Format Guidelines and Submission Requirements

for WTS Theses, Dissertations, and Projects  

(Revised May 2018)

Format Guidelines

This document explains the formatting and submission requirements that Westminster expects all students to follow in their theses, dissertations, or projects only. Make sure you refer to it often during your writing and submission process. For guidelines on formatting course papers, please see the CTW's Citation and Formatting Guide.

Please note that for each degree program the thesis should conform to the following length limitations.

PhD dissertations: 100,000 words (including footnotes).
ThM Theses: 50,000 words (including footnotes)
DMin Projects: 85,000 (including footnotes)


Please note that students are responsible for the information provided in this document. Check back regularly for updates or revisions that may affect the formatting of your thesis, dissertation, or project (hereafter referred to collectively as “theses”). Before you submit your thesis please complete the Format Guidelines Check-In.



A. Basic Guidelines

1. Turabian
2. SBL Handbook
3. Review Your Formatting

B. Abbreviations

C. General Formatting Guidelines

1. Font
2. Line Spacing
3. Margins
4. Chapter Titles and Subheadings
5. Pagination

D. Sequence of Elements

E. Detailed Instructions for Specific Elements

1. Title Page (Fillable Forms)
2. Copyright Page
3. Abstract
4. Contents
5. Figures
6. Tables
7. Abbreviations
8. Citing Sources
9. Curriculum Vitae

F. Submission Requirements

1. Submission Summary
2. Dates for Submission
3. Plagiarism Pledge

Appendix: Sample Pages with Instructions



1.  Turabian

The primary style guide for WTS theses is Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). The thesis format and bibliographical guidelines of Turabian should be followed unless they are modified by this document.

For problems or questions of format not covered by Turabian or this document, WTS thesis writers should follow The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

2.  SBL Handbook

Some departments require that you use The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd edition (Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2014), supplemented by Turabian. Please check with your advisor or department for more details.

Note: All departments use the SBL abbreviations for ancient texts and standard references, as described in Section B below.

3. Review Your Formatting

Your completed thesis should comply with all of the formatting requirements outlined in this document. If you are unsure of any of the format requirements, be sure to check with the Library Director or the Center for Theological Writing before you turn in your completed thesis. If you would like assistance with formatting, please see the Director of the Center for Theological Writing (Library, second floor, room L-1). Works not conforming to these standards will be rejected. Sample pages may be sent to the Library Director at an early date for review.


1. For the use of abbreviations in general, see Turabian 2013, 330-45.

2. In many theses, numerous citations of standard works and major journals make it desirable to use abbreviations when citing them.

a. For directions in the use of abbreviations in biblical areas, please consult The SBL Handbook, Chapter 8.

b. When citing biblical texts, use the abbreviations for books of the Bible and other primary source Ancient Texts as found in Section 8.3 of The SBL Handbook. Although most extra-biblical ancient sources are abbreviated using periods, note that you are not to put a period after abbreviations of biblical books.

c. For citing secondary sources in biblical studies (including certain journals, periodicals, major reference works and series), please use the abbreviations found in Section 8.4 of The SBL Handbook.

d. If you use abbreviations in the body of your text, footnotes, or bibliography, you must include a list of the abbreviations with the matching full titles in the “Abbreviations” page in the preliminary pages of your thesis or dissertation. (See Section E.7 below.)



1. Font

The font size must be 12 point for the body of the text; for footnotes the font size may be as small as 10 point.

2. Line Spacing

a. The body of the text should be double spaced. The abstract, if one is included, should be double spaced.

b. Footnotes should be single spaced, with a double space between each note.

c. The text of all major elements of your thesis should begin two blank lines below the title.

