Formatting Your Final Thesis

Our style guide below will walk you through the required components for a Thesis project. On the sidebar  to your left you'll  find our templates you'll want to use for your project.

Here is the order for the written components of a Thesis project:

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page (optional)
  3. Abstract
  4. Executive Summary
  5. Table of Contents
  6. Preface (optional)
  7. Acknowledgements (optional)
  8. Advice to Future Honors Students (optional)
  9. Capstone Project Body
  10. Critical Statement: For students submitting a Creative Project 
  11. Sources Cited and Consulted
  12. Appendices (optional)

All margins should be at least 1″. (We no longer require a 2″ margin on the left.) 

(If you're doing a creative project like a magazine in InDesign, you should turn in one "original" and one with 1″ margins; you can "shrink" the project in InDesign to make it fit. Rotating it 90° would also be okay.)

The Thesis Project should be formatted with a 12 point font. The right margin should remain unjustified. The Thesis Project should be double-spaced, with approximately 25 lines per page. The abstract and the list of sources cited and consulted, as well as footnotes or endnotes, should be single-spaced.

A sample title page is included in the formatting templates (to the left). We advise you to print that page so you can more easily visualize the layout. Important notes about formatting your title page: each word in the title should be capitalized, except for "a," "the," "on," "in," etc.

  • Include only the information for the major in which you will receive honors.
  • Make sure you know the exact title of your degree: B.S., B.A., B.F.A., B.Arch., or B.Mus. Your degree is determined by what your home college is.
  • Newhouse duals with Arts & Sciences: because A&S is your home college, most of you will earn a B.A. Degree, unless you have fulfilled the requirements for a B.S. degree in your Arts and Sciences Major - which is rare. Not sure about your degree? Check with your dean's office!

Copyright protection begins automatically, without any action taken by you, the moment an original work is created and fixed in a tangible form. If you envision publication*of the work or wish for other reasons to reserve rights to the work formally, you may register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office and include a copyright page following the title page. You can access a sample of the copyright page in the formatting template.

No copyright notice need be placed on your work in order for full copyright protection to apply; but for practical reasons, it's good practice for an author to place a copyright notice on his or her work. A notice warns readers that the author takes copyright issues seriously; and it may discourage potential infringers, especially those unfamiliar with the intricacies of copyright law. Moreover, if the work carries a notice, in the event of a subsequent lawsuit the infringer will be unable to claim that he or she did not realize that the work was protected.

For more information about copyright protection, see

*Publication has a technical meaning in copyright law. According to the U.S. Copyright statute: "Publication is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending." According to this definition, having your Thesis Project bound and housed in the Honors program does not constitute publishing the work.

Each Thesis Project must include a one-to-two paragraph abstract. This is a thumbnail overview of the Project. For a traditional academic thesis project, it should typically include a statement of the problem, a brief description of the methodology used and the argument advanced, the nature of the proof or evidence, and the conclusion.

For a project in the Creative category, the abstract should typically include a statement of the concept, the context of the work, a word or two about the medium/processes used in the project's creation, and the conclusion. It should be single spaced.

Required for all projects, including those that also include a Critical Statement. This is A 2-4 page (double-spaced) summary of your project written for a non-expert audience. Your Summary should be clear and concise, with all technical terms well defined for the reader. Any educated person should be able to read it and gain a solid understanding of the project's aims and scope. It's ok if there is some overlap between the Summary and your Abstract. Some of this material might also be included in an introductory chapter; that's fine. The summary should include:

  1. a description of the project;
  2. a brief, non-technical discussion of the methods used, and the argument advanced;
  3. a discussion of the project's significance.

Every Thesis Project should include a table of contents listing the page numbers of the preface (if included); advice to future Honors students (if included); acknowledgments (if included); main body or reflective essay, including chapter and section headings; sources cited and consulted; and appendices/list of illustrations, if any.

The Thesis Project may include optional prefatory material.

An Honors preface is an essay clarifying the main point of the work, explaining the choice of topic, and describing your intellectual position. It may be self-reflective, considering your growth as a creator, professional, researcher, designer, or scholar.

In this section, you may express appreciation to those who have contributed to your academic and personal growth as a student at Syracuse.

In this section, you give any practical hints or directions that you think other Honors students in your field would find particularly helpful as they create their own Honors Thesis Projects. Many future students will find this useful, and we share them frequently.

Because Honors Thesis projects come in all disciplines, there is no strict page requirement for your writing.  Generally it should follow the conventions of your discipline.  Your faculty advisor will have the expertise to advise if you need guidance here.

You should use whatever style of documentation is appropriate for the discipline in which you are writing. The Thesis Project Advisor can recommend the correct style to follow. Reference copies of the standard documentation style guides - the MLA Handbook and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association - are available on the Bird Library Research Guide Citation Support Web page.

This essay discusses your aesthetic choices, your background research, and how you situate the project within the artistic traditions you are engaging. If you need additional help with any written portion of your Thesis, make sure you consult with our writing consultant.

Make sure you refer to our page on creative projects for details regarding the critical statement. You may also access examples of past creative projects and view critical statements.

Critical Statement Content

Here are three key aspects of your work to discuss:

  1. No artist's work arrives out of thin air. Whose work has influenced yours? What taught you to be able to do what you have done? How has your work emerged from what you know about your field or the work of others? What is your relationship to them? Who else is engaging in similar questions at this time and how does your work relate to theirs
  2. Reflect on the artistic choices you made in the process of creating your project. Was there a conscious theory at work behind your decisions? A moment of serendipity? Did a situation force a decision? Was there a critical turning point or crisis?
  3. Reflect on what you see as the meaning of the work. Is there a particular effect or change you hope to stimulate in your audience?

Any tables, graphs, illustrations, or other material relevant to the project should be included as appendices, consistent with the conventions of the discipline.