Formating MSc or PhD thesis at
Sultan Qaboos University
This document with the attached CD, is a system of templates and
examples designed to help students format their thesis in a standard, professional and uniform way. You will fnd on the CD:
1. A Microsoft Word tm template of the introductory pages of a
generic thesis (ThesisIntro.docx)
2. A Microsoft Word tm template of the body of a generic thesis
3. An electronic copy of the present document explaining the
format expected for MSc and PhD thesis written in English at
4. A series of annotated Pdf documents illustrating and giving
details on the format of the thesis (Folder Pdf)
Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Thesis at SQU are
composed of several sections: some are mandatory, others are
not. The thesis includes the following sections and pages:
Section 1: Title pages
1. Cover page
2. Title page
Section 2: Introductory pages
1. Thesis Committee
2. Thesis Examining Committee
3. Dedication page (optional)
4. Acknowledgement page (optional)
5. Abstract (in English)
6. Abstract (In Arabic)
7. Epigraph (optional)
8. List of Tables ( optional)
9. List of Figures (optional)
10. List of Symbols and Abbreviations (optional)
11. Glossary (optional)
Section 3: Body of the thesis
1. Table of Contents
2. A series of Chapters (numbered), each with numerous pages
Section 4: Appendices
1. A Series of Appendices (numbered and optional)
As in most scientifc documents, the format of the thesis is relatively strict. This is for two main reasons: (a) to give a similar appearance to all thesis produced within the graduate programs at Sultan
Qaboos University and (b) to give the reader a sense of predictability of the locations of the various elements within the thesis through
visual cues. This document and the attached templates describe in
details the format suggested for the various sections of the thesis
as specifed by the Postgraduate Academic Regulations (2008)
and the recommendations of the Postgraduate Board.
Scientifc documents are always read or interpreted at two different levels: textual or semantic and visual or graphic. The frst level,
textual, corresponds to the informational content of the text of the
document. It contains all the information the writer wants to convey
to the reader in the language chosen for the communication. This
implies that grammar, spelling, abbreviations, etc., must conform
to the standards of the language at the time of writing. This level
of communication is related to the part of the brain dealing directly
with processing language(s). The second level of communication, visual or graphic communication, deals with a more intuitive,
perhaps more primitive part of our brain. It allows the writer to
complement the text with a visual structure, normally mimicking its
linguistic structure and facilitating thus its reading and interpretation. This is the level of communication that makes us automatically
understand that larger text is probably more important that smaller
text and that white space between parts of the document probably
means some form of “separation” or change of context in the text.
However, for the sake of homogeneity, and sometimes perhaps arbitrarily, Sultan Qaboos University Postgraduate Board has defned
a set of rules that defne the “correct” presentation of postgraduate
thesis. This document defnes and explains these rules.
The templates attached to this document include a large number of
Microsoft WordTM Styles that help to format the thesis according
to these rules and also facilitate the creation of documents homogenous both internally (showing the same visual presentation for the
same elements of text in the thesis) and externally (showing similar
visual presentation between thesis). If the reader feels unfamiliar
with the concept of Style within a word processor or a typesetting
software, please refer to the appendix 2.
Sections 1 and 2 of the thesis includes a series of introductory pages, ending before the table of contents. The templates described here follow the
same structure. A frst document —ThesisIntro.docx— includes all the styles
required for the introductory pages (Sections 1 and 2). A second document
—ThesisBody.docx— includes all the styles used to format the thesis itself
(Section 3) and includes also an automatic table of contents (TOC). Both
templates use a “Pseudo-Latin” language as placeholder for most paragraphs
to give the user a visual indication of the appearance of the document. Clearly
these placeholders need to be flled by the actual text of the thesis.
The body of the thesis must be divided into various chapters numbered sequentially. Each chapter begins with two elements: the chapter number and
the chapter title and begins on a new page (this is done automatically with
the style used here: i.e. a page break is introduced automatically with the
“Chap_nb” style. Each chapter also has a title (Chap_Title style) which is used
to index the chapters automatically. The various levels of headings H1, H2,
H3… correspond to additional levels of Table of Contents entries. Typically, the
thesis is divided into Introduction, Literature review, Methodology (or Material
and methods), Results, Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations but
other successions of chapters and chapters titles are acceptable depending
on the type of thesis produced.
The language of the thesis must be English. The student and the supervisor
should agree and choose whether the “US English” or “UK English” conventions are chosen for abbreviations, spelling and punctuations. In this document
well as in the attached templates, the “UK English” conventions were used
(see also Appendix 3).
General formatting guidelines
Font and font size
All the text of the thesis should be set in the same font. For the template, the
font Helvetica, was chosen throughout, although it may be possible to choose
a different font for the text (Times New Roman, Myriad Pro or Arno Pro for in
stance) as long as the thesis remains homogenous typographically. Point size,
leading (space between lines), space between paragraphs, etc., do vary and
are used to visually structure the text. For body text paragraph, the leading
was set to exactly 18 points which correspond to a 1.5 interline in typewriter
language. Extra blank “paragraphs”, obtained by pressing the return key several times were avoided to guarantee as much as possible a “what you see is
what you get: WYSIWIG” format. Make sure, that while working on the thesis,
you select the “Show all non-Printing characters” option by either pressing the
“show all characters” button or selecting the appropriate menu on your word
Special purpose paragraph styles can be added to accommodate specifc
requirements. Fixed space fonts such as courier for instance are often used to
typeset software code or sequences of amino acids. Similarly, it is possible to
differentiate two different translations of the same original using different fonts.
