Electronic Dissertation Preparation

The Graduate School formatting requirements for an electronic dissertation are provided below.

Document Formatting

  • File Format The textual portion of the ETD must be submitted in PDF (Portable Document Format) format.

    The Adobe Acrobat software required to create a PDF document is available on PCs located in the computer laboratories on campus. Alternatively, Adobe Acrobat can be downloaded by logging in to download.uky.edu and clicking OnTheHub.

    Technical Help

    • Software for creating PDF documents is available in the Student Computing Services labs on campus. Full Adobe Acrobat (not the free reader) is required to create PDFs.
    • Having technical trouble converting your document to PDF? Walk in help for document conversion and other technical questions about creating your PDF file is available at the Hub. When the Hub is not open, students can seek help by phone (218-4357) or by e-mail 218help@uky.edu.
    • Answers to common questions about creating a PDF ETD are available in our  Technical FAQ [PDF]. Topics include how to set up different page number formats in MS Word 2013 and 2016, creating landscape pages with portrait page number orientation, and generating PDF bookmarks automatically.

This substantially improves navigation of your document. It allows readers to jump between sections of your document by clicking on bookmark links. The utility of this feature can be appreciated in this sample ETD from the UK Libraries' ETD collection. Acrobat can automatically generate Bookmarks, which will appear in a window on the left side of the screen, from the Table of Contents generated from several modern word processors, including Microsoft Word. The creator of a PDF document can create additional bookmarks in an existing PDF document to another PDF document or to a Web page. (Bookmarks are generated automatically only if your Word document is structured appropriately to use an automatic table of contents. BYU provides an excellent video clip to show you how to create bookmarks in MS Word 2007). To set your document to open with bookmarks revealed:

  • Bookmarking The following items must be bookmarked: Title Page; Abstract; Table of Contents (TOC); List of Tables; List of Figures; Each Chapter; Each Sub-Section; Appendix; Bibliography; Vita. Additional subsections may also be bookmarked. Set your document to open with bookmarks visible.
    • In Acrobat, click on the "File" menu, then "Document Properties".
    • Choose "Initial View" from the left on the dialog box.
    • Choose "Bookmarks Panel and Page" from the "Show" options.

Embedding fonts simply means that all of the font information used to make your document look the way it does is stored in the PDF file. So no matter what fonts someone else has on their computer, they'll be able to see the file as you intended it to be seen. If you don't embed fonts, Acrobat will use fonts available on the reader's computer. Substitution can result in significant differences between your intended output and what the reader observes (particularly with symbol fonts), so it is best to have the fonts embedded. Fonts can be embedded when you convert from Word to PDF:

  • Fonts All fonts used in the document must be embedded.
    • In Word, choose "Print" from the File menu.
    • Choose "Adobe PDF" as the printer.
    • Use the "Properties" button to set various options, including font embedding.
    • Choose "Adobe PDF Settings" tab
    • In the "Adobe PDF Conversion Settings" area, choose the "edit" button next to the "Default Settings" drop box.
    • Choose the "Font" tab and check the "Embed all fonts" box
    • Proceed with printing to the PDF file.
  • File Names Use ONLY English letters, underscore lines and Arabic numbers. No spaces in the file name. Strict file-naming requirements insure that hyperlinks will work. Specifically, using spaces in the file name will cause a problem with hyperlinking, possibly making your document inaccessible to some readers. Re-name any files that don't comply before submitting your ETD to the Graduate School . (e.g., dissertation.pdf is correct; my dissertation.pdf is incorrect).

Linking file names to the actual files in the List of Files section makes it easier for users to preview the multimedia enhancements you have taken time to include in your document. It also makes it easier for the Graduate School to make sure your multimedia files are working correctly. If you include multimedia files, or if your document is too large to be useful as a single PDF and must be broken into sections, be sure that all components are linked appropriately. With multimedia files, be sure that links exist within the document to access these files. If you create multiple PDFs, be sure you provide a way to move between the sections. Many people recommend submitting the full text of an ETD as a single PDF file. For longer ETDs, one very large file can become cumbersome to work with. If you do submit your ETD as a set of PDF files, however, you must include (and test) sufficient navigational links so that the reader can readily move from one file to another without having to close out one file in Acrobat and then open up the next PDF file. This is true also for any external files submitted with the document (e.g., video files). Links to these files must be included within the document and as linked file names within the "List of Files" page. In Acrobat:

Highlight links consistently. Links to additional files in the document should be visible. You should change the color of linked text within your document, create a box around linked text, or otherwise make sure that links are obvious. To change text color in Acrobat: Highlight text using the "Touch-Up Text" tool. Right click and choose the "Properties" option. Choose "Fill" color to change the color.

