Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines

All PhD and Master's (Thesis) degree candidates must submit an Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) as part of their graduation requirements. This page provides general guidance on how to format, convert, and upload your ETD. The process involves converting a successfully defended and approved thesis/dissertation in final form into a Portable Document Format (PDF) file for subsequent upload(s) to OhioLINK.

Publication style is governed by the academic specification of your program. In the absence of a program-specific determination, the style manual for dissertations at CWRU will be limited to the latest version of one of the following: A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Thesis and Dissertation by Kate L. Turabian, published by the University of Chicago Press; The MLA Style Sheet, published by the Modern Language Association of America; or the APA Publication Manual, published by the American Psychological Association.

Case Western Reserve University is committed to equal access to information, programs, and activities for everyone. Accessibility—ensuring people of all abilities are provided with substantially similar functionality, experiences and information—is an institution-wide responsibility.  

Beginning Spring 2023, electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) submitted for graduation requirements should meet the School of Graduate Studies’ Minimum Digital Accessibility Standards (MDAS). Established based on CWRU guidelines and the new OhioLINK recommendations on digital accessibility, the MDAS are as follows: 

  1. PDF file includes full text

  2. PDF accessibility permission flag is checked

  3. Text language of the PDF is specified

  4. PDF includes a title and headings for major sections of the document

  5. Figures and images include alternative text

A final PDF document meeting accessibility requirements, along with the accompanying Digital Accessibility Report (DAR), must be submitted to Graduate Studies as part of the required format check and submission approval.

For instructions on how to use Adobe Acrobat to make the PDF accessible, please see this guide. Tips for Microsoft Word users can be found here.

The organization of the dissertation must follow the order below:

Title page

Committee Approval Sheet

Copyright page (only if copyrighting)

Dedication page (optional)

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

Preface (optional)

Acknowledgements (optional)

List of Abbreviations (optional)

Glossary (optional)





Any standard typeface is acceptable; font size should be 12. The font size may be reduced for captions on figures and tables.

The margins on the left side of all pages should be at least 1.5 inches. Top, bottom and right margins should be at least 1 inch. All photographs, charts, tables, graphs, drawings, etc. must fit within these specified margins. Double check margins for accuracy.

Double space all text. Long quotations, captions, footnotes, and endnotes may be single-spaced.

The numbering of pages should, at the very latest, begin with the Table of Contents. Lowercase Roman numerals (iii, iv, v…) are acceptable for the front pages. However, Arabic numbers (3, 4, 5…) should begin no later than the first page of regular text. You should number consistently throughout the document. Page numbers should be all at the top right or all at the bottom (either right or middle only). If including landscape pages, see the sample pagination below:

The title page must contain the following information: Title, Name, Degree, Department, University Name, Month and Year of Graduation. The month of graduation will either be January, May or August (month, year), NOT the date of your defense. See the sample title page.

A Committee Approval Sheet must be included as the second page of your PDF document. This form should only have the typed names of your committee, not signatures. See the sample Committee Approval Sheet

If you use tables, figures, and/or illustrations, you must include an itemized/numbered list of each. Please separate these lists on different pages.

Dissertation abstracts must not exceed 350 words, thesis abstracts 150. See the sample abstract.

You must include a complete bibliography at the end of the ETD that includes all works cited. Please follow the format most commonly used by your department.

You must have the format of your thesis/dissertation checked and approved by the School of Graduate Studies before you upload to OhioLink. You can do this by emailing a copy of the entire PDF file to etdsubmit@case.edu. Include your department or program name and the words "format check" in the subject line. Notice of approval or corrections will be returned via email. Any ETD uploaded to OhioLink without prior approval will be deleted.

The School of Graduate Studies does not assess a graduation fee.

It is a requirement of Case Western Reserve University to publish all doctoral dissertations through UMI/ProQuest. Please note that electronic dissertations will be submitted to UMI/ProQuest on behalf of CWRU by OhioLink. The doctoral graduation packet contains a form with detailed information about electronic publishing.

Authorship automatically and implicitly confers a copyright to the author, without any additional fee. However, a copyright can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, which will provide additional legal protections for your rights regarding your dissertation, for an additional fee. The School of Graduate Studies is no longer processing these requests. If you choose to formally copyright, please insert a "copyright page" into your document. If you are not copyrighting, then leave out this page.

Although you will submit your thesis/dissertation electronically, you may need to make printed copies for the members of your defense committee. It is the student's responsibility to deliver, to each committee member, a copy of the thesis/dissertation at least ten days prior to the defense examination date. Some departments may also require a copy of the thesis/dissertation for deposit in the department. Students should consult their advisors or department chairs concerning departmental requirements.

Some students wish to have copies bound for their own use. Contact the University Bookstore at 216.368.2650 for information on its binding service.