You've decided to write a thesis or dissertation. Congratulations!


Many people are intimidated by the process of writing, editing, and defending a long paper. We in University Technology are here to make the formatting part of the process as stress-free as possible!


You will find links to documentation we find useful below, as well as a few suggestions. Please contact the University Technology Service Center at 973-408-4357 with additional questions, or to schedule an appointment for more assistance.

To return to this page or share it with a friend, use this link:

Backing Up Documents

The most important habit of all is backing up your thesis or dissertation as you write.

Back up your files in multiple places. This means, for example, storing a copy on the hard drive of your computer, on your Drew Network F: drive, on a "cloud" drive, and on an external piece of hardware such as a USB Flash drive or external hard drive. When you have saved changes to your thesis, save the changed document to all of the backup locations with the same name. It is extra work to create the backups, but it will save you a great deal of time should one file get lost or corrupted!

Directions for accessing the F: Drive

Directions for adding files to Google Drive

An additional non-Drew method for backing up your documents and accessing them anywhere is the website Dropbox. Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, documents, and videos anywhere and share them easily.  This is done by syncing work to the site's cloud drive allowing for easy access across multiple devices (mobile, web, and desktop). 

We recommend having at least 3 copies of your work. Use the storage solutions that you are most comfortable with, and remember to update the file(s) in each location at the end of each day's work.

Starting to Write

Outlined below are instructions for formatting your document. If you would prefer to use a template with many of these formatting styles programmed and ready to use, please see the Drew Dissertation Templates page. 

A Note about Google Docs

Google Docs is a wonderful place to work for a wide variety of reasons. Unfortunately, those reasons do not cover some of the basic formatting required of a thesis or a dissertation (most importantly, the page numbering). Google has made recent strides in offering some of the formatting required, but not all of it. If you work primarily in Google Docs, we recommend that you plan time to move your work into Microsoft Word (either by downloading the Doc as a Word file, by copying and using Paste > Keep Text Only - which will require formatting adjustments, or by doing both to see what method requires the least amount of adjusting work for your particular document). 

Specific Formatting Instructions

Please consult your school or reading committee for the specific formatting requirements that apply to your paper and adjust the following directions where needed.

These instructions were written using Word 2013. If you use a different version of Word - especially a version of Word for Mac - your options may be found in a different place, though they will almost always go by the same name. Visit to learn more about any setting you cannot find.

Paragraph Marks

Paragraph marks can be helpful to see when something is not responding to formatting the way you expect it to. These can be turned on and off by clicking the paragraph marks symbol, , in the Paragraph group on the Home tab of the ribbon.


Your entire document has the same font, so apply these settings before you write.

If using a Drew Dissertation template, these formats are applied using the "Dissertation" style.

Your text should be set to Times New Roman, size 12.

Spacing should be double (2.0).

(Special sections of text, like footnotes or block quotes,

will be single spaced. See those sections for more


Page Margins

Your entire document should have the same page margins, so set the page margins before you write.

Go to Page Layout > Margins > Custom margins….
Set the margins as follows: 1” margins top, bottom, right; 1.5” left

Title Page

If using a Drew Dissertation template, these formats are applied using the "Title for Title Page" and "Dissertation" styles.

  1. Click the Center alignment button in the Paragraph group on the Home tab of the ribbon

  2. Type out your title, entirely caps (tip: use Caps Lock)

  3. Type the other information, matching the sample provided to you (not all caps)

  4. Right click on first line of title

    1. Choose "Paragraph…." from the menu

    2. Make sure "Special" is set to "(none)"

    3. Set "Line spacing, Before" to 108 pt (for a 2.5” space at the top of the page), or set to 72 pt for a 2" space

    4. Click OK

  5. Add blank spaces between each section of text by hitting Enter until your date is at the bottom

    1. Hit Delete or Backspace once if the date goes on to the next page

Body Paragraphs

If using a Drew Dissertation template, this format is applied using the "Dissertation" style.