3. Margins

a. The left margin must be 1½ inches. Do not, for any reason, type anything in this margin. Margins of this size are needed so that the thesis can be properly bound.

b. Right margin: 1 inch. Top and bottom margins: 1 inch

4. Chapter Titles and Subheadings

a. Chapter titles should be formatted as described in Turabian 2013, 391 and Fig. A.9. Chapter titles that exceed one line should be single-spaced.

b. Turabian provides for five distinct formatting levels for subheadings (2013, 391-93). Use only as many levels as you need. The title of the chapter does not count as a level of subheading.

c. The most basic divisions of your chapter should be more visually prominent (first or second level subheads), while the subdivisions of each of these sections should be less visually prominent (third level on down). Be sure to leave a blank line before and after each subheading, and do not put a period after a subheading that is not immediately followed by text. Never allow a subheading to appear at the bottom of a page without text below it.

d. The following example of how to use subheadings is based on Turabian 2013, 393. This example is provided in order to illustrate the common three-level system. You do not have to use the exact number of levels illustrated here; choose the number of levels suited to the divisions in your thesis chapters, maintaining the principle of visual prominence explained above.

Sample Subhead Style – Three Levels

Top-Level: Centered, boldface type, headline-style capitalization (equivalent to Turabian’s first level)

Ancient Near East and Old Testament

Mid-level: Flush left, boldface or italic type, headline-style capitalization (equivalent to Turabian’s third level)

Ancient Near East

Lowest-level: Run in at the beginning of the paragraph (no blank line after), boldface or italic type, sentence-style capitalization, terminal period (equivalent to Turabian’s fifth level)

            Pastoral motifs in extra-biblical literature. In the epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh, the main character and a ruler, is described as a bull and a shepherd, and the city of Uruk is described as the sheepfold . . . .

Click here to view a sample first page of a chapter and an example of proper line spacing for subheadings.

5. Pagination

a. Assign a number to every page except the title page and the CV page. The preliminary pages should be numbered with lower-case roman numerals (e.g., i, ii, iii, etc.).

b. Assign number “i” to the title page but do not type it on the title page.



Place the preliminary pages in the following order. Do not follow Turabian or the SBL Handbook for this sequence.

a.  Title page
b.  Copyright page
c.  Dedication (optional)
d.  Abstract (required for dissertations only)
e.  Contents
f.   Figures
g.  Tables
h.  Abbreviations
i.   Preface or Acknowledgements (optional)
j.   Body of Text
k.  Appendices
l.   Bibliography
m. Curriculum Vitae 


1. Title Page

Please use these fillable forms to complete your title page.

ThM Thesis Title Page

London ThM Thesis Title Page

PhD Dissertation Title Page

DMin Project Title Page

Please note that if the paper has both a main title and a subtitle, the main title should appear on a single line, followed by a colon. Begin the subtitle on a new line (see Turabian 2013, 376).

On the title page, the title of the thesis should be double-spaced. Use our preformatted title pages for correct line spacing.

There are no exceptions to the format of your title page.

2. Copyright Page

a. In submitting their approved theses, students are responsible for complying with U.S. copyright law. For more information, please see the UMI Copyright Guide. Printed copies of this guide are available at the library front desk. Also consult the discussion of fair use in The Chicago Manual of Style (2010, 188-191).

b. When quoting from the Bible, please ensure that you have followed the copyright restrictions for the version(s) you have used.

c. If you choose to include a copyright notice in your thesis, please consult Turabian 2013, 376, 379, for instructions on how to format the copyright page.

Click here to view a sample copyright page.

 3. Abstract

The abstract is required for dissertations, but it is optional for ThM theses and DMin projects. So that your abstract may be published without truncation in print indexes, please observe a 350-word limit for doctoral dissertations and DMin projects, and a 150-word limit for ThM theses. The abstract should be double-spaced.

4. Contents

The label for this page should read “Contents,” not “Table of Contents” (see Turabian 2013, 380 and Figs. A.3-A.4).

Click here to view a sample contents page.

5. Figures (See Turabian 2013, 383.)

If your thesis contains figures, they should be listed on a "Figures" page in the front matter. Click here to see a sample "Figures" page.  

