Documentation and Writing Style

Documentation Style

The textual style and documentation of the thesis or dissertation are the student’s responsibility and must receive the approval of the student’s supervisory committee, subject to the regulations of the Graduate Council. A comprehensive, alphabetical list of department-approved journals the most commonly used manuals of style appears on The Graduate School website. Departmental additions or deletions for this list must be proposed to the thesis editor by the department chair or the director of graduate studies. Changes must be approved by the thesis editor in consultation with the dean of The Graduate School.

The student should pattern citations, references, and other stylistic aspects of the thesis or dissertation after the latest edition of the chosen style manual or recent articles and author instructions from the chosen journal. This handbook, however, should be followed for margin requirements, spacing of text, quotation placement, and presentation of figures and tables. This handbook should be followed in case of any discrepancies.

If the student follows the style of a journal selected from the department-approved journals and manuals of style and the Thesis Office does not already have materials from this journal, the student may be asked to supply a recent article and/or author guide containing examples of a figure, a table, and a reference list.


Writing Style

Because the student writing a thesis or dissertation is presenting the results of research primarily for other scholars within the academic community, the style should be formal rather than colloquial. The tone of the thesis or dissertation should be serious; in general, a conversational writing style is not appropriate. Despite a lack of particular knowledge about a field, an intelligent reader of a thesis or dissertation should be able to understand terminology and the discussion of research. Jargon must be avoided because it obscures rather than clarifies the topic.

For hyphenation and spelling, the current editions of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary are standard sources. Punctuation, capitalization, and the rules of grammar can be found in any basic grammar book. For matters of English usage, the best source is R.W. Burchfield’s Fowler’s Modern English Usage (2004).