How To Format Your Dissertation Using MS Word?

The formatting of dissertations and assignment usually scores 10 % of the total masks. So the correct formatting practices help students to achieve high scores. This essay will provide a complete step-by-step guide for dissertation formatting in MS Word.

Step 1: Opening Of The Document In MS Word.

Figure 1: Opening of the document in MS Word.

The first step of formatting a document in Microsoft word is opening the document in MS Word. To do this, left-click the document you want to open in MS Word, select the ‘Open with’ option, and then click the ‘ open with MS word ’ option from the dialogue box.

This step will surely open every kind of document into MS Word, as shown in figure 1. However, if the document to be formatted is already composed in MS word office, then there is no need to follow this step.

Step 2: Section Or Page Break

Another great feature of MS Word that makes it user-friendly is the ‘section or page break’ option which allows different formatting styles in a single dissertation. Page break and section break helps to customize the formatting style of a dissertation. For example, you may want a landscape page to be placed in the center of a portrait document. Or you might want a versatile header or footer or different page numbering styles for a certain number of pages. You can use the sections break option of MS word that is designed especially to meet these demands.

Figure 2: Section Break in Dissertation

Go to the 'page layout' option to insert page break or section break, then click the ‘Break’ icon. Figure 2 indicates how page break helps writers to use multiple formatting tools in a single document.

Step 3: Font Style And Paragraph Spacing

The Font size and the paragraph spacing depend upon the chosen formatting style requirements. However, the most commonly used writing style and font size are Times New Roman: 12. To correct the writing style and font style of a dissertation following steps must be followed: At the top of the word document, go to the ‘Home’ tab, then select 'Times New Roman’ or another writing style with the font size of your choice as sown in figure 3

Figure 3:  Font selection toolbar.

While for sentence and paragraph spacing, MS Word facilities its users with various spacing options. Multiple options are present on the right side of the ‘Font’ option to meet the various spacing requirement. Figure 4 represents the different options provided by MS Word to adjust line and paragraph spacing. The small arrow at the corner of the toolbar opens a dialogue box shown in figure 5. A user can adjust the spacing according to his requirement from the box shown in figure 5.

Figure 4: Various spacing options available in MS Word.


Figure 5: Paragraph or lines spacing dialogue box.

Step 4: Margin Formatting Tools

Various universities offer formatting styles, and writers have to meet those formatting requirements to score well in finals. For adjustment of Margin, the option available at the top of the document 'Page layout' contains 'Margin' Icon to customize the dissertation margins.

Steps to Customize Margins are:

  • Go to Page layout
  • Go to the down drop arrow present at the ‘Margins’ icon.

Figure 6: Margin icon location

3. Then click the 'customize margins’ option.
4. The customize margins option will open a dialogue box from where the margins can be adjusted according to the formatting requirements, as shown in figure 6.
Figure 7: Customize Margin Options

Step 5: Formatting Heading

Different dissertations have different heading numbering and formatting requirements. Options available in MS Word for heading adjustments are as follows; In dissertation formatting, at the top of the document, different headings styling options are available. The steps to format the heading in the dissertation are as follows:

Figure 8: Style box in MS Word

  1. The first heading of every chapter should be selected, and then click ‘Heading 1’ after modifying the ‘Heading 1’ option in the toolbar.
  2. The subheading should be selected as ‘Heading 2’ from the style section of the toolbar.
  3. Headings under subheading 2 must be selected as ‘Heading 3’ and so on.

To modify each heading style few simple steps are required:
  1. Left-click the 'heading style.'
  2. Chose the 'Modify option.'
  3. Select changes you need in your headings, as shown in figure 9.
Figure 9: Headings modify options in MS Word

To create numbered headings, MS Word has a ‘Multilevel List Library,' containing layouts options that are already configured to switch to the built-in header styles. Thus, the word makes the process of numbering headings easier:
  • In the paragraph section of the word list heading options is available. Then, by clicking the downward arrow, a Multilevel List Library opens. From this Multilevel List Library, you can choose the numbering style of your choice.

Step 6: Table Of Contents

According to the Operation Director of a dissertation proposal writing services firm, The easiest way to make a table of content, list of figures, and list of tables in MS World is as follows:

  • Just go to the 'Reference’ option present at the top of the document.

  • Then go to the 'Table of content’ icon.

  • Then select ‘Styles of Table of Content’.
Figure 10: Styles of Automated Table of Content.

  • And at the end, click the ‘Insert Table of Content’ Option. This will generate an automated table of content of the whole dissertation.

A similar process can also be used to make automated lists of figures and tables.

Step 7: Reference List Formatting

Another most important point in a dissertation is the formatting of the reference list. The reference list formatting part takes a few minutes in MS world. The director of the dissertation help office says that the steps to format reference list in MS Word are as follows:

  • Select the reference list and go to the paragraph section at the top of the document.
  • Go to the 'Sort' icon; it will open a 'Sort text’ dialogue box.

Figure 11: Sort text dialogue box

  • Choice the Ascending or Descending way of sorting the list.
  • Ascending list arranges the data in the form of ‘A to Z’.
  • Descending list arranges the list in the form of ‘Z to A’.

At the end of the reference formatting step, go to the 'paragraph section' and the small arrow to present the extreme right corner of the box. Then go for the indention option and select the hanging or non-hanging options to make the reference list presentable.

Before submitting the dissertation, makes sure that the whole document is completely formatted and justified.

Albert Barkley

Hello, my name is Albert Barkley. I am working as education consultant with a UK based firm after completion of my PhD. I like to write on different social, tech and education trends.

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