Dissertation Structure: Basic Formatting Guide

As a student, before you accomplish your PhD or master’s program, you must write a dissertation. The dissertation is an original academic paper that students submit as part of their course accomplishments. You should note that a dissertation is quite a long academic paper compared to other papers you might have done before. So, it can be quite hard to evaluate where you will begin and how you will structure the paper to meet the requirements of the tutor. The purpose of this article is to help you understand the dissertation format, the information to include in the paper, and how to cite the paper, among other basic requirements of a dissertation. Read on to explore more ideas. 

APA dissertation format

What if your requirements state that you should use the APA dissertation format in your paper? This means you should know how to arrange the information when citing the sources to fit the APA dissertation format. So, ensure your citation follows the order: Author’s name, year, title, name of institute, and a url, if available when writing a published dissertation.

MLA dissertation format

Another common citation style in a dissertation paper is the MLA dissertation format. Be sure of how the details follow each other to avoid losing some marks. If you aren’t sure of the style, you can check with the professor for approval.

Tips to help you understand a dissertation format

When tutors check your academic papers, they allocate marks to even the finer details you could never imagine. So, when writing a dissertation, go through the requirements and guidelines you must follow. If you have no idea where to begin, the following tips will keep you on your toes to ensure you produce a quality dissertation paper.

1. Understand the chapters of a dissertation

When writing any academic paper, you need to give your ideas in a flowing manner. This implies that your paper should have distinct chapters, with each chapter explaining something new. So, in a dissertation paper, you should have the chapters as follows:

The title page/cover page, Signature page, copyright, abstract, dedication, acknowledgment, T.O.C, table lists, and figures list.

These are the first pages of the dissertation paper. Now, the main body includes the following chapters: Introduction, Literature review, Research methodology and design, results, summary/conclusions, references, bibliography if in the requirements, and appendix. Well, these are the basic chapters of a dissertation. However, it is crucial that you dig each chapter deeper and evaluate the type of content you should include in each chapter.

2. Know the basic dissertation format

Once you know the chapters you need to include in a dissertation, you should know the language to use, which is English, the basic dissertation length, page format and text requirements (margin, spacing, font, and size), body texts & captions, pagination, among other elements. In most instances, the professors usually provide this info in the guideline for requirements.

3. Read through a dissertation format sample

One of the incredible ways to grasp a concept when writing a dissertation is by reading through a sample done by experts. In the sample, you will learn different chapters of a dissertation and get the best ideas on how to use the language, format the text, and how cite appropriately.

4. Discuss dissertation sections with other students

When you come together as a group of students with common interests, you can allocate each student one section to describe what information should be included in a particular section of a dissertation. This is a crucial phase as it will stimulate a meaningful discussion that will enhance a better understanding of the entire paper.

5. Check online for a detailed dissertation structure

Online platforms offer a simple and convenient space for students to learn different concepts when relaxed, thanks to the high technology. However, when navigating online trying to get the best dissertation format sample, always verify the sources to ensure you get credible and verified information.

6. Watch a show explaining the approved format for dissertation

As a student, use your appropriate time effectively. For instance, you can watch well-explained videos showing you how to format a dissertation. While there are many videos to watch, ensure you approve the sources to get reliable and credible formats. It could be best if you watched along with others as you stimulate a discussion on the same line. This will ease the understanding of an appropriate dissertation format.


A dissertation is among the top academic papers students must accomplish before attaining graduation. So, it is essential to understand the basics of writing such papers, like the format and the different dissertation sections.

Back to top