ETD Guide

Main Content

Standards for the preparation of theses and dissertations are established by graduate faculty at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the administration of the Graduate School. All revisions are subject to the approval of the Graduate School.

The Graduate Council is on record as saying a successful thesis or dissertation usually represents the most extensive and intensive scholarly work the student has performed to date. Completing the thesis or dissertation will lead the student up to the cutting edge of research (however defined by the discipline) conducted at that time in his or her field of research. A thesis or dissertation must address a significant question and demonstrate that its author can interpret findings and formulate conclusions that are the result of INDEPENDENT thinking and sustained evaluation of source materials. These findings must be expressed in clear and grammatical language that is well organized into cogent and coherent argument. A thesis or dissertation that contains the student's published or in press manuscripts (or excerpts from these manuscripts) shall, in the preface, describe these materials and their contribution to the dissertation. In the case of multi-authored manuscripts, the student's contribution to each such manuscript must be clearly delineated in the preface and attested to in a separate statement by the chair of the dissertation committee addressed to the Graduate School.

The thesis or dissertation is a final document and not a copy document for submission to a journal. The Graduate School Guidelines, which reflect the formatting recommendations of University Microfilms International (UMI) as well as many of the recent advancements in publication technology, specify these important differences. They are: (1) the thesis or dissertation must not carry running headings; (2) tables and figures are placed where they belong in the thesis or dissertation and no notation, such as "Table 1 here," is placed in the text.

Given that the Graduate School enforces general rules and departments may impose more restrictive ones, the above language has clear, unequivocal implications:

  • Departments, not the Graduate School, shall decide whether or not students may include their own previously published, in press, or multi-authored materials (e.g. journal articles or excerpts therefrom), and how many they may include, in their dissertations. This is a matter of departmental discretion, decided in accordance with each department's relevant procedures.
  • Departments are not required to permit students to include their own previously published materials in their dissertations.
  • A dissertation may not consist solely of previously published materials, formatted as published. A dissertation does not consist solely of journal articles, photocopied and stapled together. (See next point)
  • Whether they include students' previously published materials or not, dissertations must meet the formatting requirements of the Graduate School's "Guidelines for Preparation and Submission of Dissertations," they must be prepared for electronic submission, and they must conform to their respective departmental style manuals.

General Instructions


APPROVAL FORMS. The Graduate School must have an original Approval form and Oral Defense form signed by the student's committee and generally the department chair. Note: Some departments prefer to submit the forms directly to the Graduate School. If that is the case with your department, the Graduate School will hold your paper pending the submission of the approval sheets.

RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS. Students who used human subjects in their thesis or dissertation research must submit a copy of their Human Subjects Committee approval form to the Graduate School prior to the final ETD submission deadline. SIU has a policy governing all faculty, staff, and student research which involves human subjects. A human subject is defined as any individual whom a researcher contacts in person, by mail, or by phone, and makes a request for information. The SIU Institutional Review Board for any research involving human subjects is located in the Office of Sponsored Projects Administration, in Woody Hall. For further information, please call 618-453-4540 or email

COPYRIGHT. It is the student's responsibility to obtain permission to reproduce copyrighted material, such as adapting all or part of a table or figure from a copyrighted source, for inclusion in their thesis or dissertation. When permission is granted, the reproduced table or figure must be noted with the original author and copyright holder, and the permission letter / email should be included in the appendices.

ETD SUBMISSION FEE. The fee for submission of an electronic thesis and dissertation is $25.00 (Library fee). If the thesis / dissertation is to be copyrighted (optional), an additional fee of $75.00 is due.

SURVEY OF EARNED DOCTORATES. All graduating doctoral students are required to complete an online survey. Survey must be submitted online prior to the final ETD submission deadline.

COPIES OF THESES / DISSERTATIONS. The University Bookstore in the Student Center will arrange for theses and dissertations to be professionally bound. Call 618-536-3321 for more information about binding your paper if you wish a bound copy for yourself or for your department. (This service has been known to be quicker and less expensive than ordering bound copies through ProQuest.)

Organization of Pages

The organization of the pages of your paper should be as follows:

  1. Title page
  2. Copyright statement (when applicable)
  3. Approval page
  4. Abstract
  5. Acknowledgments (not required)
  6. Dedication (not required)
  7. Preface
  8. Table of Contents
  9. List of Tables (when applicable)
  10. List of Figures (when applicable)
  11. Chapters
  12. Exhibits (when tables and figures are not distributed in chapters)
  13. Bibliography or References (use title appropriate to program style manual)
  14. Appendices (not required)
  15. Vita

Charts, Tables, and Figures

  • Generally, students will use the computer to design figures and graphs.
  • Table heading and style of headings must follow the style manual chosen. Generally, table titles are above the table and figure titles are below the figure, but the placement selected must be followed consistently.
  • Spacing within the table may be single or double spaced based on the readability of the data.
  • Font style and size should be consistent throughout the document, unless a table requires a smaller size. Six (6) point font should be the smallest used. Titles should be consistent in size and style of font as used throughout the document.
  • There should be a judicious use of spacing to "set off" tables, charts, and figures; typically, one or two double-spaces before and after the table. Again, once spacing is chosen, you must be consistent throughout.

MAPS. Oversize maps may be included as a supplemental file.  

APPENDICES. List of terms, definitions, questionnaires, and other supplemental information which is useful, but not essential, to the body of the thesis or dissertation may be included in an appendix.

MARGINS. Margins are flexible within the appendix, but keep in mind that the left binding edge will cover 1 inch of data. Page numbers need to continue within the appendix with the same font and in the same position on the page as in the text. The Graduate School consultants can advise you about this if needed. 

COLOR. Color is permitted.

