IST Service Cataloguee-Thesis Guide

e-Thesis Guide

Electronic thesis submission background information

In 1997 the University began a pilot project to examine the potential for having students submit their theses electronically. The project proved successful. A number of theses now reside in the UWaterloo e-thesis database.

Effective October 2006, the University thesis requirement is one electronic copy (PDF format) only. However, faculties/departments may have an additional requirement for bound paper copies to meet degree requirements. See more Thesis regulations.

At the time the e-thesis project was undertaken, it was decided that the theses would be stored online in PDF format to facilitate indexing, searching and ease of access; therefore you must submit the PDF file containing your thesis, not the Word or LaTeX file you originally created.

Electronic thesis submission procedures

There are a variety of things that must be considered when preparing your online thesis submission. Understanding how the process works may make it easier for you to get started.

  1. Create your thesis (usually using Microsoft Word or LaTeX).

  2. Convert your thesis to a single PDF file.

  3. Save your thesis PDF file as Lastname_Firstname.pdf (replacing 'Lastname' with your last name and replacing 'Firstname' with your first name (without any diacritics)).

  4. You may also consider submitting multi-media or data files (an "enhanced thesis"). If so, procedures for submitting an enhanced thesis are available below.

  5. Review the Thesis regulations for formatting requirements.

  6. Follow the instructions to upload your thesis to UWSpace. This includes the submission of your Abstract and your thesis in PDF format. Note that you will be asked to enter your WatIAM (Quest) userid and password before you can access this page.

  7. Once your Thesis has been submitted to UWSpace the Graduate Studies Office checks the format to ensure that the standards noted in the Thesis regulations have been met.

  8. The Library stores your thesis in the online thesis database.

  9. Your thesis, in PDF format, will then be accessible to others online via UWSpace.

Procedures for submitting an enhanced thesis

To submit supplementary files (such as multimedia or data files) along with your thesis, you must follow the procedures below. Ensure your supplementary files are of the types listed below or they will not be accepted.

  1. Reference each supplementary file in its own appendix in your thesis:

    • Create a separate appendix for the supplementary file that looks like this (replacing 'sound file' with your description, 'Sample Multimedia Appendix' with something appropriate, and the file name/description with your file name/description; you can also include additional information about your supplementary file if you wish):

    Appendix B
    Sample Multimedia Appendix

    This appendix is a sound file of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo).
    The file name of this sound file is “Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo).wma”.

    If you accessed this thesis from a source other than the University of Waterloo, you may not have access to this file. You may access it by searching for this thesis on UWSpace.

  2. Make sure the appendices created for any supplementary files are referred to in the Table of Contents of your thesis. To see a sample thesis with this type of appendix, see Sample Multi Media Thesis (PDF),


When following the instructions for submitting your thesis online, ensure to check the box beside "The item consists of more than one file" on the fourth screen of the submission process.

File size and acceptable file formats

The recommended file size is 500MB or less.


  • GIF (.gif)

  • JPEG (.jpeg)

  • PDF (.pdf) use Type 1 PostScript fonts

  • TIFF (.tif)


  • MP4 (.mp4)

  • Apple Quick Time (.mov)

  • AVI

  • MPEG

Ensure you test the file on different computers and with different browsers. If you are compressing the files at all, it is especially important to test the file on different computers and different browsers.



  • AIF(.aif)

  • CD-DA


  • MIDI (.midi)

  • MPEG-2

  • SND (.snd)

  • WAV (.wav)


  • Flash (SWF)


  • Any other file types including Excel must be converted to PDF format before submitting

Issues involved in e-thesis submission

Font issues

Not all fonts will successfully convert to PDF format. Font issues for LaTeX users are discussed in the LaTeX page below. There is the potential for font problems to arise for those people creating their thesis with Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. If you plan on creating your PDF file using Active PDF , make sure that when you do the install you include all True Type fonts.

Using LaTeX

If you are using LaTeX to prepare your thesis, please refer to the above document for information on how to appropriately prepare your LaTeX thesis for electronic submission. It is critical that you use appropriate fonts as described in the above document. Failure to do so may result in the Graduate Studies Office rejecting your thesis.

