Content Guidelines for Your Dissertation or Thesis

Follow this page order when outlining your thesis/dissertation. The most common mistake is following a fellow (or previous) student’s example. Read the current guidelines carefully!

Please note: the numbering structure is only an example and will change depending on how many pages each of your sections contain.  However, the title and copyright pages are always i (not shown) and ii.  The first page of your main content begins with page 1.

Preliminary Pages

All preliminary pages should be numbered with lower case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.) and should NOT appear on the Table of Contents. There should be no blank pages except where explicitly indicated.

Title Page (required)

The title page is always the first page, and it is not numbered but is counted as page i.

  1. Reference the forms under "Thesis, Dissertation, and Manuscript Related" for the appropriate title page for your degree.
  2. Your name (as it is listed in your student portal) only - no honorifics.  If you would like to update your name, please email [email protected].
  3. All committee members’ signatures must appear on the DocuSign title page.

Copyright Page (required)

The copyright page is always page ii.

  1. If you are planning to register a copyright, a statement of copyright and Roman numeral must be included on this page. The format should be (centered) as follows:
                         Copyright 2020 (no copyright symbol)
                                   by (lower case)
                          Albert Einstein
  2. If the work is not copyrighted then this page will be blank – except for the page number (ii). Insert a blank, numbered page, for page number ii, if you are not filing a copyright.

Dedication and Acknowledgments (optional, double-spaced)

You may wish to acknowledge the help and support from particular people during the course of your work. This page should be double-spaced and numbered "iii."

Contributions (optional, double-spaced)

If you are using previously published materials, you may need to include a reference to the publication in which the material originally appeared, including co-authors, multiple published papers, or copyrighted material. This page should be double-spaced.

Epigraph (optional, double-spaced)

The epigraph is a short quotation or a poem, which usually serves to link the book to other, usually well-known, published works. The source of the quotation is given on the line following the epigraph and is usually right-aligned, often preceded by a dash.

Abstract (required, double-spaced)

The abstract always appears directly before Table of Contents.

The title of your dissertation, your name (as it is listed in your student portal and without any special/honorary titles), and the word "Abstract" should appear at the top center of the page. The abstract should include a brief statement of the problem, a description of the methods and procedures used to gather data or study the problem, and a condensed summary of the findings. This page should be double-spaced.

Table of Contents (required, double-spaced)

The table of contents should consist of the chapter titles/references and page numbers only. Preliminary pages and the UCSF library release page should not be listed on the table of contents.  At the least, the table of contents must include a listing of chapters and the references page(s).  Preferably, it should include chapters/headings, sub-headings, and references page(s).

This page should be double-spaced. Include separate pages for list of figures and tables.

Chapter titles/headings should not overlap with the page numbers.  Please be sure to adjust tab stops accordingly. (See an example.)

See our Table of Contents FAQs for more formatting information. 

List of Figures (required if applicable, double-spaced)

The list of illustrations, if used, should use the same format as the table of contents, giving the figure or illustration names/numbers and corresponding page numbers. This page should also be double-spaced.

Figure titles/captions should not overlap with the page numbers.  Please be sure to adjust tab stops accordingly. (See an example.)

The List of Figures should begin on a separate page.

See our List of Figures FAQs for more formatting information.

List of Tables (required if applicable, double-spaced)

The list of tables, if used, should be in the same format as the table of contents, i.e. the names/numbers of the tables, and corresponding page numbers. This page should be double-spaced.

Table titles/captions should not overlap with the page numbers.  Please be sure to adjust tab stops accordingly. (See an example.)

The List of Tables should begin on a separate page.

See our List of Tables FAQs for more formatting information.

List of Abbreviations (required if applicable, double-spaced)

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, it’s a good idea to provide an alphabetical list of their definitions. This improves the readability of the document, allowing readers to easily look up unfamiliar abbreviations.

Body of Manuscript

Main Body

Chapter 1 or introduction is page 1. Pages should be numbered sequentially thereafter.

Figures and Tables

All figures and tables must be titled.  Figure titles/captions should be placed below the figure, whereas table titles/captions should be placed above the table.  Both must be single spaced.

Tables that span across multiple pages must include repeating column headers so that readers know which column contains which data.

Figure/Table references (i.e. Fig. 1.1 or Table 1.1, etc.) should be bolded.  The entire title does not necessarily need to be bolded.  Figure legends/table captions should NOT be bolded.

Figure legends should be placed in close proximity to the figure and should not be incorporated with a list of legends for multiple figures.

References (required, double-spaced)

References must be listed on the Table of Contents. References may appear at the end of each chapter or at the end of the manuscript. Either way, references should be placed on their own page(s). If you choose to place references at the end of the mansucript, this section should simply be titled "References".  Do not assign a chapter number to this section.

To retain clarity, references should always be double-spaced and should be listed alphabetically, except in cases where sources are referenced by number within the manuscript.  References should be formatted consistently throughout the manuscript.

The following are examples of correctly formatted reference pages:

Library Release Page (required)

The library release, a.k.a. the publishing agreement, is the last page, signed and dated by the student (via DocuSign), and should be numbered. This page does not appear on Table of Contents. The agreement may be electronically generated via DocuSign.

The library release is a required condition of graduation for all University of California campuses. As a public institution, it is the policy of the University of California to make scholarly and research works available to the public and the release enables us to take the necessary steps to ensure that UCSF dissertations remain available. Derivations of your work are not included in the release, only various forms of reproduction and distribution, and you retain the copyright. More specifically, a digital copy is transferred to California Digital Library, via eScholarship, for in perpetuity storage. You may request an embargo on the initial release date of up to one year.


Continue to additional things to consider in advance of ProQuest submission.

Return to Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines.