A master's project must be approved by at least three members of the faculty, usually the professors who have directed your research and writing. Once three professors have read your final draft and approved it, have them sign the acceptance page that appears right after the title page. After they have signed the acceptance page and your work is in final form, you must have at least two copies (both copies must be on 100 percent cotton rag bond paper) bound in a regular, sewn library binding. You may have bound as many additional copies as you wish for yourself. The binding of your MLS project is coordinated by the MLS secretary. You must provide the copies of the project that are to be bound. However, do not make all of your copies until you have consulted with the Director of MLS to make sure you have met all of the format requirements. One bound copy must include the original signed acceptance page; photocopies of the signed acceptance page may be used in additional bound volumes. File two bound copies with the Master of Liberal Studies program. These volumes are placed in the University Library. Be sure that the Registrar's Office has your correct name and diploma-mailing address. The diploma, which certifies that you have completed the degree, should be issued within approximately three months of the submission of the bound copies to the MLS program. Usually, your degree is dated the last day of the month following the month in which you submitted the bound copies.
The work must be word processed with a letter-quality printer. Generally, laser and ink-jet printers produce such copy. Dot matrix printers are not acceptable. If you have any questions, check with the University Graduate School to see that your printer meets University Graduate School standards.
The material should be double-spaced, on watermarked, 100 percent cotton rag bond paper, 8 ½ inches by 11 inches. The unbound version and at least one of the bound copies must be on paper of this quality. IU Bond is not 100% cotton and not acceptable. The work should be printed out using the Times New Roman 12 pt font. The University Graduate School does not accept script or italic fonts, although italics may be used to emphasize certain words and to denote titles of books or journals, etc. Be sure to correct errors on the word processor, not by hand. You may use either photocopying or the multilith process if the copies are of good quality. Mimeographed copies are unacceptable. If photographs are part of the work, all copies must contain the best possible positive prints, not photocopies (though scanned color photocopies are acceptable). If you have any questions about the acceptability of your format, consult the Director of MLS. A cautionary phone call could save you time and money.
Margins should be at least 1½ inches on the left and 1 inch on the other three sides. Although this requirement may seem somewhat arbitrary, it is nonetheless necessary for successful binding and copying. Most copying processes tend to expand the material by two or three percent, leaving less white space around the text. Binderies sew along the left-hand margin and then trim the other sides. Inadequate margins can result in part of your material being lost after the combination of copying and binding; even if all the material remains, insufficient margins can affect the readability and the appearance of your work. Ordinarily, the text and any other materials will appear on the right-hand page only. If, however, you and your committee agree that it is absolutely necessary to include facing material on the left-hand page as well, be sure to leave 1½ inches on the right-hand side of the facing page. These margin requirements apply to all materials included in the thesis, including figures, tables, maps, plates, the abstract (if you decide to have it bound with the rest of your work), and any preliminary material you choose to include. You must print page numbers on each page (except title page and vita page).
Most of the preliminary materials or front matter will depend on the nature of your MLS project and on your personal preference, but a few items are mandatory. The front matter must include the title page, the original signed acceptance page, and the copyright page (if you decide to copyright your work). Normally a master's project does not include an abstract. In addition, the University Graduate School strongly recommends that you provide a table of contents. Beyond that, other kinds of material are optional. Depending on the nature of your work, you may also wish to include lists of tables, figures, appendices, or abbreviations (include page numbers on these). Depending on your personal inclination, you may wish to include a dedication, a preface, or a set of acknowledgments. The latter are designed to recognize people or agencies to whom you feel grateful for any academic, technical, financial, or personal aid in the preparation of your project; as a matter of courtesy, you would ordinarily mention the members of your committee here, as well as institutions that provided funding, your typist, or anyone else who helped. With the exception of the title page, Roman numeral page numbers must be used for the front matter. The front matter should appear in the following order:
- Title page (mandatory)
- Acceptance page with original signatures (mandatory)
- Copyright page (mandatory if you choose to copyright)
- Dedication (optional)
- Acknowledgments (recommended)
- Preface (optional)
- Abstract (optional)
- Table of Contents (strongly recommended)
- Lists of tables, figures, appendices, or abbreviations (recommended if appropriate)
In addition to this front matter, you must also include a curriculum vita page at the end of the thesis. You may write it in paragraph form, but the standard vita format is preferred.
Page numbers must be clear and consecutive throughout and printed on every page, including appendices, tables, figures, maps, charts, photographs, etc. The title page and vita page are the only exceptions to printed pagination.
Arabic numerals should be used for page numbers in the body of the work, the bibliography, and any appendices, while small Roman numerals are used for the front matter; the vita page at the end is not paginated. The title page counts as page i but does not bear a number. Begin numbering with the acceptance page as page ii, and continue with small Roman numerals until the start of the actual text. That page, whether part of your full introduction or of your first chapter, will be numbered page 1 and every page will be numbered consecutively until you reach the vita page. Ordinarily, page numbers should be centered at the top or bottom of the page, entered midway between the edge of the paper and the text to prevent their loss during the binding process, although some other method may be accepted if you clear it first with your committee and use that method consistently. Before you turn in your copies for binding, make sure that all of the pages are in correct numerical order and that they are right-side up.
Just as the format of the front matter may vary, the format for your text and references will depend largely on your particular topic and committee. In terms of the text, for example, most projects should be written in English. Some works, however, are more appropriately written in other languages. You must check with the Director and your committee to determine which forms they prefer.
A few basic standards are required of all projects. Although all texts should be either double-spaced or on occasion produced at space-and-a-half intervals, long quotations within the text should be typed single-spaced and with wider margins. Footnotes must appear either on the page where the annotation occurs or at the end of each chapter. The University Graduate School imposes no single form for footnotes or bibliographic citations, but it does recommend one of several style manuals as a good starting point. These include The Chicago Manual of Style; Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers; the Modern Language Association (MLA) style sheet; and the American Psychological Association (APA) or American Sociological Association (ASA) style sheets (especially for works in the social sciences). Similarly, the University Graduate School recommends either Webster's Third International Dictionary or Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary as authorities on spelling and usage.
In terms of theses, publication means making your work available to the broader scholarly community. Although both kinds of work represent original scholarly activity, the University Graduate School requires publication through the agency of University Microfilms International (A Division of Bell & Howell Information and Learning) only for dissertations. You may, of course, choose to publish your master's project by this or other means, especially if your committee has recommended this course. In doing so, you would work directly with University Microfilms International.
A final point is that, as a published author, you must conform to the copyright laws in terms of the works that you have cited yourself; in other words, make sure you have permission, written if possible, to quote your sources. The best way to know how the copyright laws apply to your particular situation is to contact the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.