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Sibelius Academy Guide for Doctoral Studies in Music: Layout of Written Thesis

Guide for Sibelius Academy Doctoral Programme (DocMus+MuTri)


  • Sufficient space in the top and bottom margins, c. 2 cm at the top, a bit more at the bottom.  Side margins min. 2cm.The binding margin is max. 1 cm broader than the other (right) side margin.
  • Note that the pages are asymmetrical: the binding margin is on the left on odd pages and on the right on even pages, also note the asymmetrical positioning of pagination on the right and left side of the page. There is a separate function in MS Word for this (Header and Footer tab > Different odd and even pages).
  • It is elegant to state the place of the main chapter in e.g. the top margin: even pages can display the name of the book and odd pages can display the main chapter (not essential; requires some Word expertise).
  • Positioning must be adapted to the typeface type and size (including the book size): a small typeface size requires a narrower column than a large one.

Line Spacing and Indents

  • Line spacing must be adapted to the typeface type and size: a small typeface size allows for smaller line spacing, a large size requires larger spacing.
  • Indent citations that are longer than three lines. You can also use slightly smaller line spacing. The indent of citations is larger than the paragraph indent. No quotation marks are used when indenting.
  • Indent the beginning of a paragraph, but not immediately under the heading. (No blank space between paragraphs in this case.) The indent should be clearly visible, but reasonable (no more than ten characters; depending on the positioning, line spacing, and typeface size). In this model, a blank line may be sparingly used to separate sections that are longer than paragraphs, in which case the text begins on the left without indentation after the blank line.
  • Paragraphs may also be left-aligned: paragraphs are separated from each other using a blank line. (This is a newer formatting practice. The disadvantage of it is that the author often has a tendency to write paragraphs that are too long. Also, when applying this practice, longer sections of the text cannot be separated using blank lines. The reader may also interpret the blank line between paragraphs too strongly, making the reading experience fragmentary.)
  • The table of contents and the bibliography have the same line spacing as the body text.
  • No widow or orphan lines (single lines at the top or bottom of a page).
  • If you use lists, they are written either (1) without punctuation and capitalizing the first letters, (2) as full sentences ending in full stops (as in this chapter), or (3) as a single sentence with a full stop at the end of the list (cf. e.g. the chapter entitled “Using Microsoft Word to Create a Layout”). However, it is a good idea to use numbers in parentheses (as above) or letters within the body text.


  • You may format headings differently than the body text (capital letters, bolding etc.), but you should do so wisely and sparingly.
    • One good practice is that the heading is sans serif (grotesque; without the projecting features called “serifs” at the end of strokes) and the body text is serif (Antiqua; with serifs) – or vice versa.
    • Another method: name of the thesis and the main heading in bold capital letters; separated from the text by two blank lines. Lower-level headings in capital letters, one blank line (i.e. two blank lines before the heading, one blank line after it).
  • Headings are left-aligned and may include index numbers that define their hierarchy (2, 3.4, and 2.4.1).
  • Do not add a full stop after a heading or an index number.
  • Main chapters always begin on a new page.
  • When using MS Office, you could use styles and fields for headings to define the typefaces and indexing of headings on different levels in the hierarchy as well as the spaces above and below them (without adding blank lines on the keyboardbefore or after headings).

Tables, Sheet Music Examples, Figures, Images

Tables, sheet music examples, images, and figures are numbered using Arabic numerals, each in its own series. N.B. each table, figure etc. must be referred to in text (cf. sheet music example 774). Figures, tables, and sheet music examples etc. are separately numbered in order from the beginning of the text to the end (FIGURE 1, FIGURE 2 etc.), not (generally) according to the chapters of the text.

The captions of figures are placed under the figure – since the idea is that the image speaks for itself. The captions of tables and sheet music examples are positioned above them. Captions are carefully written so that the figure and table can be read as they are, without scrutinizing the body text. If necessary, a source is included in the caption. The words FIGURE and TABLE are usually written in capital letters, italics, or bold in the caption. The recommended table width is the same as the text width.

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