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Format Requirements for eThesis

The Thesis

The final thesis manuscript must have a ready-for-publication appearance and standard features. The Office of the University Registrar does not endorse or verify the accuracy of any thesis formatting templates that may be available to students. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that the formatting meets the requirements outlined in this booklet. Introductory material, text, and appendices must all be clearly and consistently prepared and must meet all of the specifications outlined below. Once the thesis is submitted online and approved by the Final Reader, no further changes are allowed.
The digital file of the thesis submitted to Stanford Libraries must meet certain technical requirements to ensure that it can be easily accessed by readers now and into the future. Please follow the specifications outlined below and refer to the Guidelines for Making PDF Files document available from the Registrar’s web site.

Page Size

Pages should be standard US letter size (8.5 x 11 inches).


In order to ensure the future ability to render the document, standard fonts must be used. For the main text body, type size should be 10, 11, or 12 point. Smaller font sizes may be used in tables, captions, etc. Font color must be black. Acceptable fonts include:

  • Times New Roman (preferred)
  • Courier, Courier Bold, Courier Oblique, Courier Bold-Oblique;
  • Helvetica, Helvetica Bold, Helvetica Oblique, Helvetica Bold-Oblique;
  • Times, Times Bold, Times Italic, Times Bold-Italic;
  • Symbol;
  • Computer Modern (or Computer Modern Roman).

Do not use script or ornamental fonts. Do not use proprietary fonts. If you use mathematical or other scientific notation in your dissertation using a font other than Symbol, you must embed the font into the PDF that is submitted to the University. See the Guidelines for Making PDF Files document available from the Registrar’s web site.


Margins on the binding edge (left edge if single-sided; right edge for even numbered pages, and left edge for odd numbered pages if double-sided) must be 1.5 inches; all other margins must be one inch. (Pagination, headers, and/or footers may be placed within the margin, but no closer than one-half inch from the edge of the page.) For double-sided copies, margins must be 1.5 inches on the binding edge. Suggested margins when using MS Word are 1.6 inches for the binding edge and 1.1 inches for all other margins. Margin requirements should apply to the entire document, including the title page.


The main text of the manuscript should be one and a half or double spaced lines, except where conventional usage calls for single spacing, e.g., footnotes, indented quotations, tables, etc.

Word and Text Divisions

Words should be divided correctly at the end of a line and may not be divided from one page to the next. Use a standard dictionary to determine word division. Avoid short lines that end a paragraph at the top of a page, and any heading or subheading at the bottom of a page that is not followed by text.


Select a standard style approved by your department and use it consistently. Some reliable style guides are K.A. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations(University of Chicago Press) and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Modern Language Association).

Order and Content

The thesis must contain the following sections; all sections must be included in a single digital file for upload.

  1. Preliminary Pages

    a. Title Page — The format must be followed exactly. Use upper case letters, as shown in the eThesis title page sample. The title of the thesis should be a meaningful description of the content of the manuscript. Use word substitutes for formulas, symbols, superscripts, subscripts, Greek letters, etc. The month and year must be the actual month and year in which you submit your thesis/thesis electronically to the University. (Note: A student who submits in Autumn quarter is conferred his/her degree in the following calendar year.)

    b. Copyright Page — Note that the digital file submitted to the library should not contain a copyright page. The copyright page will be created automatically by the online submission system and inserted into the file stored by Stanford University Libraries.

    c. Signature Page — Note that the digital file submitted to the library should not contain a signature page. A digital facsimile of the signature page will be created automatically by the online submission system and inserted into the thesis in its final format stored by Stanford University Libraries.

    d. Abstract — An abstract may be included in the preliminary section of the thesis. The abstract in the body of the thesis follows the style used for the rest of the manuscript and should be placed following the signature page. There is no maximum permissible length for the abstract in the thesis.
    Thesis authors must enter an abstract using the online submission form for uploading the digital thesis file to the library. This abstract, which will be indexed for online searching, must be formatted in plain text (no HTML or special formatting). It should be a pithy and succinct version of the abstract included in the thesis itself.

    e. Preface and/or Acknowledgments.

    f. Table of Contents, with page references.

    g. List of Tables, with titles and page references.

    h. List of Illustrations, with titles and page references.

  2. Text

    a. Introduction.
    b. Main body, with the larger divisions and more important sub-divisions indicated by suitable, consistent

  3. References

    a. Appendices.
    b. Bibliography or List of References.


