Dissertation Guidelines Checklist


Click on the different tabs below to expand more information.


Your dissertation needs an abstract which concisely summaries your document. Your abstract should be within the first section of your dissertation before you start the main text.

Your abstract should:

Be brief:
Your abstract should be no more than half a page. It should give a busy academic the gist of what your dissertation is about.

Outline your study:
Write two or three sentences on the aims and objectives of your study and how you intend to achieve them. You might want to break apart your research question into the main themes you will be considering.

Provide some context:
Identify a key piece of literature, theory or perspective that will underpin your research and results.

State your key findings:
Briefly outline the most striking results from your study in light of your research question.

Touch on your recommendations:
What do recommend should be done next in light of your results and research findings? Should further research be conducted? Should there be a change in policy or working practice? Who might benefit from the results of your study?

For more information on writing a summary visit our guide.


Does every figure and photograph have a caption and is it referred to in the text? A caption is a short piece of text immediately below the figure or photograph that describes what it is.

You need to have captions for every figure, photograph, image or table in your dissertation. This caption should give a description and any relevent references.

You can add a caption to an image in Word by right-clicking on the image/table/figure etc.. and selecting ‘Insert Caption’. This will open a dialogue box for you to type in your caption text.

You will need to select whether it is a caption for a figure or table and where you want the caption to appear, usually captions for figures appear below and captions for tables appear above.

The figure/table number will automatically update.

Watch the video to see how to add captions.


Have you got each chapter starting on a new page?

Throughout your dissertation you need to ensure that each chapter or section starts on it’s own page. To make sure this you can add a page break in Word. This will ensure that the chapter always starts on it’s own page, no matter what content is added or removed before it.

To insert a page break, go to the ‘Insert’ tab and select ‘Page Break’. You can also use the shortcut – Enter + Ctrl.

page breaks


Have you adjusted the margins? Left hand – 30mm Right hand – 20mm Top – 20mm Bottom – 20mm

In order to allow your dissertation to be bound correctly you need to have specific margins applied to the document. To apply custom margins in Word go to the page layout tab and click the Margins drop down. Go all the way to the bottom of the drop down and select ‘Custom Margins’.

Changing margins

This will open up a dialogue box in which you can input the following margins:

  • Left – 3 cm
  • Right – 2 cm
  • Top – 2 cm
  • Bottom – 2 cm

Your title page needs to have a left Margin of 2 cm. For this you will need to have this page as a separate section to the rest of your document. Check out the section about referring to page numbers to see how to add section breaks to your document.

Page Numbering

Have you numbered all the pages? Have you got all the compulsory pages?

The guidance states that you are required to have a seperate page numbering system for the first 6 pages of your dissertation, before the start of chapter 1 and no page numbering on your title page. This first numbering system must be in lowercase roman numerals.

Before the start of your first chapter you should have the following pages (if applicable):

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Table of figures/tables
  • Glossary of terms
  • Statement of originality
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract

It is possible to add different page number systems to a large document using a ‘Next Page Section Break’. This break will split your document into sections and allow you to change the formatting of each section independently.

You can add a section break from the ‘Page Layout’ tab and using the ‘Breaks’ drop down to select ‘Next Page section Break’.

Section break

Watch the video below demonstrating how to add the different numbering systems to your dissertation.


You need to print and bind 1 copy of your dissertation to submit, you will need to ensure that you have printed everything that needs to be in colour correctly.

To print specific parts of your document in colour you need to specify the location in the printing dialogue box to select the pages which need to be in colour. To do this you will need to specify the Section and Page number. This wil ensure the correct pages print in a large document as in your dissertation you have multiple page numbering systems.

Double clicking or opening the footer of the page will tell you what section you are currently in.

For example:

p2s3 will print out page 2 of section 3.


  • Document has to be printed single-sided
  • Copyshop will also print out the dissertation if it is emailed to them in PDF format


Is the punctuation accurate?

You should aim to have correct punctuation throughout your dissertation. For information on punctuation usage please visit our Punctuation Guide.


Are the quotations presented consistently and accurately?

To ensure that your quotes are presented consistently throughout your document you can use a ‘Quote’ text style in Word. This will allow you to specify specific formatting for Quotes which can easily be applied to text.

To modify the ‘Quote’ style within word you will need to locate it from the ‘Style’ drop down on the home tab. If you right click on the style you can choose to modify it.


A suggested style might be:

  • Alignment: Justified
  • Spacing:Before: 12pt
    After: 12pt
    Line Spacing: Single
  • Indentation:Left: 1cm
    Right: 1cm

Once you have set up the style you can easily apply it to your quotes by highlighting the text and selecting the ‘Quote’ style.


Have you provided adequate references to material consulted for the dissertation?

Are the references complete and presented consistently and accurately?

Marjon currently uses the 6th edition of the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style. You need to ensure that your dissertation is correctly and consistently referenced throughout to avoid plagiarism. Every instance where you have referred to a source of information (published texts, images, websites to name but a few) should be correctly referenced both within the text and in a reference list. Some courses also require a bibliography – check your Module Handbook for more details.

