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Writing Your Thesis in Word 2008

Below are instructions for performing the most common thesis formatting tasks in Word 2008 on a Mac.  Make sure you are using the Word thesis template!  Please see our general Word thesis instructions which is helpful no matter what version of Word you're using.


"Styles" are used in Word to easily apply a set of formatting attributes--such as font, font size, indentation, and spacing--consistently throughout a document. Learn more on our Word thesis page.

How to view and apply styles

  1. Make the Styles Toolbox visible in Word 2008: Go to the View menu and select "Formatting Palette" under the Toolbox section.
    view styles
  2. You'll see the Formatting Palette, with subsections for Styles, Alignment and Spacing, Bullets, and other document attributes.
    formatting palette
  3. To see what style is applied to a particular part of text, select it in the document. The applied style will be shown in the Formatting Palette.
    show style
  4. To apply a particular style, select the text in the document (most styles are applied to an entire paragraph) and click the corresponding style in the Formatting Palette.
  5. Occasionally the style won't be applied correctly. When this happens, choose "Clear Formatting", then apply the style again.

Modifying Styles

If you don't like a particular style, modify it to meet your needs!

  1. Go to the Format menu > Style.
  2. Select the style you want to modify from the lefthand side.
  3. Click the Modify button.
  4. Change the parameters you want.  More options are available from the Format drop-down box.
  5. Click OK when you're done.

Section Breaks

The Word thesis template is formatted for double-sided printing. As a result, you need to insert an Odd section break at the end of each chapter and each section in the front matter. This ensures the first page of each chapter will start on an odd page (the right-hand side of a book).
  1. Click the Show/Hide ¶ button to see what section breaks you already have.
  2. Go to the Insert menu > Break.
    insrt break
  3. Choose Section Break (Odd Page)
Note: If you've changed your thesis to be single-sided, you need to use "Next Page" breaks instead of Odd.


  • Only use one section break at a time. Multiple consecutive breaks create erroneous blank pages.
  • If you need to force something to the following page (like an image), insert a regular page break (Insert menu > Break > Page Break)

Fixing broken section breaks

If you insert a section break and it messes up the previous section break, fix it this way:

  1. Format menu > Document > Layout tab
  2. Section start: Odd page
  3. Check "Different odd and even" and "Different first page"
    format doc
  4. Apply to: "Whole document"


The thesis template is set with correct pagination but it will probably break as you use it.  Follow these guidelines for fixing it.  Because it can be tricky, stop by the Help Desk if you get stuck.

How to make your Introduction start on page "1".

The first page of your Introduction should start with "1"

  1. Double-click in the header area at the top of the page.
  2. Click the Header and Footer subsection in the formatting palette. Make sure these are checked: "Different First Page",  "Different Odd & Even Pages"
  3. Make sure "Linked to previous section" is UNchecked.
  4. a
  5. In the menu bar, Go to the Insert menu > Page Numbers.
  6. Click the Format button on the lower left.
  7. start at one
  8. Select "Start at" and choose "1".

How to suppress page numbers on the first page of chapters

The first page of each chapter should not have a printed page number (but will count in the pagination).

  1. Make sure the correct section break is inserted at the end of the previous chapter (e.g., Odd section for double-sided format). See instructions above.
  2. Double-click in the header area at the top of the page.
  3. Click the Header and Footer subsection in the formatting palette. Make sure these are checked: "Different First Page",  "Different Odd & Even Pages"
  4. If the page number still appears, select it and delete it. Then check the rest of the pagination to make sure it didn't break something else.

How to set continuous pagination (e.g., fix restarting at "1")

Page 1 starts on the first page of the first chapter (usually Introduction).  Sometimes, numbering will restart in later parts in your document.

  1. Go to the page where numbering is incorrectly restarting at 1.
  2. Go to the Insert menu > Page Numbers. 
  3. Click the Format button on the lower left.
    set cont pag
  4. Select "Continue from previous section" and click OK.

How to insert page numbers

Occasionally it may be necessary to insert a page number where one has disappeared.

  1. Go to the page and double-click in the header area at the top of the page.
  2. Click the Header and Footer tab in the formatting palette.
  3. Click the "Page #" icon.
    insrt pg num
  4. Align the page number accordingly (right-justified for an odd page; left-justified for an even page)

Inserting Images

Make sure you have the image to be inserted stored on your computer. Do not do a copy and paste from another document or web page!
  1. Place your cursor where the image should be inserted (make sure it's in a new paragraph)
  2. Put the paragraph in the "Figure,fig" style (see how to apply styles above)
  3. Go to the Insert menu > Picture > From File.
  4. Select the file stored on your computer.