Quick formatting cheat sheet [pdf]

Find out what your margins should be, spacing for paragraph indents, how to do page numbers, formatting for headings and subheadings, etc.

Front and back page formatting [pdf]

Follow these examples and your front and back pages will be consistent with SJSU styling.

Spacing [pdf]

You must double-space your work, and you may single space quotes, headings and part of your front pages. You may not have triple spacing, or any other type of spacing. Often, the reason that theses and dissertations have uneven spacing is because of using "points before or after" feature in Word. This tip sheet will help you prevent that.

Tables and figures [pdf]

Although many format guides require figures and tables to be at the end of a work, the Thesis Guidelines at SJSU will not allow it. Tables and figures must follow as closely as possible to their in-text reference. Additionally, table titles must be at the top of your table, and figure descriptions must be at the bottom of your figure. See these pages for examples.

In-text citation [pdf]

These are APA 6th in-text citation rules. Find out what the rules are according to your style guide, and follow them. APA 6th or 7th? Remember, you must use one or the other version. You may not combine them. See this comparison chart for the most common differences between the versions.

Margin template [pdf]

Make sure your thesis or dissertation follows the correct top, bottom and side margin rules.

Criterion (Editing Software)

San José State has at its disposal an online electronic editing service, called Criterion, to which students have access at no cost. Papers can be downloaded on a website, at which point a text editor quickly produces an on-screen read-out with various kinds of writing errors identified.Graduate Studies has created a course – GSR290E (GSR Editing) – with the access code PD28-ZFY8 for your use.

Access to the Editor

To gain access to this service, go to the eCampus page of the Academic Technology website at and follow the following prompts for first-time registration. Under Teaching Tools on the left side of the page, select Criterion. On the Criterion page, select Student Guide for Criterion [pdf]. If you later have difficulties with any part of this process, you may select Need Help? Send a Ticket on the rightmost Navigation menu and fill out a “help ticket.” When you follow the link for the Student Guide, a complete explanation of the login process for new users and returning users appears. For the first time, copy and paste the URL given (, Create Account, and fill in the fields including that for the access code: PD28-ZFY8. Then press Submit. Any subsequent time, start at this page ( rather than at the eCampus page, and simply Sign In with the use name and password you identified when you created the account.

Activating the Editor

At this point (login), a page should open with the GSREditing class shown under Classes. Click on the class and then on Assignments. Select Start Response. To enter text for editing, copy and paste from a Word document in the window at the bottom of the page. Press Response to see the analysis of writing. A dark blue header indicates the errors identified under Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, and Style. Each of those opens into a set of specific errors. Clicking on the ones with numbers in parentheses takes you to the text box below in which the error is highlighted. Passing the mouse over the highlighted text produces an explanation for the error. You must then decide whether the editor is correct so that you would change your original thesis or project writeup. To make a change, click on Revise at the bottom. With each submission, you can view the analysis under Response as you did before. Ultimately, you would copy and paste the corrected version back into your original document.

Editing Accuracy

The editor is imperfect. It misses some errors. Most of the errors it positively identifies, though, are indeed errors. However, one must use discretion in all cases. For example, it struggles with headers and titles, where it often calls them incomplete sentences or lacking in ending punctuation. Do not take these corrections as a way to make your paper flawless, but they can help to improve your paper if you use good judgment in choosing the suggestions to accept.