I am writing my PhD thesis (physics in a European university) and wonder how to order the "meta-data" chapters.

My university gives very few formal regulations and my adviser wasn't sure.

What I have come up with till now is:


  • Titlepage (position fixed by University)
  • Statement page that I wrote this (position fixed by University)
  • Disclaimer that part of this work is subject to publication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • Table of content
  • Table of figures


  • The "meat" - the real work


  • Appendix
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography

I know this question might come off as opinion based but I believe there are reasons for certain orderings which are based on facts.

  • This answer to Where in a thesis should a glossary be positioned? covers similar ground. – ff524 Sep 24 '14 at 6:25
  • @ff524. Yes I also based my question partly on that answer, but I was wondering if this is a general rule to follow. – magu_ Sep 24 '14 at 7:06
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    There are always general style guides, but the recommendation certain depends on language and local customs. If there are no hard rules from the University, then it is not possible to run afoul of them. So your best bets are: (a) what look aesthetically pleasing to you and (b) look through previous PhD theses published in your university to see what other people do. Personally I prefer my glossary and indices to be after the bibliography. – Willie Wong Sep 24 '14 at 10:15
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    Also, frequently "numbered" appendices are considered part of the main matter, and not the back matter. A good place to read about (one view of) book design is the guide that grew out of the manual for the LaTeX memoir class. – Willie Wong Sep 24 '14 at 10:30

One of the wonderful things about your thesis is that it is one of the few documents that there is very little constraint on how you are allowed to arrange it. Once you have satisfied the university's formal requirements (of which there are often few), it is up to you (with, of course, the consent of your advisor). So arrange things however you feel makes the most clear and accessible presentation, and it will be OK.

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