12. 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.

14. Writing an Abstract,

You must include an abstract right after your title page, which includes your thesis title, your name, your thesis supervisor, the degree and the date (see the sample in Appendix C). 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

  • 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 documents 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. And DO BACKUPS!
  • Printers. There are lots of printers around MIT (such as those in the Athena Clusters) that produce excellent copy. 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. Otherwise, you can obtain water-marked acid-free paper at University Stationery on Mass. Ave. or the Coop, and put it in your printer for the final few copies.
  • 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 26 of this guide. Use the name "Dennis M. Freeman" for the third signature, precisely as shown. Check that this title 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 26. 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 26.) You must submit correct title pages. If MIT holds the copyright, grant it to MIT and omit the permissions sentence.

VI-A students must have an extra line on the thesis title page for their company thesis supervisor's name and signature, (See section 27) and MIT holds the copyright on all VI-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 Research and Intellectual Property Office for assistance. Use the date on which you hope to submit the document and don't worry too much about that date.

Patent Holds: Your thesis can be held until a specific date not more than three months from your thesis submission date. Requests for longer periods must be reviewed and approved by the Vice President for Research and Associate Provost (Room 3-234).