Skip to main content
Jump to navigation
Harvard University - The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
- Alumni Council
- Centennial Medals
- Current Students
- Make a Gift
- Degree Programs
- Harvard Integrated Life Sciences
- Apply to Non-Degree Programs
- Programs of Study and Course Selection
- Special Students and Visiting Fellows FAQ
- Secondary Fields
- Combined Degrees
- Admissions Policies
- Completing Your Application
- After Applying
- Express Interest
- Tuition & Fees
- Funding and Aid
- Financial Aid Policies
- Financial Support FAQs
- Fellowships & Writing Center
- Academic Programs
- GSAS Policies
- New Students
- [email protected]
- Student Groups
- The GSAS Student Center
- Recruitment Events
- Student Affinity Groups
- Outreach Programs
- Diversity Resources
- Diversity and Inclusion Fellows
- Dean’s Welcome
- GSAS at a Glance
- 150th Anniversary
- English Proficiency
- Letters of Recommendation
- Statement of Purpose and Writing Sample
- Federal Student Aid
- Consumer Information
- Financial Wellness
- Other Sources of Funding
- Special Note Concerning US Income Taxes
- Financial Aid Staff
- Dissertation Completion Fellowships
- Fellowships for the Early Years
- Fulbright US Student Program
- Fulbright-Hays Program
- Summer, Research, and Travel Fellowships
- Best Practices
- Advising Resources
- Advice on TAP
- FWC Workshops
- On Grants and Prose
- Writing Oasis
- Harvard Horizons
- GSAS Research Workshops
- Graduate Consortia
- Research Scholar Initiative
- SROH Program
- Other Summer Programs
- Diversity Fellow Application
- 150th Events
- GSAS History
Formatting Your Dissertation
On this page:
Language of the Dissertation
Page and text requirements, body of text, tables, figures, and captions, dissertation acceptance certificate, copyright statement.
- Table of Contents
Front and Back Matter
Supplemental material, dissertations comprising previously published works, top ten formatting errors, further questions.
Related Contacts and Forms
When preparing the dissertation for submission, students must follow strict formatting requirements. Any deviation from these requirements may lead to rejection of the dissertation and delay in the conferral of the degree.
The language of the dissertation is ordinarily English, although some departments whose subject matter involves foreign languages may accept a dissertation written in a language other than English.
Most dissertations are 100 to 300 pages in length. All dissertations should be divided into appropriate sections, and long dissertations may need chapters, main divisions, and subdivisions.
- 8½ x 11 inches, unless a musical score is included
At least 1 inch for all margins
Body of text: double spacing
Block quotations, footnotes, and bibliographies: single spacing within each entry but double spacing between each entry
Table of contents, list of tables, list of figures or illustrations, and lengthy tables: single spacing may be used
FONTS AND POINT SIZE
Use 10-12 point size. Fonts must be embedded in the PDF file to ensure all characters display correctly.
If you are unsure whether your chosen font will display correctly, use one of the following fonts:
If fonts are not embedded, non-English characters may not appear as intended. Fonts embedded improperly will be published to DASH as-is. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that fonts are embedded properly prior to submission.
Instructions for Embedding Fonts
To embed your fonts in recent versions of word, follow these instructions from microsoft:.
Click the File tab and then click Options .
In the left column, select the Save tab.
At the bottom, under Preserve fidelity when sharing this document , select the Embed fonts in the file check box.
Clear the Do not embed common system fonts check box.
For reference, below are some instructions from ProQuest UMI for embedding fonts in older file formats:
To embed your fonts in Microsoft Word 2010:
In the File pull-down menu click on Options .
Choose Save on the left sidebar.
- Check the box next to Embed fonts in the file.
- Click the OK button.
- Save the document.
Note that when saving as a PDF, make sure to go to “more options” and save as “PDF/A compliant”
To embed your fonts in Microsoft Word 2007:
- Click the circular Office button in the upper left corner of Microsoft Word.
- A new window will display. In the bottom right corner select Word Options .
- Choose Save from the left sidebar.
Using Microsoft Word on a Mac:
Microsoft Word 2008 on a Mac OS X computer will automatically embed your fonts while converting your document to a PDF file.
If you are converting to PDF using Acrobat Professional (instructions courtesy of the Graduate Thesis Office at Iowa State University):
- Open your document in Microsoft Word.
- Click on the Adobe PDF tab at the top. Select "Change Conversion Settings."
- Click on Advanced Settings.
- Click on the Fonts folder on the left side of the new window. In the lower box on the right, delete any fonts that appear in the "Never Embed" box. Then click "OK."
- If prompted to save these new settings, save them as "Embed all fonts."
- Now the Change Conversion Settings window should show "embed all fonts" in the Conversion Settings drop-down list and it should be selected. Click "OK" again.