Using Word

To learn more about how to prepare your thesis using Microsoft Word, see:

Word for Windows:

[Techniques for managing theses using Microsoft Word | Information Systems & Technology ( )|]

Word for MAC:

[Techniques for managing theses using Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac | Information Systems & Technology ( )|]

Tips for preparing Word documents for electronic thesis submission

If you are using Word to prepare your thesis, there are some issues you will need to deal with, such as:

  • Creating landscape (sideways) pages

  • How to create and edit your thesis in many small files, but convert it into a single file for electronic submission

Inserting images and Excel charts

Although it would seem that the most straight forward method of inserting Excel charts into a Word document is by copying and pasting, the results do not always convert well to PDF. A better option might be to export the chart from Excel as a wmf file, and import that into Word, or:

  1. Adjust the column/cell size to the size you would like.

  2. Select the cells that you wish to copy.

  3. Hold down the SHIFT key and select Copy Picture from the Edit menu.

  4. A window will pop up; select "As shown on screen" under Appearance and "Picture" under Format, then click OK.

  5. Paste the picture in Word (Edit/Paste or Ctrl-V).

This technique may apply with other applications as well.

Creating landscape pages

Sometimes you may have a table or figure that is too wide to fit on a normal portrait page (8.5" x 11") so you want to place it rotated on the page. That is, you want to create a landscape page, (11" x 8.5"). That is fairly simple to do if you understand the concept of Word sections.

In order to change any formatting in Word, such as the page orientation, you need to insert a new section.

  1. From the Word menus, choose Insert, Break. Click the button to designate a Section break of type Next page. Click OK.

  1. Now from the menus choose File, Page Setup.

  2. Under Orientation, choose the Landscape button.

  3. Under Apply to:, ensure that This section is selected. you don't want your entire document to be converted to landscape mode.

  1. Now create your landscape table or insert your landscape image.

  2. Repeat the above process, choosing from the menus Insert, Break, choose Section break, next page. Then repeat the File, Page Setup and revert to Portrait orientation. Under Apply to: you can either choose This section or This point forward but not Whole document.

The above description assumes that you are adding a landscape page to the end of the document. Perhaps you want to add a landscape page in the middle of a document. In that case:

  1. Insert, Break, Section Break, Next Page to create an empty page.

  2. Click in the empty page and do a File, Page Setup and select landscape orientation, making sure you apply it to just the current section.

Perhaps you have already created the table, and now wish to modify it so that it appears in landscape mode.

  1. Select the table, and from the menus choose File, Page Setup.

  2. Choose Landscape orientation.

  3. Under Apply to choose Selected text. This will cause Word to add the section breaks before and after the table.

Note: When you add page numbers or headers/footers to this document, they will appear in a landscape not portrait orientation. This is acceptable in an electronic thesis.

For printed theses up to the end of September 2006.

For a different way of doing this, see MS Knowledge Base article #Q211930, or #211930:

One way is to create the page as portrait, then:

  1. Select the content of the page

  2. Insert/Table (all your content will go into one cell in a one-cell table).

  3. Right click on table and then choose Table Properties

  4. In the Table tab, click on the Borders and Shading button and then choose ‘none’ to get rid of table border and click OK and then OK again.

  5. View/Toolbars/Tables and Borders

    1. Click on table; Table/Select/Table

    2. Click on the Change Text Direction button to change the orientation of the content to be landscape (may need to click it 2 X to get orientation you want).

    3. Use the small box in the bottom right of the table cell to resize it to be the size of the page.

    4. If you have any images on this page, you will likely have to rotate them in another program such as Microsoft Photo Editor (if you have Microsoft Office XP on your Windows pc, you will likely find it under Start/All Programs/Microsoft Office/Microsoft Office Tools) and then re-insert them into Word.