These usages should remain exceptional and consistent within the thesis.
The margins of the body of the text (Section 3: the actual thesis text) is typeset
with a 2.5 cm margin on the top and external side of the page, a 4 cm inside margin (left side in English)—to accommodate binding— and a 3.75 cm
margin at the bottom of the page. This seemingly large margin helps clearly
identifying the page number at the bottom, center of each page. These margin
sizes correspond to a thesis printed on only one side of the paper (appearing
on the right when bound).
The different paragraph styles used in the Microsoft Wordtm templates are
described in details in Appendix 2 and in the .pdf illustrations on the attached
A white A4 paper of minimum 80g/m2 is suitable for the production
of the fnal copies of the thesis. Avoid paper with frames, colored
background, ﬂowery margins or any other forms of ornaments.
All pages should be numbered with the exception of the Cover and
Title pages. Introductory pages are numbered with Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, …) whereas the main body of the thesis (section 2)
must be numbered consecutively by Arabic (English) numerals: 1,
2 , 3, 4, etc. The page number is placed at the center of the bottom
Appendices should be used for material inappropriate in the body
of the thesis but nevertheless important. This may include for instance the code of a “statistical procedure” in a specifc computer
language, a complicated and lengthy mathematical proof, a long
list of equipment or geographic locations… Appendices should only
be added if they help the reader to understand, evaluate or replicate the study.
Cover and binding
The color of the binding for the library copy of the thesis should be
dark brown for the doctorate and dark blue for the masters thesis.
Photographs of acceptable bindings are shown on the CD (folder
pdf). The lettering on the cover should be in gold and be identical to that of the title page minus the copyright sign at the bottom
of the page. In addition, the student’s name, degree and year of
completion should also appear on the spine of the thesis in gold
The student is responsible to the fnal verifcations of the format
before printing and binding. Thesis declared unsuitable by the
Deanship of Postgraduate studies because they do not meet all
format requirements will be rejected.
Formatting the thesis
Cover and title pages
The cover page and the title page should be identical to the
template (pdf/ ThesisIntro.pdf). The title of the thesis should be in
Helvetica or Arial font, bold face in 14 points size and all capitals.
The rest of the page should be in Arial or Helvetica, regular face
and 12 points and follow English language capitalization and rules.
Latin names of living organism species should they appear in the
title should be spelled with an initial Capital on the Genus and no
initial capital on the species name; both should be in italic.
The title page should include at the bottom and at the center of the
page a small copyright sign (©) whereas the cover page should
Spelling should be correct and conform to the actual thesis title
fled with the Deanship of Postgraduate studies. Department and
Degree names should also be conform to the actual registration
information of the student despite possible changes of names of
Colleges, Departments and Degree programs that may have taken
place after the frst registration of the student in the program.
Thesis committee page
The page should include: the full name and SQU ID number of the
Student as well as the title of the thesis. Spelling and form should
be identical to that of the title and cover pages but capitalization
should be in agreement with English grammar. The rest of the page
consists of a list of members of the thesis committee including for
each: his/her role (supervisor, co-supervisor or member), his/her
full name, title and affliation (Fig. 1). Suffcient space should be
made available for a handwritten signature and a date (pdfs/ThesisCommittee.pdf).
Thesis examination committee
The thesis examination committee page is very similar to the thesis
committee page and uses the same format with the exception of
the title of the thesis and its author that are omitted. It is customary
for committee members external to SQU to include a more detailed
affliation; for instance:
Member: Jane S. Doe
Title: Associate Professor
Affliation: Department of Physiology, College of Medicine,
Sultan Qaboos University
Figure 1. Suggested presentation of the various members of the thesis
committee. Each is in fact a small tables with 3 rows of 1 column each and
one row with two columns. The page includes thus 4 such tables.
Institution: Florida museum of Natural history, University of
Florida, Gainsville, Florida, USA.
The dedication is a short paragraph, usually limited to one sentence often without any verb. It begins usually with To…This page
To my uncle Khalfan
To my late grand father Said, to whom I owe my interest in biology
To my daughter Laila
Acknowledgements (UK spelling) or Acknowledgments (US spelling) is the section of the text in which the student thanks supervisors, mentors and colleagues who actively supported the research.
He/she can also acknowledge technical assistance for feld work
or for laboratory analysis or perhaps some family assistance in
typing the manuscript or taking photographs. If the thesis is directly
fnanced by a private sponsor, (through individual scholarship or
research contract to the supervisor) it has also to be acknowledged. The acknowledgement section should be meaningful and
not exceed one page.
There are many ways to thank people in English using either the
passive voice or the active voice. For instance:
I am grateful to Name1, Name2, Name3 for comments that greatly
improved earlier drafts of this thesis.
I would like to thank Name1, Name2, Name3…for their suggestions and discussion of the main topics of my thesis. I am also
indebted to the staff of the Jebal Al-Akhdar Field Station for their
continuous support during feld work. The Diwan of the Royal
Court also provided logistical and fnancial support to this study.
