Skip to main content

Background Image for Header: front of wise library in atrium

Suggested Style Guide

Since practices vary greatly in different disciplines, you are expected to learn the styles of your field of study and are advised to follow the recommendations of your advisors and committee members on all matters not covered here. The content of the thesis or dissertation manuscript is outside the provenance of this guide. The mandatory WVU ETD format requirements are listed on the “ Format Requirements” page. If you would like a Word document template for your ETD, you can start with this style sheet.


  • Electronic copies presented must be clean, clear, and uniform, with high contrast for quality screen and print resolution.
  • Keep in mind that because of duplicating and microfilming needs, the print must be letter quality with dark characters that are consistently clear and dense.


  • The preferred font size is 10 to 12 ( characters per horizontal inch).
  • The preferred font style is Time New Roman (traditional) or Arial (modern).
  • If necessary, different typefaces (font sizes or styles) may be used within headings, tables, figures, and appendices. Non-standard typefaces, such as script, are generally not acceptable except for commonly accepted symbols.

Spacing and Margins

  • All straight text should be single, one-and-one half, or double spaced. Keep in mind that single spacing is preferable for electronic documents. A good compromise would be 1-1/2 spacing. The preferred number of lines is 6 (single-spaced) or 3 (double-spaced) text lines per vertical inch.
  • Separate paragraphs by a line of horizontal space. Indent block quotes on the left and right. Single-space long tables, long quotations, footnotes, multi-line captions, computer programming, and bibliographical entries.
  • All pages should have a minimum margin of 1 inch on all sides of the page. This applies to the average text, illustration or table arrangement, where a professional and consistent format should be retained. Exceptions could be, for example, artistic renderings requiring full margin bleed. A left margin of 1.5 inches (binding offset) is also acceptable, if you and your committee desire. Electronic formats should normally be able to be reproduced on standard paper sizes such as 8 1/2" x 11".
  • The placement of the footnotes at the bottom of the page or at the end of the manuscript is optional but must be consistent throughout. A form acceptable for publications in the discipline is recommended.
  • All footnotes must conform to the margin requirements.
  • All tables and figures should conform to the margin requirements. Photographic reduction may be necessary. Not more than 3 to 5% reduction is suggested to prevent indistinct print quality.
  • A subheading at the bottom of the page must have at least two full lines of type below it. Otherwise, the subheading should begin on the next page.
  • The last word on any page should not be hyphenated. The line should be short of the margin and the whole word typed on the following page.

Page Numbering

  • Each and every page in a thesis or dissertation, including all blank pages, should normally be assigned a number with no duplications in the numbering systems.
  • The preliminaries must be numbered with lower case Roman numerals (iii, iv, v, etc.). The numbers should appear in the upper right-hand corner or as indicated by your style manual, no closer than 0.75 inches from the edge of the page.
  • The title page counts as page i, but suppress the display (the number should not appear on the page).
  • The abstract page counts as page ii, but suppress the display ( the number should not appear on the page).
  • The remainder of the text (body) should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals, starting with Chapter One or the Introduction. Numbering should begin with page "1" centered at the top or bottom of the page, or as indicated by your style manual, no closer than 0.75 inches from the edge of the page.
  • Avoid the use of letter suffixes as 10a, 10b, etc.
  • Electronic multimedia presentations may not always be reproducible with conventional pagination and should be used with some caution. However, formats other than pdf are acceptable for the body, appendices, or other supplementary material.


  • Some disciplines require the use of running headers in the document. This practice is acceptable, but its use should be avoided in the preliminary pages.


  • Tradition suggests that you use footnotes (as opposed to end notes).
  • Place any footnotes on the same page as the items that refer to them. Footnotes in main body text should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals, starting with 1.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary files, those secondary to the main document, may be used for a variety of requirements, such as high resolution or specialized image files, data files, or other presentation materials. File formats should be accessible with public domain or commonly used platforms.

Tables and Figures

  • The word "Table" designates tabulated numerical data used in the body of the thesis or dissertation and in the appendices. Tables consist of an arrangement of facts, figures, and values in an orderly sequence usually in rows or columns. The word “Figure” designates all other nonverbal material used in the body of the dissertation and in the appendices, such as charts, graphs, maps, photographs, plates, drawings, diagrams, etc.

Illustrations and Charts

  • All illustrations and charts must be drawn in dark, opaque fashion and be of sufficient size to be readable. Remember that microfilming and printing are black and white photographic processes and colors will appear in varying shades of gray. Thus, cross-hatching and labels are often essential.
  • If a title or description of an illustration or graph is too long to be placed on the same page, it should be placed on the previous page.
  • Wide tables or figures may be placed broadside, (landscape orientation). The table should be placed so that the top of the table is nearest the binding side (left margin). The placement of the table or figure, vertical or horizontal, does not alter the position of the page numbering requirements set forth in this guide, and should remain consistent with pagination structure adjacent in the document.
  • Oversize pages complicate duplicating procedures and should be avoided. Often a different layout or the use of photographic reduction will resolve the problem.
  • If oversized maps or charts are used, they should capable of reproduction on standard paper size, or otherwise scalable.