Geosciences Department

Geology Thesis Format Guidelines

Your senior thesis is the final product of months of hard work. It is important that the thesis be printed in a standard, professional way so that it will give a good impression to future generations of faculty, students, and current and future alumni and departmental reviewers. Following these guidelines will also give you practice using a format that, with some modifications, is used in much of the geologic profession.

Due Date: The complete final thesis (not preliminary drafts) is due on the day two weeks prior to the last day of classes in the term that the thesis is to be finished. The thesis must be complete in all respects, including all preface pages, text, figures, tables, references, and appendices, all in the proper format specified here.

Paper, Typing, Margins: The thesis must be typed on a word processor, and the final printout must be done on a laser printer on good-quality plain white 11″ by 8.5″ printer. The final copy should be single sided, double spaced, with 1.5″ margins on the left side of the paper and 1″ margins on all other sides. The type used in all text, tables, and captions should be Cambria, Arial or Times New Roman font and size 12. All text, including captions and references, should be left justified. First lines of paragraphs should be indented about 0.3 inches, and blank lines should not separate paragraphs.

Sections of the Thesis: The thesis will have sections placed in the following order:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Body of the text divided into its own sections, with figures and tables
  • References Cited
  • Appendices (optional)

Pagination of the Thesis: All page numbers should be centered at the bottom of each page 0.4″ above the bottom margin, except the title page (page i) which is not numbered. All preface pages including the Title Page, Abstract, Dedication, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, List of Figures, and List of Tables, should be numbered in sequence with lower case roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.). The title page is the first page (page i) but is not numbered. All other pages from the first page of text to the end of the document should be numbered in sequence with Arabic numerals. Figures, tables, and appendices should be numbered in the same sequence they are referred to in the text. Most word processors have automatic functions for numbering pages, but do it last after insertion of figure and tables, to avoid the headaches of repaginating every draft.

Levels of Headings: The various levels of headings separate your thesis into its different parts. No more than three levels of headings are allowed. First order headings separate the thesis into its major parts, such as the Abstract, Introduction, Conclusions, and References. Second order headings separate the major parts into intermediate parts. Third order headings separate the intermediate parts into minor parts. Headings of any order must be on the same page as the first line of text below it (that is, headings may not be alone on the bottom of a page).

  1. First order headings are FULLY CAPITALIZED, centered, and in bold type.
  2. Second order headings have Major Words Capitalized, are centered, and are in bold type.
  3. Third order headings have Major Words Capitalized, are left justified, and are in bold type.
The Body of the Text

Title Page: Information on the title page should use upper and lower case as indicated and include the name of the author, title, date (year) of graduation, and name of the department(s) or program(s) for which the thesis was written. The title should give the reader a clear idea of the nature of the material in the thesis. It is important that the title be clear and informative rather than mysterious or imaginative. Strict adherence is required to the form of the title page, a sample title page is included at the end of this document. (see Appendix A)

Abstract: The abstract should be on its own page and may not exceed 250 words. Most word processors have a function to count words. The abstract should succinctly state the nature of the thesis project, the reasons for conducting the work, the results of the research, and your conclusions.

Text, Figures, and Tables: The body of the text also contains the figures and tables, all of which must be cited in sequential order in the text. Each figure and table should be located as soon after its first citation as is reasonably possible. However, do not embed the figures and tables until the text of the thesis is finalized. Embedding figures in drafts only leads to problems. Figures and tables should be cited using the capitalized word, for example “Figure 1″ and “Table 1″. Each figure and table caption should start with the figure or table number, followed by the text of the caption (for example: “Figure 6. Photo of fault zone interior, Mr. Bill for scale.”). Tables have short titles and are placed above tables. Captions should appear below figures. Captions should be single-spaced, left-justified with no indents or hanging indents.

References: All references cited anywhere in the thesis must have a complete citation in the Reference Cited section. The formats for citing other peoples’ work in the text and in the reference section should be the same as in the Geological Society of America Bulletin. The first line of each reference should be printed with a hanging indent (see below).

References Cited
Mylonite, J.F., 1992, Garnet pseudomorphs of Devonian rugose coral in a skarn inclusion in the Schenectady kimberlite pipe: Journal of Paleontology, v. 29, p. 56-65.
Optic, K.N. and Axis, L.M., 1878, The 2V of uniaxial and isotropic minerals: American Mineralogist, v. 1, p. 1.
Shaw, G., 1993, Reversing the Earth’s magnetic field using an equatorial solenoid: potential for innovative, simultaneous experiments in undergraduate science labs throughout the world: Midnight Star, v. 57, no. 5, p. 6.

Appendix: Appendices should contain any substantial length of material that, while pertinent to the thesis, would detract from reading the thesis if left in the body of the text. In general, material that is important to the thesis but not critical for understanding the main points are put in appendices. Such things include lengthy tabular data, values from model calculations, lengthy details of mathematical or analytical procedures, or sample location and specimen descriptions. Appendices should be cited in the text as APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B etc., and labeled as such in first order headings. The usual text, caption, figure, table, and citation guidelines apply. Table and figure numbers should continue the numbering used in the text, but should not be specifically cited in the text except as Appendix A, etc.(if they are, they belong in the text). For example, if Table 7 is the last table in the body of the text, the first table in the appendix will be Table 8. All appendices must be cited in the body of the text (e.g., see Appendix B) like figures, tables, and references. If there is only one appendix, it should be labeled APPENDIX A.

Steinmetz Symposium:Your thesis should be presented as an oral paper at the annual Union College Steinmetz Symposium, which is usually held in early May.

Final Thesis Submission: You should make one copy for the Geology Department. Additionally, one complete copy must be submitted electronically via Nexus in pdf format (optionally, you may also upload the original word document in addition to the pdf). Please name your electronic file in the following fashion: 2015, underscore, your last name, your first initial. Example: 2015_SmithJ. Both the original paper copy and the electronic version are due two weeks prior to the last day of classes, in the same term the thesis is due.