The funds for this research were provided by Muscat Municipality Research Grant MCT/ROV/Wat/20.45.75 to Dr. XXXX. This
study was fnanced in part by the Research Council of Oman
Support throughout feldwork was provided by Name1 and Name2
of Petroleum Development Oman and Name 3 of UNDP in
Thanks are due to List of Names for their contribution to the identifcation of species. Name 1 and Name 2 are gratefully acknowledged for their support in calculating diversity indices and
obtaining rare photographs of some of the species.
The abstract page contains 4 paragraphs (1) the title of the thesis,
centered in bold face and 14 points, using the style AbstractTitle
(2) the name of the author of the thesis, same font, same size but
ﬂushed left as a AbstractAuthor style, (3) the word “Abstract” as a
AbstractHeading style then (4) the body of the abstract using the
style Abstract: same font size but slightly smaller leading (14pts).
The abstract is limited to one page and is required.
It is very important to write an abstract that is meaningful. It should
be a very short version of the thesis. An abstract should include
three sections (usually paragraphs). The frst paragraph provides
the reader with background information on why the study was carried out and informs the reader on what is known of the subject. It
then introduces the problematic followed by the thesis. In any case
this is a BRIEF paragraph. The second paragraph should summarize the methodology used. Field sampling, lab methodology,
reasons behind particular choices etc. A brief description of the
method, experimental design, level of replication etc. should concisely be presented. The last paragraph should summarize in a few
lines the main results. There is no need to add statistical testing or
confdence intervals. There should be no reference to the text nor
to fgures nor tables in the abstract. The last sentence may be a
conclusion or a recommendation.
Abstract in Arabic
The Arabic abstract should provide a faithful translation of the
abstract in English and contains exactly the SAME information but
follow the Arabic language usage and styles. The Arabic abstract is
also required and limited to one page only.
An epigraph is optional. It is a small paragraph, taken from a
known book and illustrating the contents of the thesis or its philosophy. The epigraph is concentrated on the right hand side of a right
hand page. Because it is typically a citation, it is traditionally set in
italic and must include the name of the author of the book and the
title of the book.
List of Tables ( optional)
The list of tables is optional. If included it must list ALL the tables of
the thesis, their legend and their page number. The easier solution
is to create a long table to include this information (one line per
table reference), and to remove the “borders of the table” when
List of Figures (optional)
The list of fgures is optional. If included it must list ALL the fgures
of the thesis, their legend and their page number. As for tables, the
easiest solution is to create a long table to include this information
(one line per fgure reference), and to remove the “borders of the
table” when formatting.
List of Symbols and Abbreviations (optional)
The list of symbols and abbreviations is optional. In many science and engineering thesis, it is important to list and explain the
symbols used to facilitate the interpretation of the text. Abbreviations of units (P for pascal, K for Kelvin, ºC, m, kg, etc. ) should not
be listed. Units follow a thorough code of typesetting: the prefxes
for kilo (x1000), hecto (x100), mega (x106), milli (x10-3) etc. are for
instance k, h, M, m. There is no choice of capitalization. Similarly,
a watt is W and a joule is J, a pascal is P and a hertz is Hz, beFigure 2. When clicking on the TOC in the template, a mini-menu appears
allowing the user to modify (or remove) the TOC.
cause these units were named after people, but seconds are s and
meters are m.
The glossary is optional. It should only be used to describe words
or jargon associated with the type of work described in the thesis
and that a reader who is not specialized in the feld may have diffculties understanding. There is no need to explain abbreviations
such as DNA, ATP as they are now part of the common language.
Table of Contents
In the thesis, the introductory pages are numbered using Roman
numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.) whereas for the body of the thesis starting at the table of contents, it is customary to use English numerals
(1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).
In the attached templates, the table of contents is built automatically using an internal coding of Microsoft Word TM using the headings of the ThesisBody.docx document. The front pages (title page,
epigraph, summaries….) are manually entered at the beginning of
Figure 3. The frst option updates the table content, but not its structure.
the second recreates the tables from all the headings.
the table of content. In the template ThesisBody.docx, the heading
H1-H4 are used to create the table of contents. The actual format
of the entries in the TOC is based on the styles TOC 1 to TOC 4.
To use the automatic table of contents:
1. Format all headings of the body of the thesis as H1, H2, H3,
etc. : H1 being the title of chapters.
2. Click on the Mini Menu displayed at the top of the TOC in
Blue (Fig. 2).
3. In this menu, select the menu option <Update Table>.
4. A new dialog-window opens up (Fig. 3). If you have not
modifed the text and just need to adjust the page numbers,
choose the top option, if you want to modify the entire table
(you have added new chapters, or headings, or modifed the
organization of the thesis), choose the bottom option.
5. You can repeat (2) as often as necessary during the fnal
stage of the thesis editing after making some changes to the
headings in the text. The new TOC will reﬂect both structural
changes (H2 becoming H3 for instance) but also reorganization of the text or addition of new headings.
6. Make one fnal check just prior to printing your thesis to
insure that all page numbers are correct in the TOC. Do not
forget that the automatic TOC does not “know” the pages, it
uses the information from the position of the H1-H4 headings.