For full details about how and when to reference, please read the Marjon APA Reference Guide, or read our Referencing FAQs.

You may consider using a Reference Management System to help generate your citations and reference list within your dissertation. The University can support users of Mendeley. If you have any questions about Mendeley, please contact sgunard@marjon.ac.uk or book onto a Mendeley AIM session. We also have a series of videos on setting-up and using Mendeley.

In your dissertation, your reference list must be in alphabetical order, it is possible to sort your list using the ‘Sort’ option in word. This option can be found on the ‘Home’ tap in the paragraph group.

Alternatively, you can watch the short video below on sorting the reference list in Word. Other word processing software will have a similar option.

APA 7th edition
The 7th edition of the APA referencing style has now been published. However, Marjon will not be officially adopting this referencing style until September 2020. Owing to the wealth of supporting information available on the internet, Marjon students writing their dissertations in the 2019-20 academic year are permitted to use the 7th edition of APA should they wish. Regardless of which edition they choose to use, they should ensure that they are consistently using the same referencing style throughout. In other words, you should not mix the referencing conventions of the 6th and 7th editions within the same dissertation.

Saving your Work

Have you saved it to your N Drive? Emailed it to your Marjon account? Do you have electronic copies on memory stick in Word format)?

Your dissertation is a large and important document, you do not want to risk only have it saved on a memory stick etc… Your N drive is backed up everyday and is a safe place to store your document, it is also good practice to email yourself a copy. Both these measures will help you avoid losing anything important if, for example, you lost your memory stick.

Spelling & Grammar

Spelling & Grammar

Is the spelling and grammar accurate? Have you made use of the Spelling and Grammar check facilities in Word and proof read your work?

You should aim to have correct spelling and grammar throughout your dissertation. Your dissertation is a long document so you should make use of the built-in Spelling and Grammar check.

This can be found from the ‘Review’ tab in Microsoft Word (other word processing software will have a similar feature).


Clicking the ‘Spelling & Grammar’ button will open a dialogue box, this will give you the option to make changes suggested by Word or keep the text as it is.


For further support and guidance on the use of Microsoft Word please visit the ITTS LearningSpace page or contact the ITTS team.

Statement of Originality

Have you included a completed statement of originality? See Student Handbook Guidance on Major Assessment Tasks for suggested text. 

You need to include a statement of originality in the first section of your dissertation, before you begin the main text. The statement of originality should include the following text:

I confirm that I have fully acknowledged all sources of information and help received, and that where such acknowledgement is not made, the work is my own.



Table of Contents

Have you included a table of contents? Ensure that the section headings and page numbers referred to in the list of contents match up with the actual headings and page numbers in the document.

Your dissertation needs a table of contents which lists the sections of your document. You can easily set this up by applying heading styles to your main and sub headings. You can modify the heading styles by right clicking on the style and clicking modify.

Modifying heading

Once you have applied heading styles throughout your document you can insert an automatic table of contents from the ‘References’ tab. This table of contents will take your headings and automatically add page numbers. You can then right click on the table to refresh it when changes are made to the document.

Insert table of contents

Watch the video below to see this in action.

Table of Figures

Is every table, diagram or photograph and map referred to in the text included in a table of figures/tables?

Once you have added captions to all the figures and tables in your document (see section above) you can add a list of figures and list of tables to your document using the built it options in word.

To do this you need to go to the ‘References’ tab and select ‘Insert Table of Figures’, from this dialogue box you will need to select either ‘Figure’ or ‘Table’ from the ‘Caption Label’ dropdown.

Watch the video below demonstrating how to add a list of figures.

Text Style

Is the body of the text in a conventional font (such as Arial or Calibri font size 12)?

Your dissertation needs to be in either Arial or Calibri font, size 12. You can change the font style and size from the home tab in Word. In order to ensure you  apply the correct font throughout the document you can edit the ‘Normal’ text style to ensure it uses the correct font. To modify the style, locate it from the home tab and right click and select modify.

Title Page

Have you included a title page? See Student Handbook Guidance on Major Assessment Tasks for suggested text. 

You need to include a specific title page at the start of your dissertation. This has a set layout to ensure it fits with the Marjon dissertation front covers. The image below shows how the front cover should be laid out.

Dissertation front page

The box containing the dissertation title must be in a specific place on the page to fit the box on the front cover. You also need to ensure you change the margins for the front page only back to 2cm all round. The dimensions and positioning are show below:

  • Height: 5cm
  • Width: 10cm
  • The box should not have a border
  • PositionHorizontal: Absolute position – 5cm – to the right of – page
    Vertical: Absolute position – 6.6cm – below – page
    Make sure to select the ‘Lock anchor’ option.
    Make sure the text is aligned ‘Middle’ in the box

Watch the video below to see how to ensure your dissertation title is in the correct position on the page.