Smith College Libraries Masters Thesis Guidelines

Office of Graduate Study Introduction

For information on dates and procedures, please consult the Office of Graduate Study Thesis Information page.

Masters Thesis Guidelines


The following guidelines have been composed by the staff of the Smith College Libraries to assist the student in preparing the manuscript of a master's thesis. These guidelines and related policies are subject to change. Please consult this page for the most up-to-date information.


Each candidate is encouraged to make an appointment with a librarian or archivist to discuss appropriate library research methods. At the start of his or her research, a student should contact, as appropriate, one of the reference librarians in Neilson Library; one of the branch librarians in the fine arts, performing arts or science libraries; or one of the Special Collections librarians or archivists.

Any candidate requiring photographic services should consult with the Libraries' photographer (585-2957) at least eight weeks before the deadline for manuscript submission.

To ensure proper preparation and preservation of other nonprint materials (audio or videorecordings, films, computer disks, etc.), the candidate must consult with The Center for Media Production, (413) 585-2954, as early as possible. The Center for Media Production is located on the lowest level of the Alumnae Gymnasium.

Deadline and Submission of Manuscript

The Smith College Libraries are responsible for the binding, cataloguing, housing, and maintenance of two official record copies of all Smith College master's theses. Each candidate is responsible for the submission of the library copies of the thesis manuscript to the Office of Graduate Study, Lily Hall 106, by the last day of examinations. The unbound library copies should be placed in an envelope suitable for containing and protecting the manuscripts until they are bound.

The Smith College Libraries, as holders of the official record copies of the thesis, will permit public access to it, including circulating the original through interlibrary loan. No copies, beyond ones for replacement or preservation will be made without permission of the author.

Manuscript Preparation: Format

Paper and Printing: All theses submitted to the Smith College Libraries must be on 20 pound, acid-free, buffered, archival paper. This paper may be obtained from the College Campus Center bookstore or other local stationery stores. If the thesis is produced by a laser printer, the library copies may be printed directly onto acid-free, buffered, archival paper. Plain paper copies may be reproduced onto acid-free, buffered, archival paper. Because its ink is less permanent, a dot-matrix printer may not be used. If produced on a typewriter, the original typed manuscripts should be submitted.

Binding: The Smith College Libraries will be responsible for the binding of the library copies of a thesis. Students wishing to make private arrangements for their own bound copy may pick up a list of local bookbinders from the Physical Preparations Office in the Neilson Library.

Style Manuals: Before beginning manuscript preparation, each student should consult with his or her advisor concerning the proper style to be used. Some departments may wish to use the style sheets issued by the principal journal or society of the discipline, although the latest edition of the following guides will answer most questions:

    American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

    Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

    Li, Xia and Crane, Nancy B. Electronic Style: A Guide to Citing Electronic Information.

    Turabian, Kate. Manual for Writers of Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

    University of Chicago. Chicago Manual of Style.

These guides are available at the reference desk in the Neilson Library. Also see the Libraries' online Citation Guides page.

Copies of Older Master's Theses: Students who wish to consult previously-completed master's theses should consult a reference librarian. Note that the style manuals listed above are more reliable guides to correct format than are older theses.

Page Format: Text should be printed on one side of 8½ x 11 inch sheets. Margins must be 1½ inches on the left and 1 inch on the right, top, and bottom. Typefaces should be either 10 or 12 characters per inch and consistent throughout the manuscript. All text should be double-spaced except for Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, lengthy tables, quotations, and footnotes. All equations and formulas should be typed rather than handwritten.

Title Page: The title page of all master's theses should follow the sample provided at the end of this document.

Manuscript Preparation: Visual and Other Nonprint Materials

Computer Disks: Except in extraordinary cases, theses manuscripts must be submitted in printed form rather than on a computer disk. Exceptions to this rule may be granted only by the College Archivist (585-2976).

Thesis Illustrations: Thesis illustrations may take many forms: black and white photographs, slides, maps, graphs, charts, photocopies, original materials, etc. In order to ensure the permanence of any visual materials accompanying a thesis manuscript, it is important to observe some basic tenets, which will enhance both the preservation and the physical stability of the work. The following guidelines have been prepared to ensure acceptable quality.

  • Whenever possible, the paper used for the preparation of visual materials should be of pH-neutral or acid-free stock.
  • All labels and graphs should be in permanent type or ink or of permanent artist-quality materials. Felt-tip pens, markers, and pencils are impermanent.
  • Photographs should be fiber-based, black and white, glossy prints. An approximate size of 5 x 7 in. allows for labeling and adequate page margins as discussed above. Resin-coated (RC) color and Polaroid photographs are considered impermanent. If color photographs are necessary for superior information value, inclusion of a set of black and white prints as a permanent supplement is recommended. Color slides should be on Kodachrome slide film for maximum color permanency. Digitally reproduced images may be included provided they meet archival standards. Consult with the Libraries photographer (585-2957) at least eight weeks before submission.
  • Enclosures and supports for all visual materials should be constructed of pH-neutral paper or inert plastics. Acid-free papers and mylar (polyester) are safe for proper archival storage.
  • Materials considered impermanent or unsafe for long-term storage include glassine envelopes, vinyl or other plasticized sheets, kraft paper or envelopes, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), traditional album and scrapbook presentations, rubber bands, paper clips, pressure sensitive tapes, rubber cement and non-pH-neutral glues.
  • Photographs and other similar materials may be mounted using archival corners on 20-pound pH-neutral artist-quality paper, cut to conform to the dimensions of the text paper and observing the same margin and binding restrictions. Photographs and other images should be mounted only on one side of each sheet of paper. Labeling may be applied after the mounting process. Alternatively, photographs, slides and other similar materials may be fitted into clear pockets or sleeves made of mylar. All visual materials should be fully labeled and keyed to the accompanying text.

Sample Title Page

Sample Title Page

Smith College School for Social Work Theses - 2007 to present - Full Text
Abstracts and full text PDFs of recent Smith College School for Social Work theses are available online.

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