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Thesis Frequently Asked Questions

Formatting & Manuscript Requirements

The Handbook for Theses and Dissertations provides detailed information about process and formatting.

Templates, guides, and sample pages are also available.

You will be notified by the Thesis Office if revisions are needed. Manuscripts with the following problems will NOT be reviewed for Format Approval:

  • Unacceptable font style and size
  • Incorrect margins (correct margins are 1 1/4 inches on the left and right and 1 inch on the top and bottom)
  • Inconsistent spacing of headings and subheadings
  • Large gaps in the text
  • Incorrect placement of tables and/or figures
  • Serious typographical and grammatical errors (evidence that the manuscript has not been proofread by the committee)

If the manuscript has these errors, it will be returned to the student as well as the student’s committee chair and department chair. The processing timeline will start over when the student resubmits a correctly formatted manuscript. New signatures do not need to be collected.

You can only use this if it matches our handbook requirements and if you are competent enough in LaTeX to ensure that if there are formatting issues that you can fix them.

Using the template does not guarantee that your manuscript is free of formatting errors, you must consult the handbook so that you know what the formatting should look like and that the template is creating the correct formatting. Check your PDF for errors after compiling.

LaTeX templates

Any time prior to your defense, you may submit a PDF copy of the thesis or dissertation.

You should have at least one chapter finished; we do not need to see the entire thing. In order to maximize the helpfulness of the preliminary review, it is helpful if the chapter you send us contains elements you are not certain you formatted correctly, such as tables, figures, and equations.

We do not conduct preliminary reviews during the reading period between the submission target date and the ProQuest upload deadline.


The Handbook for Theses and Dissertations contains a general description of U.S. copyright law.

For more detailed information, see the Marriott Library's Copyright Overview and Resources information.

If you've used content protected by copyright, you must obtain permission to quote that material.

The form to collect Multiple Author Releases is located at the bottom of the manuscript submission page on the Thesis Office website.

Yes, you may request a delayed release of your manuscript from ProQuest of up to 3 years when you create an account after receiving Format Approval.

Under publishing options, you can select a delay of 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years. If you require the full 3 years, contact the website administrator, Kelly Harward, to request that option.

You may also request an embargo in OnBase on the Uspace permission form after you receive Format Approval.

Submission & Target Dates

You may submit your thesis or dissertation for Format Approval by the Thesis Office only after the defense and after the final version is approved by the committee chair and department chair. The manuscript should be submitted to the Thesis Office within 2 weeks after the defense.

Manuscripts submitted without departmental approval will be routed into a pending queue and will remain there until signatures come in. The Supervisory Committee Approval form and Final Reading Approval form must be filled out and signed electronically by the appropriate people before the manuscript will move into the working queue for processing.

Please specify the style guide you followed to the Thesis Office. Manuscripts will be reviewed in the order in which they are received and according to the date the last necessary signatures is received.

The Thesis Office calendar on The Graduate School website provides the target dates for submission for each semester.

You may use any of the campus or departmental converters.

The University of Utah’s Software Licensing Department offers licenses of Adobe for use in creating PDFs. Adobe is the best software for creating manuscripts accessible to those readers who are vision impaired and others who utilize screen and document readers.

After the target date we are busy working on processing and editing those manuscripts that were turned in on time. Manuscripts turned in after the target date will be processed on a best-effort basis, after the on-time manuscripts are processed.

If the manuscript is free from errors, it may be possible to receive clearance within a few days and thesis release for graduation would then be possible, though you should expect the possibility that you will graduate the following semester.

If you turn in your manuscript during the second half of finals week you will graduate in the following semester as we must finish all thesis releases by the final day of the semester.

We cannot read a manuscript for format approval until we are certain that there will be no further changes to the text required by the committee.

You must have a majority of signatures from the members of your committee, including the committee chair on file with the Thesis Office before we will begin working on your manuscript.

  • Master’s students: you must have 2 committee signatures AND the signatures of your committee and department chairs.
  • Doctoral students: you must have 3 signatures AND the signatures of your committee and department chairs.

Review Process

How long it takes to get a manuscript from first submission through Thesis Release is dependent in part on how available the student is to participate in the editing process.

You should expect to receive a review of the manuscript within 1-2 business days after submission of your manuscript depending on the volume of manuscripts we are processing at that time. The closer to the target date for the semester the higher a volume of manuscripts our office is processing.

