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Word Thesis template and instructions

Updated thesis template and instruction files have been released in January 2017. If you have started writing in a previous template file, there is no need to reformat your work; any previous release of the library's thesis template will remain acceptable for submission. Legacy template files and instructions appear at the bottom of this page, and will remain available until the end of Summer 2017.

Thesis template

Thesis template instructions

The SFU Library thesis template is a Microsoft Word file designed to assist students in preparing theses, projects, and extended essays.  The template and instructions are .docx files, and have been tested in Word 2011 (Mac), Word 2013 (Windows), and Word 2016/365 (Windows and Mac).  

Updates: [3/14/17, 3.01] fixed line spacing on template page ii. (1/31/17, 3.0) based on user feedback, styles have been simplified, consolidated, and renamed for ease of use.  General formatting guidelines for font, line spacing, margins, and other document elements have not changed, as detailed in Requirements and Format. Template instructions have been edited and condensed for the current update.

LaTeX template

Please note that SFU Library does not provide technical support for LaTeX users.  However, the Library has worked with previous SFU graduate students to provide a template and LaTeX class that sets your thesis according to SFU's Requirements & format before submission.

Download the SFU thesis LaTeX template and class here.

Current release: v2.2.1 (bugfix) - this release fixes a bug introduced in v2.2.0 and is recommended for all users of the template.  If you have started working with a previous version of the template, only sfuthesis.cls needs to be replaced:

  1. Download the new version of the template.
  2. Replace your copy of sfuthesis.cls with the new version.
  3. That's it! There's no need to replace any of your other files.

If you run into a problem with the LaTeX template or class, please contact the "Current Maintainer" (Ross Churchley as of 1 May 2015). Students with general questions about using LaTeX or problems are encouraged to consult one of the following resources:

The SFU thesis LaTeX project is a volunteer effort made by many SFU graduate students over the years. Thanks to the following students who contributed to the old template: Stephen Chan (1989), Margaret Sharon (1996), Pepe Kubon (1997-98), Greg Baker (2003-06), Chris McIntosh (2011), Bradley Coleman (2012), Juan Galvez (2012), Firuz Demir (2013), Ahmed Saad (2013), Reynaldo Arteaga (2014). Version 2.0 of the template was written by Ross Churchley (2014-15).

v2.2.1 (July 21, 2017): Version 2.2.0 tightened the spacing of chapter and section titles that go on for multiple lines. Unfortunately, the code that fixed that issue had unexpected side effects when using \ref{} and \autoref{} with chapter and section titles, regardless of their lengths. This release fixes the spacing issue in a safer way. (Ross Churchley)

v2.2.0 (Summer 2017): Introduces a redesigned approval page, matching the Spring 2017 update to the official Word template; tightens spacing for chapter and section titles that go on for multiple lines; separates footnotes from body text with vertical space instead of a dividing line; simplifies standard copyright disclaimer; documents the process for adding an Ethics Statement; adds helpful defaults, such as \frenchspacing, to the template's customization suggestions. (Ross Churchley)

Legacy Word templates (pre-Spring 2017)

The files linked below have been superseded by the Spring 2017 template update shown at the top of this page. If you are using this version of the thesis template, there is no need to reformat your work; any previous release of the library's thesis template will remain acceptable for submission. Legacy template files will remain available until the end of Summer 2017.

There are two template files available to format your document for submission to SFU Library, with numbered headings or unnumbered headings. Consult with your senior supervisor if you are unsure which option to use.

The Library recommends downloading the numbered headings template; the numbers can be easily removed with assistance from the Theses Office at a later date if desired.

Thesis template with numbered headings

Includes three levels of numbered headings, e.g.: Chapter 1., 1.1, 1.1.1. Numbered headings can help inform readers of the structure of a document.

Thesis template with unnumbered headings

Includes numbered chapters only; subheadings are unnumbered. Unnumbered headings are typically used in the arts and humanities.

Thesis template instructions

The following document is applicable to both versions of the thesis template (numbered and unnumbered headings).

Instructions for using the thesis templates

In addition to reading the template instructions, you can get assistance by attending a workshop or reviewing our online tutorials.  

Thesis template styles reference list

A comprehensive list of all SFU Library-designed styles found within the latest version of the thesis templates is linked below.

Style Reference List for the thesis templates

The thesis templates contain both SFU Library-designed styles and embedded Microsoft styles. Any style not listed within this document is a Microsoft style; please avoid using styles that are not listed here.

What is a template?

The SFU Library thesis template is a Word document (.docx) that includes styles designed to assist in thesis formatting. The template is not a Word template file (.dotx).

A Word style is a formatting preset that determines font, size, line spacing, and other attributes. Any settings from the Word Font or Paragraph menus can be saved as a style. Use of styles saves time over manual formatting and ensures that formatting is applied consistently throughout your document. 

Why use the Library's thesis template?

The Library’s thesis templates are designed to minimize the time spent formatting your document. It also helps avoid issues when your document is converted to a PDF. 

There are a number of advantages to using the Library’s templates:  

  • The template includes styles for formatting all the parts of a document (headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, captions, figures, tables, etc.)
  • Headings, figures, and tables can be numbered automatically
  • The Table of Contents, List of Figures, and List of Tables are created and updated automatically
  • Some styles help with layout by keeping paragraphs together: e.g., table captions with table data
  • If problems arise, they can be easily fixed with the help of the Theses Office

Landscape page template

Please see the Thesis template instructions for information on creating landscape pages and objects.  The Theses Office can assist with creating landscape pages or adjusting objects to fit on a portrait page – please book an appointment for assistance. 

If you want to avoid inserting landscaped pages and sections in your document, use the template below to create the object, convert it into an image, rotate it and insert it into your document. The result will be a rotated landscape object as an image on a portrait page. 

Landscaped page template


Other applications

SFU Library does not currently provide support for theses written in OpenOffice/LibreOffice, Scrivener, or Apple Pages. Documents using these applications can be exported to Word for use in the Library's thesis template.

Template licensing information

The styles found within this document have been modified from those created by Joanie Wolfe, in accordance with CC BY-NC 2.5 CA. The Intellectual Property present in SFU’s template-based file belong to Joanie Wolfe and are licensed via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC 2.5 CA).