Creating your thesis from many small documents

While you are creating your thesis, it is easiest and best to create it as a number of smaller files, perhaps store each chapter in a separate file. But in order to build a Table of Contents, create cross references across files and have pages numbered sequentially you need to create a single file. The easiest way to do this is to simply amalgamate all files using the Insert File feature. Open the first file, click at the bottom, and from the menus select Insert, File and choose the second file. Repeat this process until all your files have been included. This method may work if you have sufficient memory on your computer, if your thesis is not too large, and doesn't contain too many images. However, even if you can create this one file, you may find it too unwieldy to work with. Another method must be found.

Many books and documents may recommend that you use Word's Master Document feature for creating a single file. In theory this should be the correct method, but in practice master documents can become very unstable, and most experts do not recommend this approach.

A safer way of creating a single document is to use the Includetext feature, which can be achieved in several ways, but the easiest is via the Insert, File menu(NOTE: If you use the software, EndNote, for managing your bibliography, you may need to do all of your updating in the individual files and avoid using F9 in your main file.)

Start with an empty document, and from the menus select Insert, File. Navigate to and select the first document. Then, down at the bottom of the screen, you will see an Insert button. Click it, and select Insert as Link.

Now, depending on your Word settings, you may either see the expanded file, or something that looks like this:

You will want to see the actual text. Go to Tools, Options and on the View tab, make sure that Field Codes is not selected.

Alternatively, you can toggle between viewing the complete text or field code of a specific field by right clicking on it, and from the context menu that appears, select Toggle Field Code.

Repeat this process for all your files. When you have created a single document, you can add cross references, page numbers, table of contents, etc. When you are done, save this document.

You may wish to continue editing the individual documents. If you do, and then open the main document, you will see that the changes you made are not reflected in the main document. To rectify this, select the entire document (Edit, Select All or CTRL A). Then simply press the F9 key.

If you make changes in the main file, you will probably want those changes reflected in the individual files as well as in the main file. To do this, select the entire document and press CTRL SHIFT F7. Any modified files will be saved. You can then save the main file.

Using images in your thesis

Many theses will include computer generated images. Some of these will be created in a graphics program, and some may be screen captures. There are two types of graphics, vector, defined by a series of mathematical commands, and bitmaped images, defined as a collection of coloured, or black and white dots. Drawing programs such as CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator create vector graphics, while paint programs such as Adobe Photoshop create bitmaped images. Screen captures are bitmapped images.

When converted to PDF format, not all images will display equally well. One cause of poor display quality may be the fact that the image was resized inside the word processing program. If you find that an image must be resized, always open the image in a graphic editing program, and resize it there.

Some vector images may not display as you would like. This may result from the fact that Acrobat does not "antialias" vector graphics. (Pixels on the margin of objects are rendered at an appropriate level of gray, instead of being either black or white). If your vector graphics do not look as crisp as you would like when rendered into PDF, try bringing them into a graphics program, and converting them into bitmapped format, such as gif.

Screen captures can present the most serious prolem, because the resolution of the screen is low to begin with. For the best results using captured screen images in PDF files, follow these guidelines:

  • Before you capture a screen image, increase the size of the fonts your system uses for menus and dialog boxes. Often, fonts in a screen image appear jagged because they appear so small on the system. For instructions, refer to your system documentation.

  • Before you capture an image, adjust the system settings to minimize the number of colors used in dialog boxes. This helps reduce dithered patterns if the image is viewed on systems displaying few colors. For instructions, refer to your system documentation.

  • Before you insert a captured screen image into another file, open the image in an image-editing application and increase its resolution or resize it to the intended viewing size. Higher resolution images are less likely to appear jagged when magnified. If the image is already the intended viewing size, it will appear smoother on-screen.

  • When copying from Microsoft Excel to Microsoft Word:

    1. Adjust the column/cell size to the size you would like.

    2. Select the cells that you wish to copy.

    3. Hold down the SHIFT key and select Copy Picture from the Edit menu.

    4. A window will pop up; select "As shown on screen" under Appearance and "Picture" under Format, then click OK.

    5. Paste the picture in Word (Edit/Paste or Ctrl-V).