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Thesis Preparation Guide

Graduate student guide on preparing your thesis

Style and Format

Theses at HNU utilize style formatting established by the American Psychological Association (APA). Being well acquainted with this particular writing style will greatly assist you in creating a well composed and structured thesis.

Reputable resources for understanding APA citation and formatting include:


This APA formatted thesis is an example for your use. The text in this document are instructions for proper formatting and includes a variety of in-text and parenthetical citation exam.

Thesis FAQ

Per APA rules, font type used for a thesis is Times New Roman, at size 12 point with all text in black. 

In Word, you can make font adjustments here:





Every page of your thesis must have a 1" margin that contains a header title, in all capital letters, and a page number listed within that 1" margin. 





To add page numbers into your thesis document, in Word go to the second tab "Insert" and click on the Page Number icon. From here you can also format and/or remove page numbers in your thesis as well:




All content is double spaced in your thesis and can be adjusted from the "Home" tab in Word:


Table of Contents

Table of contents style preference varies from department and discipline. Any questions you may have about your programs preferences should be addressed to the lead faculty advisor. 

  • Level 1 and 2 headings should be listed in a Table of Contents
  • If a thesis includes more than one appendix document, a section for appendices should be noted as illustrated below


The first two pages of your thesis are your Title page and Signature/Approval of your thesis page. 

Title Page

The key elements of a Title page are:

  • Your first page header is unique from subsequent pages in your thesis and requires the words "Running head: YOUR TITLE" AND page numbers as in the example below. Your title must not exceed 50 characters, and as with everything else in the thesis, you must also use Times New Roman in 12pt font in the header area.
  • The title listed in the body of your title page is a concise summary of objectives of the thesis, using no more than twelve words. Include your Name and Holy Names University as illustrated below.      




Signature/Approval of Thesis Page

Key elements in a signature page include:

  • From page 2 onward, the running head is updated to only include your capitalized title used on the first page header.
  • List your degree/certification under your name along with the anticipated month and year in which your thesis is submitted
  • Your faculty advisor's name and credentials must be listed, as well as the names and credentials of faculty readers involved in the thesis. 
  • For binding purposes, it is required to submit an original signed signature pages for each copy of thesis that will be bound. Copies of signed signature pages will not be accepted. 
  • If your thesis does not have a second faculty reader, please omit that section in your signature page.



For further instruction on establishing a first page header vs. subsequent page header, please view the appropriate video for your computer:


Key elements of an abstract in a thesis are:

  • Consist of no more than 250 words
  • The abstract title should be centered but not bolded
  • Do not indent in the first line of the abstract paragraph, but do keep the abstract to one paragraph in length
  • Include 2-4 keywords for the thesis subject 



Acknowledgment Page

An acknowledgment page is an optional section of a thesis. Many students wish to express appreciation to family, faculty, etc and the only requirements are:

  • Adherence to header title & page number, along with double spacing & margins consistency
  • Do NOT include the acknowledgment page in the table of contents



The sequence of a thesis follows the following order:

  1. Title Page
  2. Signature/Approval Page
  3. Abstract with required keywords
  4. Acknowledgment Page (optional)
  5. Table of Contents
  6. Thesis Body
  7. Reference List
  8. Appendices

Helpful Resources

Starting a thesis project begins on the first day of your capstone course. Here are some suggested tips to ensuring that you are on target in addressing the various elements of your thesis research: ​

   If  a questionnaire is part of your research, get acquainted with Qualtrics, HNU's surveying

   software, available to you for free. Additionally, depending on your participants, you may need

   to seek out Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval with your faculty advisors support.

   Workshops on Qualtrics are offered every semester at the library on top of drop in/appointment

   requests for one on one overview on this powerful software.


   Create a RefWorks accountThis software is useful in keeping your sources organized

   and accessible. RefWorks is available to you at no cost during your academic career at HNU.

   One on one overviews of this software are available on drop in and by scheduling an appointment

   with a librarian.


   Take advantage of peer review and set up an appointment with the Writing Studio, located

   in the library, for an extra set of eyes to help you with any writing issues you may encounter

   as your draft your thesis. 



   Librarians are available to partner up with you on your search for high quality resources in our

   many databases and collections that you may find essential for your thesis. You may reach 

   any of our librarians on our contact page