- Click on the Adobe PDF link at the top again. This time select Convert to Adobe PDF. Depending on the size of your document and the speed of your computer, this process can take 1-15 minutes.
- After your document is converted, select the "File" tab at the top of the page. Then select "Document Properties."
- Click on the "Fonts" tab. Carefully check all of your fonts. They should all show "(Embedded Subset)" after the font name.
- If you see "(Embedded Subset)" after all fonts, you have succeeded.
The font used in the body of the text must also be used in headers, page numbers, and footnotes. Exceptions are made only for tables and figures created with different software and inserted into the document.
Tables and figures must be placed as close as possible to their first mention in the text. They may be placed on a page with no text above or below, or they may be placed directly into the text. If a table or a figure is alone on a page (with no narrative), it should be centered within the margins on the page. Tables may take up more than one page as long as they obey all rules about margins. Tables and figures referred to in the text may not be placed at the end of the chapter or at the end of the dissertation.
Given the standards of the discipline, dissertations in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Department of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning often place illustrations at the end of the dissertation.
Figure and table numbering must be continuous throughout the dissertation or by chapter (e.g., 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc.). Two figures or tables cannot be designated with the same number. If you have repeating images that you need to cite more than once, label them with their number and A, B, etc.
Headings should be placed at the top of tables. While no specific rules for the format of table headings and figure captions are required, a consistent format must be used throughout the dissertation (contact your department for style manuals appropriate to the field).
Captions should appear at the bottom of any figures. If the figure takes up the entire page, the caption should be placed alone on the preceding page, centered vertically and horizontally within the margins.
Each page receives a separate page number. When a figure or table title is on a preceding page, the second and subsequent pages of the figure or table should say, for example, “Figure 5 (Continued).” In such an instance, the list of figures or tables will list the page number containing the title. The word “figure” should be written in full (not abbreviated), and the “F” should be capitalized (e.g., Figure 5). In instances where the caption continues on a second page, the “(Continued)” notation should appear on the second and any subsequent page. The figure/table and the caption are viewed as one entity and the numbering should show correlation between all pages. Each page must include a header.
Landscape orientation figures and tables must be positioned correctly and bound at the top so that the top of the figure or table will be at the left margin. Figure and table headings/captions are placed with the same orientation as the figure or table when on the same page. When on a separate page, headings/captions are always placed in portrait orientation, regardless of the orientation of the figure or table. Page numbers are always placed as if the figure were vertical on the page.
If a graphic artist does the figures, GSAS will accept lettering done by the artist only within the figure. Figures done with software are acceptable if the figures are clear and legible. Legends and titles done by the same process as the figures will be accepted if they too are clear, legible, and run at least 10 or 12 characters per inch. Otherwise, legends and captions should be printed with the same font used in the text.
Original illustrations, photographs, and fine arts prints may be scanned and included, centered between the margins on a page with no text above or below.
Use of Third-Party Content
In addition to the student's own writing, dissertations often contain third-party content or in-copyright content owned by parties other than you, the student who authored the dissertation. The Office for Scholarly Communication recommends consulting the information below about fair use, which allows individuals to use in-copyright content, on a limited basis and for specific purposes, without seeking permission from copyright holders.
Because your dissertation will be made available for online distribution through DASH , Harvard's open-access repository, it is important that any third-party content in it may be made available in this way.
Fair Use and Copyright
What is fair use?
Fair use is a provision in copyright law that allows the use of a certain amount of copyrighted material without seeking permission. Fair use is format- and media-agnostic. This means fair use may apply to images (including photographs, illustrations, and paintings), quoting at length from literature, videos, and music regardless of the format.
How do I determine whether my use of an image or other third-party content in my dissertation is fair use?
There are four factors you will need to consider when making a fair use claim.
1) For what purpose is your work going to be used?
Nonprofit, educational, scholarly, or research use favors fair use. Commercial, non-educational uses, often do not favor fair use.
A transformative use (repurposing or recontextualizing the in-copyright material) favors fair use. Examining, analyzing, and explicating the material in a meaningful way, so as to enhance a reader's understanding, strengthens your fair use argument. In other words, can you make the point in the thesis without using, for instance, an in-copyright image? Is that image necessary to your dissertation? If not, perhaps, for copyright reasons, you should not include the image.
2) What is the nature of the work to be used?
Published, fact-based content favors fair use and includes scholarly analysis in published academic venues.
Creative works, including artistic images, are afforded more protection under copyright, and depending on your use in light of the other factors, may be less likely to favor fair use; however, this does not preclude considerations of fair use for creative content altogether.
3) How much of the work is going to be used?