If you want to add extra pages for color fgures etc. They need
to be present (although Blank) in the manuscript. Use insert
Page break twice to create a new blank page.
Alternatively, because TOC for thesis are usually short and simple,
it is possible to format them by hand. If you choose this option,
check the page number prior to the fnal printing.
Figures and tables
Figures and tables are an important part of many thesis. Figures
must have scales, axis and symbols defned either in the fgure
or in its legend. Figure captions (or legends) must appear on the
same page and placed just below the fgure whereas table captions (or legends) must appear on the same page as the table but
just above it. Figures and tables form two series of illustration elements of the thesis that bear two independent sequential numbers.
Both fgure and table captions are single spaced and begin with
the word Figure xx or Table xx in bold face where xx refers to the
sequential number of the fgure or table. A system of numbering
based on chapter numbers is also acceptable (Figure 1.6 is the
6th fgure of the frst chapter of the thesis whereas Table 3.2 refers
to the second table of the 3rd chapter). In the template, two styles
(FigureLegend and TableLegend) were created to format these text
elements. They will format the legend appropriately. i.e. TableLeFigure 4. When resizing images, use the corner markers (disks) of the
image, not the side markers (squares). This insures a proportional resizing
and no deformation of the content of the image.
gend will be linked to the next paragraph (the table) and Figure
legend will have a large space underneath to mark the difference
between legend and the text of the next paragraph. The fgure itself
has its own paragraph style as well: Figure. It is linked to the next
It is sometimes necessary to resize a fgure to ft the document in
which it needs to be inserted. Before working on your fnal documents, decides which fgures will be included and how big they
are going to be. They should never be wider than the width of the
page between margins (everything on the fgure or table included).
In this template since the page is slightly more than 14 cm wide,
no fgures should be larger than this. It is of course possible to
regroup several fgures that illustrate similar ideas. In which case it
is the group that should not exceed 14 cm in width. Because of the
space necessary for the legend at the bottom of the fgure, I do not
recommend the creation of fgures higher than 18 cm. If you decide
the resize fgures in Microsoft Word, do so by moving the corner
makers of the selected fgure, not the top or lateral markers (Fig.4)
which would generate deformations of the fgure. It is also possible
to “crop” images using the crop tool.
If you use the combination Figure and FigureLegend styles, you
will insure that both fgure and its legend stay together on the same
page with the appropriate space before and after the fgure.
Referencing fgures and tables
Typically in the text of the thesis, a reference to a fgure in the body
of the thesis is either:
1. “Figure xx” or “fgure xx” if the word “fgure” has a grammatical
function in the sentence: i.e. it is the subject of the sentence
or a complement in the sentence. The capitalized word is only
used at the beginning of the sentence.
Table 3. Number of respondents who practiced underwater recreational
activities and percentages of those who successfully identifed species of
corals on three photographs.
Species SCUBA1 Snorkel
Not diver Diver Not diver Diver
Phyllogoria dilatata 54%
Mussismilia hispida 5%
Siderastrea stellata 46%
1 SCUBA stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breather Apparatus.
2 There were only 5 respondents in this category.
Figure 5. Typesetting format suggested for tables. It is composed of
paragraph styles: TableLegend (at the top), TableContent (in the table) and
TableFootnote (below the table) to insure correct spacing of the table between other text paragraphs. Even if there are no actual footnotes, using a
“empty” line of this style insures a correct spacing with the next paragraph.
2. (Fig. xx) if the fgure name is used as an illustration of a statement either in the middle or at the end of a sentence.
In either case, insert an unbreakable space between the word “fgure” or “Fig.” and the sequential number to avoid breaking the two
words at the end of a line.
The rules for referencing tables is identical but the word “table” is
Indication of the relative abundance of these nests can be found on
fgure 5. (Note the unbreakable space between the word fgure and
the number 5 that insures the two words stay together).
Nest density varied dramatically between different beaches (Fig. 5)
or over time (Fig. 6).
Table 15a summarizes the various concentrations of heavy metals
identifed in the different tissues of the benthic species sampled.
Data in table 15a are in ppb of dry weight.
Most species had concentrations of trace metal well below the
legal limits (Table 5). Only one specimen showed mercury values
higher than the legal limits (Table 5).
Tables are diffcult to typeset but modern word processors are relatively easy to “train” to give consistent formats. Figure 5 illustrates
the styles used in the template for tables.
The short paragraph below the table called the table footnote
(style = TabFootnote) has two formatting functions: it allows (1)
the placement of the footnote, if necessary and (2) the inclusion of
a larger space after the footnote. Comments about the table itself
should appear in the legend of the table whereas comments about
1 or a few data in the table should appear in the footnote, following
a small numerical marker in the table (1,2,3). If there are no footnotes, do not delete the paragraph but leave it empty to guarantee
an appropriate leading after the table.
