Degree thesis index: how to write it and where to place it

Jun - 08

Degree thesis index: how to write it and where to place it

The degree thesis index is one of the most important elements.

It allows the reader to read a document for the first time to orientate immediately inside the work. Let’s find out how to write it and where to place it.


Unlike what you may think, the index must be written at the beginning of the thesis and must be placed equally at the beginning of the work.

It must reproduce exactly the content of the thesis, giving an account of the subdivision into chapters, paragraphs and (possibly under paragraphs).

Through the index, ideas take a logical form and order, make your ideas orderly and understandable for others.


A possible index scheme is the following:

Chapter I. The interpretation in law

The theories of interpretation

1.1. The legal formalism

1.2. Interpretative skepticism

The index must contain the title of the chapter (better in bold), followed by the paragraphs that make up the chapter (number and title for each of them), each with the indication of the page where they start. Then remember at the end of the draft to verify that the page numbers actually match what is presented in the index. For the purpose of compiling the index, it treats the bibliography and web site as a chapter.


In Word, you can insert an automatic summary, whose information is automatically updated based on the title styles, or you can create a summary manually.

Manually created summaries are sometimes useful for short documents that will remain unchanged or when the titles of a document do not use the built-in heading styles. A manually created summary requires more work to be updated than the automatic summary because a manual update is required each time a title or page is added, modified or removed from the document.

In the document, click where you want to insert the summary.

To insert the table of contents on a separate page or to use different page numbers for the table of contents compared to the rest of the document, place the table of contents in a separate section adding section breaks before and after the table of contents.

Choose Print Layout from the View menu.

On the Document Items tab, in Contents, choose a table of contents style, click, then under Table of Contents, choose the structure you want.

If you see an error that Word does not find a summary entry, it means that an automatic summary style has been selected and that there is no title in the document formatted with one of the built-in title styles. Repeat step 3 and make sure to select a manual summary structure.

Type the titles and page numbers in the summary to match those in the document.

To add more items, copy an existing entry and paste it to the desired location in the table of contents.

If you are not familiar with this tool, we recommend that you learn quickly. If you are reticent, the only option you have left is “do it yourself”.

What does this mean?

You will have to learn to align everything so that it is aesthetically pleasing and not messy

You will have to update it gradually to avoid finding yourself eventually having to run for cover

We advise you not to proceed in the lines by putting spaces with the space bar but to use at most the Tab key which is less prone to inaccuracies. You can also help yourself by inserting the titles of the paragraphs in a table (of which you will then have to remove the borders).

We also recommend that you avoid the dots between the title and the page number. The printing result is not aesthetically pleasing and professional.

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