  1. Type out your first sentence (even if you plan to change it later!)

  2. Right click on the sentence and select "Paragraph…." from the menu.

  3. Set "Special" to "First Line"

    1. It should default to 0.5”, but set it to that if not

  4. Click OK

Chapter Titles

The most important thing to remember with your chapter titles is CONSISTENCY.

Remember to confirm your requirements with your school and committee.

If using a Drew Dissertation template, these formats are applied using the "Chapter Title" and "Title Not for TOC" styles.

  1. Chapter titles should be in all caps, centered

  2. If naming chapters "CHAPTER 1: CHAPTER TITLE", type CHAPTER 1, hit Enter, then type CHAPTER TITLE

Block Quotes

If using a Drew Dissertation template, this format is applied using the "Block Quote" style.

For quotes longer than 3 typed lines or 50 words (check your guidelines for clarification), the quote should be set apart as a block quote. To do this:

  1. Make your quote its own paragraph by hitting Enter before and after the quote
  2. Right click anywhere in the paragraph and select "Paragraph…." from the menu
  3. Set the Left Indentation to 0.5"
  4. Make sure Special is set to (none)
  5. Set the Line spacing to Single

  6. Click OK.

Long or Em Dash

Some guidelines suggest a 3-em dash be used in the bibliography/works cited in place of repeating an author's name.

To insert a 3-em dash:

  1. Put your cursor where you need the line.
  2. Go to the Insert tab (or Insert menu on Mac). 
  3. Click on Symbol and choose More Symbols (the option is called Advanced Symbol on Mac). 

  4. Click on Special Characters at the top. 
  5. The first character is usually the em dash, which is what we want. Click Insert 3 times (slowly - if you go too fast, it won't insert 3). 

  6. Click Close, then type your period, space, and the rest of your reference.

Adding Section Breaks (for page numbering and footnotes)

Create sections to handle page numbering and restarting footnote numbers at 1 in each chapter.

  • The title page and any un-numbered pages in the front matter should be one section
  • The Table of Contents and any numbered pages in the front matter should be one section
  • Each chapter should be its own section
  • If listed separately in your Table of Contents, each appendix should be its own section
    • If you only list "Appendices", then all appendices should be one section
  • The Bibliography should be its own section
  • Those including a Vita should make that page a different section

To add a section break at the end of a section:

  1. Put your cursor as close to the bottom of the last page in your section as possible

  2. On the Layout tab, select Breaks > Next Page (under Section Breaks)

    Please avoid the Continuous section break.

    1. On Mac, this option can also be found in the Insert menu > Break > Section Break (Next Page)

  3. If you get an extra line before the next page’s title, you can delete it

  4. Word will remember the formatting you create in a section for page numbers and footnotes, so you can set up the formatting for the first few sections, then add sections for additional chapters as you write without needing to manually adjust the page number and footnote settings in each chapter

NOTE: You will only know that a section break exists if you (a) turn on paragraph formatting marks or (b) take note of the section numbers when in your header/footer area.


Inserting a Footnote

  1. Put cursor where footnote number should be

  2. On the References tab, choose "Insert Footnote"

Formatting your footnotes

If using a Drew Dissertation template, this format is applied using the "Footnote Text" style, which applies automatically when following the steps above to insert a footnote.

  1. First, change your view. On the View tab, select Draft.

  2. On the References tab, choose Show Notes.

  3. At the bottom, make sure the drop down says "All Footnotes".

  4. Click in a footnote and then hit Ctrl+A on your keyboard to select all.

  5. Right click in highlighted text and select "Paragraph…." from the menu

  6. Adjust the following settings:

    1. Alighnment: Left

    2. Indentation, Left and Right: 0”

    3. Indentation, Special: First Line, 0.5”

    4. Spacing, Before: 0 pt

    5. Spacing, After: 12 pt

    6. Line spacing: Single

  7. Click OK

  8. To return to your usual view, go back to the View tab and choose Print Layout.

To restart footnote numbers for each chapter

  1. Right click on a footnote and select “Note options”

    1. On Mac, you can also go to the Insert menu > Footnote... to open this Footnote and Endnote dialog box

  2. In Numbering, select “Restart each section”

  3. In Apply changes to, select “Whole Document”

  4. Click Apply.

Page Numbering

You will find step by step instructions for page numbering at Numbering Your Pages.