To separate the table from the text, a larger space is placed before
the table legend (24 points) and after the footnote. This provides a
visual separation of the table from the text. Note also the relatively
thick lines (called rules) before and after the table itself and the thin
rule used to separate the header from the body of the table. Both
are cues to guide the reader through the table. In scientifc typography, vertical rules (or lines) are usually omitted. It is also customary
and useful to differentiate the header of the table from the body
by a different font face (bold for the header). When you format the
table, it is easier to compare data vertically (particularly if the num
bers are formatted identically). It is also easier to format and read
a table with 25 lines and 6 columns than a table with 6 lines and 25
Large tables (horizontally oriented) are possible but are more
diffcult to include in single documents because they require the
creation of a separate section of the document in which the page
is rotated by 90º (landscape). Large tables (several pages long
and either horizontally or vertically oriented) should be added as
appendices. Abbreviated versions of these large tables can be
used in the text. This structure does not disturb the normal ﬂow of
the text while giving the reader the option to access the whole data
set if necessary through the appendices.
Tables formats may differ from this suggested format as long as all
tables in the document show an homogenous presentation. However, the style presented here is used in a large variety of scientifc
publications (Science, Medicine, Engineering).
Table or fgure ?
Students are often somewhat confused as to when to use a table
to present information and when to use a fgure. Tables are generally used to present either non-numeric information (list of species,
criteria, protocols…) or numeric values in which the numbers themselves are important such as concentration of toxicants in relation
to legal limits for instance. If it is the relative values of these numbers across a series that is important, fgures are probably more
appropriate as they allow a rapid comparison of values. Similarly if
the number of data to be presented is very large (4000 data points
in a time series for instance), clearly fgures are more indicated.
Generally, it is inappropriate to present the same data twice (once
in table form and once in a fgure), although some exceptions are
possible. This form of redundancy should be used sparingly and
with a clear purpose.
Font in fgures and tables
The font used to present tables and text in fgures should be very
legible and is usually the same as that of the thesis. In the attached
templates Helvetica was used for both the text of the thesis and all
legends and text in graphics. Helvetica is an original font design
that was often and not always successfully copied later by other
founder or software companes: Swiss, Arial, Geneva, Verdana…
Should a different font be chosen for the text and the tables, I
would still recommend the use of font without serifs (little triangular
ending of the vertical parts of each letter) as these are typically
Numbers and units
All units in SQU thesis or dissertations need to follow the international standard of units (m, kg, s, A). Units should be abbreviated
if the numbers are written using numerals but written in full if the
numbers are written in words. Traditional units may be used for
comparative purposes (fathom, bushel, yard, gallon, faddan…) but
should always be translated into international units. Note that the
abbreviation for kilo is k (not K), mega is M (not m which is milli-)
and Giga is G. Following standards, the Deanship of Postgraduate
Studies recommends also the use of negative exponents in complex units (to avoid the complexity of typesetting fractions).
The average depth for setting nets in the Barka region was ten
fathoms (approximately 18m)
Nest density (km-1) varied dramatically between different beaches
or over time.
Bibliographic references are diffcult to write because, in scientifc
documents, the formatting style is extremely formal: character
case, styles, punctuations and spaces are all important. For most
thesis a system of references based on in-text citation followed
at the end of the thesis document by a bibliographic list is recommended. Alternative system (numbers and footnotes, or in-text
citation and footnotes for instance) may be used in some felds of
research as long as they remain consistent throughout the thesis
and correspond to a well known usage in that feld of research.
The Deanship of graduate studies recommends the APA style
which refers to the reference system used by the American Psychological Association. This style is based on the Publication
Manual of the APA, 5th ed. and the APA Style Guide to Electronic
References (2007). Other styles are also appropriate such as the
styles used for Elsevier publications or Springer publications, as
long as they correspond to standards in the feld of the thesis and
are used consistently throughout the thesis. The key word is consistency.
Formatting 10s or 100s of references manually is an exercise of
patience and accuracy and many scientists, including examiners,
pay extreme attention to the quality of the bibliography presentation. “Bibliography incomplete or poorly formatted” is a comment
often attached to thesis by external reviewers and even seasoned
scientists sometimes make mistakes when submitting manuscript
for publications. The task of including all referenced material in a
consistent way can be made much more bearable with the use
of automatic bibliographic managers such as Endnote, Zotero,
Papers or others. These software packages not only manage references but also help formatting them the way they are supposed
to be formatted. Although these software will perpetuate mistakes
in the original bibliographic database they work on, there is often
only one place where the correction need to be made.
Because bibliography are searched by the reader, it is essential
to facilitate the identifcation of each reference. Do do so, there
are two visual cues: (1) a negative indent of the frst line and (2) a
small but yet distinct space between successive references.
You will fnd below two examples of correct bibliographic styles recommended by the Deanship of Graduate Studies. Whatever style
you choose to adopt, whether following these examples or not, the
most important is to remain CONSISTENT.
• Always use either “&” or “and” or “, ”to link the last author to
the others in the author list.
• Use spaces always at the same places in the list of names.
• Use italic for every book title (or for no title).
• Use bold for every volume (or never).
• Use either parenthesis (1958) around the date of publication
or only a period after the last author name and after the date.
• Use Editors/Eds. or Editor/Ed. to identify the editors or editor
of edited books.
APA (American Psychological Association 6th Edition)
The APA reference system was established by the American Psychological Association to standardize references in their publication. It has now reached a much larger audience and many reference systems are more or less closely based on this standard.
