Neural Discharge

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

The only PhD Thesis/Masters Dissertation template for Microsoft Word you will ever need

As I start to move into the writing up stage of my thesis, I have started to focus on the structure and layout of the final document. I’ve been particularly keen to  minimise the amount of formatting and editing I have to do by automating as much of the process as possible. I also want my thesis to look professional, and not just another generic Word document. I know many scientists swear by LaTeX but I’ve always disliked writing in markup and to be perfectly honest I can be bothered to learn how to use it, especially when I am so familiar with Word. 

I spent some time looking for a good thesis or dissertation template. While many universities produce one; they were all incomplete in terms of automated functionality or ugly. Kayla Friedman and I have spent several months working out what makes a good looking thesis or dissertation and how to make it in Microsoft Word. The template we have created is an excellent starting point for any PhD Thesis or Masters Dissertation and is easy to use. It’s free for anybody to use, although an acknowledgment to Kayla and myself is appreciated.

If you are using the template please leave a comment below, we know that hundreds of people a month download the template, and we would like to hear feedback.

Template Download

The Template is in two forms a normal DOCX document which includes useful help information and a DOTX Word Template which can be applied to new and existing word documents.

DOCX Format Plain Word Document

DOTX Format Word Template

Microsoft Office Theme File – This contains additional font & colour information and can be used to style Excel and PowerPoint content in the same style as your Thesis/Dissertation.

Power Point on Word for Thesis Writing

The DOTX template can also be used by people using older versions of the Template. Go to:

Developer Tab > Document Template > Attach

Then select the DOTX template, and click Open. Also, tick the box market Automatically update document styles. Then click OK.

Creative Commons License
CSD Thesis Template by Kayla Friedman and Malcolm Morgan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Why use the PhD Thesis / Masters Dissertation Template?

The whole point of this template is that it is easy to use and automatic. If you want to put the minimum amount of effort into the styling your thesis, using this template will give you an excellent professional looking document, that won’t just look like a generic Word document. Kayla and I have put a lot of work into choosing fonts, layouts, and colour schemes, which give a professional academic appearance, and are easy to read on screen and especially on paper.

This makes a big  difference to you when you come to submit. Even the quality of your work is outstanding, the presentation of your thesis or dissertation will have a big effect on how your examiners judge it. If your document looks good, and includes all the right parts in the right places the examiners are going to be more inclined to believe you know what you are talking about.

It will save you lots of time. The template comes built in with lots of features that takes ages to set up such as heading numbers, and lists of different content e.g figures, tables, appendices. Using the template means you don’t need to find out how to do these things, and then fret about it not working. A lot of templates for other sources are not automated, so they look good, but the moment you start using them they break.

However, if you want to express your own creativity it is easy to change fonts, colour schemes and layout options without having to loose all the automation benefits of using the template.

Sections Included in the PhD/Masters Template

Cover Page, Dedication (optional), Personal Statement/Quote (optional), Declaration, Summary / Abstract, Acknowledgements, Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, List of Abbreviations and Acronyms, Introduction, References, Appendices.

The template also included example content and information on how to use Word, how to use the PhD Thesis/ Masters Dissertation Template and Information and Requirements for Cambridge University and the Department of Engineering. If you are not at Cambridge you must check your own department’s rules as they may differ from the Cambridge rules. The template has been built to match Cambridge University’s rules.

Major Features of the Template Include:

  • Standard University of Cambridge cover page, with hidden blank inside page;
  • Two page margins, with wider margins on opposite sides of odd/even pages for balanced appearance when printed and bound.
  • Footers with page numbers on opposite sides for odd/even pages;
  • Footers with chapter titles automatically inserted;
  • Headers with Thesis title, author’s name, and month and year automatically added;
  • Roman Numerals for front matter page numbers, Arabic Numerals for other pages;
  • Automatically produced tables of contents, including headings, but excluding Appendices, and front matter;
  • Automatically produced lists of tables, figures, appendices
  • Customised styles, colours, and themes, to give a consistent appearance and professional feel;
  • Automatically numbered headings;
  • 1/3 page Chapter Headings with styled spacing and indented numbering;

The template is very loosely based on the Bartlett School of Architectures MSc Thesis Template and may contain  some of their original content.

