Monday, May 4, 2009

thesis formatting

Comment #11 in this post fit so perfectly with my grad school experience, I had to run off and write a post right after I read it.

"The biggest hurdle of graduate education is getting the dissertation margins and section headings and whatnot tweaked to satisfy Graduate Division, or the Librarian, or whoever the Authority is at your school."

This was the one thing that made me almost miss my super-important deadline to finish my graduation requirements (or else I was going to be on the hook for another term of tuition/fees with no funding). I hadn't attended any of the thesis formatting workshops my university held a couple times a term, but at some point in the less stressful part of the thesis writing (i.e. before I knew how soon my deadline would be) I did download the formatting guidelines and organized everything so it all worked.

Incidentally, one of my key skills in grad school was learning how to build a table of contents and how to format stuff so figures and titles and sub-subsections and all those sorts of things build automatically. With a 100+ page document, that's a lifesaver.

Anyway, when I actually handed the damn thesis in the day before the deadline, I still ended up with a long list of annoying formatting issues that had to be fixed. We did some back and forth via e-mail (I wasn't on campus to negotiate this, and the file was super big so just sending it was a trial) and it was officially accepted the day after the deadline. I did some fast talking, though, and snuck in without going over into the next term.

I realize that not getting readers together to approve your thesis is a more fundamental roadblock. But it's so frustrating when you think you're finally done, only to spend another frantic couple days formatting the thing just so.

1 comment:

Erik said...

They changed the rules between when I did my preliminary formatting check and when I actually turned the damn thing in. :( I had to get my committee to re-sign a form and also change some formatting.

You would think that they would make sure that the formatting requirements were possible in the software that the majority of theses get written in.

So if anyone knows how to make Word put a page number oriented for a portrait layout on the left-hand edge of a landscape page in Word without having to stick it there manually with a rotated text box I would be interested to hear how. :-/