Small, or less significant, amounts favor fair use. A good rule of thumb is to use only as much of the in-copyright content as necessary to serve your purpose. Can you use a thumbnail rather than a full-resolution image? Can you use a black-and-white photo instead of color? Can you quote select passages instead of including several pages of the content? These simple changes bolster your fair use of the material.
4) What potential effect on the market for that work may your use have?
If there is a market for licensing this exact use or type of educational material, then this weighs against fair use. If however, there would likely be no effect on the potential commercial market, or if it is not possible to obtain permission to use the work, then this favors fair use.
For further assistance with fair use, consult the Office for Scholarly Communication's guide, Fair Use: Made for the Harvard Community and the Office of the General Counsel's Copyright and Fair Use: A Guide for the Harvard Community .
What are my options if I don’t have a strong fair use claim?
Consider the following options if you find you cannot reasonably make a fair use claim for the content you wish to incorporate:
Seek permission from the copyright holder.
Use openly licensed content as an alternative to the original third-party content you intended to use. Openly-licensed content grants permission up-front for reuse of in-copyright content, provided your use meets the terms of the open license.
Use content in the public domain, as this content is not in-copyright and is therefore free of all copyright restrictions. Whereas third-party content is owned by parties other than you, no one owns content in the public domain; everyone, therefore, has the right to use it.
For use of images in your dissertation, please consult this guide to Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media , which is a great resource for finding images without copyright restrictions.
Who can help me with questions about copyright and fair use?
Contact your Copyright First Responder . Please note, Copyright First Responders assist with questions concerning copyright and fair use, but do not assist with the process of obtaining permission from copyright holders.
Pages should be assigned a number except for the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate . Preliminary pages (abstract, table of contents, list of tables, graphs, illustrations, and preface) should use small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). All pages must contain text or images.
Count the title page as page i and the copyright page as page ii, but do not print page numbers on either page .
For the body of text, use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) starting with page 1 on the first page of text. Page numbers must be centered throughout the manuscript at the top or bottom. Every numbered page must be consecutively ordered, including tables, graphs, illustrations, and bibliography/index (if included); letter suffixes (such as 10a, 10b, etc.) are not allowed. It is customary not to have a page number on the page containing a chapter heading.
Check pagination carefully. Account for all pages.
A copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC) should appear as the first page. This page should not be counted or numbered. The DAC will appear in the online version of the published dissertation.
The dissertation begins with the title page; the title should be as concise as possible and should provide an accurate description of the dissertation.
- Do not print a page number on the title page: It is understood to be page i for counting purposes only.
A copyright notice should appear on a separate page immediately following the title page and include the copyright symbol ©, the year of first publication of the work, and the name of the author:
© [ year ] [ Author’s Name ] All rights reserved.
Alternatively, students may choose to license their work openly under a Creative Commons license. The author remains the copyright holder while at the same time granting up-front permission to others to read, share, and (depending on the license) adapt the work, so long as proper attribution is given. (By default, under copyright law, the author reserves all rights; under a Creative Commons license, the author reserves some rights.)
- Do not print a page number on the copyright page. It is understood to be page ii for counting purposes only.
An abstract, numbered as page iii , should immediately follow the copyright page and should state the problem, describe the methods and procedures used, and give the main results or conclusions of the research. The abstract will appear in the online and bound versions of the dissertation and will be published by ProQuest. There is no maximum word count for the abstract.
- indented on the first line of each paragraph
- The author’s name, right justified
- The words “Dissertation Advisor:” followed by the advisor’s name, left-justified (a maximum of two advisors is allowed)
- Title of the dissertation, centered, several lines below author and advisor
Dissertations divided into sections must contain a table of contents that lists, at minimum, the major headings in the following order:
- Front Matter
- Body of Text
- Back Matter
Front matter includes (if applicable):
acknowledgements of help or encouragement from individuals or institutions
a list of illustrations or tables
a glossary of terms
one or more epigraphs.
Back matter includes (if applicable):
supplemental materials, including figures and tables
an index (in rare instances).
Supplemental figures and tables must be placed at the end of the dissertation in an appendix, not within or at the end of a chapter. If additional digital information (including audio, video, image, or datasets) will accompany the main body of the dissertation, it should be uploaded as a supplemental file through ProQuest ETD . Supplemental material will be available in DASH and ProQuest and preserved digitally in the Harvard University Archives.
As a matter of copyright, dissertations comprising the student's previously published works must be authorized for distribution from DASH. The guidelines in this section pertain to any previously published material that requires permission from publishers or other rightsholders before it may be distributed from DASH. Please note:
Authors whose publishing agreements grant the publisher exclusive rights to display, distribute, and create derivative works will need to seek the publisher's permission for nonexclusive use of the underlying works before the dissertation may be distributed from DASH.