The citation is the part of the reference that is in the text of the
document. The in-text citations may have no grammatical function;
they are then listed at the end of the sentence between parenthesis. The author may also choose to use the citation as a grammatical element of the sentence (subject or complement), in which
case, the authors of the papers become part of the sentence and
the year of publication is set between parenthesis. The citation in
the APA style consists of either of three format:
a- one author and the year of publication (Simpson, 2005)
b- two authors and the year of publication (Simpson & Taylor, 2004)
but Simpson and Taylor (2004) wrote that…
c- more than two authors and the year of publication (Simpson et
In the APA style (6th edition) the author list ends with “, &” before
the last author and the year of publication is placed between parenthesis. Pay particular attention to the “,” that separates names
of authors as well as family name and initials and to the “.”period
after the year of publication. Since initials are abbreviations of
names, they should be followed by a period and periods, comas,
colons and semi-colons should always be followed by a space. The
APA styles follows the grammatical rules for capitalizations in titles
and book titles. This means that only the frst letter of the frst word
of the title should be capitalized unless it is a scientifc name, a
city, a country, a river, etc… despite the original format of the cited
documents. The documents in the bibliographic list are listed in
alphabetical order of the frst authors, then by decreasing dates.
The basic pattern for a reference to a book is:
Author, Initials. (year of publication). Title of the book (Edition).
Place of Publication: Publisher.
Note that the author list ends with “&” before the last author. The
edition is only cited if it is not the frst edition. A colon separates
the place of publication (city, country) from the publisher.
Grimsditch, G. D. & Salm, R. V. (2006). Coral reef resilience and
resistance to bleaching. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
Moore, M. H., Estrich, S., McGillis, D., & Spelman, W. (1984).
Dangerous offenders: the elusive target of justice. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press.
The basic pattern for a reference to a book chapter is:
Author of chapter, Initials. (year of publication). Title of chapter. In
Initials. Name of Editor/s (Ed.), Title of book (pp. start and end
page numbers of chapter). Place of publication: Publisher.
Please note that the initials follow the name of the authors (except
for the frst author) but precede that of the editors. The name of
a single editor is followed by (Ed.), if there are multiple editors it
Kolasa, J. & Waltho, N. (1998). A hierarchical view of habitat and
its relationship to species abundance. In D. L. Petersen & V. T.
Parker (Eds.), Ecological scale (pp. 55-76). New York: Columbia
Vygotsky, L. S. (1991). Genesis of the higher mental functions. In
P. Light, S. Sheldon, & M. Woodhead (Eds.), Learning to think
(pp. 32–41). London: Routledge.
The basic pattern for a reference to article published in a scientifc
Author, Initials. (year when article was published). Title of article.
Title of Journal, Volume number – if there is one (Issue number),
start and end page numbers of article. DOI
Note that both the Journal title and volume number are set in italic
and that the page numbers are separated from the volume(issue)
group by a coma and not a colon!. The DOI is a unique identifer of
content objects in the digital environment. It
Green, J. L. & Plotkin, J. B. (2007). A statistical theory of sampling species abundance. Ecology Letters, 10, 1037-1045. DOI:
Adams, N.L., Shick, J.M. & Dunlap, W.C., (2001). Selective accumulation of mycosporine-like amino acids in ovaries of the green
sea urchin Strogylocentrotus droebachiensis is not affected by
ultraviolet radiation. Marine Biology. 138, 281-294.
Hart, S. R., Cohen, A. L. & Ramsay, M. A. (1997). Microscale
analysis of Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca in Porites. Paper presented at the
8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama.
Nester, L. R. (2006). Effects of off-road vehicles on the nesting
activity of loggerhead sea turtles in North Carolina. Unpublished,
Master of Science, Graduate School of the University of Florida,
University of Florida.
Electronic publication with DOI
Brownlie, D. (2007). Toward effective poster presentations: An annotated bibliography. European Journal of Marketing, 41(11/12),
Electronic publication without DOI
Kenneth, I. A. (2000). A Buddhist response to the nature of human
rights. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 8. Retrieved from http://www.
Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M.,
Soderland, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
Marine Ecology Progress Series (Springer)
This is a very modern style in which most punctuation marks
are omitted. The only faces modifcation (italic or bold) are those
driven by normal scientifc typographical rules: species in italic and
vectors in bold for instance. It was established in the mid-90s to
simplify somewhat the scientifc reference system.
Grimsditch GD, Salm RV (2006) Coral reef resilience and resistance to bleaching, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 52 pp
Kolasa J, Waltho N (1998) A hierarchical view of habitat and its
relationship to species abundance. In: Petersen DL, Parker VT
(eds) Ecological scales. Columbia Press, New York, p 55-76
Green JL, Plotkin JB (2007) A statistical theory for sampling species abundance. Ecology Letters 10:1037-1045
Hart SR, Cohen AL, Ramsay MA (1997) Microscale analysis of Sr/
Ca and Ba/Ca in Porites. 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama: 1707-1712
Nester LR (2006) Effects of off-road vehicles on the nesting activity
of loggerhead sea turtles in North Carolina. Master of Science,
Graduate School of the University of Florida, University of
Electronic publication with DOI
Brownlie D (2007) Toward effective poster presentations: An annotated bibliography. European Journal of Marketing 41: 1245-
Electronic publication without DOI
Kenneth IA (2000) A Buddhist response to the nature of human
rights. Journal of Buddhist Ethics, 8. Retrieved from http://www.
