I believe that what a document looks like is as important as its contents: Nobody wants to read it if their first impression is not good. My formatting, sometimes referred to as ‘layout’, will make people want to read your work.

Most people do not know how to give their work a professional finish. My formatting will apply a professional polish by making headings, fonts and spacing consistent, through the use of styles. For example, below is one client’s table of contents before I fixed it.

Students needlessly lose marks if they do not obey the basic rules of their institution. My formatting enables you to obey the rules. For example, here is the client’s table of contents after I fixed it.

If you like, I will format your thesis for you, without editing it.

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The quality of your whole thesis/dissertation rests on the results from your questionnaire. If your questionnaire is formatted and edited, your interviewees will be more likely to give useful answers to all your questions. The questionnaire will also look as good as the rest of your document, which is very rare.

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Microsoft Word formatting

Most editors do not do formatting and they charge separately for checking abbreviations, citations and references, whereas I include it all in the formatting. Below is an explanation of what is included.

Headings and captions

First, I read your institution’s rules then I format the document accordingly (without tracking the changes). This gives me an overview of the document and ensures consistency of MSWord heading levels, table and figure captions and paragraph styles, so that the table of contents will match the actual headings and page numbers.

Table of contents

I insert an updatable table of contents (TOC) at the front of the document. It has hyperlinks so that you (and any reader of the soft copy, such as your supervisor or examiners) can jump to the relevant heading.

When you place your cursor near the page number in the TOC, a pointing hand appears and Word jumps you to the page in the text. If you change the text, you can just place your cursor somewhere in the TOC and press F9 to update the headings and/or the page numbers.

References and citations

A reference (in this website) is a paragraph giving all the details of a book, article, etc. that you refer to (cite) in the text, so that readers of your book/dissertation/thesis can go to the source and read it for themselves, if they wish.

A citation is a note in the text of the author of a publication, its publication date (and the page number for direct quotes) where relevant information was found.

Every in-text citation must refer to an item in the List of References, and every item in the List of References must be mentioned in the text.

In order to check this, I create hyperlinks between the items in your List of References and their in-text citations so that you can jump back and forth between them.

I check that each reference and in-text citation is formatted according to the required referencing style, e.g., Harvard, APA, Vancouver or Chicago.

While checking the references, I usually find some of the publication data is missing so you need to supply the missing data or use another reference instead.


An abbreviation should be defined when it is first used (like TOC above) and thereafter it should be used in place of the full term throughout the rest of the document. However, some institutions like abbreviations to be redefined in each chapter so please check what your institution prefers. It is useful for your readers if you have a List of Abbreviations in the front matter of your document.

I check your use of abbreviations by creating hyperlinks between the list of abbreviations and the definition at the first place you use the abbreviation in the text. This allows you – and your readers, including your supervisor and examiners – to jump back and forth between them.

Note that there is no point in defining an abbreviation if it is only used once.

Cross-references to figures, tables and headings

I check your cross-references in the text to headings, tables and figures. In order to do the checking, I create hyperlinks so that you – and your readers, including your supervisor and examiners – can jump back and forth between the in-text reference and the item it refers to.

What I send you

I email the document to you for the missing reference data to be supplied or substituted, and for approval of the formatting. The email contains the formatted Word document, a PDF version, and my first invoice.

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What I need from you

  • The latest formatting guidelines available. If your institution has no guidelines, I need you to tell me in writing:
    1. Language: US English or UK English
    2. Paper size: A4 or Letter
    3. Margin size for top, bottom, left and right margins: e.g., 2, 2, 3, 1 cm
    4. Font and font size for body text: e.g., Arial 12 pt
    5. Number format – with decimal points or commas: e.g., 10.5 or 10,5
    6. Thousands – with commas or spaces: e.g., 10,000 or 10 000
    7. Numbers below 10 – as words or figures: e.g., nine or 9
    8. Units of measure – abbreviated in the text or not: e.g., km or kilometres
    9. Percentages – abbreviated in the text or not: e.g., 10% or 10 per cent
  • Although I can manage without, it would be very helpful if you could send me:
    • any source documents you downloaded so that I can check the publication data for the references.
    • If you worked with hard copies, please send:
      • for books, a photo of the title page and the back of the title page.
      • for articles, a photo of the first page, including the header and footer.
      • You can take the photos with your cell phone.
  • the address that should appear in my invoice, if it should have something other than your name and email address.

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Excel formatting

Many people do not know that Excel spread-sheets can (and should) be formatted.

I will format worksheets into good-looking reports with font size not smaller than 9 pt at 100% zoom. A smaller font size will irritate your readers.

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PowerPoint slides are very difficult to format because PowerPoint keeps trying to guess what you want – and getting it wrong.

I will make your slides easy to read and your slide layout consistent.

If you want animated transitions within and between slides, I will apply them for you – and tell you how to use them.

If you want an automatic, timed presentation, I will automate it for you – and tell you how to use it.

If you want diagrams or charts created or copied or sourced, I will do this for you – after a detailed brief.

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