Except for the title page, each page of the manuscript, including all blank pages, and pages with photographs, tables, figures, maps, or computer code should be assigned a number. Consistent placement of pagination, at least one-half inch from the paper’s edge, should be used throughout the manuscript.
Important: Follow these pagination instructions exactly.

  1. For the preliminary pages, use small Roman numerals (e.g., iv, v, vi).
  2. The title page is not physically numbered, but counts as the first page; that is, page i.
  3. Physical pagination must begin immediately after the title page, on the Abstract page using the number “iv”. (The copyright page and signature page to be inserted will be pages ii and iii.) Please note that this is the most common mistake: you must remove your copyright page and signature page from the pdf file before you submit your dissertation, and begin pagination on your abstract with page number "iv". If the document is formatted for double-sided printing with each section starting on the right page, then pagination will begin on a blank page (page"iv") and the Abstract should be numbered as page "v", and so forth.
  4. For the remainder of the manuscript, such as the Introduction/Main Body, use continuous pagination for text, illustrations, images, appendices, and bibliography, using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.). Remember to start with page 1, as this is not a continuation of the Roman numeral numbering from the preliminary pages.
  5. The placement of page numbers should be consistent throughout the document.

Page Orientation

For text, illustrations, charts, graphs, etc., printed in landscape form, the orientation should be facing away from the bound edge of the paper.


Images (color, grayscale, and monochrome) included in the thesis should be clearly discernable both onscreen and when printed. The dimensions should not exceed the size of the standard letter-size page (8.5” x 11”).
Image resolution should be 150 dots per inch (dpi), though resolutions as low as 72 dpi (and no lower) are acceptable. The format of images embedded in the PDF should be JPEG or EPS (the format JPEG2000 is also acceptable when it is supported in future versions of the PDF format). GIF and PNG are not preferred image file formats.
Large images, including maps and charts or other graphics that require high resolution, should not be included in the main thesis file. Instead, they can be submitted separately as supplemental files and formatted in other formats as appropriate. See Supplementary Material section below.


Multimedia, such as audio clips, video clips, animation, etc., must not be embedded in the body of the thesis. These media types add size and complexity to the digital file, introducing obstacles to users of the thesis who wish to download and read (and “play back”) the content, and making it more difficult to preserve over time.
If you wish to include multimedia with your submission, upload the media separately as a stand-alone file in an appropriate media format. See Supplementary Material section below.

Embedded Links

It is acceptable to include “live” (i.e., clickable) web URLs that link to online resources within the dissertation file. Spell out each URL in its entirety (e.g., rather than embedding the link into some text (e.g., “link to the Stanford home page”). By spelling out the URL, you improve a reader’s ability to understand and access the link reference.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary material may be submitted electronically with the thesis. This material includes any supporting content that is useful for understanding the thesis, but is not essential to the argument. It also covers core content in a form that can not be adequately represented or embedded in the PDF format, such as an audio recording of a musical performance or a musical score. Appendices, references, and the like are not considered supplementary material. Supplementary materials are submitted separately than the thesis file, and are referred to as supplemental files.
A maximum of ten supplemental files can be submitted. There are no restrictions on the file formats. Maximum file size is 100 MB. Authors are encouraged to be judicious about the volume and quality of the supplemental files, and to employ file formats that are widely used by researchers generally, if not also by scholars of the discipline. The following table outlines recommended file formats for different content types; by following these recommendations, the author is helping to ensure ongoing access to the material.

CONTENT TYPE RECOMMENDED FORMATS (preferred formats appear in bold)


plain ASCII text

Data Sets

Plain ASCII text with accompanying code books (as PDF or plain ASCII text)

Statistical software files: DTA, SAS, SAV, POR








Note-based digital music composition files: XMA, SMF, RMID


MPEG video

QuickTime, AVI, WMV

Animation Flash, SVG

After uploading each supplemental file, it is important to enter a short description or label (maximum 120 characters for file name and the description. This label will be displayed to readers in a list of the contents for the entire submission.
If copyrighted material is part of the supplementary material, permission to reuse and distribute the content must be obtained from the owner of the copyright. Stanford University Libraries requires copies of permission letters (in PDF format) to be uploaded electronically when submitting the files, and assumes no liability for copyright violations. A sample permission letter can be seen here. System restrictions allow for a maximum of ten individually uploaded permission files. If you have more than ten permission files we recommend combining all permission letters into a single PDF file for upload.

Scholarly Reference

In choosing an annotation or reference system, students should be guided by the practice of their various disciplines, and the recommendations of their departments. In addition to the general style guides listed under “Style” above, there are specific style guides for some fields. When a reference system has been selected, it should be used consistently throughout the thesis. The placement of footnotes is at the discretion of the student with reading committee approval.
An important aspect of modern scholarship is the proper attribution of authorship for joint or group research. If the manuscript includes joint or group research, the student must clearly identify his/her contribution to the enterprise in an introduction.

