Formatting, Specifications, Copyright and Submission

Writing & Communication Center

Given the current COVID-19 restrictions the Writing and Communication Center is offering remote consultations using live audio/video and Google Docs for reviewing your text. See complete instructions for scheduling an appointment and preparing for your consultation.


About the WCC

We have a list of freelance editors/teachers you can hire if you want advice while the WCC is closed. Contact us at writing-center@mit.edu, and we'll put you in touch with them. Since they are independent contractors (i.e., are not working for the WCC when they are freelancing), we do not know what their individual rates are.


The WCC at MIT (Writing and Communication Center) offers free one-on-one professional advice from communication experts. The WCC is staffed completely by MIT lecturers. All have advanced degrees. All are experienced college classroom teachers of communication. All are published scholars and writers. Not counting the WCC’s director’s years (he started the WCC in 1982), the WCC lecturers have a combined 133 years’ worth of teaching here at MIT (ranging from 4 to 24 years).

The WCC works with students (undergraduate and graduate), post-docs, faculty, and staff — the WCC no longer meets with alumni or spouses/partners.). The WCC helps you strategize about all types of academic and professional writing as well as about all aspects of oral presentations (including practicing classroom presentations & conference talks as well as designing slides).

No matter what department or discipline you are in, the WCC helps you think your way more deeply into your topic, helps you see new implications in your data, research, and ideas. The WCC also helps with all English as Second Language issues, from writing and grammar to pronunciation and conversation practice.

The WCC also offers many pages of advice on writing and oral presentations.

→   Schedule a remote consultation.

Formatting & Specifications

1. Thesis Checklist

Download the Department's Thesis Checklist to review your final document for archival acceptability. Take note that there is one addition to the checklist required by the Department; page 2 (placed between the title and the abstract pages) must list your thesis/dissertation committee. It should have the academic titles of your advisors and readers as they are listed in the MIT Bulletin — see TEMPLATE.


2. Committee Chair Information for Title Page

  • Undergraduate students:
     Leslie K. Norford
     Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee
  • Graduate students:
     Leslie K. Norford
     Professor of Building Technology
     Chair of the Department Committee on Graduate Students

 Note: February and June 2021 theses do not require any signatures.


3. MIT Libraries Specifications for Thesis Preparation

 Note — Implementing the specifications saves a lot of time while your final thesis submission is being reviewed.


4. Pay special attention to:

  • Copyright:
  • Thesis title — Make sure your final thesis title matches the Institute record by checking in WebSIS under "Online Degree Application".
  • Proper wording on title, abstract and committee pages — see TEMPLATES (includes templates by degree, template for joint theses and template for dual degree theses).
  • Margins & Spacing — Top, bottom, and both side margins must be at least an inch wide (1'') to allow for binding and trimming. All information (text headings, notes, and illustrations), excluding page numbers, must be within the text area.
  • Pagination — The title page is always considered to be page 1, and every page must be included in the count regardless of whether a number is physically printed on a page. Make sure the page numbers in your Table of Contents are accurate.
  • Typeface & Size:
    • Typeface & SizeMain body of text, including appendices and front matter should be no smaller than 11-point and not be script or italic (although italics may be used for short quotations or to highlight variables in equations).
    • Image captions can be no smaller than 10-point.
    • It is easy to overlook the font size of text within images. This text can be no smaller than 10-point (a case can be made for images with smaller text within them if the captions are either unimportant to reader comprehension or are fully explained in the paragraph(s) immediately before or after the image.
  • Check Table of Contents Links — Make sure the links in your table of contents go to the correct location in your document. It is easy to make structural changes to your document and forget to revisit your Table of Contents links for accuracy.
  • Special note about full-page spreads — The Department of Architecture theses are allowed to employ full-page image spreads. Please remember that there is the potential for content to "disappear" into the fold between the page spread once the thesis is bound due to the 1" margin specification. Thus make sure no important content/text falls outside of the 1" margin. Please review MIT's information on oversized pages.

Using Copyrighted Content

Scholarly Publishing's Copyright for Thesis page

This page covers the following:

  • Fair use for your thesis
  • Determining whether content is copyrighted
  • The Public Domain
  • MIT license agreements that may allow reuse
  • Obtaining permission for use
  • Publishers that allow reuse of content without permission

MIT libraries' Using Images: Copyright & Fair Use page.

This page covers the following:

  • why copyright and citation matter;
  • plagiarism;
  • properly citing a work;
  • following fair;
  • copyright infringement;
  • what "Fair Use" is;
  • how to make a fair use assessment.
  • properly citing sources;
  • special consideration for images

Final Thesis Submission

Final Thesis Submission for all Degree Programs

The day before the thesis is due for submittal upload the final document to the Thesis Submission website for a final formatting review. This is for the purpose of making certain the document is in compliance with MIT archive requirements. You will be contacted quickly if adjustments are needed and when the document has been approved. Before submitting your document ensure that:

  • you make a final pass through your thesis document based on the formatting/specifications information;
  • your advisor has seen and approved your final version that you are uploading to the Thesis Submission website. No further changes can be accommodated;
  • you don't forget the additional committee page required by the Department of Architecture which is placed between your title and abstract pages (this page is not necessary if you only have a thesis advisor and no readers). Consult the Department's Faculty page in the MIT catalog for proper academic titles for MIT instructors.
Note: February & June 2021 theses do not require a signature by you or your thesis advisor. The act of uploading your thesis document replaces your signature and the submission of a final grade by your thesis supervisor replaces their signature.

Additional step for Doctoral/PhD Theses

Doctoral Students must also submit a completed UMI/ProQuest Form along with a PDF copy of their abstract page. Upload to the Thesis submission at MIT Libraries Dropbox. It is especially important that your name appear on this form exactly as it does on the title and abstract pages of your thesis.

Templates