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Electronic Theses & Dissertations (ETD)


Some brief documents have been created that walk you through common formatting issues in MS Word step-by-step.  If you find any errors or ways to improve this documents, please e-mail

* TIP: Review your formatting in MS Word by clicking the Show/Hide Paragraph Show / Hide button in Word button.  Clicking this button, will often help you identify formatting issues right away.  For example, MS Word sometimes puts an extra return in the footer which can affect your margins and the location of your page number.

University of Michigan has a great LibGuide: MS Word for Dissertations - Landscape Pages with step-by-step instructions on how to add page numbers to landscape pages.


There are some common errors to be aware of:

  • PAGE MARGINS: While the first couple of manuscript pages have unusual margins, everything from the acknowledgments page to the references should have 1-inch top, bottom, and right margins and a 1.5-inch left margin.  The appendices are allowed to have larger margins but not smaller.
  • IN-TEXT CITATIONS & REFERENCES: Your best bet is to review these throughly with a copy of the APA manual (7th ed.) guidelines.  Common citation/reference tools (e.g. Zotero, Citation Machine) are great but don't necessarily format your references correctly. Go to the FSU Citation LibGuide for some of those citation/reference tools and other helpful websites. You need to make sure that each in-text citation is properly formatted and included in the references.
  • CITING WORKS BY AN AUTHOR IN THE SAME YEAR THE SAME WAY - If you cite works from same author that were published in the same year, you need to adjust your in-text citations accordingly. As per the APA manual (section 8.19, pp. 267), the in-text citation and its corresponding reference gets a lower-case letter next to the year of publication. That way, a reader can identify which work you are referring to - not guessing!
  • PAGE NUMBERING: The preliminary pages use Roman numerals, starting with "ii".  However, there should be no page number on the title page, approval page, or copyright page.
  • TYPOGRAPHICAL & GRAMMATICAL ERRORS:  While MS Word has spelling and grammar check tools, it's still a good idea to have someone reliable proof your manuscript.  For example, a computer won't necessarily save you from the inadvertent use of "there" for "their."
  • INCONSISTENCIES: Both the APA manual and Ed.D. dissertation style guide stress the importance of consistency.  For instance, do you use a hyphen in some headings, e.g. "Chapter 1 - Introduction," but a colon in others, "Appendix A: Data"?  Here's another case where having someone else proofread your manuscript will be helpful.
  • TABLES & FIGURES: APA has specific guidelines about how to display table data and images in figures, as well as, citing them.  Review chapter 7 of the APA manual for details.
  • HEADINGS: APA has specific guidelines for using headings, too.  If you end up changing a level 2 heading to level 3, make sure that the format changes and that the Table of Contents is updated accordingly.  Refer to the APA manual, Section 2.27, pp. 47-49, and the Ed.D. Dissertation Style Guide for more information.


Not sure if your margins and indentations are right? When the library checks these sections, we apply layout guides to your dissertation PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro. We add these JPGs as "watermarks" to the appropriate pages at 100% scale and 50% opacity. After you submit your dissertation for review to the library, you'll be provided with a watermarked version of your PDF with your review list.

If you have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can apply the watermarks ( to your dissertation to check it. Make sure to check Adobe Acrobat Pro's documentation for your specific version.


If you don't embed your fonts, the text in your PDF won't display properly. The steps to embedding your fonts will vary depending on your version of MS Word. Here's one video that shows how to embed your fonts. Look online for resources specific to your version of Word.