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ECU's Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Submission Service: Vireo: Manual of Basic Formatting

East Carolina University Submission Guide for the Graduate School Theses and Dissertations.

Manual of Basic Formatting Requirements for Electronic Theses and Dissertations


The East Carolina University Manual of Basic Requirements for Electronic Theses and Dissertations has been written to provide guidance in approaching the task of writing a thesis or dissertation. This publication is intended to serve several purposes in support of this endeavor:

  1. To call the student’s attention to the technical demands of clear, clean design and consistency so that it stands to be seen as an important part of the research process. Such demands are identical to those that editors and publishers place on the writers who publish research findings in technical or professional journals. After meeting the demands of this manual, the student should find adapting to other sets of technical instructions to be less confusing and less time consuming.
  2. To facilitate handling, study, and evaluation of the thesis or dissertation within the university.
  3. To specify uniform size, arrangement, and spacing. Further, technical uniformity in particular types of research reporting makes the comparison of content easier. 
  4. To provide security for students and advisors. Through the use of the manual, the student can be certain that a thesis or dissertation will be in an acceptable format, thus protecting the student from arbitrary modification requirements. 

Writers of theses or dissertations are expected to follow this Manual of Basic Requirements. However, students and directors frequently desire to introduce important modifications to improve communication or quality of expression, especially in consideration of specific journals, publishers, or fields of study. Desired deviations from this manual can be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval before submitting the final copy.

Checklist for Preparation of Thesis and Dissertation

Listed below are procedures and requirements to be followed during the preparation and completion of a Thesis or Dissertation. The student should:

  • Use the manual of style prescribed by their school or department for information on documenting sources.
  • Schedule work according to the deadlines established by the Graduate School. The deadlines can be found by navigating to the Graduate School Homepage, clicking the Current Student’s tab, then clicking the page Vireo Theses and Dissertations. Otherwise, it is linked on the left side of this page.
  • Follow the East Carolina University Manual of Basic Requirements for Theses and Dissertations (five tabs: Intro, Style Manual, Preparation, Checklist, and Review).
  • Submit the required number of copies of the thesis/dissertation to their director/chair/advisor at least ten days prior to the date of the final oral examination. 
  • Defend their thesis/dissertation during the final oral examination. 
  • Make required corrections to their thesis/dissertation. 
  • Consult with their committee chair concerning copyright questions and the publishing options for the ECU Institutional Repository (The ScholarShip) and PQDT.
  • Obtain (through DocuSign) proper signatures (committee chair, committee members, department/program chair; all but the Dean’s Signature) for their thesis/dissertation signature page and the ECU Non-Exclusive Distribution Agreement.
  • Upload in the Administrative documents step of the submission process the proper documents. *Note that the Dean does not sign until the Graduate School completes a full review of the thesis/dissertation.
  • Submit their thesis/dissertation electronically to the Graduate school at for review no later than ten days prior to the last day of final exams during the semester in which they plan to graduate. This deadline applies to summer school sessions as well as to the regular semesters.
  • Check the email account used at the time of submission for notifications from the ETD Site Administrator. 
  • Make the required corrections, if any revisions are requested from the ETD Site Administrator, to their original Word document, reconvert to a PDF, and resubmit to the site.

When the manuscript has been approved by the Graduate School, an email notification will be sent to the student, the student’s degree program, and the Registrar’s office. Only then will the student’s approved thesis/dissertation be submitted to PQDT for publication at the end of the term upon verification of the student’s graduation by the Registrar’s Office.

Style Manual

Students should consult with their committee director and members of their advisory committee to determine the textual arrangement and reference format of the thesis or dissertation. It may be helpful to select a journal, in which portions of your research will likely be published, to use as a style model. The selected style must be consistent throughout the document (Be sure to note that all examples given in this manual are just samples. Check with your department for the style they prefer).