Authors whose publishing agreements indicate the authors have retained the relevant nonexclusive rights to the original materials for display, distribution, and the creation of derivative works may distribute the dissertation as a whole from DASH without need for further permissions.
It is recommended that authors consult their publishing agreements directly to determine whether and to what extent they may have transferred exclusive rights under copyright. The Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC) is available to help the author determine whether she has retained the necessary rights or requires permission. Please note, however, the Office of Scholarly Communication is not able to assist with the permissions process itself.
Missing Dissertation Acceptance Certificate. The first page of the PDF dissertation file should be a scanned copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC). This page should not be counted or numbered as a part of the dissertation pagination.
Conflicts Between the DAC and the Title Page. The DAC and the dissertation title page must match exactly, meaning that the author name and the title on the title page must match that on the DAC. If you use your full middle name or just an initial on one document, it must be the same on the other document.
Abstract Formatting Errors. The advisor name should be left-justified, and the author's name should be right-justified. Up to two advisor names are allowed. The Abstract should be double spaced and include the page title “Abstract,” as well as the page number “iii.” There is no maximum word count for the abstract.
The front matter should be numbered using Roman numerals (iii, iv, v, …). The title page and the copyright page should be counted but not numbered. The first printed page number should appear on the Abstract page (iii).
The body of the dissertation should be numbered using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, …). The first page of the body of the text should begin with page 1. Pagination may not continue from the front matter.
All page numbers should be centered either at the top or the bottom of the page.
Figures and tables Figures and tables must be placed within the text, as close to their first mention as possible. Figures and tables that span more than one page must be labeled on each page. Any second and subsequent page of the figure/table must include the “(Continued)” notation. This applies to figure captions as well as images. Each page of a figure/table must be accounted for and appropriately labeled. All figures/tables must have a unique number. They may not repeat within the dissertation.
Horizontal Figures and Tables
Any figures/tables placed in a horizontal orientation must be placed with the top of the figure/ table on the left-hand side. The top of the figure/table should be aligned with the spine of the dissertation when it is bound.
Page numbers must be placed in the same location on all pages of the dissertation, centered, at the bottom or top of the page. Page numbers may not appear under the table/ figure.
Supplemental Figures and Tables. Supplemental figures and tables must be placed at the back of the dissertation in an appendix. They should not be placed at the back of the chapter.
Permission Letters Copyright. permission letters must be uploaded as a supplemental file, titled ‘do_not_publish_permission_letters,” within the dissertation submission tool.
DAC Attachment. The signed Dissertation Acceptance Certificate must additionally be uploaded as a document in the "Administrative Documents" section when submitting in Proquest ETD . Dissertation submission is not complete until all documents have been received and accepted.
Overall Formatting. The entire document should be checked after all revisions, and before submitting online, to spot any inconsistencies or PDF conversion glitches.
You can view dissertations successfully published from your department in DASH . This is a great place to check for specific formatting and area-specific conventions.
Contact the Office of Student Affairs with further questions.
Office of Student Affairs
How Many Words In A Dissertation? [A Word Count Guide]
When students begin writing a dissertation, the first thing they look for is the dissertation’s structure and breakdown.
It can be much easier to write a dissertation if you are aware of how many words each chapter should contain.
One of the most frequent mistakes students make when writing their dissertations is underwriting or overwriting.
Because of this, it’s critical to establish up front the recommended word count for each chapter of the dissertation.
Because it gives you the foundation for writing a dissertation, the format and breakdown of the number of words are as crucial to dissertation writing as a building’s plan or a map.
Each institution also has its own standards and regulations.
Your professor should provide you a dissertation writing prompt or dissertation template if you are required to write a dissertation.
You may then create your schedule taking into account the specifics of the word count for each of the sections.
The university where you are enrolled sets the dissertation word limit, and the length of a master’s dissertation may differ from that of a doctoral dissertation or an undergraduate dissertation.
Most dissertations have a word count of between 10,000 and 15,000 words, however some can exceed 30,000 words.
This article will discuss how to format and complete your dissertation according to word count guidelines based on a 10,000 word dissertation.
What Is A Dissertation?
In comparison to essays or reports, a dissertation is a longer piece of writing that calls for more research and wider reading.
The dissertation gives you the chance to explore a subject that interests you from planning to conclusion.
Additionally, it will provide you the chance to show off and develop particular abilities that are highly valued by both prospective companies and university admissions.
Along with critical thinking and writing skills, this also involves problem-solving and time-management abilities.
There are two main sorts of dissertations: those with primary research components, which call for you to collect your own data, and those with secondary research components, which rely on data gathered by other researchers.
You get the chance to conduct study on a subject that interests you in a dissertation.
You can get ideas from a variety of places, such as a recent news story you watched, recent advancements in your area of study, an experience at work, or a personal agenda.
