The following guidelines are intended to assist students in the preparation of theses, to establish a University-wide consistency of form, and to ensure high standards of quality. Students are responsible for submitting theses that adhere to general University requirements. Students should prepare their manuscripts, including all documentation, in accordance with an accepted manual of style approved by the appropriate school or department.

Paper Quality

The original copy of the thesis must be on white 8-1/2 x 11 bond paper of at least 20 pound weight containing 25% or more rag content (e.g. Southworth Cotton Business Paper). Submissions printed on standard copy paper will not be accepted.


All copies of the thesis must be produced with text that is dark enough and clear enough to be easily readable. The thesis must be double-spaced throughout, with the exception of quotations, footnotes, illustrations, bibliographies, and appendices which may be single spaced. Additionally, poems for a Stonecoast MFA thesis may remain single-spaced.


The final copy must be clean and neat without visible corrections.


The margins of the thesis must be at least 1.5 inches from the left edge of the paper and at least one inch from the other three edges, leaving a maximum copy area of 5.75 x 9.

Required/Optional Items and Arrangement of the Thesis

The final copy of the thesis must include certain items; other items are optional. Items should be arranged in the order listed below:

  1. Title Page (required) (sample)
  2. Acknowledgments (optional)
  3. Preface (optional)
  4. Abstract (required) (for MFA thesis, 200 word limit)
  5. Table of Contents (required)
  6. List of Tables (required)
  7. List of Figures (required)
  8. Text of Thesis (required)
  9. References (required)
  10. Appendix B – Final Approval (required) (sample)


A thesis contains two sets of numbers. The preliminary pages (items 1-8 of the thesis) should be numbered consecutively in small Roman numerals. The title page should be considered ā€œiā€ but should not be numbered. Beginning with the text, all pages must be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals (items 9-11 of the thesis).

Illustrations and Inserted Material

Graphs, diagrams, photographs, and other material included in a thesis must be on paper that meets the specifications described above.

Copies and Binding

The library accepts prepared theses and dissertations for binding. Students should prepare their manuscripts, including all documentation, in accordance with the accepted manual of style approved by the appropriate school or department.  All students are required to use the binding service provided through USM’s Glickman Library. Students must submit payment for binding services in the form of a check or money order (payable to USM).  Binding costs are as follows: first copy, for the USM Library, is free; second copy, for academic department (if required), $25.00; any additional copies, for the student, $25.00 each. (Please note, Stonecoast MFA students will not have to pay this fee separately, as it is built into their final semester fees as part of their low-residency program.)

Find more information on the Thesis and Dissertation Binding page.

For binding questions only, please contact: Shiloh Parker at 780-5417 or

For all other questions please contact your faculty advisor.

Additional Policies

  1. Students should prepare the manuscript for a thesis or project in accordance with the APA Manual of Style (unless their program requires another citation style).
  2. In general, the preceding University policies also apply to the preparation of project reports.
  3. Unless the department has a policy forbidding it, students having only the project or thesis to finish may still participate in graduation. Diplomas will be mailed when work is complete.

Bindery & Content Release Form For USM Digital Commons

Print and complete this content release form to submit with your thesis.