The PhD Thesis/Masters Dissertation Template was created in Microsoft Word 2010 in the .docx and .dotx formats, but should also be fully compatible with Word 2007 and Word 2013. I have not checked it with Word for Mac. If you are using Word for Mac please comment on this post if you have any trouble as I would be interested to know.

I’m not promising any support or updates to the Template, but if you do have any suggestions or find any problems put them in the comments below, as it is not totally impossible that I might read them and make changes.

Known Issues

  • Some of the headers and footers may have an error message if the template is used in a non-English version of Office. This can be fixed by deleting the error message and manually adding the text for the headers and footers.
  • The formatting on the table of contents can go wrong, this can be fixed by right clicking and selecting update.

Update Log

 Updated PhD / Masters template to version 6 on 15/11/13

  • Fixed error with footnotes
  • Fixed error with list of figures

Updated PhD / Masters template to version 7 on 13/3/14

  • Tweaked appearance of footnote so that the take up less space
  • Updated content on how to use the template
  • Updated blog post with more information about the template
  • Added .dotx file support
  • Set default table appearance
  • Updated Footnotes and Endnotes support

Updated PhD / Masters template to version 8 on 09/05/14

  • Updated / Improved help text in the DOCX version
  • Improved headers, automatically produced by completing  the cover page
  • Improved headers, support for longer thesis titles

Updated PhD / Masters template to version 9 on 10/02/15

  • Changes base front from Cambria to Times New Roman to match new Cambridge University PhD requirements
  • Increased font size to 12 point, and increased line spacing to 1.5 to match new Cambridge University PhD requirements
  • Increased spacing and reformatted headers and footers

Update 15/11/16

Charles Weir is producing his own version of the template for Lancaster University at 


54 comments on “The only PhD Thesis/Masters Dissertation template for Microsoft Word you will ever need

  1. Sarah Jackson
    May 28, 2014

    Love the template, currently trying to use it for my PhD! However I am having trouble using EndNote with it. The reference list at the end of the document repeats itself over and over when I add new references. Also they aren’t hyper linked so will not update if I edit the details in EndNote. Love the rest though, it looks great – keep up the good work! Please let me know if you have any suggestions RE my problem – thanks!


  2. Sebastian
    June 2, 2014

    Great work!

    But: In v8, there seems to be an error in the header: The format “Title;Thesis Title” is not properly assigned, hence Word display in every footer an error message…

    How to fix that? In v7, this error didn’t exist.


  3. Sebastian
    June 2, 2014


    Two more errors seems to be in V8:

    Your TOC only displays entry from the 3rd level. This is caused by the wrong setting “TOC \O “3-3″”, that must be corrected to “TOC \O “3-3″” .

    Also, each footer displays an error in my case, as Heading 1 doesn’t seem to be assigned…

    Can you help in fixing these errors, please?


  4. I like the valuable information you supply on your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again right here regularly.
    I am somewhat certain I’ll be told many new stuff
    right here! Good luck for the following!


  5. islam
    October 10, 2014

    I can’t download the template. Any help !!


  6. islam
    October 10, 2014

    I hope if you could send it to me on my attached email


  7. janenecarey
    December 21, 2014

    Why do you have the body text single spaced, when usually double or line-and-a-half is required?


  8. Matei O.
    January 19, 2015

    Hi, I am searching for a good template to use with my master thesis, and I am considering yours as well. If I decide to use ti I will give you more feedback. Thanks for making it available for public use.


  9. rowena
    February 1, 2015

    i want to install !


  10. Mathew Sams
    March 20, 2015

    very nice. Using it for a masters in engineering research. Couldn’t agree more with the first paragraph above – latex seems good, but why not just use word, when that’s what everyone already has.