Click here to see a sample figure with caption. Please note that you should state the source of any figure you did not create yourself. Follow the guidelines described in The Chicago Manual of Style 2010, 127-129, and Turabian 2013, 360-61.

6. Tables (See Turabian 2013, 383 and Fig. A.5.)

If your thesis contains tables, they should be on a "Tables" page in the front matter. Do not combine figures and tables into a single list; in other words, do not follow Turabian Fig. A.6. Click here to see a sample "Tables" page.

Click here to see a sample table. Please note that you should state the source of any table that you did not create yourself. Follow the guidelines described in The Chicago Manual of Style 2010, 127-129, and Turabian 2013, 360-61.

7. Abbreviations

Abbreviations used in the thesis (see section B above) must be listed and defined, as described in Turabian 2013, 386, and Fig. A.7.

Click here to see a sample abbreviations page.

8. Citing Sources

a.  Bibliography Style. The bibliography style as explained in chapters 16 and 17 of Turabian is the standard citation system used at Westminster. This method of footnoting uses raised numbers in the text to indicate that a bibliographical or content footnote occurs at the bottom of the page.

Please note the following:

(1) All footnotes must be placed at the bottom of the page as described in Turabian 2013, 155-56. There is no other option.

(2) When using “shortened references” (see Turabian 2013, 158), use “author-title notes” (see template on 159-60). Do not use “author-only notes.”

(3) Shortened references are preferred, but you may use "Ibid"; carefully study Turabian 2013, 161. "Idem" is not used.

(4) For references to encyclopedia and dictionary articles, the citation method for “Parts of Edited Collections” (see Turabian 2013, 179-80) should be used. Follow the “author-title” form for subsequent references, as described in item (2) above. Do not use the method found in Turabian 2013, 190. See the CTW's Citation and Formatting Guide for examples.

b. Electronic Sources. For citing sources found in Westminster's online databases, list the facts of publication, as described in Turabian 2013, 182-84, 193-94. Also provide the date you accessed the resource and the name of the database. Do not include the entire URL for sources accessed through Westminster's online databases. See the CTW's Citation and Formatting Guide for examples.

Click here for a sample bibliography.

9. Curriculum Vitae

The last page of the thesis must include a curriculum vitae ("CV"). This page should not be numbered. The curriculum vitae should include information about the author’s life (birth date, marriage), ordination and/or ecclesiastical membership, education (degrees, dates, thesis or dissertation titles), publications, and academic awards. Do not include references. Do not put a page number on your CV, and do not list a page number for it on the contents page.

Click here to see a sample CV.


Overview of Submission. When you submit your completed thesis, meeting the first deadline for your degree program listed below, it is expected that you have already worked with your advisor to revise and clarify your writing. You or an editor must carefully proofread your completed thesis before submission to ensure that it is free of errors and follows all of the formatting guidelines. It should include all of the required sections; the grammar should be correct, and the writing style should be clear. For PhD students, this expectation applies to the completed dissertation submitted to your advisor for preapproval by the deadline below under 2.b. and the completed dissertation submitted to the Academic Affairs Office by the deadline under 2.b.. For ThM (Philadelphia and London) and DMin students, this expectation applies to the deadlines under 2.a. and 2.c., respectively.

The appropriate number of copies of your completed thesis should be submitted to the Academic Affairs Office in three-ring binders, with one copy of your thesis per binder (see 1.b. below). (PhD students see also 1.a. for instructions on submission of the completed dissertation to your advisor for preapproval.) Print double-spaced on one side of the page only.

After you submit your completed thesis to the Academic Affairs Office, one copy will be distributed to your advisor, one to your second faculty reader, and, for PhD and DMin students, one to your external readers. One copy will also be reviewed by the Library Director, who will check the formatting for any errors. Once the review process is finished, you will receive comments back from all parties, and you should then work to incorporate all appropriate changes. In preparation for your defense, please make all final edits, incorporating all formatting changes requested by the Library Director.

