Online recorded course: Lifetime access £90. This course uses Word for Windows, but I plan to add a Mac version soon.

How to Format your PhD or Master's Thesis Using Microsoft Word

Get word to do what you want it to, without the frustration

Working with Word can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you're writing a very long document with references, tables, equations, figures, appendices, running heads and more

But if you know the right steps, and follow them carefully, you can produce a beautifully formatted document without feeling like you're fighting against the software.

This course will show you exactly:

  • How to set up professional-looking typography and page design
  • How to auto-number your chapters and sections
  • How to add tables of contents, lists of figures and lists of tables
  • How to add page numbers (and hide them or format them differently before the chapters start)
  • How to add references using Word's built-in system, Zotero or EndNote
  • How to add figures and captions (and make sure they stay where you put them)
  • How to add simple tables with captions
  • How to add tables spanning multiple pages
  • How to add and auto-number equations
  • How to add cross-references
  • How to format quotes
  • How to add and number appendices
  • How to add running heads (with a different first page)
  • How to add a title page

In addition to these specifics, you'll also learn:

  • Basic principles of good thesis design
  • How to avoid many of the most annoying common problems with Word

Making the formatting easy, so you can concentrate on your writing

You have enough to work on without stressing over formatting your thesis.

This course aims to make it as easy as possible to set up and modify your formatting (and make it look fantastic). It's also very easy to adapt the formatting to your own university's guidelines.

Why is Word so frustrating, anyway?

Because there are many different ways to achieve seemingly the same result, and Word behaves differently depending on which method you choose.

If you choose the wrong one, or if you are inconsistent in the way you do it, Word will punish you!

But if you know the right steps (and follow them carefully), it will be OK!

Ridiculous attention to detail

This course has been developed with exceptional (and slightly obsessive) attention to detail. Every single detail has been carefully thought through and tested. Nothing has been left to chance.

For example, we don't use centimetres or inches, but points as a measurement unit. This means we can proportion our line spacing and margins relative to the text size.

You don't need to worry about this, though; all you have to do is follow the steps!

Formatting for print, not just the screen

Your thesis will probably exist in both printed and electronic form. There are different things you need to consider for these two formats.

This has been factored into the course, so you can have one design that works for both formats.

Some examples from the course

How to set up page margins

How to insert inline equations

How to auto-number appendices

How to reliably insert an image and caption in Word

Thesis formatting FAQs

Can't I just use a thesis template?

Yes, you can, but the problem with templates is that you don't know how they have been made. There are many ways to achieve the same result, and Word behaves differently depending on the process you follow. So if you don't know how they set up section breaks, for example, it can get messy when you try to add your own.

Shouldn't I just write and worry about formatting later?

Of course, the content is the most important thing, but it's good to set up the formatting early because;

  • It's harder to fix bad formatting than to set it up nicely from the start
  • You don't want to do it in a panic at the end (especially the references and figures)
  • It feels nice to be able to see a professional-looking document rather than a mess

Follow the steps in this course and you'll be able to set it and forget it!

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