Images and Captions

If you are including images in your paper, you can read how to add captions in Word in this article (applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016).

This YouTube video from Office gives you some tips for including images in your Word document:

Table of Contents

Save the Table of Contents (TOC) for last, as you should have your paper mostly written before completing your TOC.

If using a Drew Dissertation template, an automatic TOC is included which is built using text with the "Chapter Title" style applied. The template also has a "Dots for Table of Contents" style to apply to manually built TOCs and lists of figures or tables.

Make sure your TOC chapter titles match the titles in your text.

Dot leaders are the dots between your chapter title and the page number that chapter starts on. The page numbers will be flush right after adjusting these settings.

  1. Type all of the chapter titles, hitting Enter after each one

  2. Highlight all of the titles

  3. Right click and select “Paragraph….”

    1. On Mac, you can also open the Paragraph dialog box from the Format menu > Paragraph...

  4. Choose Tabs…

  5. In “Tab stop position” ("Tab stops:" on Mac), type 6”

  6. Set the Alignment Right

  7. Choose Leader 2 (the dots)

  8. Click Set, then OK

  9. Put your cursor at the end of the first title and hit the Tab on your keyboard

  10. Dots will be inserted all the way to the right margin. Type your page number here.

  11. Repeat the Tab and page number for each title

Order of Materials

Please confirm this order with your adviser. Also keep in mind that not all of these elements are necessary for your paper. Again, confirm requirements with your adviser.

Theological School

Front Matter

Title page; Copyright; Abstract; Dedication (no page numbers)

Table of Contents; Figure List; Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Glossary* (lower case Roman numerals)

Back Matter

Appendix/ces; Glossary*; Bibliography (Arabic numerals)

Graduate School

Front Matter

Title page; Copyright; Abstract; Dedication (no page numbers)

Table of Contents; Acknowledgements; Other (figure list, abbreviations, preface) (lower case Roman numerals)

Back Matter

Appendix/ces; Glossary*; Bibliography (Arabic numerals)

CV (no page number)

* The Glossary can be placed with the front matter or back matter

Microsoft Office Support

Page numbers
Table of Contents

Word has a feature which will use heading styles from your document to automatically create a Table of Contents.

Self-paced courses:



You can watch videos or download entire courses about working with footnotes in Word here:

Articles with instructions can be found at the following links:

Section Breaks

If you are saving your entire thesis or dissertation as one document, you will need to use section breaks to allow you to format the first page of each chapter properly. Information about this feature can be found at the following links:

Note: You will want to use "Next Page" section breaks between chapters.

You can follow the instructions at Number pages differently in different sections to number the pages for each section of the document. Remember to use the "different first page" option!


The following information may be helpful when you are ready to create your bibliography:


You can read how to add captions in Word in this article (applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016).

Save as PDF

Follow these instructions to save your Word file as a PDF.

Using PDF-XChange Editor

PDF-XChange Editor is a software that allows you to work with PDF files. For your purposes here, you can use it to pull certain pages out of a larger PDF file to share with your adviser, or you can use it to merge multiple PDF files into one file for submission.

Please note: If your entire document is saved in one Word file, you can simply save that file as a PDF in Word. No need to use an extra piece of software!

Miscellaneous Tips

Guidelines for Dissertations

Helpful Links and Pages

Submitting Your Completed Paper

You can submit your completed, approved paper at You will find instructions on that page.