The thesis manuscript summarizes and communicates your research to your student and faculty colleagues. To do so with integrity and clarity will document your work for future investigators while providing perspective for yourself. 

The manuscript should be complete but not verbose, be well illustrated including drawings or photographs of relevant equipment, and contain appropriate references to the literature. Below are some guidelines toward the construction of a scientific thesis manuscript.

Example Outline


  • Sample Title Page (.pdf)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments (optional)
  • Abstract


  • Introduction and Literature Review
  • Procedure or Methodology
  • Results and Analysis
  • Comparison among Experiment, Computation, Theory
  • Conclusion and Recommendations for Further Work


  • References (see the Physical Review Style Guide (.pdf) for proper form)
  • Appendices (optional - may contain computer programs, data sets, etc.)


  • There are multiple options for mathematical typesetting, including (but not limited to) LaTeX.
  • Each of the sections in the above outline should begin on a new page.
  • Pages should be numbered sequentially.
  • Figures and Tables should be numbered sequentially, have self-contained captions, and appear in the text following (but near to) the first reference to them.
  • All statements of fact which are not common knowledge must be referenced (see "Plagiarism" in the Code of Academic Integrity of the Scot's Key. A thesis containing plagiarized material will result in an NC for 452.
  • Many science and engineering texts are traditionally written in the passive voice: "An interesting effect was observed" rather than "I observed an interesting effect". However, confusing and awkward constructions should be avoided and may benefit from personal pronouns.
  • Good references for form and style include:
    The Physical Review Style Guide (.pdf)
    American Institute of Physics Author Resource Center
    The Technical Writer's Handbook (by Matt Young, 2002)


  • The thesis must be printed double-sided at high resolution on 8.5 x 11" white paper.
  • The printed manuscript should be ring or spiral bound so that it opens flat and is durable.
  • One printed manuscript is for the advisor and a second is for the department. Double majors will print additional manuscripts.
  • The corrected manuscript must be digitally archived before the final Friday of the spring semester.