging. Your reference might look like the following:

		. . . The evidence for the theory has been widely
		explained [4: 382-383].

Every thesis makes use of other writings, either in direct quotation or by reference. Your thesis must contain a List of References. Pertinent works that have been consulted but not specifically cited should be listed under the subheading General References, and references specifically cited should be listed under the subheading Cited References.. Place the List of References immediately after the text. See Appendix F.

The references begin with a cover sheet bearing the heading LIST OF REFERENCES, in capital letters, centered, and without punctuation. This page is neither counted nor numbered. The heading is repeated on the first page of the LIST OF REFERENCES itself, two inches from the top, centered, and without punctuation. The list of references begins four spaces below the heading.

In general, each item consulted in the preparation of the thesis, whether cited specifically or mentioned in general, should be numbered and listed in an alphabetical order. The elements are the following: Author(s), Title, Publisher, and Year. The elements should be given in full form to facilitate easy retrieval by others. Do not abbreviate any useful data, for example an author's first name if given or the journal title in full. The List of References is double-spaced. For additional guidance consult your advisor. See Appendix G for style authorities.

Style of Citation


Single Author
Ulrich, Henri.  Introduction to Industrial Polymers.  Munchen: 
     Hanser, 1972.
Multiple Authors
Edwin, G., and Thomas Roddam.  Principles of Feedback Design.  New 
     York: Hayden Book Co., 1964.

Colcaser, Roy A., Donald A. Neamen, and Charles F. Hawkins.  
     Electronic Circuit Analysis: Basic Principles.  New York: John 
     Wiley, 1984.
No personal author, list by sponsoring agency
National Semiconductor.  Series 32000 Microprocessor Databook.  Santa 
     Clara, Calif.: National Semiconductor, 1988. 

Periodical Articles

Single author
Grounds, Preston W.  "Numerical Analysis of Finite Frequency 
     Selective Surfaces with Rectangular Patches of Various Aspect 
     Ratios."  IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation 39 
    (1991): 569-575.
Multiple authors
Kohl, M., and J.P. Harrison.  "SQUID Magnetometer Designed for High 
     Temperature Superconductors." Cryogenics 31 (1991): 369-372.

Rao, P. Srinivasa, P.K. Aravindan and K. Ramanjaneyulu. "Buckling 
     Safety of Cooling tower Shells: Evaluation of Some Important 
     Code Provisions."  ACI Structural Journal 88 (1991): 325-329.

Rabitti, Fausto, Elisa Bertino, Won Kim, and Darrell Woelk.  "A Model 
     of Authorization for Next-generation Database Systems."  ACM 
     Transactions on Database Systems 16 (1991): 88-131.
No author, list by title
"Quality Programs Drive Heat Transfer Technology."  Chemical 
     Engineering 98 (June 1991): 125-126.

Parts of Books

Conference paper
Chang, J., W.F. Filter, G.J. Lockwood, and B.T. Neyer.  "Photonic 
     Methods of High Speed Analog Data Recording."  In Proceedings of 
     the 16th International Congress on High Speed Photography and 
     Photonics, edited by M. Andre and M. Hugenschmidt, 12-21.  
     Bellingham, Wash.: SPIE-The International Society for Optical 
     Engineering, 1985. 
Article in Book
Locke, Doug.  "The Ada Programming Support Environment."  In The Ada 
     Programming Language: A Tutorial, edited by Sabina H. Saib and 
     Robert E. Fritz, 46-47.  New York: IEEE Computer Society, 1983.
Chapter of Book
Brewster, James H.  "Assignment of Stereochemical Configuration by 
     Chemical Methods."  Chap. 17 in Elucidation of Organic 
     Structures by Physical and Chemical Methods, edited by K.W. 
     Bentley and G.W. Kirby, Part 3.  2nd ed.  New York: Wiley-
     Interscience, 1972.

Unpublished Materials

Conversation or interview
Smith, James A.  Interview with author, 3 February 1991.
Hulbert, Samuel F.  Letter to author, 21 June 1989.
telephone call
Lebaric, Jovan.  Telephone call with Donald Morin, 2 February 1991.
Acharya, Mukund.  "Veiling Glare in the F411 Image Intensifier."  
     Master's thesis, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 1990.
Internet (WWW, FTP, IRC, etc.)

Read this: MLA-Style Citations of Electronic Sources.


Some students will not need to include an Appendix. An appendix contains supplementary material, not immediately essential to an understanding of the subject. This section is separated from the preceding material by a cover sheet with the heading APPENDICES, in capital letters (or if there is only one, APPENDIX), centered, and without punctuation. This sheet is neither counted nor numbered.

The APPENDICES may be divided into Appendix A, Appendix B, etc., depending on the kinds and amounts of materials used. These divisions should be treated as first order subdivisions.

The letter and title for each Appendix should be shown at the top of the first page of the individual Appendix. If separate sheets are used for the identification of individual Appendices, these sheets are numbered and counted. Each Appendix with its title, if it has one, should be listed separately in the Table of Contents as a first order subdivision under the heading APPENDICES. See Sample C. Tables and figures in the Appendices must be numbered and captioned and also listed in the List of Figures and List of Tables in the opening component. Appendices must meet the left-hand margin requirement of 1 1/2 inches but not necessarily the requirements for top, bottom, right-hand margins, and line spacing.

Multi-Volume Thesis

The length of the thesis may necessitate two or more volumes. When more than one volume is used, the separations should come at the end of major divisions of the thesis. The Title Page is repeated in each volume and all are identical except for the word "Volume I," "Volume II," etc., just below the title. The Title Pages of Volumes II, III, etc., are neither counted nor numbered. All other preliminaries are in Volume I. In numbering the pages of the text and reference material, numbering is continuous from Volume I through the end of the last volume.



Your thesis must be typed or printed on one side of 8 1/2 by 11 inch white paper. The deposit copy must be 25%, or greater, rag content paper. All other copies may be on regular 20-pound typing paper. Photographic paper may be used only in special circumstances. See page 22 for information about its use in theses.

Oversized Pages

Oversized pages up to 11 by 22 1/2 inch are acceptable without special permission as long as the folded edge is at least 1 1/2 inches from the left edge to permit unfolding, and the right edge lines up evenly with the standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheets. The page number appears in the upper right-hand corner or in the middle of the sheet as usual. The use of any sheets larger that 11 by 22 1/2 inches require consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.


High-speed Printer Output

High-speed printer output sheets may be included in the text or the appendices, if they meet the requirements for paper and margins as stated in this manual. Appendix sheets do not have to conform to the requirements for top, bottom, and right-hand margins; however, a 1 1/2 inch margin is still required at the left. Each sheet, whether included in the text or in the appendices, must have a page number appropriate to its placement in the thesis.


All text must be rendered using black ribbon or toner which produces sharp, clear type. Only standard type sizes such as pica, elite, and executive are acceptable, and only one type face may be used throughout the thesis This type face must have all characters needed to complete the thesis. This includes upper and lower case as well as all needed punctuation marks. Italics may be used only when appropriate, for example when rendering book and journal titles, or foreign terms. For the generation of symbols or special characters select appropriate software. Handwritten equations and formulas are not acceptable. Use of any nonstandard type styles must be approved by the Director of the Library.


The text should be double-spaced throughout with the exception of appendices as noted above using margins of 1 inch for the top, bottom, and right sides and 1 1/2 inch for the left side. Printing should not extend more than a single line below the bottom marginline, and then, only to complete the last line of a chapter, paragraph, subdivision, or figure caption. A new paragraph at the bottom of a page must have at least two full lines of print, or it should begin the next page. The page may be shortened to allow this. The last word on the page should not be hyphenated. The line should be short of the margin and the whole word placed on the following page.


No interlineations or crossing out of letters or words are acceptable. The use of correcting fluid is not acceptable on the deposit copy.

Page Numbering

Page numbers are placed without punctuation 1/2 inch from the top edge of the sheet, either centered over the text or in the upper right-hand margin. Consistency of treatment of page numbers is more important than choice of position. The opening components of the thesis are numbered in consecutive lower case Roman numerals. The Title Page is considered to be page i, but the number does not appear on the page. Roman numeral ii appears on the first page following the Title Page and Abstract. Every page on which any typing or drawing appears has a number except: The Title Page is counted but not numbered. The abstract page is neither numbered nor counted. Cover sheets preceding the Bibliography and the Appendices are neither numbered nor counted. The Text and all Reference pages, including the Appendices are numbered consecutively in arabic numerals, beginning with 2 on the second page of the text.


