Schreyer Honors College (SHC)at Penn State

Thesis Formatting Guide

The formatting requirements in this guide apply to all Schreyer Honors theses. Please follow the SHC thesis templates provided below:

Note: When saving your thesis as a PDF document, choose "Best for electronic distribution and accessibility" to maintain document links.

Technical & Formatting Requirements

Font Type
All text should use the Times New Roman font.
Font Size
Reduced type may be used within tables, figures, and appendices, but font size should be at least 11-point in size and must be completely legible.
Font Color
The majority of your thesis document should be in black font, however color is permissable in figures, tables, links, etc.

Begin each section on a new page. Do the same with each element of the front matter,[?] the reference section, and the appendix.

Try to avoid typing a heading near the bottom of a page unless there is room for at least two lines of text following the heading. Instead you should simply leave a little extra space on the page and begin the heading on the next page.

If you wish to use a "display" page (a page that shows only the chapter title) at the beginning of chapters or appendices, be sure to do so consistently and to count the display page when numbering the pages.

Excluding the title page and signatory page, every page in the document, including those with tables and figures, must be counted. Use lower case Roman numerals for the front matter and Arabic numbers for the text. The text (or body) of the thesis must begin on page 1. Follow the template provided at the top of this page.

Use the template provided at the top of this page as a pattern for creating your title page. Be sure all faculty members are identified by their correct professional titles. Check with the department for current information. Do not use such designations as "PhD" or "Dr." on the title page.

For Example: John Smith, Professor of English, Thesis Supervisor

The names and titles of the readers/signers must be identical on the title page and signatory page. The signatures on the signatory page indicate your final thesis is completed and approved. At this time it should be uploaded on the eHT website and no changes to the content of the thesis will be permitted.

Please submit your final thesis to your Thesis Supervisor and Honors Adviser at least two weeks prior to the final submission due date to allow them ample time for review and suggested changes. Also, please communicate with your professors to find out their schedule and preferred amount of time to review your thesis.

Number of Signatures
A minimum of two signatures is required on each thesis. If one of the signers has a dual role (e.g., Thesis Supervisor and Honors Adviser), then list both roles under the professional title. Do not list the same person twice. If the sharing of roles leaves you with less than the required number of signatures, an additional reader/signer must be added (Faculty Reader).
Professional Titles of Signers
Be sure all signers are identified by their correct professional titles. Check with the department for current information. Do not use such designations as "PhD" or "Dr." on the signatory page.
Proxy Signatures
If a signer is not available to sign at the appropriate time, a proxy signature is allowed so that the thesis will qualify for final submission. The department or program head may sign the name of the absent signer and initial it beneath, thus indicating knowledge of the approval.

A hard copy of the signatory page is kept on file at the Schreyer Honors College, please do not include it with your electronic submission.

This is a one-paragraph summary of the content of your thesis that identifies concisely the content of the thesis manuscript and important results of your project. Some students like to think of it as an advertisement – i.e., when someone finishes reading it, they should want to examine the rest of your work. Keep it short and include the most interesting points.

The abstract follows the title page, must have the heading ABSTRACT at the top, and is always page Roman numeral i. There is no restriction on the length of the abstract, but it is usually no longer than one page.

The table of contents is essentially a topic outline of the thesis. It is compiled by listing the headings in the thesis. You may choose to include first-level headings, first- and second-levels, or all levels. Keep in mind there usually is no index in a thesis, and thus a fairly detailed table of contents can serve as a useful guide for the reader. The table of contents must appear immediately after the abstract and should not list the abstract, the table of contents itself, or the vita.

Be sure the headings listed in the table of contents match word-for-word the headings in the text. Double check to be sure the page numbers are shown. In listing appendices, indicate the title of each appendix. If using display pages, the number of the display page should appear in the table of contents.

Fomatting Final Touches

An honors thesis manuscript should replicate the appearance of professional writing in your discipline. Include the elements of a formal piece of academic work accordingly. For specific questions on organization or labeling, check with your thesis supervisor to see if there is a style guide you should use.

Acknowledgments are not a required component of an honors thesis. However, if you want to thank particular colleagues, faculty, librarians, archivists, interviewees, and advisers, here's the place to do it. You should include an acknowledgments page if you received a grant from the university or an outside agency that supported your research. It's a good idea to acknowledge folks who helped you with a major project.

A table is a columnar arrangement of information, often numbers, organized to save space and convey relationships at a glance. A rule of thumb to use in deciding whether given materials are tables or figures is that tables can be typed, but figures must be drawn.

A figure is a graphic illustration such as a chart, graph, diagram, map, or photograph.

Please be sure to insert your table or figure, do not copy and paste. Once the figure or table is inserted, you right click on it to apply the appropriate label. Afterwards, return to the list of tables or list of figures page, right click on the list, and "update table (entire table)" and the page will automatically hyperlink.

Captions & Numbering

Each table and each figure in the text must have a number and caption. Number them consecutively throughout, beginning with 1, or by chapter using a decimal system.


It is best to place a table or figure immediately after the first mention of it in the text — on the same page if there is room, or on the following page. Alternatively, tables and/or figures may be grouped together at the end of each chapter. Tables or figures of peripheral importance to the text may be placed in an appendix. Tables and figures must be referred to in the text by number, not by a phrase such as "the following table."

These parts of the thesis will vary in format depending on the style guide you are following. Your discipline will use a consistent style guide, such as MLA, APA, CBE, or Chicago (also known in its shortened version as Turabian). Whichever style you're using, stick to the rules and be consistent. It might be helpful to buy an appropriate style guide manual. Or consult your thesis supervisor or the Penn State Libraries for more information.

A thesis must include a bibliography or reference section listing all works which are referred to in the text, and in some cases other works also consulted in the course of research and writing. This section may either precede or follow the appendices (if any), or may appear at the end of each chapter. Usually a single section is more convenient and useful for both author and reader.

The forms used for listing sources in the bibliography/reference section are detailed and complicated, and they vary considerably among academic disciplines. For this reason, you will need to follow a scholarly style manual in your field or perhaps a recent issue of a leading journal as a guide in compiling this section of the thesis.

Material that is pertinent but is somewhat tangential or very detailed (raw data, procedural explanations, etc.) may be placed in an appendix. Appendices should be designated A, B, C (not 1, 2, 3 or I, II, III). If there is only one appendix, call it simply Appendix, not Appendix A. Titles of appendices must be listed in the table of contents. Appendix pages must be numbered consecutively with the text of the thesis (do not number the pages A-1, A-2, etc.).

The academic vita is required and must be the last page of the document. It must not have a page number and must not be listed in the Table of Contents. The title - Academic Vita - and the author’s name should appear at the top. A standard outline style or a prose form may be used. This should be set up similar to a résumé. Do not include your GPA.

More Information

Additional information can be found in the SHC Student Handbook, the Thesis Formatting Guide, and the Thesis Project Guide.


Scholars who have questions about the honors thesis formatting or submission can contact:

SHC Student Records
(814) 867-2505
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