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Master's Thesis & Capstone Project Guide: Format & Style

This provides general guidance for authors of master's theses and creative project reports prepared while at at Dominican University of California. Please read the guidelines carefully and consult with your thesis advisor and the Library.

About Format and Style

The instructions listed below take precedence over other style guide information. If there seems to be a serious conflict, check with the Library and have your thesis advisors do the same.


Thesis front matter, margin, pagination, and document structure requirements are specified throughout this guide, and must be observed as stated, no matter what other guidelines dictate.  Remaining format issues are governed by standard publication manuals and/or standards of publication in your discipline.  Unless an alternate format has been approved by your department, the latest edition of one of the following standard references, the one appropriate to your field, should be used; It is the student's responsibility to determine which style guide the major department requires and to present a thesis to the Library that is consistent with the selected guide.

Other general references on form and style that are used as aids in writing and preparing a scholarly paper can be consulted as well; however, the thesis should not combine formatting recommendations from multiple styles.  One style guide should be used consistently throughout.

Because a thesis is usually an objective, unbiased investigation based upon the author's scholarly work, it should be written in a formal scholarly manner appropriate to academic publications.  The use of the first person is discouraged, except in disciplines where the form demands it, or in the kinds of research where the use of the "I" is normal and necessary.  Above all, it is important to be consistent in matters of style, usage, and punctuation.  Consistency with the format of heading levels, the use of capitalization, and the placement of figures and tables and their corresponding captions should be observed. The presentation of data should be clear and clutter-free, utilizing a legible font and size.

Campus Resources

Please do not use these thesis guidelines as your only source for preparing your thesis. Information about the commonly used styles is available at the Teaching and Learning Center and the Library. The Teaching and Learning Center has tutors that can assist you with citations and it also periodically offers workshops on these documentation styles.

The Librarians on campus can also assist you with your citations and styles, copyright questions. and research needs that may come up while you prepare your thesis. The Library's FAQ, Ask the Library, also has many answers to your questions and it can be accessed 24/7 through the Library.

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