Whatever the subject, you need to make absolutely sure it will hold your interest for a long time, that you can finish it by the deadline, and that you are able to contribute something unique to your industry.
Now you know the basics of what a dissertation is, let’s look at how to structure it in terms of the word count.
Introduction: 1000 Words
An introduction is the first major chapter of a dissertation. A dissertation’s initial chapter makes up 10% of the entire document.
The first section of the dissertation should be 1000 words long if it will be 10,000 words in length.
You must establish your study topic, present your research questions, declare the dissertation’s aims, and give a general summary of the dissertation’s structure in these 1000 words.
Literature Review: 3000 Words
A dissertation’s literature review chapter makes up 30% of the entire document.
The dissertation’s chapter on literature review will be 3000 words long in a 10,000 word dissertation.
You must explore the gap in the existing literature, adopt a methodological stance toward the subject, suggest potential answers to unanswered issues, and, with the aid of the new data, strengthen the body of current knowledge pertinent to the dissertation topic idea in these 3000 words.
Research Methodology: 1500 Words
A dissertation’s research technique chapter makes up 15% of the entire document.
The research technique chapter of a 10,000 word dissertation should be 1500 words long.
You must describe the dissertation’s overall format and organization in around 1500 words, as well as examine the data in great detail and give a thorough explanation of how the research techniques were evaluated.
Results: 500 Words
A dissertation’s results or findings chapter makes up 5% of the entire document.
The conclusions or results part of a 10,000 word dissertation is 500 words long.
A student’s analysis of a dissertation’s findings must go into great detail in these 500 words.
Analysis/Discussion: 3000 Words
A dissertation’s analysis and discussion chapter makes up 30% of the entire document.
The analysis and discussion chapter of the dissertation should be 3000 words long, just like the literature review.
You must give a thorough overview of the consequences of the findings that are pertinent to the dissertation’s central issue in these 3000 words.
Conclusion And Suggestions: 1000 Words
A dissertation’s conclusions and suggestions chapter makes up 10% of the entire dissertation.
The conclusions and suggestions chapter of a 10,000 word dissertation is 1000 words long.
You must summarize your dissertation’s main ideas in these 1000 words. The dissertation’s last chapter should leave the reader with a clear comprehension of the thesis.
To prevent plagiarism, students must cite reliable sources in their writing. The references section is not usually included in the word count specified by the university.
The amount of references is typically not capped by universities because it relies on the body of literature on a particular subject.
You shouldn’t, however, overlook any study or research project in your field.
To support your theory and demonstrate the importance and necessity of your study topic, you must verify the most recent references.
For the literature review chapter, you also require books, journals, research papers, and previously published pieces.
A major and extensive research project on a particular subject is the dissertation.
A dissertation is typically required of a student during his final year of study. The topic for the student’s dissertation might be chosen in accordance with his interests.
After deciding on a topic for your dissertation, you must thoroughly research it. Working with an advisor is essential for students completing undergraduate dissertations.
The requirements and instructions of the advisor must therefore be followed by the students as they create their dissertation, including the word count limitations.
When you’re asked to complete a dissertation, instructions on how to do so are given. The word limit of the dissertation is mentioned in these recommendations.
Reading your advisor’s prerequisites and guidelines and following the structure outlined above is the best way to adhere to the word count specified.
- Recent Posts
- How To Become A Freelance Writer - December 14, 2022
- How Much Does A Writer Make - December 14, 2022
- How To Become A Grant Writer - December 14, 2022
How To Reduce Word Count In Your Dissertation, Thesis Or Academics Assignments
(without losing those precious marks).
If you follow some of the advice on this blog, chances are one of your biggest challenges is keeping your academic writing projects within the specified word count limits. It’s a good problem to have (at least compared to having not enough to say), and in this post, I’ll discuss 4 steps to reduce word count without risking losing marks.
First things first – write to think.
Before I get started, it’s worth making an important point regarding writing in general. There are essentially two ways to think about the process of writing :
- Writing as the outcome of thinking – in other words, you think deeply first, construct your argument, and then simply transfer it to paper by way of writing. You do little revising.
- Writing as a form of thinking – in other words, writing helps you flesh out your thinking and develop your arguments. Writing is an iterative process, wherein you might revise numerous times and even rewrite altogether, but this all contributes to a better quality of thinking.
Which side of the fence do you sit on? I’m an avid advocate of the latter perspective and approach – and I’m not alone. Numerous books and journal articles have covered the topic of “writing as thinking”. If the idea interests you, have a look at Henning’s “Finding your way in academic writing.”
