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University of Vaasa writing guidelines: Structure and layout

The guidelines contain instructions about the layout and contents of theses and other written assignments as well as instructions on how to refer to source literature and other material used in the work.


  • cover page

  • abstract

  • contents

  • lists of images, figures, and tables

  • lists of abbreviations and symbols

  • introduction

  • theoretical, material, methodological, analytical, and reflection chapters

  • conclusions, reflections or equivalents

  • bibliography

  • appendices

The order of topics is in accordance with ISO7144-1986. The order or sections may vary from discipline to discipline.

Fonts, layout, and margins

  • font type Calibri
  • font size 12 pt
    • exept for the abstract and some cover texts
  • line spacing 1,5
    • exept for the abstract, long quotes, or codes
  • margins 3 cm from the top, bottom, and both edges
  • Page numbering (sequential (running) page numbers) on all pages except the cover page, in the centre at the top, 1.5 cm from the top of the page. Page numbering extends to the last page of the appendices at the end of the research. Page number font: Calibri, size 11
  • automatic hyphenation throughout the document
  • do not leave blank pages
  • effects such as bold and italics can also be used in text. Underlining is not recommended. Effects must be used consistently, but sparingly
    • don’t use bold, italics or color alone to convey meaning.

Chapters, headings, and paragraphs

  • Headings are numbered at several levels:
    • 1   First level heading
    • 1.1   Second level heading
    • 1.1.1   Third level heading
    • additional levels are not recommended
  • Chapter headings or the first level heading
    • start on a new page in theses
    • The Bibliography and Appendices also have headings, but these headings are not numbered
  • Add two blank lines before the headings

When you use a prepared Word template and its styles, your work is more likely to be accessible as a PDF file. This is particularly important when you are writing a thesis. If you do not use the prepared template, create the necessary styles using the instructions below.

For more detailed layout instructions

Divide the text into sections that have headings and numbers. All headings must be bold and preceded by two blank lines., and be followed by 22 pt spacing.

Chapters, or first level headings or firt (1)

  • Use bold and font size 16 pt for chapter headings
  • In theses, start chapters on a new page. In other written work, separate the chapter header from the previous text with two blank lines.
  • In the prepared template, the style is "Heading 1".

Second level heading (1.1)

  • Use bold and font size 14 pt for headings for second level sections (1.1).
  • There must be at least two sections: for example, if there is a section 1.1, there must also be a section 1.2.
  • Separate headings from the previous text with two blank lines. If a second level section follows a chapter heading, leaving one blank line between the headings is enough.
  • In theses, add text between a chapter and the following second level section.
  • In the prepared template, the style is "Heading 2".

Third level heading (1.1.1)

  • Separate third level sections (1.1.1) from the previous heading or text with two line breaks, font size 12.
  • There must be at least two sections: for example, if there is a section 1.1.1, there must be a section 1.1.2.
  • In prepared template, the style is "Heading 3".

A maximum of three levels (1.1.1) is recommended. Fourth level headers can be used if necessary for clarity. The layout for fourth level headings corresponds to that of third level headings.

After the heading, always leave one blank line before the text.

Divide your text into paragraphs. Separate each paragraph with a single blank line. It is recommended that paragraphs be of relatively similar length. For example, do not include paragraphs that are a page long or only a single sentence. Long lists, for example, with dashes or numbers, should be avoided.


  • Check that the settings do not change when you paste text from another document.

  • Check that the images, figures, and tables do not run into the margins.

  • Check that the figures and tables are positioned so that they do not create half-blank pages.

  • Check accessibility.

  • Finally, check that there are no individual rows (orphans) at the top or bottom of pages. This can happen especially with the headings of figures, tables, and sections.

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