Is there an accepted order in which "List of"s should appear in a thesis?

For example, I have a section dedicated to "List of (Code) Listings", another for "List of Figures", and another for "List of Symbols". Is there a preferred order in which these should appear in the document?

  • 3
    What have previous theses from your department done?
    – Thomas
    Feb 7, 2020 at 8:14
  • @Thomas I don't think that it is a good question to ask. It sounds very cargo-cultish. Feb 7, 2020 at 15:44
  • David: please clarify if you are asking in which order the items inside each list should appear, or which one of these lists should come first in the thesis (see comment below). Feb 7, 2020 at 17:53
  • 1
    @FedericoPoloni I am asking about the order of the list of lists Feb 7, 2020 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


For Ph.D. theses, some universities (including mine) care about some aspects of the format in minute detail. They should have an office where such things are checked. Find that office and ask.

If the university doesn't care, then ask your adviser whether anyone cares. If your adviser cares, obey. If your adviser doesn't care but thinks someone else (with some authority in the matter) does, then ask that someone else.

If nobody cares, just do whatever looks reasonable to you.


Ask if there are local guidelines. Check earlier theses. Go to the library, rummage in books in your general area and see what order(s) they use, select one that you like. After the above, ask your advisor for approval.

Don't overdo it, too many "list of ..." may look bad.

  • I don't think that it is a good way to decide. It sounds very cargo-cultish. Feb 7, 2020 at 15:44
  • @Federico Poloni: I don't understand the use of the term cargo-cultish in this context, and vonbrand's advice seems perfectly reasonable for what seems to me a question that a graduate student -- indeed, even a high school student -- should know how to deal with. There aren't even established standards worldwide for which side of the road to drive on, so why would one think worldwide standards exist for theses style issues? In fact, I suspect that in many universities theses styles can even vary by department. Feb 7, 2020 at 16:43
  • @DaveLRenfro I find it cargo-cultish in the sense that it suggests doing what previous theses do without questioning if it is a sound idea or not. The same bad habits may be propagated forever in this way. (Also, theses, by definition, typically are written by people with very little experience in scientific writing while they have very little time to polish them up because of deadlines). Feb 7, 2020 at 17:50
  • @DaveLRenfro Sorry, based on your comment I now believe I must have misinterpreted the point of this website. If Academia is not a "question and answer site for academics of all levels", then please let me know what it is. Feb 7, 2020 at 21:41
  • @David Poxon: My comment was perhaps a bit harsh towards you (it was motivated by vonbrand's downvote and the first comment) and it was probably too veiled a request for more context. For me, the missing context is why not simply ask your adviser, look through recent recent theses in your department (department library, department reading room, main university library, etc.), ask around to find out what your department/university's style requirements are, etc.? I imagine there are reasons, and it might help others here in providing suggestions to mention why these avenues are closed off. Feb 8, 2020 at 8:47

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