In short, putting pen to paper as early as possible (i.e. before you feel “ready”) and then revising as your thoughts develop (as a result of writing) is an excellent way to improve the overall quality of your arguments and academic work. To do this, you cannot constantly fret over word count (at least not while you’re writing). Instead, you need to let the words flow onto paper, and then sort the wheat from the chaff at a later stage. Sure, you need some constraints, but forcing yourself to apply X model within 350 words is going to stifle your flow and limit your depth. Rather let your thoughts flow onto paper, and then trim them down once your thinking is fully fleshed out.
What does this have to do with reducing your word count? It means that word count reduction (particularly, the techniques I’ll cover below) is something you do once you’ve wrapped up your writing, not while you write . Accordingly, all the steps I’ll propose here are to be applied after the fact.
Right, let’s get into it. Follow these 4 steps (in this order) to strategically reduce your word count without losing the “meat” of your assignment/dissertation.
Step 1: Audit for purely descriptive content.
Broadly speaking, content can fall into one of two categories – descriptive or analytical. Simply put, descriptive content eludes to the “what”, whereas analytical content describes the impact and consequence of the event/factor/situation – in other words, the “so what”. The table below highlights some of the differences between the two:
Ideally, you should try to keep your discussion analytical, rather than descriptive ( read more about this here ). There’s always be a need for some descriptive content, but ideally, this should be limited to only that content which forms the foundation for analytical content. Therefore, the first step of word count reduction is to audit for descriptive content which does not lead to analytical content . In other words, content which is purely descriptive, and is not required to get to the “so what?” content.
Read through your dissertation/thesis/assignment and trim out all content that doesn’t make the analytical cut , or doesn’t form a foundation for analysis. This is your first target – be aggressive with your trimming. Descriptive writing is pure fat and will not earn you marks – kill it!
Step 2: Audit for content which does not contribute towards answering your research question(s).
One of the reasons that it’s so important to set unambiguous research questions in your introduction is that this practice allows you to ringfence the focus of your work. In other words, it helps you to narrow the discussion to only that which is most relevant.
That said, as you write, you will invariably produce a fair deal of content that does not contribute towards your research questions. You’ll naturally digress into an interesting but irrelevant discussion about A, B and C – this might be very intellectually satisfying, but it doesn’t contribute to answering your research question. Therefore, this sort of content is your next target. Re-read your document from start to finish through the lens of your research questions or objectives. That which does not in some way contribute to answering the research question(s) or achieving the objective(s) must go .
Step 3: Audit for overly-detailed section summaries.
A good piece of academic writing should always feature summary paragraphs that link the end of one section/chapter to the beginning of the next. They should do this by summarising the key points of the former to the direction and purpose of the latter. For example:
“In this section, the analysis revealed that the key contributors to the issue included A, B and C. Accordingly, these factors will be analysed in the next chapter.”
By stating this link very clearly, you help the reader (marker) to understand your argument (which is, after all, completely new to them), which in turn helps you earn marks. Therefore, these summary sections are important. However, they can become wordy and repetitive, and you should, therefore, audit them.
Make sure that they are summarising only the absolute highlights of your argument and providing a clear, well-justified link to the next section. Don’t restate your entire chapter. The example above is what you should aim for, namely:
- Key observations/insights/highlights – followed by
- Logical link to next section
If you are extremely over word count, you may even consider removing these sections altogether. After all, it is better to remove summary content than core content. This should, however, be an absolute last resort as doing so can seriously reduce the overall flow of your document and blur the “golden thread” of your argument(s).
Step 4: Audit for wordy, bloated discussion.
This is the easiest of the four steps, and typically what most students look for when trying to reduce word count – but it usually has a comparatively minor impact. Therefore, I’m positioning it as the last step.
Naturally, your dissertation, thesis or assignment document will contain sections which are just plain wordy. This is a result of “writing as thinking” (whether you agree with the approach or not!). Therefore, the last step is to audit for sentences and paragraphs which are just plain wordy and rewrite them more concisely.
Some common trimming opportunities:
- Adjectives and adverbs – although these are sometimes necessary when developing your arguments, they are often just bloat contributors. Additionally, they can create an emotive, subjective tone, which is typically not encouraged in academic writing (where objectivity is essential).
- The word “that” – oftentimes, a sentence can communicate the same point without the inclusion of the word “that”. Use Word’s find function (Ctrl+F) to search for “that” and check where it can be omitted.
- Spaces around mathematical operators – if you’re copying numbers from Excel, chances are there are spaces between mathematical operators which can be removed. For example, p < 0.05 (3 words) can be reduced to p<0.05 (1 word).
- Abbreviate/acronymise repetitive phrases/names – if you’re repeatedly referring to a person(s) or organisation(s) that have multi-word names, create acronyms for them and replace all instances with the acronymised version. For example, “Blue Basket Enterprises” (3 words) can be replaced with “BBE” (1 word). Make sure you introduce the acronym early in the document and consider presenting a list of abbreviations. A word of warning – don’t overuse this tactic, as too many acronyms can make it difficult for the reader to understand what’s going on!
