Your dissertation has been approved and the PhD ceremony has been scheduled. Now it is a matter of finishing. Preparing your dissertation, sending invitations, choosing a good outfit … It is quite a change after three years putting every word on a scale. In this article you will find tips for the preparation of your thesis.

Managing the layout: which program?

For the preparation of the thesis, you can choose different programs.

  • Word, OpenOffice or Pages – These are the word processors that most people use and that you probably use the most. You can write a dissertation with it, although some people find it very frustrating that a program like Word changes the layout of certain pieces of text.
  • LaTeX – LaTeX is the biggest opposite of Word. With the free program LaTeX you work on plain text against a programming layer. You can often only export your documents as a pdf. With LaTeX your document looks very professional, but to understand the program will cost you a lot of time.
  • QuarkXPress, InDesign – These are professional layout programs used in advertising studios for the layout of books and folders. These programs are more visual than LaTeX, but because of the extensive functionality so complicated that it can take a long time to get used to the programs.

This article therefore focuses more on Word and similar programs.

Styles and overview

Before you start your thesis, it is wise to consider how the thesis should look like. Which fonts do you use? How big are the titles, headlines and subheads? How much white space do you want between a paragraph and a sub-heading? Analyze your text and note which different style types you want to use and what they should look like. You capture these characteristics in styles. On the Microsoft website you will find a comprehensive manual for setting up and managing your style set.

It is wise to set your styles in a separate document, so that you do not lose the original text if something goes wrong. If you are satisfied with the styles available in the style inspector, export the styles, start a new document and start composing the thesis by pasting the text in the document and applying the right styles to your text, titles and assigning heads.

Note: make sure that you always paste the text as plain text in the document, because otherwise Word will put the styles of the source file in the style inspector.

Do you know which headlines your table of contents should refer to? Select the styles of those headings in the control panel of the table of contents and Word automatically creates and maintains your table of contents. Thesis or dissertation: that always works.

An extra tip: not only in your thesis you make an impression with a constant layout. Dissertation or presentation, stick to the chosen styles of your thesis in all your material.

Font thesis
In earlier days fonts, almost all dissertations were printed in serif letters. That does not have to be done nowadays, although of course you have to ensure that your thesis is readable to everyone.

Most PhD students use a font size of 10pt for the basic text. A font size of at least 7pt is used for captions. These are the minimums: if letters become smaller, they are no longer legible. A somewhat larger line spacing can greatly increase the readability of the thesis because it gives the pages a rest. Choose a line spacing of at least 1.2 or a line spacing of 1.5 for a comfortable text.

Do not just think about the font and the font size, but also about the color. By choosing a small set of basic colors and creating the entire dissertation, you create unity in your report.

Formatting thesis: you have to love it

Before you start designing the dissertation, think about whether you actually like to design. Spending days with Word only makes sense if the result is also up to it. If you do not like it, or know that you are not so happy with Word, it is better to outsource. There is a chance that you will regret the result and that shouldn’t be the case since this was four years of hard work.

For the design of your thesis you can ask a friendly designer, but you can also go to our print shop. We are specialized in dissertations.

For more information and tips on the layout and printing of your thesis, you can download our extensive brochure (PDF, 4,7MB).

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