Now you are ready to submit your approved thesis, meeting the approved thesis due date (see 2. below). One copy must be submitted on 20 lb., 100 percent cotton paper (often called “Exceptional Business” or “Exceptional Thesis” paper); the other may be printed on regular printer paper. Print on one side of the page only. The approved thesis should be submitted flat in a box so that it stays crisp and clean for binding without any bent corners or tattering. Please do not hole-punch this copy.

Please note that the library only binds copies of your thesis that will be retained for the library collection. If you desire a personal bound copy of your approved thesis, you should contact a binder directly. For more information, please contact the library staff.

If you have any questions about submission requirements, please contact the Academic Affairs Office. The following is a summary of the process and timetable for submission.

1. Submission Process Summary

a. Completed thesis preapproval process (applies to PhD only):

(1) Submit to the advisor.

(2) Submit in three-ring binder. Print on one side of the page only.

(3) Submit one copy.

b. Completed thesis submission process (DMin/ThM/PhD):

(1) Complete the online Format Guidelines Check-In. If your thesis does not conform to these guidelines, it will be rejected, and you may not graduate on schedule.

(2) Submit three copies as well as a PDF to the Academic Affairs Office.

(3) Submit in three-ring binders, one for each copy. Print on one side of the page only for each copy.

(4) All appropriate fees should be submitted along with completed thesis (see the Academic Catalog, Chapter 11 – Tuition and Special Fees).

c. Approved thesis submission process (DMin/ThM/PhD):

(1) Submit to the Academic Affairs Office.

(2) Two printed copies and one PDF digital copy of your approved thesis must be submitted. For printed copies, print on one side of the page only for both copies. No holes should be punched in the pages, and the two copies must be submitted flat in a box that is well protected so that the pages do not bend.

(3) Submit one of the two printed copies on 20 lb., 100 percent cotton, 8 1/2” x 11” white paper. ThM London students should use A4 paper and the A4 Title Page Template entitled “London Thesis Th.M. Title Page.”

(4) The second printed copy may be submitted on white printer paper.

(5) The PDF must be emailed to

(6) PhD and DMin students: It is the student’s responsibility to ask the advisor if the advisor would like a personal bound copy of the dissertation or project. If so, submit one additional copy. The third copy may be submitted on white printer paper. ThM London students must send a third copy electronically to the Pastors' Academy in order to be shelved in the London Seminary library.

(7) PhD students will submit an additional PDF of the approved thesis via the "ProQuest ETD Administrator" portal. PhD students also have the opportunity to sign the honor code pledge and purchase bound copies through this portal. Additional instructions will be sent by Academic Affairs at the time of final submission.

(8) PhD students must email a copy of the abstract to the Westminster Theological Journal at, for the purpose of publication there.

2. Dates for Submission

a. DMin Deadlines

Nov. 15:  Completed DMin projects due

May 1:  Approved DMin projects due

b. PhD Deadlines

Dec. 15:  Completed PhD dissertations due to advisor for preapproval

Jan. 30:  Completed PhD dissertations due

May 1:  Approved PhD dissertations due

c. ThM Deadlines

March 1:  Completed ThM theses due

May 15:  Approved ThM theses due

Note: When the dates listed above fall on a weekend in a given year, the thesis deadline will be the following Monday.

3. Plagiarism Pledge

In keeping with the Seminary’s honor code, students will be required to sign a “plagiarism pledge,” which will be sent to the student by Academic Affairs. Be sure to review the seminary's definition of plagiarism. The pledge should be submitted along with the paperwork by the approved thesis due date. Do not include the plagiarism pledge as part of your thesis.



Sample Pages with Instructions

Title Page (fillable forms)

Copyright Page


Figures page

Sample Figure with Captions

Tables Page

Sample Tables
Abbreviations Page

Chapter Titles and Subheading Spacing

Sample Appendix
Curriculum Vitae


Return to Top ↑