Obligatory apology if this is off topic...

I'm struggling to make my MSc dissertation look professional.

I've been told that academic documents such as PhD theses are often written in/using TeX, but I am not familiar with this and I can't say it's the right time for me to learn how to use it.

Does anyone have some advise on what fonts, formatting styles etc. are acceptable/preferred in academia?

P.S. I'm using MS Word.

  • 7
    You should really consider learning TeX. The results are much better for anything that needs more than a few formulas and is a full typesetting system instead of a word processor only. Start with the basics, read some short course and install some editor, that can help a bit. I like for example kile, which is still a source editor but features an automatically generated outline for editing, macros for inserting structures like lists and tables, and a list with the most common special characters.
    – allo
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:23
  • +1 @allo But, failing that, just use MS Word's built in styles.
    – user2768
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:44
  • And try to search the internet for Word templates. There are dissertation templates, that look better than just trying to configure nice fonts.
    – allo
    Mar 27, 2019 at 9:57
  • You should check if there is a standard format required or specified by your institution, ask your advisor or the relevant department.
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 27, 2019 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


It is important to use format templates i.e. do not format a heading as 12pt and bold but format it as "heading 1" (and change the properties of a heading 1 as you like). Also for the flow-text and figure captions use the Word in-build features instead of doing it manually. By this way you can change the whole document within seconds if you are unhappy with the layout. And yes, you can make your word document look exactly like a TeX this way. In my opinion learning TeX is not worth it (I wrote my MSc and PhD thesis in TeX) as you will hardly need it every again (I never used it again after my PhD) as any type of later collaborative work will most likely be done in Word. Word is very mighty if you use it correctly but few people use it that way.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .