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Standard Line Spacing For Dissertation

All thesis text should be double spaced (except for the cases noted below)

  • Check that the line spacing in your Word (document) application is set for double spacing
  • Don't leave extra space between paragraphs; simply indent new paragraphs ½” from left-hand margin

Single spacing is used for:

  • Extensive figure captions
  • Long quotations (i.e. more than four lines - often called "block quotes")
    • Introduce the quotation with a sentence in the main text, typically followed by a colon
    • Double-space before the beginning of a block quote
    • To visually distinguish the quotation from a new paragraph indentation, indent block quotes 1” from left-hand margin
  • Reference list / Bibliography
    • Single space within each entry; but add a double space between entries

Headings and subheadings have very specific formats

  • When instructions call for quadruple spacing (e.g., after a chapter title or before an "A-heading"), hit enter/return twice to create 2 double spaces

Page Numbers can follow one of these styles:

  • Centered on bottom, 1/2" from bottom edge of page
  • Placed in top right corner, 1" from the right side of page

Page Number Suggestions

  • Leave the printed number off the first page of a new chapter
  • Typically omit printed numbers from figures and/or tables that take up a full page but be consistent across all tables/figures
    • When doing this, still count pages as if they were numbered (e.g., if a full page for Table 4 follows page 25, then the page after Table 4 should be page 27)


  • Should be 12-point font for text
  • Should not be smaller than 10-point font for notes
  • Times New Roman is preferred
  • Don't select right justify
  • Use the same font in all headers, page numbers, tables, figures and footnotes

Formatting requirements

The Library's Theses Office assists with formatting theses, projects and extended essays for submission to the Library. You are encouraged to use the Library's thesis template to help format your thesis. The requirements stated on this page are default settings for the thesis template

Parts of a thesis



Required/Optional; notes

1: Title page

Title page - no page number


2: Preliminary pages

(Roman page numbers)

Approval page – always page ii


Ethics Statement

Required if the research was subject to ethics approval







Table of Contents


List of Tables

Required if the document contains tables

List of Figures

Required if the document contains figures

Other lists


List of Acronyms




Preface/Executive Summary/Image


3: Main body

(Arabic page numbers)

Chapters—always beginning with page 1

Chapters and subsections may be numbered or unnumbered


You may use a single reference section at the end of the document or include references at the end of each chapter



File format, file size, and page size

The final copy of the thesis must be converted to .pdf for submission to the Library (maximum 256mb).

Theses must be formatted for US Letter (8.5X11) pages. Landscape 8.5X11 and 11X17 pages are permitted. Legal, A4, or other paper sizes are not permitted.


Arial 11 point

Word template default

Times New Roman 12 point

Recommended serif font for Word

Computer Modern

LaTeX template default

Arial is the preferred font for SFU thesis submissions. You may use other fonts with the approval of your committee. See the Thesis Template Instructions for directions to change the default template font.

Line spacing

​The default template line spacing is 1.5 for text, with single-spaced block quotations.


Margins should be set to:

  • 1.25" left/right
  • 1" top/bottom

All pages must be numbered, with the exception of the title page. Page numbers should appear at the bottom centre of each page, at a minimum of 0.5” from the edge of the page.

Preliminary pages of the thesis must be numbered with Roman numerals. On the first page of the main body, page numbers must restart with 1. The thesis template is preset with this numbering style.

Citation style

SFU Library does not require a specific citation style. Consult your supervisor, your department’s graduate handbook, or a liaison librarian for help determining which style is appropriate for your research.

The default formatting in the library’s thesis template may differ from some requirements of your citation style, but it is acceptable for SFU library submission.

Cumulative theses

Cumulative, or paper-based, theses must use the same general format as other submissions. Consult your supervisor or your department's graduate handbook for more information. If including published papers in a thesis, please consult the Copyright and your thesis FAQ.


For theses written in a language other than English, the Library requires a second complete English title page. Supporting documentation must be in English.

Personal information

Individual personal information must be removed from the thesis before publication, including signatures, email addresses, and phone numbers. For example, if you are including a survey instrument or consent form, your own contact information must be removed.

Blank pages

Blank pages in the thesis must be removed before publication.

Optional pages in the thesis template may be removed if not used.

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