If everything is acceptable, you may proceed to upload to ProQuest. The ProQuest document upload check, and review of copyright and reprint permission documents will take an additional 1-2 business days after the student successfully uploads the document ProQuest.

Before the editors read a manuscript, they check the manuscript for major formatting errors. If major formatting errors are found, those errors are noted on the manuscript pages. The document is then marked as a Format Review in the Thesis Tracking Log and returned to the student to correct the formatting errors.

If you see this note in the tracking log, check your email for a message from your editor (check spam if you can’t find it in the main email box). If you can’t find the email, email your thesis editor for further instruction.

For what constitutes a major formatting error, see the question “How do I know if my manuscript meets University of Utah requirements?”

Format approval is granted after the editors have determined that the manuscript is formatted correctly, adheres to the chosen style guide, and has been checked for grammar and spelling errors. When you receive format approval you have permission to upload your manuscript to ProQuest.

Thesis release is issued after the document has been uploaded to ProQuest, checked to make sure that it is the approved version and that it has not been corrupted by the .pdf converter or upload, and that all required signed forms and permissions have been received by the Thesis Office.


Students can speed up their manuscript review time by simplifying the format of their manuscript. A minimal format manuscript style can be helpful if you need a very fast time frame for writing and approval, as our editors can more quickly get through your manuscript, and you will have an easier time making any needed corrections. See Expediting Your Manuscript for details.

The speed a manuscript moves through our office depends in large part on how well the graduate student has prepared their manuscript, and how available they are to make any required corrections.

Students that

  • read the handbook carefully,
  • submit their manuscript for a preliminary review to identify issues early,
  • attend what workshops and consultations and open office hours that are available to them,
  • and make corrections in a timely fashion

can move through our office in two days once the required signatures are received.

The more errors within the manuscript the longer it will take to get through the process to thesis release. Using a minimal formatting template can help you create your manuscript and get it approved faster. See Expediting Your Manuscript for details.

Before receiving Thesis Release

If you have an urgent need to prove your degree status, the Dean of The Graduate School can provide a signed letter certifying that you have completed all Departmental and University requirements for your degree except for thesis release. To request a letter from the Dean, contact Darci Rollins.

After receiving Thesis Release

Once you have been given thesis release you can request an official statement of completion pending conferral. See Statement of Degree Completion for details.


You’re almost there. Once you’ve uploaded to ProQuest, the Thesis Editor will check your upload to make sure that the manuscript is the approved version and has not been corrupted by the .pdf converter or upload. The Thesis Editor will issue a thesis release after approving your upload.

After receiving thesis release you may or may not be ready for graduation depending on whether or not you’ve met your other requirements, but you’re finished as far as the publication requirement for graduation.

The Graduate Records Office in the Graduate School is responsible for reviewing your entire academic record (thesis approval, program of study, GPA, exams, departmental and university requirements) and issues the approval for Graduation to the Registrar within a few days after the thesis release.

The earlier you defend in a given semester, the more likely you are to be able to graduate that same semester. Check the Thesis Calendar to see when the submission target date is. You need to defend far enough ahead of that target date that you can make any changes to the text required by your committee and ensure that the manuscript adheres to your chosen style guide and Thesis Office requirements by the target date.

Be aware that if you submit your manuscript on the target date and there are major formatting errors, you may not have sufficient time to make all the necessary changes to the documents to resubmit before the ProQuest deadline. The sooner you turn your manuscript in the more likely you are to graduate in that semester.

As a general rule of thumb, plan to defend at least 3 weeks before the end of the semester to ensure you can graduate that semester. A dissertation with no changes required by the committee may be able to be defended closer to the end of the semester and still have sufficient time to complete the thesis clearance and graduation process. The closer you submit to the target date the tighter the revision turn-around deadlines will be and the likelihood of not graduating in your chosen semester grows.

After the Thesis Office notifies you that the electronic thesis and dissertation was approved, you may monitor your graduation status by logging into the Campus Information System and clicking on the personal graduation information link.

Publishing: Electronic and Hard Copies

No. Departments may produce their own hard copies or require that students provide a bound hard copy for them.

The University Press has options for binding. There are also several online options. ProQuest sells bound copies of your dissertation or thesis, as well, though these are not mailed to students until the manuscript has been published, which might take a semester or so after graduation.

After your graduation, your thesis or dissertation will be available electronically at:

Still have questions? Ask the Thesis Office.

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Last Updated: 5/3/24