In a thesis layout, the writer combines several elements to present the reader with the most accessible reading experience possible. The goal of any thesis layout is clarity. A thesis that has a confusing layout will present a less convincing argument to the reader simply by way of the reader's not understanding what is happening therein. These elements that combine to form thesis layouts are the title page, abstract (if applicable), table of contents, body of the text divided into chapters, bibliography, index, and appendices.
The title page should contain all identifying information so that the reader immediately knows the title of the thesis, its writer, the date, and the university for which the writer has produced the thesis.
An abstract page contains a short synopsis (usually not more than a few hundred words) of the thesis. This abstract should briefly include all the major points that the thesis makes.
The table of contents is a standard element of thesis layouts. It includes the title of each chapter as well as the page on which that chapter begins; it may also include the titles and page numbers of subheadings.
Obviously, the body of the text is the most important part of thesis layouts. Students should organize their work so that each chapter presents a major point of the thesis's argument; they should avoid having chapters that discuss too many ideas at once, instead allotting a chapter for each aspect of a complex argument.
The bibliography lists all the works that the thesis cites, usually organized alphabetically by author. Students should consult their style manual to determine the exact format of a bibliography, because it varies widely in the finer details.
An index lists the important words, concepts, and people named in the text, as well as the page numbers on which one may find them. A thorough index serves the reader much better than a meager index does.
Finally, thesis layouts include any necessary appendices. Appendices may contain charts or graphs, pictures, facsimiles of important documents, and discussions that are tangential to the main argument of the thesis.