  • File Links File names included in the "List of Files" must be linked to the actual files.
    • Be sure that all files (your PDF and all multimedia files) are in the same folder on your computer.
    • Use the "Link" tool to draw a box around the text you want to link.
    • In the dialog box, choose the "open a file" option and enter the full name of the file in the space. Click OK.
  • Security Restrictions Do NOT incorporate restrictions such as prohibiting copy/paste, compression or password protection. 

    These are not allowed for several reasons; for example it allows ETD processors to copy your abstract and other information for inclusion in the database; it facilitates future migration of the document and it provides a more functional document for your readers. (so people can copy/paste citations, etc.). Additionally, it allows UMI to add their "archival information" page to dissertations. In Acrobat, the default is to have no security restrictions, so you should not have to do anything.

  • External Links Links to files not submitted with the ETD itself (e.g., URLs) are restricted to the References or Bibliography section ONLY. These are not permitted because w e cannot control the future availability of external files. All files necessary for your document must be submitted with the document. If you do include references to online works, be sure to follow current guidelines for citing Web resources.

There is no specific size limit for UK ETDs, but you should consider breaking up large files into multiple PDF's to facilitate download.

  • File Size: There is no specific size limit for UK ETDs.
  • Multimedia Formats: The following multimedia formats must be used:
  • PDF (.pdf) use Type I PostScript fonts
  • JPEG (.jpg)
  • GIF (.gif)
  • MPEG (i.e., MPEG-1, MPEG-2) (.mpg)
  • WAV (.wav) - RECOMMENDED
  • MPEG 

    We will make every attempt to migrate the listed file formats indefinitely. Files submitted in the RECOMMENDED formats will have the best chance of future migration.

Page Formatting and Font

  • Margins: A 1-inch margin is required on the top, bottom and right sides of all pages of the dissertation; a 1.5" inch margin is required on the left side of all pages to allow for binding.
  • Line Spacing: Either single, one and one-half or double spacing should be used in the body of the dissertation. Footnotes, bibliographic entries, long quoted passages, etc., should be single-spaced.
  • No bold on Preliminary Pages.
  • Justification: Either left justification or full justification is acceptable for the body of the text. "Orphans" (headings or sub-headings located at the bottom of a page that are not followed by text) and " widows" (short lines ending a paragraph at the top of a page) should be avoided.
  • Pagination: Roman numerals must be used for the acknowledgment page and all pages following until the first page of the text. Begin with numeral " iii ". Arabic numerals must be used for the main text, illustrative material, appendices, references, and vita. Begin with page 1 and number consecutively. Numbers must be positioned 0.5 inches from the bottom of the page. They must be centered and must be consistent throughout the dissertation.
  • Font: A standard 11 or 12 point font is required and should be consistent throughout the dissertation. This includes all preliminary pages, table of contents, list pages, table/figure headings and page numbers. The text must be black.

Page Order

The dissertation consists of three major sections, the preliminary pages, the main text and the appendix/reference materials. The specific order of the pages is as follow

  1. Title Page for Dissertation See this Title page example if you have Co-Directors
  2. Abstract: The abstract must be single-spaced. Do not include graphs, charts, tables or other illustrations in the abstract. If the abstract is not in English, provide an English translation. Include no more than 6 keywords or key phrases at the end of the abstract for indexing and cataloging purposes. If multimedia elements are used in the document, add this listing to the Abstract immediately after the keywords. For example - Multimedia Elements Used: JPEG (.jpg); Apple Quick Time (.mov); WAV (.wav). Type your name instead of signing the Abstract
  3. Approval Page See this Approval page example if you have Co-Directors
  4. Dedication Page (Optional): The information should be centered on this page; this page is not paginated.
  5. Acknowledgments (Optional)
  6. Table of Contents: This Table of Contents must provide the page location of the Acknowledgments, List of Tables (if included), List of Figures (if included), each chapter or section and sub-sections, as well as Appendices, Bibliography/References, and Vita. (Musical Arts Projects must indicate Part I and Part II in the Table of Contents)
  7. List of Tables (Required only if tables are presented in the text): This page must include the table number, exact title, and table page number. Do not include the table legend.
  8. List of Figures (Required only if figures are presented in the text): This page must include the figure number, exact title, and figure page number. Do not include the figure legend.
  9. List of Files (Required only if files are presented in the text) : This page must include the name, the type (.pdf, .gif, etc.) and the size of each file, and is required even for just one file.
  10. Text: This section must be divided into chapters or sections. Musical Arts Projects must include (I) Extended monograph of Lecture Recital and (II) Program notes.
  11. Appendices: Appendices include materials that are independent of but relevant to the dissertation, for example surveys, additional data, computer printouts, symbols, abbreviations, definitions, etc. The appendices must conform to the rules for margins, but the print may be reduced in size.
  12. Bibliography or References: A bibliography is a comprehensive list of all sources used in the preparation of a dissertation, whether those sources are cited or not. References are those works cited in the text, including traditional footnotes and parenthetical citations. Either option is acceptable to The Graduate School. Bibliographies must be alphabetized even within sub-headings if used. References may be listed either alphabetically or numerically (in order of citation). References for a Musical Arts Project must follow each of the two individual parts of the project. The Bibliography (presented at the end) covers both parts.
  13. Vita: The vita can be compiled in a list or paragraph format and should be restricted to the following information:
    1. Place of birth (optional)
    2. Educational institutions attended and degrees already awarded
    3. Professional positions held (do not include job descriptions)
    4. Scholastic and professional honors
    5. Professional publications
    6. Typed name of student on final copy

Tables and Figures

  • Table/Figure Placement: There are three options for table and figure placement within the dissertation. Use one consistent method throughout the dissertation. Tables/figures may not be grouped at the end of the dissertation.
    • Place the table/figure on the page along with the body of the text (do not wrap the text around the table/figure).
    • Place the table/figure on a separate page immediately following the page in which it is first cited in the text.
    • Group tables/figures at the end of the chapter in which they are first cited in the text (note that when grouping, tables precede figures).
  • Table/Figure Numbering : The recommended method is to identify each Table or Figure according to the chapter in which it appears (Table/Figure 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, etc.)
  • Table/Figure Headings:
    • Table headings must be positioned above the table using the same font style and size as used in the main body of the dissertation. Use a continuation notation for tables that exceed one page in length. For example, Table 3.1 (continued).
    • Figure headings may be placed either above or below the figure, depending on the convention used in the discipline. For larger figures that fill the area of the page, it is acceptable to place the corresponding heading on a separate page that immediately follows the figure in the dissertation. Both the figure page and the heading page should be numbered in the usual consecutive manner. Do not abbreviate the word "figure."
    • For landscaped tables/figures, headings placed on the same page must be oriented to read from bottom to top.


NO signatures are to be reproduced in electronic theses because they will be available on the Web. TYPE the Author's name (and date) on the Abstract Page. TYPE the names of the Director (Co-Directors) of the dissertation and of the Director of Graduate Studies on the Signature Page.

Copyright Information

In any work, copyright implicitly devolves to the author of that work whether or not you so state. Copyright arises automatically when a work is first fixed in a tangible medium such as a book or manuscript or in an electronic medium such as a computer file or e-mail. To make your ownership of the work clearer, The Graduate School now requires a copyright notice be placed centered at the bottom of the dissertation title page: For example, Copyright © John J. Smith 2001. Because of the high visibility of an ETD we recommend that you place this copyright statement at several unobtrusive places in the body of the dissertation. The bottom line on the last page of each chapter is a possibility for such placement.

By submitting a dissertation to the University of Kentucky Graduate School, the student attests 1) that all material contained therein is the original work of the student 2) that proper scholarly attribution has been given to all outside sources and 3) that all necessary copyright permissions have been obtained for any third-party-copyrighted material included in the dissertation. Students must obtain written permission from the author and/or copyright owner if using copyrighted materials beyond the "fair use" policy. If you have any questions concerning copyright law or what constitutes "fair use", visit this document: Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities.

In submitting the dissertation, the student will be granting to the University of Kentucky and its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible the dissertation in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. However, the student retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the work, including the right to use it in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of the work. Further, the student is free to register the copyright to the dissertation.

  • Pre-published Materials: Students should be first authors on any publications based on their dissertation work. This reflects the primary creative role students should play in the organization, development, and execution of their research with guidance from the advisory committee. If a student is not first author on a manuscript presenting the dissertation research, then written approval must be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies for the work to be included in the dissertation. Written verification of DGS approval must be presented to The Graduate School with the Thesis Approval Sheet. Any of the student's work that has been previously published must be appropriately referenced within the dissertation. It is the student's responsibility to contact journal editors regarding an individual journal's copyright regulations prior to publication with that journal. The journal may hold the copyright to the material, and a request for release should be made prior to reproducing that material in the dissertation.
  • Proprietary Content: In certain circumstances, the dissertation may contain information of a proprietary nature. The Graduate School will honor requests to hold a dissertation for six months and with possible renewal for another six months prior to releasing it for publication and archiving in the UK Libraries. A written request must be presented to the Dean of The Graduate School that specifies substantive reasons why the dissertation should be held; this request should be endorsed by the Major Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

WARNING : While the Graduate School will check the dissertation for proper format and pagination at the time of submission, it cannot assume any responsibility for editing or correcting the dissertation. Therefore, each author should take care to proof for spelling and format, as well as the inclusion of all components, before bringing the dissertation to the Graduate School for final submission. Note that the Graduate School cannot accept replacement copies or other changes once the final dissertation has been submitted.

Direct questions to the Degree Certification Officer for your program.

Checklist of Common Errors for ETDs [PDF]