Angeli E, Wagner J, Lawrick E, Moore K, Anderson M, Soderland
L Brizee A (2010, May 5). General format. Retrieved from http://
If there are no date of publication easily identifable for these
electronic documents, you can use (n.d.) for no dates in the place
holder for dates.
Further information on these styles can be found at:
for the APA style and
for Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Searches on Google (try: APA style reference for instance) will also
provide a long list of tutorials, guidelines and suggestions to present consistent, complete and correct bibliographies.
There are several software specially designed to facilitate the management and the formating of scientifc documents and thesis. We
can recommend among others:
Endnote (endnote.com): supported by SQU and available for Postgraduate student through a University License.
Zotero (www.zotero.org): a free system of reference management
available either as a standalone program or as browser application.
Papers (http://www.mekentosj.com/papers/): inexpensive system
that functions both on PCs, Macs and on apple ipad.
How do “styles” work?
Styles are canned, predefned, paragraph formats. In these custom
made formats, the user can, once and for all, defne the font (Helvetica, Arial, Times…) , the font size (expressed in Points = 1/72
of an inch), the weight (bold, demi-bold, regular…) whether the
character is in italic or not. Italic does not mean slanted: very often,
the italic characters differ in shape from the Roman characters (Roman = straight).
The style also includes information on the space between lines
(called leading in reference to lead —the metal— bars that were
used in typography to separate lines of characters). Typically in
a text, leading should be slightly more than the font size for easy
reading. If the leading was less, the high characters (l,f, t…) and
the low characters (p, q, j) may collide between the lines. For thesis text, in which we expect some annotations to be made by the
author, the reviewers or the examiners, the leading is increased to
approximately 1.5 times the character size. Here we used 18 pts
for most paragraphs (with a 12-point character size) .
The styles defnes how each line of text fnishes (ﬂushed left, or
fully justifed) and more importantly the spacing between adjacent paragraphs or between headings and paragraphs. They also
include information on page setting: i.e. whether a heading can sit
on itself on a page or not (keep with next option), or if a paragraph
can be cut in half by a page break (keep lines together option).
For instance all headings have both these options set to insure the
paragraphs that follow a headings actually follows the heading. It is
also possible to defne the color of the text, the positions and types
of tabulations, the numbering (as in numbered or bulleted lists) and
many other aspects of the typography of the document. There is
also attention paid to the principle of proximity that says that the
space before a heading should appear visually larger than that
after because the heading introduces the following paragraph.
The advantage of this “style” system as it allows the user to be
systematically consistent without having to reformat every single
paragraph of the document. Once a paragraph is set in a particular
style, to change the aspects of ALL the occurrences of that style in
the document, you only need to modify that particular style. For instance if you want to change the font size of Heading 2, you modify
the style Heading 2 in terms of font size and automatically, all titles
formatted in Heading 2 will be modifed, without affecting Heading
1 styles or paragraphs presentation.
Styles also contains a notion of inheritance: a style may inherit
properties from another. For instance, here all styles inherit the
font from the style “Paragraph”. Since Paragraph is in Helvetica,
the whole document is formatted in Helvetica. Should you prefer to
change the font of Paragraph to Times New Roman, Arial or Baskerville, automatically the whole document will adopt the new font.
Any user can create as many styles as he/she needs. Some complex documents can have 100s of styles. To format a paragraph
according to a predefned style, you need to assign the style to the
paragraph. This can be done through the “Style” palette window. To
get to that window you need to click the Home “ribbon”, and click
on the Show Styles button.
Figure A1. The small button “Show Style” opens up the Style window in
which you can manage, modify and apply styles to the text.
This Style window is the toolbox to manage, edit and assign styles
to different paragraphs.
Clicking on any of the Styles (Figure, H2, H3, H4, etc.) will immediately format the paragraph. To edit a style (you can do it but,
think before doing), you select the Style and point the cursor on the
little arrow menu that appears. You can then modify any or all the
parameters for that Style.
Please learn more about using styles in your word processor. Different version may have slightly different look and feel but nearly
all formatting options and style management were already present
in Microsoft Word 2003.
To learn more (Among many other sources: google up “using
styles” Microsoft word tutorial…)
Figure A2. This is the main
Style window. This is where all
the management of the styles of
a given document takes place.
To assign a style, place the
cursor in the paragraph to be
styled, then click on the required
style in the Styles window. For
instance, to make a chapter
title: put the cursor in the future
title paragraph, then click Heading 1.
Other word processors (Open Offce, Pages, Mellel, etc. ) and
page setting software (Quark, InDesign…) all offer similar “style”
systems. Although the specifc buttons and menus will differ, the
principle remains the same: a paragraph always carry a style. The
user can defne which style is applied to each paragraph and can
defne the look of each style.
Table 1. List of user defned styles used for the introductory pages
of an SQU thesis (ThesisIntro.docx).
|Style name||Description and use|
Title To be used for the Main title of the thesis on
both the Cover Page and the Title Page.
Author Used for the Name of the author of the
thesis (i.e. the student) on both the Cover
Page and the Title Page.
ThesisDescriptor Used on both the Cover Page and the Title
Page to set the “A thesis submitted….” as
well as the actual title of the degree.
