How do I format my Master's thesis in Word 2007?

2014-05-19 19:17

Correct formatting of your thesis enhances the intellectual quality of its content. These step by step instructions will help you format the standard margins, indentation, page numbers, and table of contents required by the Master in Education program. 

Saving your thesis as a single file makes customizing the format challenging. If possible, consider saving your thesis in the following sections:

  • Title Page
  • Chapters (making each chapter a separate file makes inserting page numbers easier)
  • Table of Contents
  • Bibliography

If you must save your thesis as a single file, follow these steps to adjust the formatting. 


Go to the “Page Layout” bar. Click on the tiny icon at the bottom right corner of the “Page Setup” group, select the “Margins” tab, then set the top, bottom, and right margins to one inch, and the left margin to 1.5 inches to allow space for binding. You can adjust the margin of the first page to two inches later.   

While you’re in the “Page Setup” dialog box, select the “Layout” tab and make sure that your header and footer margins are set one inch from the edge so that the page numbers will be correctly placed. In the “Apply To” box, make sure that you’ve selected the whole document. 


All indentation can be set by going to the “Paragraph” group in the “Page Layout” bar. Again, click on the tiny icon to open the “Paragraph” dialog box.

First Line Indent
Alignment: left
Indentation>Special: First Line
By: .25”

Left Indent for block quotes
Alignment: left
Indentation>Left: .25”

If your block quote is part of a paragraph, set off your section with section breaks immediately before and after the quote. Go to the “Page Setup” group under “Page Layout” and click on “Breaks -> Continuous Break.”

Hanging Indents
Alignment: left
Indentation>Special: Hanging
By: .25”

Page Numbers

If your chapters are saved in a single file, begin by inserting section breaks between every chapter.  You can find the section breaks button by going to “Page Layout -> Page Setup.”  Make sure you select the “Next Page” section break. 

Go to the first page of each chapter, and click on the “Page Setup” dialog box (“Page Layout -> Page Setup -> tiny icon”). In the “Layout” tab, click on “Different First Page.” Complete this process for each chapter. 

Insert your page numbers by going to the Insert tab and selecting the upper right position for your chapter.

Once your “Header/Footer” areas are active at the top and bottom of your document, use the “Design” bar to adjust your page number formatting.

Check the “Different First Page” box, then click inside your first page footer. Then go up to the footer button in the” Design” bar and select the center bottom position for your first page number. 

Table of Contents

MS Word lets you create a Table of Contents manually or automatically. The following instructions are for a manual setup. Using the automatic Table of Contents requires you to use pre-set heading styles in all of your chapter titles, and you can find detailed instructions for setting up an automatic table of contents in Word Help (F1).   

To type your Table of Contents manually, set your tabs. Go to the “Paragraph” group in the Home bar and click on the tiny icon to launch the “Paragraph” dialog box. Click on “Tabs.” 

Type in tab stops for 0.5”, 1.0”, and hit “Set” after each tab setting. Alignment should be set to “Left,” and Leader “1 None.” Then type in “5.5” and set the alignment “Right” and the Leader “2 [dots].“  


Consult your style manual and faculty advisor to determine which format to use, then see Indentation. 

If you need further assistance, contact the Hedberg Library Information Desk or the Writing Center. 


Written by Tina Eger, Edited by Abbi Brown


Tags: Microsoft Office
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