There you have it – four steps to reduce your word count without losing your core arguments. To recap, you need to:
- Audit for descriptive (rather than analytical) content.
- Audit for content which doesn’t link to the research question(s)/aim(s).
- Audit for overly detailed section summaries.
- Audit for general wordiness and bloat.
You Might Also Like:
Submit a Comment Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
- Print Friendly
- Call Us: +44 207 097 1871
- Email: [email protected]
Get upto 25% discount, estimated price: £.
After Discount: £
Download our step-by-step dissertation writing guide and samples to takes you from the title page to the reference Click here to download
Guidance At ZERO cost
Blog / Dissertation Word Count Breakdown
Dissertation word count breakdown.
Table of Contents
Dissertation Word Count and breakdown– How To Follow The Assigned Word Limit Easily?
Underwriting or overwriting; are two of the most common errors that students make while composing their dissertations..
That is why it is important to know from the beginning how much the dissertation word count of each of the chapters should be. After you have the details of the word count of each of the sections, you can then design your schedule accordingly.
The dissertation word limit is allotted by the university where you study and the Master’s Dissertation word count may vary from undergraduate dissertation word count or the Ph.D. dissertation word count.
Mostly the dissertation word length is between 10,000 words to 15,000 words but some may even go up to the level of 30,000 words.
Place your dissertation order now and avail 30% discount this is a limited time offer
But despite the total dissertation word count allotted, the main problem begins when students have to break down that word ratio into the headings of the dissertation . Here they make the common error of writing more words for a section that can be explained in less count and less count for a section that deserves more words.
So what is the solution to that problem?
Well, there are many online dissertation word count breakdown calculator websites available that can help you in that aspect. One advantage that they have is that they give an option to select degree level and word count is given accordingly.
But a disadvantage that they serve is that not all of those calculators may be accurate.
So what to do now?
Below mentioned is the dissertation word count breakdown based on the 10,000-word limit. Since we are also giving you the percentage of each section, you can also adjust it according to your allotted word count.
This section is the first that is placed in your dissertation and consists of 10% of your total dissertation word count breakdown which can sum it up to 1000 words. It usually consists of the entire ‘Whys’ in your research.
This section consists of an understanding of the problem by analyzing the past issues. It usually consists of 25% of the total word count which is 2500 words.
This part usually answers the question ‘how it is done and can sum up to 15-20% of the total word count which will be 1500 to 2000 in this case.
The data collected in the previous section will be presented here and can amount to up to 15% of the word count which is 1500 in this case.
Discussion, Analysis, and Data Interpretation
Here, you will comment on the findings of the data that you have found and will consist of 15-20% which is 1500 to 2000 in this case.
Summary, Conclusion, and recommendations
This is the last section of the dissertation and will consist of your suggestions on the topic of your research. This will be 15% of the entire dissertation which is 1500 words.
Hence, follow the above-mentioned word count and their percentage and you will be able to schedule your dissertation word count in no time.
- Digital Marketing Dissertation Topics Ideas & Examples
- Criminology Dissertation Topics (Best Samples and Ideas)
- Computer Science Dissertation Topics Ideas and examples
- Marketing Dissertation Topics Best Ideas and Examples
- Business Dissertation Topics Best Research Topics
- Biology Research Topics for College students
- Dissertation How To (14)
- Free Samples (1)
- Literature Review (24)
- Methodology (9)
- Research Proposal (15)
- Research Topics (61)
- Accounting (5)
- Animation (3)
- Archeology (1)
- Architecture (1)
- Banking (1)
- Biology (3)
- Business Administration (1)
- Business Management (1)
- Chemistry (2)
- Communication (1)
- Computer Science (6)
- Construction (2)
- Consumer Behaviour (1)
- Criminology (1)
- Designing (1)
- Development Studies (1)
- Domestic Violence (1)
- Ecommerce (2)
- Economics (13)
- Education (2)
- Engineering (2)
- Environment (2)
- Fashion (1)
- Finance (13)
- Geology (2)
- History (2)
- Language (3)
- Management (21)
- Advertising (1)
- Branding (1)
- Digital Marketing (1)
- Medical (1)
- Critical Care (1)
- Dementia (1)
- Philosophy (1)
- Politics (1)
- Psychology (3)
- Psychotherapy (1)
- Real Estate (1)
- Science (2)
- Social Work (3)
- Sociology (1)
- Supply Chain Management (3)
- Tourism Marketing (1)
- Dissertation Help (26)
- Research Paper By Topics (82)
- Research Paper How To (3)
- Are you Looking Someone to Do My Dissertation for me?