  11. eva
    April 7, 2015

    In short, i like this template. I have also some errors in header but i will solve it easy, no worries. Thanks for help. ;]


  12. Guy U
    June 12, 2015

    Excellent template, which I’m using for my MSc dissertation. I’m having a minor issue with the Heading 1 (numbered) style though. The first use of Heading 1 in the document is displayed as it should be with 150 pt before and 60 pt after. But in all subsequent uses of Heading 1 for the following chapters the heading is displayed without 150 pt before. 60 pt after is fine and when I check the paragraph settings box it shows 150 pt before and 60 pt after is selected, but in the document the heading is displayed as if 0 pt before has been selected. I’m sure it’s just a setting I’ve missed but could you please help?


    • exi
      February 15, 2017

      Hi Guy U, did you manage to find the solution in the end? I’m facing the same issue.
      Thank you!


      • gormless
        May 17, 2017

        Hi exi, likewise. I “saved as” the docx file with my own title and they asked if I wanted to update the file to the latest version (I am using Word 2013). The renamed file had the same issue highlighted above, although I’m not sure that is the only formatting that changed


  13. Bader
    June 19, 2015

    Just downloaded


  14. melfed
    July 22, 2015

    I cant seem to download the file. Any chance you can email it? Looking for the word template. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  15. mbcx9rb9
    July 23, 2015

    Ditto as above; download not working. Would it be possible to send it via email?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. neuraldischarge
    July 23, 2015

    Sorry demand for the template has maxed out my server quota, I’ve added a new link to the DOCX version, the DOTX version will take a little longer as won’t host it.


  17. Joseph Carrion
    September 14, 2015

    Hello I am using the V9 and like the format very much. One little thing I would like to change if possible. Is there a way to remove the micro-text on the lower right of every page beginning with three and that continues through on every other page? I will acknowledge the authors of the template, but would like not to have it on every other page throughout the dissertation. Thank you for any reply,



    • neuraldischarge
      November 12, 2015

      It is just a text box in the footer of each page, if you edit the footer you can delete it. I put it in because some people have been taking the template and redistributing it as their own work. If you are using it for your own dissertation please feel free to remove it.


  18. Sebastian
    September 27, 2015

    Especially a cumulative thesis (comprising several existing papers) will have long names of the chapter titles. This looks bad in this template since it can only accommodate 2-3 words per line and you are left with many lines long chapter titles.


    • neuraldischarge
      November 12, 2015

      You can easily change the font size of the titles by editing the Heading 1 Style


  19. sambhu chakraborty
    November 14, 2015

    It is coming only a word page with some instruction of writing it, no software based template, I am looking for managing format


  20. Kieran
    November 28, 2015

    Love the template, but I have a problem with version 9 where the contents table formatting changes when I copy and paste text into the template – the ellipses between the headings and page numbers disappear. When I try to refresh the table it doesn’t come back, so I’m not sure what to do?


  21. Mawera Karetai
    April 5, 2016

    I could not open it. My computer said it was a corrupted file.


  22. Raul Acevedo
    May 1, 2016

    Great template. Using it for my PhD dissertation. Only problem I have is the big space before the start of the endnotes. I am making a long list of references after the list pass the number of references per page, the next page will have this big empty space of about ten lines. So I can not accomodate many references in one page.


  23. M. P.
    May 28, 2016

    Thanks a lot for this great template. Writing my PhD thesis couldn’t have been easier!
    I faced a little issue in sharing my thesis document with collaborators having different languages of Word: basically the headers cross-linked to Heading 1 and Title Thesis were not updating correctly on Word editions in French or other languages.
    Here I have found how to solve this problem and I guess it may be useful for others as well:
    The idea is simple, substitute the field code of the headers with:
    {STYLEREF “Thesis Title” \* MERGEFORMAT}

    Liked by 1 person

  24. TJ
    August 25, 2016

    Seeing the comments above, I’ve started using this template. I hope it works well for me too.


  25. Conor
    September 14, 2016

    Love the template thanks. I’d rather write up my chapters as seperate documents, and then compile them all at the end. Is there an easy way to do this so the contents and figures page will update properly?