Published Papers and Multiple Authorship

The inclusion of published papers in a thesis is the prerogative of the major department. Where published papers or ready-for-publication papers are included, the following criteria must be met:

  1. There must be an introductory chapter that integrates the general theme of the research and the relationship between the chapters. The introduction may also include a review of the literature relevant to the thesis topic that does not appear in the chapters.

  2. Multiple authorship of a published paper should be addressed by clearly designating, in an introduction, the role that the thesis author had in the research and production of the published paper. The student must have a major contribution to the research and writing of papers included in the thesis.

  3. There must be adequate referencing of where individual papers have been published.

  4. Written permission must be obtained for all copyrighted materials; letters of permission must be uploaded electronically in PDF form when submitting the thesis. A sample permission letter can be seen here.

  5. The submitted material must be in a form that is legible and reproducible as required by these specifications. The Office of the University Registrar will approve a thesis if there are no deviations from the normal specifications that would prevent proper dissemination and utilization of the thesis. If the published material does not correspond to these standards, it will be necessary for the student to reformat that portion of the thesis.

  6. Multiple authorship has implications with respect to copyright and public release of the material. Be sure to discuss copyright clearance and embargo options with your co-authors and your adviser well in advance of preparing your thesis for submission.

Use of Copyrighted Material

If copyrighted material belonging to others is used in your thesis or is part of your supplementary materials, you must give full credit to the author and publisher of the work in all cases, and obtain permission from the copyright owner for reuse of the material unless you have determined that your use of the work is clearly fair use under US copyright law (17 USC §107). The statute sets out four factors that must be considered when assessing Fair Use:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose;

  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The Association of American University Presses requires permission for any quotations that are reproduced as complete units (poems, letters, short stories, essays, journal articles, complete chapters or sections of books, maps, charts, graphs, tables, drawings, or other illustrative materials). You can find this guideline and other detailed information on Fair Use at If you are in doubt, it is safest to obtain permission.
Permission to use copyrighted material must be obtained from the owner of the copyright. Stanford University Libraries requires copies of permission letters (in PDF format) to be uploaded electronically when submitting the dissertation, and assumes no liability for copyright violations. A sample permission letter is included in this packet on page 15.

Copyrighting Your Thesis

Copyright protection is automatically in effect from the time the work is in fixed form. A proper copyright statement consisting of the copyright symbol, the author’s name, year of degree conferral, and the phrase “All Rights Reserved” will be added automatically to the thesis in its final form.
Registration of copyright is not required, but it establishes a public record of your copyright claim and enables copyright owners to litigate against infringement. You need not register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office at the outset, although registration must be made before the copyright may be enforced by litigation in case of infringement. Early registration does have certain advantages: it establishes a public record of your copyright claim, and if registration has been made prior to the infringement of your work, or within three months after its publication, qualifies you to be awarded statutory damages and attorney fees in addition to the actual damages and profits available to you as the copyright owner (should you ever have to sue because of infringement).
For more information about copyright, see the Libraries' Copyright Considerations resource. For information on Registration of Copyright, see

File Security

Do not require a password to make changes to your PDF submitted PDF file, or apply other encryption or security measures. Password-protected files will be rejected.

Stanford University Thesis & Dissertation Publication License

In submitting a thesis or dissertation to Stanford, the Author grants The Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) the non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable right to reproduce, distribute, display and transmit Author's thesis or dissertation, including any supplemental materials (the Work), in whole or in part in such print and electronic formats as may be in existence now or developed in the future, to sub-license others to do the same, and to preserve and protect the Work, subject to any third-party release or display restrictions specified by Author on submission of the Work to Stanford.
Author further represents and warrants that Author is the copyright holder of the Work, and has obtained all necessary rights to permit Stanford to reproduce and distribute third party materials contained in any part of the Work, including use of third-party images, text, or music, as well as all necessary licenses relating to any non-public, third-party software necessary to access, display, and run or print the Work. Author is solely responsible and will indemnify Stanford for any third party claims related to the Work as submitted for publication.
Author warrants that the Work does not contain information protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), confidentiality agreements, or contain Stanford Prohibited, Restricted or Confidential data described at, or other data of a private nature.
Stanford is under no obligation to use, display or host the work in any way and may elect not to use the work for any reason including copyright or other legal concerns, financial resources, or programmatic need.