MULTIMEDIA. Audio and video may be included to enhance presentation.

Formatting Guidelines



  • The pdf file should be readable. The type face should be letter quality. Font style should be standard and not an unusual style such as Cursive, Script, or Italic.  Some standard fonts are listed below:
    • Ariel, Bookman, Courier, Times New Roman
  • The body of the document should use a 10 or 12 point font. Headings and subheadings may go up one size and up to 14 point but must be of the same font style as the body of the text. 
  • Bold format may be used only as specified by the style manual chosen.
  • Italics may be used only as specified by the style manual chosen. In general, it may be used for Genera, species, letters, words or phrases cited as a linguistic example, and foreign words.


  • The body of the document must be double spaced.
  • Extended direct quotations should be presented consistently with the style manual selected.
  • Chapters should be left justified.


  • Margins are one inch all around. Opening pages (Table of Contents, Chapters, Bibliography, etc.) that are required by the manual style to have a set top margin may have a larger than one inch top margin on those pages. Charts, tables, and figures may have greater margins than listed but may not go into the required margins.
  • Paragraph indentations should be uniform five spaces. There should be no extra spacing between paragraphs.
  • Chapters should be left justified.


The following guidelines are for the pages preceding the text, i.e. Abstract, Acknowledgments, Preface, and Table of Contents. 

  • The pages preceding the text should be numbered in small Roman numbers. The numerals should be centered between the one inch margin on the left and the one inch margin on the right, and one-half inch up from the bottom edge of the paper. The first page starts from the Abstract with Roman numeral i. 
  • Text pages, bibliography, and appendices should follow the style manual chosen. Numbers should consist of numerals only, without punctuation, embellishment, or running headers. Paging should be continuous including the bibliography, appendices, and vita. Except for preceding pages, the style must be adhered to throughout the document. The first page of text starts with Arabic numeral 1.

This recent guideline revision supersedes all previous editions. Take this into consideration as you review previous theses / dissertations from the library or your department.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Graduate Student's Responsibility

  • Subject matter and content
  • Organization and format
  • Editorial, linguistic and bibliographic quality
  • Quality of text, figures, and photocopy
  • Quality of data, evidence, and logical reasoning presented
  • Presentation of the manuscript based on the current style manual of the field and Graduate School Guidelines

The Advisory Committee's Responsibility

  • Approval of the subject matter and methodology of the research
  • Approval of the organization, content and format
  • Review of the quality of data and evidence, logical reasoning, and the editorial, linguistic, and bibliographic quality
  • Evaluation of the thesis or dissertation as a basis for certification that the student has fulfilled the requirements of the degree for which the student is a candidate

The Thesis Editor's Responsibility

  • Providing counsel and advice upon request by students and members of the student's committee about the format aspects of theses and dissertation preparation
  • Checking the final draft of each thesis or dissertation to insure that it has been prepared in conformity with the requirements of this Guide

Departmental Style Manual

Each department has selected one or more preferred style manuals and all students within the department are to use one of those styles.

Alternately, a department may also elect to use the style of a particular scholarly journal in the discipline as a basis for presenting the thesis or dissertation.  Whichever type of style is selected, it must be used consistently throughout the document.

Agribusiness Economics Chicago
Agricultural Sciences APA with Journal Style for References
Animal Science Journal of Animal Science
Anthropology Varies - See Department Guidelines
Behavioral Analysis and Therapy APA
Biological Sciences Council of Biology Editors Style Manual: A Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers in the Biological Sciences
Business & Administration APA or Chicago with Journal References
Chemistry American Chemical Society Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors
Civil and Environmental Engineering APA with American Society of Civil Engineers Technical Journal References
Communication Disorders and Sciences APA
Communication Studies APA or MLA
Computer Science Departmental Guidelines
Criminology & Criminal Justice APA
Curriculum & Instruction APA
Economics American Economic Review
Educational Administration APA or Turabian
Ed. Psychology and Special Ed. APA
Electrical and Computer Engineering Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
English MLA
Environmental Resources and Policy
Food and Nutrition Journal of American Dietetics Association
Foreign Languages and Literature MLA
Forestry APA with Journal of Forestry
Geography and Environmental Resources Chicago
Geology Geological Society of America
Health Ed. AMA or APA
Higher Education APA or Turabian
History Chicago or Turabian
Journalism APA or Chicago
Kinesiology APA
Linguistics APA / Linguistic Society of America (ex.)
Mass Communication and Media Arts APA or Chicago or MLA
Mathematics Departmental Guidelines
Mechanical Engineering ASME Journal
Mining Engineering APA with Journal References
Molecular Biology, Microbiolgy, Biochemistry Journal of Bacteriology
Journal of Experimental Medicine
Journal of Molecular Biology
Molecular, Cellular & Systemic Physiology Journal of Endocrinology
Music Chicago / Turabian or APA
Pharmacology and Neuroscience Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics
Philosophy Chicago
Physics American Physical Society
The Journal of Physics
Plant and Soil Science Agronomy Journal
Journal for the American Society of Horticultural Science
Weed Science Journal
Plant Biology Departmental Guidelines
Political Science American Political Science Review / 
Chicago Style Manual plus Departmental Guidelines
Psychology APA
Public Administration APA or MLA
Quality Engineering and Management APA or IJPR
Recreation APA
Rehabilitation Administration APA
Rehabilitation Counseling APA
Sociology American Sociological Association Style Guide or APA
Theater MLA
Workforce Ed. and Development APA
Zoology Departmental Guidelines

*APA: American Psychological Association Publication Manual

*MLA: Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

You may submit your pdf to the ProQuest submission site directly.


For Questions / Concerns, please contact:

ETD Support
Student Services Building 310
For formatting issues, contact: