13 - 16. Document specifications


13. Other Documents: MIT's Specifications for Thesis Preparation, etc. 

The Institute publishes an online document, Specifications for Thesis Preparation outlining detailed rules for theses. Be careful when using it to distinguish between the more stringent requirements for Ph.D. theses and those for the M.Eng. thesis. We also recommend The Mayfield Handbook if you're looking for a technical style book, and consulting with the EECS Communication Lab for writing assistance.

14. Writing an Abstract

You must include an abstract on its own page, right after your title page, which includes your thesis title, your name, your thesis supervisor, the degree and the date (see Sample Abstract).  Those students who found it difficult to get their thesis title short enough should have no difficulty writing an abstract. Start by writing out a full title, with all the adjectives and phrases you cut from the title. Describe your methods or procedures in a couple of sentences, and your conclusions or results in another sentence or two. It should be no longer than 150 words. It may be helpful to refer back to your Thesis Proposal.

15. Word Processors, Printers, and Paper


Spring 2020 thesis submission is entirely electronic. MEng students on the degree list should submit their thesis here.


  • Wordprocessing. Students generally wordprocess their theses themselves, rather than having someone prepare them. Most theses go through many draft versions, with minor and major revisions. Supervisors won't accept handwritten material at any stage. Please note that the "Course VI" thesis templates online are NOT official or correct, especially for the title page. Check to be sure that your title page is exactly like the one in section 26 or section 27.
  • Printers.  CopyTech has a thesis printer that uses acid-free paper. Whatever printer you plan to use, don't wait until just hours before the deadline, when you haven't slept in a week, to find an alternative. Have a contingency plan ready.
  • Double-sided Printing. Theses should generally be doubled-sided, including all prefatory material, but single-sided will be accepted. 
  • Paper. The two original copies that you submit must be on acid-free paper. [Acid-free paper is often indicated by an infinity symbol.] There are thesis printers that use this kind of paper. 
  • Type. Font size should be between ten and twelve, and the bulk of the paper should not be single-spaced, although peripheral parts like the abstract, title page, acknowledgments, and appendices should be single-spaced. All print must be dark black (not gray or any other color).
  • Margins. There must be at least one-inch margins on the top and bottom and both sides, with all text, charts, photographs, and code INSIDE the margins. This includes appendices of code (try using a copier to reduce material to make it fit). Lack of control over your formatter (TEX or LATEX, for example) is NOT an excuse for failure to adhere to these rules. Find assistance from on-line consultants, friends, or SIPB. For pages of code, remember that there are good quality photocopiers available that will reduce your code so that it fits within the margins.
  • Format. While no specific format is required, it is important to structure your paper clearly and logically. Use the Mayfield Guide or your favorite guide to technical writing.
  • Corrections. Do not use correction fluid; hand corrections and labels are never permitted.
  • Figures. Charts, tables, and graphs should be capable of being photocopied clearly, and may not be hand-labeled. No material may be taped or glued to pages. Color figures are permitted, but must make sense when photocopied in black and white. (Please check).
  • Supplementary Media. You may submit supplementary media with your thesis, but the written part must make sense by itself.

16.  Title Page, Copyright, and Patenting

 Make your title page look EXACTLY like the sample one in section 27 of this guide. Use the name "Katrina LaCurts" for the third signature, precisely as shown. Check that the title page is as shown, as online templates are incorrect. If you own the copyright, copyright your thesis by placing a copyright notice on the title page, with your name and the year, as shown on the sample in section 27. The author must, as a condition of the degree, grant nonexclusive permission to the Institute to reproduce and distribute publicly copies of the thesis. A statement to this effect must appear on the title page. (See the sample title page in section 27.) You must submit correct title pages. If MIT holds the copyright, grant it to MIT and omit the permissions sentence.
6-A students must have an extra line on the thesis title page for their company thesis supervisor's name and signature, (see section 28) and MIT holds the copyright on all 6-A theses.
If you hold the copyright and wish to register your copyright (certainly a good idea if you're planning to use your thesis for commercial purposes), contact the Intellectual Property Office for assistance. Use the date on which you will graduate or your degree will be conferred, consulting the MIT Academic Calendar.
Thesis Holds:  Under some circumstances you can arrange for a brief delay of the official publication of your thesis in the MIT Libraries.  This is good for patent issues and getting security clearance permission.


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