Additional assistance in the proper use of a particular style is provided by either Joyner Library or Laupus Library. The libraries may provide access to Bibliographic Citation software which can aid in the proper citation and documentation of research. Currently, the libraries provide access to RefWorks (by Cambridge Scientific Abstracts) or EndNote Web (by the Thomson Corporation). Both citation softwares are available via either library electronic resources page. Also, tutorials for RefWorks may be found on the Refworks website. Finally, librarian assistance with citations as they appear in the thesis or dissertation can be found at either library. The link below provides information about Citation Management Software. These include RefWorks, RefWorks Flow, Proquest Flow, Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote Basic.

Citation Management Libguide

Copyright Issues

Before copyrighted materials are included in a thesis or dissertation, written permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Signed copyright forms must be included in the appendix. Students should consult the ECU Copyright page or contact the ECU Copyright Officer to determine if permission is required for copyright materials used. A sample permission letter is shown in Appendix B on the Required Elements of Theses and Dissertations page. Students may want to consult with their committee director on this issue.


Preparation of the Thesis and Dissertation Manuscript
The Graduate School requires a specific page order and formatting of each page (pagination, or numbering pages, is of particular specificity). See the Required Elements of Theses and Dissertations page for detailed descriptions of the required page formatting. 

Not every page in a thesis or dissertation will receive a page number in their footer. What is more, not every page is even counted for pagination. The bullet points below summarize the most important required elements of pagination.Below the list there are two step by step guides for adding and formatting page numbers in the appropriate way. It is strongly encouraged that students review these guides carefully. See the Required Elements of Theses and Dissertations page for more information and examples of these pages.

  • The abstract of the work and the blank page that immediately follows the abstract are not counted. They do not receive a page number on the pages themselves nor in the Table of contents.
  • All pages from (and including) the title page to the last page of the work (except the very last blank page) are counted pages.
  • The pages from the title page to (and including) the Table of Contents page DO NOT HAVE page numbers in their footers. The first page of each section of these pages (except the Table of Contents page) may be denoted with a lowercase roman numeral in sequential order in the Table of Contents.
  • The title page is the first counted page and is given the lowercase roman numeral “i” only in the Table of Contents (if desired).
  • The table of contents page is not denoted in the Table of Contents.
  • All pages that follow the table of contents page will receive a page number in their footer EXCEPT THE FIRST PAGE OF EACH SECTION.
  • *Should the List of Tables/Figures or the List of Symbols/Abbreviations exceed one page, the subsequent pages will NOT receive a page number in their footer. Only the first page of these lists will be denoted in the Table of Contents
  • The first page of each section of the work is denoted only in the Table of Contents.
  • The first page with Arabic numbering is the first page of the first chapter (either Chapter 1 or Introduction) of the body of the thesis or dissertation. Again, this is only denoted in the Table of Contents; it starts with number “1”.
  • The first page number seen in a footer of a page should be the Arabic number “2” on the second page of the first chapter (or introduction) of the work.
  • Reference pages and Appendices are treated as separate sections and will have sequential Arabic numbering.
  • The very last page of the work will be a blank page that is not counted.
  • All page numbers, should they appear in the footer of the page, should be in the bottom center of the page and be no lower than three-quarters (3/4) of an inch from the bottom edge of the page.

Adding Page Numbers Using Microsoft Word 2013 -- An ECU Document

Adding Page Numbers Using Microsoft Word 2010 -- University of Michigan Library Document 

A one (1) inch margin should surround all pages of the thesis or dissertation (left, right, top and bottom). This applies to all material except page numbers, including figures, headers/footers, footnotes/endnotes, and full page images. Page numbers should be no lower than three-quarters (3/4) of an inch from the bottom edge of the page.

It is best to use standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial for better viewing in all mediums used by the ScholarShip and PQDT. If using unusual fonts, be sure to use embeddable Type 1 or TrueType fonts. In Word, it is possible to embed fonts by choosing Tools, Save, and “Embed TrueType Fonts.” Fonts that are available to all PDF viewers do not need to be embedded; these include: Arial, Courier, Helvetica (Bold, Oblique and BoldOblique), Times (Roman, Bold, Italic, BoldItalic), Symbol, and ZapfDingbats.

