Nova University Applied Dissertation & Thesis Style Format
Dissertation & Thesis Editing Services
Dissertation and thesis preparation in APA style differs markedly from that of manuscript articles for submission to a professional journal. Dissertations are final documents prepared in accordance with university-specific guidelines for long-term storage and public usage, whereas journal manuscripts are prepared in accordance with journal-specific guidelines for editorial and typesetting purposes. Therefore, APA's guidelines specific to the writing and preparing of theses and dissertations are relatively brief (APA, 6.01-6.03; p. 321-326), and although schools often refer students to these and other sections of the APA publication manual for guidance in formatting and style, criteria are often set that supersede the APA recommendations.
Like all universities, Nova Southeastern University has specific requirements for the dissertation format that candidates must follow. Dissertations submitted to Nova Southeastern University are required to observe APA form regarding specific topics, such as style and grammar, language bias, editorial style, in-text references, and reference lists, and tables & figures. Candidates are required to consult the APA style manual (5th ed.) sections 2.01-2.12, 2.13-2.12, 3.01-3.93, 3.94-3.103, 4.01-4.16, and 3.62-3.86, respectively, for these criteria. Writing your paper with these basic guidelines and the criteria below in mind from the beginning is in general a much better strategy than waiting until your project is complete to begin appropriate editing. Some of the more important aspects of Nova Southeastern University's guidelines are given below.
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Your dissertation or thesis must contain an abstract, which is a short summary that includes the methods, sample, findings, and conclusion of your project. Abstracts should be single-spaced within paragraphs and double-spaced between paragraphs. A descriptive first paragraph should give the project title, author name, and other relevant school-specific information. Following this is the narrative portion of the abstract which should be between 220 and 270 words, and not exceed one page in length. Note that this word limit is much longer than the maximum of 120 words for most abstracts in APA journals. This should enable writers to make the abstract as self-contained as possible, which is necessary because the abstract is published and indexed separately from the dissertation in research databases.
Approval forms serve as proof that you completed the dissertation requirements and are signed by your dissertation committee. Identifying and qualifying information is given for each committee member, as well as your name. Your name must appear exactly as it is presented on the title and abstract pages, and signature lines should be at least as long as the longest line of type beneath them, with consistent spacing (no smaller than ½ inch, and no larger than 1 inch).
Preferred typefaces are serif fonts, such as Times New Roman and Courier New, and should be of 12-point size. However, a sans serif typeface (e.g., Arial) should be used for legends and axis labels in figures. Underlining, bullets, and colors are not allowed in the document, nor are superscript or bold type, except for certain statistical symbols as described in the APA manual. Type used in tables and figures may be 10- or 11-point size, if necessary, to fit material within the left and right margins or on a single page. The type size for a table note or figure caption should be 10-point to differentiate between the note or caption and the next line of text.
Top, bottom, and right margins are 1 inch minimum and left margins must be 1.5 inches minimum. You should be particularly attentive to the bottom margin, as it must be 1 inch regardless of the paragraph break. Therefore, you should disable the auto-formatting settings on your word-processing program so that each page has text to the bottom margin. Right margins should always be unjustified (i.e., ragged). Note that this guideline also applies to the reference-list, but the exception is that a stand-alone subheading (APA level 3) should not appear on the last line of a page. Margins for appendices may be larger, but not smaller than those required for other pages of the manuscript.
The type of paper used for the manuscript often is not a concern when submitting to journals for publication. However, durable paper for your dissertation is required for long-term usage and storage in university libraries and other places. The final copy must be on high-quality, white 8.5 X 11 inch 20-24 lb paper with a minimum 25% cotton content. Manuscripts also should not be stapled or bound in any way. Print must appear on only one side of each page, and noticeable corrections, such as by fluid or tape, are not permitted.
Preliminary pages of your dissertation (i.e., abstract, table of contents and approval pages) are numbered in lowercase Roman numerals two line spaces below the 1-inch margin line. The title page is assigned a number (i) that is not placed on the page. For all pages of the main body of the manuscript (i.e., from page 1 of the first chapter through all pages of the appendices), Arabic numerals should be placed on the right margin, and two line spaces above the top margin line. The typeface and size of the page numbers should be the same as the manuscript type. Running heads are not appropriate for manuscripts of this type.
APA formatting rules should be followed for the construction of a complete and accurate reference list. The reference list must contain all references cited in the body of the dissertation or thesis including footnotes and appendices, and vice versa. The list should be titled as "References", and single-spaced within each entry, but double-spaced between entries using a hanging indent style. If no author is given, do not use "anonymous" unless the work was signed accordingly; instead, alphabetize by the first significant word of the title. The form of each reference will change depending on whether the cited text is a book, edited book, journal article, dissertation, electronic-journal article, technical research report, newsgroup, data file, on-line forum, personal email, or other source type. You may wish to refer to chapter 4 of the APA manual, which lists 95 different possible source types.
Nova Southeastern University prefers a two-level heading format; however, a third level heading may be used when appropriate (see APA 3.31-3.32). The third level heading is indented and is immediately followed by the first sentence of the new paragraph. The wording of all headings (and titles) much match the wording of the corresponding headings (and titles) in the table of contents. Such issues are often not of concern in submitting APA-style manuscripts, but if there is a discrepancy amongst your headings your document will have to be revised immediately.
Tables and Figures
Tables and figures must be formatted according to APA manuscript preparation guidelines (sections 3.62-3.86), and each table or figure must fit on one page only. All tables and figures should be set flush left, presented horizontally, and placed at the appropriate point in the text (i.e., following the text reference at the first place possible). Note that this differs from general APA manuscript preparation where tables and figures are placed at the end of the document. Dissertations also often require more elaborate and complete data reporting, so the number of tables and figures for your document will often exceed the number documented when submitting for journal publication.
Table of Contents
All first- and second-level headings within the dissertation text must appear in the table of contents, and vice versa. Third-level headings do not appear in the table of contents. Lists of tables and figures follow immediately after the list of appendices. Unlike text pages, the right margin of the table of contents is justified. Lines for preliminary pages should not be included in the table of contents, nor should headers be repeated for the second and any subsequent table of contents pages. APA section 3.13 may be referred to for further guidance regarding capitalization rules for headings and titles.
The dissertation is probably the most important, and often the most stress-inducing document of your graduate career. Obtaining assistance with dissertation style and formatting allows you to concentrate on the conceptual issues that excited your interest in the field from the beginning, and will improve the overall quality of your project in the end.