General Instructions

In preparing both tables and figures, use a computer wherever possible. Tables or figures should conform to the same regulations governing the text. If the computer printout is columnar output to be used in the Appendices, it may be listed with Appendix letters and headings rather than as tables and figures with numbers and captions. Regardless of the process used to duplicate the thesis, all tables and figures, except the photographs, used in the text must be on paper meeting the requirements.

Place the whole table or figure, including the caption, on the page within the prescribed margins. A table or figure too large to fit within margins may be divided and continued on the following page or pages. Tables or figures which are slightly oversized may be reduced to fit within the margins. The bottom of a table or figure usually faces the lower edge of the page on which it appears; however, if its size and format require horizontal placement, the bottom of the table or figure faces the outer edge of the page. Tables and figures of a half-page or less in length should appear on the same page with the text, separated from the text above and below by triple-spacing. Tables and figures larger than half-page are better placed on separate sheets. Two or more small tables or figures should be grouped on a single page. In all cases, tables and figures should follow the first reference as soon as practical to aid the reader.


Tables and figures are numbered in separate series. Each table and figure, including any in the Appendices, must have a unique number in its own series. The numbers in each series must appear in consecutive order in the thesis. Arabic numerals, with capital and lower case letters for the captions, are used for tables and figures. To show unique numbering in a thesis in parts, the numbers of Tables and Figures may be expressed as 1.1, 1.1, 1.3, etc. Tables and Figures in the Appendices may use numbering such as A1, A2, A3, etc. for each series.

Note : Special systems of numbering may be required by some departments. These should be reviewed with the Director of Graduate Studies before the thesis is prepared in final form.


The word "Table" (with T capitalized), the table's number and its caption are placed above the table so that one blank line is left between the bottom line of the caption and the top line of the table. If any table continues to the following or subsequent pages, the top line of the page reads, for example, "Table 16, continued." The caption is not repeated. Leave one blank line before continuing the body of the table.


The word "Figure" (with F capitalized), the figure's number, and its caption are placed below the figure. Leave one blank line between the bottom edge of the figure and the word "Figure," its number, and its caption. If any figure continues to the following or subsequent pages, on the second line below the bottom edge of the figure, type, for example, "Figure 16, continued." The caption is not repeated.

Captions of Tables and Figures

Every table and figure must have a caption. Together with the number, the caption may be either centered or may start at the left-hand margin, placed at the top or bottom of the item. There are two ways of centering: you may center the word Table (or Figure), the table number, and its caption on one or more lines, or you may center the word Table or Figure and its number on one line and center the caption on the following line or lines. Horizontal or vertical position of captions and numbers of tables and figures is always the same as the positioning of the tables or figures themselves.

Captions should be as short as possible. Caption wording identical to that used above each table below each figure must be repeated in the List of Tables and the List of Figures. Capital and lower case letters are preferred for captions. If a lengthy caption is essential, a brief descriptive statement may be used in the List of Tables or List of Figures. Use the same statement above table or below figure and end it with a period. Continue with the needed additional statement. If the caption is longer than one line, double space between lines. Consistent treatment is required.



Smaller than page-size photographs should be firmly mounted with either adhesive specially prepared for photographic work or self-adhesive tissue or dry- mounting tissue. If you are uncertain about the correct material or procedures, consult the duplicating printing center.

The photographs should be mounted on the same kind of paper used in the thesis in which they are to appear. [Note : Do not permanently mount photographs before you obtain thesis approval.] Photographs should not be mounted to obtain thesis approval. Mount photographs permanently only after the thesis is duplicated. The Deposit Copy must contain the original photographs. Other copies may also have photographs or Xerox reproductions as your committee may desire.


Photographs may either be printed photographically on page-size photographic paper or affixed on page-size paper used in the balance of the thesis for the Deposit Copy.


If photographs must be marked, it is important and necessary to use India ink. Typing on the face of glossy prints will not reproduce on microfilm.

Unusual Material

We urge you to obtain the advice of the Director of Graduate Studies regarding the preparation and presentation of all unusual material and to consult your duplicating service to determine if the duplication of the material is possible and practical. This is especially true with colored materials.


A. Division Headings (page requires graphics)

B. Example of Title Page

C. Varieties of Tables of Contents

D. Varieties of Lists of Tables

E. Varieties of Lists of Figures

F. Example of Reference Page

G. Reference Style and Composition Manuals