Line Spacing
Most of the thesis or dissertation should be double spaced: abstract, dedication, acknowledgments, table of contents, preface, and body of the manuscript (with exceptions, see below).
Some of the document will be single spaced: footnotes/endnotes, list in appendices, and block quotations as paragraphs, captions, items in tables, lists, graphs, charts, and bibliographic entries in the body of text.
Some pages of the work will have a specified format: permission letters, approval letters, signature page, etc.

Color pages, if used, should be preserved if possible: PDF and print reproductions should include color material. Microfilm reproductions will NOT preserve color (color will appear as shades of gray).

It is suggested the student use tables without borders when formatting if it is desired to put text or numbers into neat columns. This suggestion is a result of the relative ease of using tables as opposed to using tabs in Microsoft Word. (That being said, tabs are suggested for use when constructing the Table of Contents and a detailed guide on using tabs in Microsoft Word will follow on this page).

The student is encouraged to avoid using Microsoft Word’s Equation Editor for typing equations into their work. Instead, the student can use italic Times New Roman font and Symbol font, along with superscripts and subscripts to create equations. (Tabs will be useful when numbering equations.)

Graphics included in a thesis or dissertation can be added using JPEG, TIFF, EPS, or other appropriate file formats. It is always best to use high-resolution images when available (such as 600 dpi). It is also suggested students avoid using graphic editors that are a part of a word processor. Adobe illustrator or other esteemed image editors are ideal (DO NOT USE PAINT).  It is important to pay attention to the quality of the image in the electronic and printed format.

Landscape Page Numbers
Page numbers must be placed in the footer of the page in portrait orientation even when the text of the page is in landscape orientation. For detailed instructions on how to make this change in Word, visit this Microsoft Website Help Page Or view the University of Michigan Library Document above.

Multimedia Objects
In Word, use the Edit, Copy, and Paste functions to add a multimedia object in the work. Remember to reference the figure in the text and to provide a figure number and title. This figure number and title should appear in the List of Figures.

Here are some general suggestions about spacing within a thesis or dissertation:

  • Avoid using a series of spaces to align text at different locations on the page; instead use tabs to align text where it is desired. (A detailed guide on how to use tabs is linked below in the Table of Contents section).
  • Use line breaks to force a new line instead of starting a new paragraph (unless a new paragraph is what is desired).
  • Avoid using a series of returns (enter key) to start a new page; instead use a page break.
  • Use section breaks to change the format between pages in the document (this is heavily used when formatting the proper pagination).


Table of Contents

A Table of Contents is required for all theses and dissertations. The placement (page order) of the table of contents can be seen in the Required Elements of Theses and Dissertations pages. The document below gives detailed instructions on how to format a Table of Contents using Microsoft Word 2013.

Formatting a Table of Contents using Microsoft Word 2013

Final Review

Before submitting their work, the student should review all materials they intend to submit for correctness in formatting, spelling, grammar, information, research procedures, etc. The following are major reasons that theses and dissertations are not initially approved:

  • Improper format of abstract
  • Improper margins in any part of the thesis or dissertation
  • Improper pagination (especially in the prefatory material)
  • Incorrect pagination listed in the Table of Contents
  • Inconsistent hierarchy of organization from section to section. The same level of organization should be treated consistently as to indention, underlining, fonts, bold lettering, alphanumeric denotations (ex. A, b, I, 1) etc.
  • Inconsistent hierarchy of organization between that listed in the Table of Contents and found in the text
  • Inconsistent use of fonts
  • Prefatory material missing List of Tables, List of Figures, etc. Also table/figure titles are not included in the List of Tables, Figures etc. or they have incorrect pagination
  • Incomplete references (Text referrals are not cited in the bibliography/references section)
  • Inconsistent style in citing the references in both the text and the bibliography/references section
  • Excessive improper grammar and/or misspelling
  • Missing IRB, IACUC, or Biosafety Committee approval form or the student's last name is missing from the form

Although all theses and dissertations should comply with the Manual of Basic Requirements of Theses and Dissertations, the Graduate School strongly suggests that each program decide upon a particular style or format by which all of their theses or dissertations will follow beyond that described herein. This format may be either a specific style manual (i.e. APA, Turabian, MLA) or the format of a respected journal in the field. Questions about formatting or the submission process should be addressed with the Graduate School at (252) 328-5792.