Formatting, Specifications, Copyright and Submission

Thesis Checklist

Thesis Committee

Writing and Communications Center

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.

Writing and Communication Center offers a number of programs to the wide community of MIT undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and staff, which include:

  • Individual Consultations on oral, visual, and written projects
  • Workshops on various aspects of academic writing
  • Writing Together Online program

Departmental Writing Support

We also have in house writing support for you, to help you with thesis writing support. Marilyn Levine, our Writing Consultant is available by appointment. She is an incredible department resource for everyone, and is available for workshops, advice, one on one student meetings, and more. Her contact info is

Formatting and Specifications

  • Implementing the formatting and specifications saves a lot of time while your final thesis submission is being reviewed. The majority of students go through an average of 3-4 formatting revisions before their thesis book is approved as archive ready, and received by the department for final submission to the library.
  • A thesis is a research paper, and must reflect the formatting specifications as such. Creative and stylistic formatting have their limits; all published theses must ultimately hold to the formatting requirements in order to ensure the document is accessible to all readers (observing ADA compliance regulations.)

Notes: While submissions must be a single, continuous page, you may switch between portrait and landscape orientation.

There is no institute-wide style guideline, as different disciplines adhere to their own. MIT Architecture does not prescribe a specific documentation style but recommends you confer with your thesis advisor in addition to adhering to the institute-wide specifications for each style:

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

3. MIT Libraries Specifications for Thesis Preparation


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).
  • 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 (see tip in "Check Table of Contents Links" below)..
  • 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, endnotes, footnotes, sidenotes, table text, page numbers can be no smaller than 10-point — this includes text inside images. This is important for accessibility reasons  (an option for text that is too small inside an image is to supply an alt tag (this assumes program of thesis creation to be Microsoft Word; other programs likely provide this option).
    • It is easy to overlook the font size of text within images. This text can be no smaller than 10-point (per bullet above, see supply an alt tag)..
  • Check Table of Contents Links — Make sure you have links in your table of contents that 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. Microsoft Word has a Table of Contents tool that allows you to link TOC entries directly to the appropriate content in the document; it is a great tool to use as if your content moves during the editing of your document, Word automatically updates your links in your TOC). 

Copyright and Thesis

Scholarly Publishing's Theses and Copyright page

This page covers the following:

  • Fair use and your thesis
  • Copyright term and the public domain
  • MIT license agreements
  • Copyright for images and figures

MIT libraries' Using Copyrighted Content page.

This page covers the following:

  • Fair use for your thesis: Two questions to determine fair use
  • MIT license agreements
  • MIT license agreements that may allow reuse
  • Copyright Clearance Center
  • Obtaining permission for use

FINAL Thesis Submission

Since theses are submitted digitally, no signatures are required — your grade acts as your advisor's signature.

On or before department thesis deadlines:

  • Upload the final document to the Department's Thesis Submission Tool for a final formatting review (choose "Single Sign On" and login with your MIT email address).
  • If final formatting revisions are not complete by the Institute Deadline for Thesis submission, you will be removed from the degree list.

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 Department's 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.

After submitting your document, ensure that you have submitted your Thesis Information to the Library. There you must complete the the online form (Ensure that your thesis title is an exact match with what is listed on your (approved!) title page (click on "Online Degree Application").

  • Please complete the full form, including copyright info, thesis supervisor, and more.
  • Dual degree students: list your PRIMARY department in the main fields of the form, and include the information for the secondary department and thesis supervisor in the NOTES section of this form.
  • All grad students may also choose to OPT-IN to send your thesis to Pro-Quest.