Degree Used to typeset the degree conferred with
In Used to format the little “in” between the
title of the degree and the actual degree.
Institution Used for the whole series of paragraph at
the bottom of both the Cover Page and the
Department Used for the name of the Department at the
bottom of both the Cover Page and the Title
CommitteeTitle Used for both the title of the thesis and the
name of the student on the Thesis Committee Page.
Committee Used to format “Thesis Committee” and
“Thesis Examining Committee” heading on
these two pages.
Used to format both signature and Date
on each of the “member” of the thesis and
CommitteeMember Used to format the name, title and function
of each of the committee members.
|Dedication||Used to format the Dedication if any|
|Paragraph||Used for the text of the Acknowledgements,|
|AbstractTitle||Used to format the title of the thesis on the
English Abstract page.
Used to format the name of the author (the
student) on the on the English Abstract
Used for the word “Abstract” on the Ab
Used for the text of the abstract.
|ArabicAbTitle||Used for the Title in the Arabic abstract|
|ArabicAbAuthor||Used for the author in the Arabic Abstract|
|ArabicAbHeading||Used for a possible heading in the Arabic
Used for the text of the abstract in Arabic
|Epigraph||Used to format the epigraph (if any).|
|IntroHeading||Used to format the page title for List of
Figures and List of Tables pages and also
the List of Abbreviations and the Glossary
as well as the Acknowledgements.
Used to format each entry in the table that
makes up the lists in the List of Figures, the
List of Tables and the Abbreviations and
Used to format the page number in the List
of Figures and the List of Tables pages.
Used to format each of the entries (left
side) of the List of Symbols and Abbrevia
GlossaryDefnition Used to format the defnition of each of the
entries of the List of Symbols and Abbreviation and Glossary Pages.
GlossaryEntry Used to format the entries of the Glossary.
Table 2. List of user defned styles used for the body of a thesis at
SQU. Additional styles can be created for specifc cases but should
be based on the Paragraph style to ensure homogeneity.
Style name Description and use
Chapter_Nb To be used at the beginning of all chapters.
It automatically begins on a new page. The
style includes automatically the creation of
a new page with appropriate spacing.
ChapterTitle Defnes the highest level of heading. This
will be indexed in the Table of content
(TOC) as level 1.
H1—H3 Defnes the secondary headings. These
are also indexed in the TOC but as level
2, 3, and 4. The spaces are automatically
added between headings and paragraphs
before and after. All these headings are
“linked” to the two lines of the next paragraphs to avoid orphan headings.
H4 The last predefned heading. It is not indexed by default.
Paragraph This is the style used for all paragraph in
the text. It has a small space before and
after, indicating clearly the separation between adjacent paragraphs.
EndParagraph A style used to format the little graphic
indicating the end of a Chapter.
Figure Is a paragraph style to be used to format
fgures. It will put some space before the
fgure and make sure the fgure stays on
FigLegend Create a fgure legend or caption. It will be
slightly spaced from the fgure and have a
much larger space after to clearly indicates
the separation between fgure and text.
TableContents Used inside tables. The font size is the
same as in the text but the line spacing
is reduced. This table is formatted using
TableLegend The style used for the caption of the table.
As it is above the table, it has a larger
space before and a small space after.
TableFootnote To be used after a table whether you need
footnotes or not. It will add some space
after the table to indicate the separation
from the text.
Biblio Paragraph style to be used with the bibliography (references). It will automatically
create a hanging indent of the reference
and add some space before and after each
BulletedList The Bulleted List is a form of paragraph for
list of items without particular order. There
is some space between item, but is less
than that between paragraphs.
NbList Numbered list is similar to bulletedList
but use a sequential number instead of a
bullet. Each list needs to be restarted at 1
manually (Format > Bullets and numbering…> in the dialog choose restart at 1.
Citation This style formats the text as a long citation. It is set up in Italic with a small indent
on both left and right sides.
TOC 1 – TOC 4 Defnes the format of the Table of content.
Modifying these will modify the look of the
table of content.
TOCHeader Defnes the format of the frst line of the
Table of Content.
British vs American English
American and British English have developed some differences
over the years. Although both grammars and usages are correct,
nevertheless for the sake of homogeneity, it is better form to stick
to either American or British English usage.
There are some grammatical differences: for instance with regards
to collective words such as musical band names, the word committee, or Government. These words tend to be grammatically plural
in British English whereas they are singular in American English.
The Clash are a well known rock band (British English)
The Clash is a well known rock band (American English).
The team takes its seat (American English)
The team take their seat (British English)
The committee decides to implement its decision (American English)
The committee decide to implement their decision (British English
British and American English also differ in the transitivity of some
Someone might appeal a decision in American English but would
appeal against the decision in British English
One would also catch up someone else in British English but would
only catch up with someone else in American English.
One would write to someone in British English, but write someone
in American English.
You may also talk to someone in Britain but with someone or to
someone in the United States.
Some past participles also differ between the two forms of English.
Sawn is the accepted past participle of saw in British English
whereas sawed is the preferred form in American English.
Proved is strongly preferred over proven in British English whereas
both are equally accepted in American English.
Finally, there are numerous differences in the spelling of common
British English American English
Defence (of the thesis) Defense
|Draught||Draft (as in scientifc drawing)|