Format Requirements for the Thesis

Format requirements for theses and special project reports at California State University, Los Angeles consist of university and individual department guidelines.

Students must consult with their thesis/project committee and department regarding format requirements applicable to their individual thesis or project before the writing process begins. Such consultation should continue on a regular basis.

University Format Requirements

The following paragraphs state university format requirements, which all theses and special project reports therefore must follow.

NOTE: All other aspects of format not explicitly specified as university format requirements are the responsibility of the department, which shall maintain such requirements in up-to-date written form at a sufficiently detailed level, and make them readily available.


The original of the thesis or project is printed on 8 1/2 by 11 inch, 20 or 24 pound weight, 100 percent cotton content, plain white paper. Erasable papers are not acceptable.


The left, top, and bottom margins measure 1 1/2 inches and the right margin 1 or 1 1/2 inches.


The thesis or project uses one side of the paper only, double-spaced, with a pitch of 10 to 12 characters per inch of letter-quality black printing only. A legible typeface must be used. Error correction by a cement-over process (opaque liquid and others) or any similar method is not acceptable.

Arrangement of the Thesis or Project Parts

The main text is preceded by preliminary pages arranged in the following order: thesis/project approval (signature) page, title page, copyright page, acknowledgements (if any), abstract, table of contents, list of tables (if any), and list of figures (if any). The approval and title pages follow approved university format. The abstract summarizes the purpose and scope of the study, the principal findings and their significance. The main text is divided into chapters. When present, endnotes, glossary, list of references, appendices, and index follow the main text, and in that order. Each preliminary page, chapter in the main text, the start of endnotes, references and appendices, begins on a new page.

Numbering of Pages

Preliminary pages, except the approval page and title page, are numbered using lower case Roman numerals (ii, iv, etc.). All preliminary pages, except the approval page, are counted in pagination. After the preliminary pages, all other pages of the thesis or project report are numbered using standard Arabic numerals and are counted in pagination.

Headings and Subheadings

Individual department guidelines are followed. Regardless of specific style, headings and subheadings of chapters and sections are constructed and presented in a consistent manner within a thesis.


Placement of notes, footnotes, etc. is determined by individual department guidelines, and is consistent within the thesis.

Literature References

For reference citation format, a thesis follows the guidelines specified by the student's individual department and must be consistent within the thesis.

Tables and Figures

Tables are comprised of data, such as statistical information, which are typed in column and row format. Illustrative materials such as graphs, charts, diagrams, plans, maps, and photographs, are referred to as figures. Tables and figures are numbered uniquely, consecutively, and in separate sequences, and conform to department guidelines. Figures contained on large size paper are to be folded to the 8 1/2 by 11 inches page size and follow thesis margin requirements.

Placement of Tables and Figures

Tables and figures are placed as close as possible to the first reference to them in the main text or may be placed in appropriate appendices at the end of the thesis or project. Departments will provide specific guidelines about placement.