Students determine their thesis formats based on two considerations: the academic discipline in which they are writing and the needs of their material.
The style manual of the academic discipline will answer many of the student’s thesis format questions. Additionally, the department may provide a list of guidelines for the thesis format, such as required length or number of sources. Often the student’s major professor can provide excellent recommendations on thesis format that will help the student organize the research and present it in an appealing, persuasive way.
The various needs of different research topics also determine thesis formats. For example, the student who writes on demographic changes in a certain region will probably provide many tables and charts to supplement the body of the thesis. The student may relegate these tables and charts to an appendix, or the student may couch these tables within the text.
Because theses are much longer than term papers, students will encounter new format necessities. Readers will benefit from a table of contents, any helpful appendices, and an index. The table of contents is fairly straightforward; before submitting the thesis, the student will make a list of the title of each chapter and the page on which it begins. The student will create appendices to accommodate any important information that the ordinary reader may not be able to access, such as an unpublished interview transcript or a photocopy of an ancient manuscript.
One writes the index last, after one has made all final revisions. The student writes a comprehensive list of all the important nouns in the thesis, including names, technical terms, and words that bear directly on the thesis topic. The student uses his or her word processor to locate all the occurrences of each word, making a note of the page number of each occurrence. The student then alphabetizes those words and lists the appropriate page numbers next to each word.
Instructors standardize thesis formats to aid students in the organization of their thoughts. Students who adhere closely to format requirements write tidier, more coherent theses.