- 89+ Best Unique and Informative Speech Topics for Students
- Employment Law Dissertation Topics
- Construction Law Dissertation Topics
You will get the topics first as per the given requirements, and then the brief which includes:
- An explanation why we choose this topic.
- 2-3 research questions.
- Key literature resources identification.
- Suitable methodology with identification of raw sample size, and data collection method
- View a sample of topic consultation service
Note: After submiting your order please must check your email [inbox/spam] folders for order confirmation and login details.If email goes in spam please mark not as spam to avoid any communication gap between us.
By placing an order with us, you can get;
- Writer consultation before payment to ensure your work is in safe hands.
- Free topic if you don't have one
- Draft submissions to check the quality of the work as per supervisor's feedback
- Free revisions
- Complete privacy
- Plagiarism Free work
- Guaranteed 2:1 (With help of your supervisor's feedback)
- 2 Instalments plan
- Special discounts
Copyright © 2017-2023 - Dissertation-help.co.uk Dissertation help service for high schools colleges and university students - All rights reserved
WhatsApp and Get 35% off promo code now!
Thesis word count and format
Three months ago you considered whether you required a restriction to the access of your thesis, and you submitted your ‘Approval of Research Degree Thesis Title’ form. You’ve now finished writing up your thesis and it’s time to submit. We require your thesis to be presented and formatted in a certain way, so it’s important you read through the requirements below, before submitting your thesis. Find out more about thesis submission policy (.pdf)
The completed thesis should be saved in PDF format. Once saved, please review the file to ensure all pages are displayed correctly.
- Double line spacing should be used for everything except quotations, footnotes, captions to plates etc.
- It is desirable to leave 2.5cm margins at the top and bottom of the page.
- The best position for the page number is at the top right 1.3cm below the top edge.
- The fonts of Arial or Times New Roman should be used throughout the main body of the thesis, in the size of no less than 12 and no greater than 14
Illustrations (Graphs, diagrams, plates, computer printout etc.)
Illustrations embedded within the thesis should be formatted, numbered and titled accordingly:
a) Illustration upright - Caption at the bottom, Illustration number immediately above the
b) Illustration sideways - Caption at right-hand side with Illustration number above it.
Numbers for graphs, diagrams and maps are best located in the bottom right hand corner.
For further advice, please consult your supervisor.
The following word counts are the maximum permitted for each level of award*:
What's excluded from the word count
*In all cases above, the word count includes quotations but excludes appendices, tables (including tables of contents), figures, abstract, references, acknowledgements, bibliography and footnotes (as long as the latter do not contain substantive argument). Please note these are word limits, not targets.
For degrees which involve Practice as Research (PaR), no less than 50% of the research output should be the written thesis. The written thesis for PaR degrees may be comprised of a range of written elements including, but not limited to, a critical review, a portfolio, and/or a statement on theoretical discourse or methodology.
**In cases of practice-based PhD’s or MPhil’s these suggested word counts may be different. It is normally expected that the written component would comprise no less than 50% of the overall output.
Each copy of the thesis should contain a summary or abstract not exceeding 300 words.
As an example, see how the layout of your title page (.pdf) should be.
- For enquiries contact your Student Services Hub
- University of Essex
- Wivenhoe Park
- Colchester CO4 3SQ
Most dissertations are 100 to 300 pages in length. All dissertations should be divided into appropriate sections, and long dissertations may need chapters, main divisions, and subdivisions. Page and Text Requirements PAGE SIZE 8½ x 11 inches, unless a musical score is included MARGINS At least 1 inch for all margins SPACING
Most dissertations have a word count of between 10,000 and 15,000 words, however some can exceed 30,000 words. This article will discuss how to format and complete your dissertation according to word count guidelines based on a 10,000 word dissertation. What Is A Dissertation?
Follow these 4 steps (in this order) to strategically reduce your word count without losing the “meat” of your assignment/dissertation. Step 1: Audit for purely descriptive content. Broadly speaking, content can fall into one of two categories – descriptive or analytical.
So what to do now? Introduction. This section is the first that is placed in your dissertation and consists of 10% of your total... Literature Review. This section consists of an understanding of the problem by analyzing the past issues. It usually... Methodology. This part usually answers the ...
Research findings (1,000 to 1,200 words) Conclusion (800 to 1,000 words) A project that involves secondary research with an 8,000 to 10,000 word limit would typically contain the following elements: Introduction (800 to 1,000 words) Methodology (1,500 to 2,000 words) Specific issues/debates.
Thesis word count and format. Three months ago you considered whether you required a restriction ...
Length of Thesis The normal length of a thesis, inclusive of notes, but excluding references and appendices, has been determined as follows: Faculty Doctoral Programmes Integrated PhD Programmes MPhil Programmes Humanities & Social Sciences 100,000 80,000 50,000 Medical Sciences 80,000 N/A 40,000