Guidelines For Format and Presentation

Thesis and Dissertation Formatting Guidelines

Each graduate program that requires a dissertation or thesis has adopted an appropriate formatting and documentation style used in scholarly publications in the field. The student and advisor are responsible for ensuring that this style is used consistently throughout the manuscript.

Download the list of preferred styles here.


The Graduate School requires the following elements in a manuscript:

  • Title Page
    • Thesis/Dissertation Title
    • Author
    • Conferring Major/Program
    • Degree being conferred
    • "University of Southern California"
    • Degree conferral date
  • Table of Contents
  • Body Text
  • References/Bibliography

Additional elements, such as data tables or graphs, may be required in specific fields. Elements such as a dedication page, signature page, and formal acknowledgements may be added at the discretion of the student.

University Policy on Multiple Authors and Creators

When collaborative research products and creative works are disseminated, it is essential that the list of authors and creators accurately assigns credit among the collaborators for their intellectual and creative contributions (based on the standards/customs applicable to the field and/or the publication), and that appropriate means are also used to acknowledge others who have contributed to or supported the research or creative process.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Appropriate formatting also requires the correct acknowledgement of source material. According to the USC SCampus Student Guidebook, examples of plagiarism include:

  1. The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the student's own work, whether that material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim or near-verbatim form.
  2. The submission of material subjected to editorial revision by another person that results in substantive changes in content or major alteration of writing style.
  3. Improper acknowledgment of sources in essays or papers.

For more information, please refer to the USC SCampus Student Guidebook, Section 11.11.

Signature Page

A signature page is not required by the University for thesis or dissertation submission. Students who are required by their school, department or program to include a signature page should consult their committee chairperson and include the signature page in the uploaded PDF version of the thesis/dissertation manuscript.