      • Khwab Sanghvi
        April 1, 2020

        Hey, great template.
        I wanted to ask a question about combining separate word documents before I make a mistake.
        I plan to follow the link you shared but when using your template , would it cause problem if I remove the sections of the front matter as I don’t need them in every chapter.
        For eg.: my first sub-document is the cover page and front matter. The second document will be Chapter 1. In this document I will have to eliminate everything else from the template to avoid having errors when document is compiled via a master document. Will that be a problem for formatting ?


  26. Bulkm
    September 24, 2016

    Great work guys! A few changes and I end up with favorite formatting. Thanks a lot. 🙂


  27. Dr. Fokko Wieringa
    October 26, 2016

    Downloaded the template (V9) today (2016 Oct 26th) for a PhD student of mine. Went briefly through it and it looks very usable. Planning to send updates on how things work out along the trajectory. Best regards to both of you Malcolm and Kayla


  28. Claudia
    November 7, 2016

    Thank you very much!!!!


  29. barcaxx1980
    November 30, 2016

    good template. Is it ok to be used in other universities? Do you have a problem?


  30. Dan Dowling
    April 8, 2017

    I found this today and had a little cry – god send, life saver – time has run out and I have struggled til today – thanks you

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Gina Dalton
    April 13, 2017

    Ditto what Dan said. I downloaded this about 6 months ago and it has made a huge difference to how I write – hello structure!
    Thank you 😉


  32. getsoundcloudfollowers
    May 4, 2017

    Look at wide database of dissertation examples with no enrollment utilizing the intrigue box. On the other hand, separate test paper outlines. You can see our wide database of work copies portrayals easily and find you objective.


  33. The Reluctant Blogger
    July 13, 2017

    Well, well, well… WHAT a godsend this is! I am STILL finishing up before submitting next week, but this template is going to work some extra magic into the final product. THANK YOU for your gift to humanity 🙂


  34. Fantastic website you have here but I was wanting to
    know if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
    I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get feed-back from
    other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know.


  35. Steve
    August 5, 2017

    Dear SIr, a fantastic template – many thanks! One thing I’m having a small issue with; when I try and insert a footnote, a c.2-page gap appears in the text body between the number typed and the actual allocated footnote space. Is there a specific way the footnote needs to be inserted so it formats correctly?


  36. Michelle
    August 8, 2017

    I love this template – it’s going to save a lot of time. However, I am having trouble working out how to have my abbreviations show up on the list – the other lists are fine, it’s just the abbreviations.


  37. Steve
    September 16, 2017

    Dear SIr, the structure of the template is fantastic but for some reason (as per entry above) I cannot seem to successfully enter footnotes without large page gaps appearing. Please can you advise as I have to hand chapters in ASAP and need footnotes in place to do so!


  38. Investigator in Toronto
    September 27, 2017

    I’ve been googling the internet for some related
    information, but haven’t found anything as good as what you
    have here. I must say i, need to boost my Tumblr layout.
    What do you use here?


  39. Pingback: How to format your thesis – don’t revinent the wheel – Margaret Lantry

  40. df
    February 13, 2018

    How about some instructions on how to apply this to an existing document? Many thanks


  41. Josef Katheke Mwikya
    May 2, 2018

    I am thinking of registering for my Doctoral studies and this saves me a lot of headache.


  42. Lan
    July 8, 2019

    In year 2019, I finally can start to write my PhD thesis. I am very happy finding your website and template. This will save me a lot of time 🙂 and I love how things are put together.


  43. ggabunia
    August 14, 2019

    Вы попали в самую точку. Я думаю, что это отличная мысль.


  44. Khwab Sanghvi
    April 1, 2020

    Hey, Has the dotx template been disabled ? As clicking on it takes me to a spam link. It also is crossed out so was a little confused.


  45. Pingback: A thesis template in Word – La Neurona Errant

  46. lemaivuongdang
    September 26, 2022

    Hi, the dotx template is not available anymore in the link. Would you reupload it, please?
    Thanks so much!


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