Most faculties at the University of Iceland have their own templates for dissertations. Students often face problems when working with these templates and the writing center is happy to assist students with any such problems in the face-to-face appointments.

Below is a list of frequent problems and how to solve them.


Most templates have preconfigured styles. A style is a predefined combination of font style, color and size of text that can be applied to a selected text. A blank Word-document contains styles such as Normal, Heading 1, Heading 2, Quote etc.

In Templates these styles have been modified according to the faculty’s rules. Consequently, all paragraphs that have the same function should share a style. For example, all chapter headings should look the same if they have been defined as Heading 1 and the main text should always look the same if it is defined as Normal.

Common issues: Most templates have two normal styles, one for the bulk of the text and the second for the first line of each chapter, which is not indented. These two styles therefore have a separate function and should not be confused.

If a style needs to be modified, right-click the style in question and choose Modify… A window opens where the font can be modified and the bottom left corner provides a list of other features to adjust, e.g. the paragraph and indentation.

Click here for a detailed video on styles.


If the template includes the Table of Contents, it only needs to be updated. When styles are used, the table of Contents automatically contains the headings 1, 2 and 3 (note that Heading 4 is not a part of the ToC).
If the ToC is already a part of the document, you only need to right-click the table or find the table setting on the Ribbon on top of the document and click “update field” and choose “update entire table”. If the ToC is not already a part of the template, it is easy to create – if the styles have been used correctly. As specified below, Macs and PCs have different commands for this.

Mac: On the Document Elements tab, click the Table of Contents style you want or go to Insert > Index and tables > Table of contents

PC: On the References tab, in the Table of Contents group, click Table of Contents, and then click the table of contents style that you want.

Here is a step-by-step guide from Microsoft on how to create the ToC.


If a dissertation contains figures or images, separate tables for that are needed. The description of the figure must be defined as a caption. To do that, follow these steps:

  • Select the object (table, equation, figure, or another object) that you want to add a caption to.
  • On the References tab, in the Captions group, click Insert Caption.
  • In the Label list, select the label that best describes the object, such as a picture or equation. If the list doesn’t provide the correct label, click New Label, type the new label in the Label box, and then click OK.
  • If this is done with all the tables or figures, the table of figures can be created automatically. One table of figures is required for each label.

Click where you want to insert the table of figures.

PC: On the References tab, in the Captions group, click Insert Table of Figures.
Mac: Insert > Index and tables > Table of Figures

Click here for a tutorial video


Section breaks have often already been inserted into the template document. To see the breaks, click the ¶ sign, which shows all non-printing characters. Breaks are found under the Layout tab.

Section breaks are used to create layout or formatting changes in a portion of a document.

Different types of page breaks serve different functions.

The Next Page command inserts a section break and starts the new section on the next page. This type of section break is especially useful for starting new chapters in a document.

The Continuous command inserts a section break and starts the new section on the same page. A continuous section break is useful for creating a formatting change, such as a different number of columns, on a page.

The Even Page or Odd Page command inserts a section break and starts the new section on the next even-numbered or odd-numbered page. If you want all document chapters to begin on an odd page or on an even page, use the Odd page or Even page section break option.

Breaks are also useful when page numbering should start on a specific page, i.e. if page 3 of the document should be number 1. As a rule of thumb, the title page is the first one included in the numbering but the page numbers should not be seen until on page 3.

See tutorial here.


  • If the text has already been written and you want to paste it into the template, be sure to use Paste > Paste special: unformatted text. (In Macs it is under the Edit tab; in PCs it is in the upper left corner.)
  • Remember that spaces below and above headings are defined in the style; do not add extra space by using the enter key or return key.
  • The first line after a heading, a subtitle or a long quote should not be indented, all other new paragraphs should be indented. The length of the indentation is usually defined in the template but this may vary between faculties. It is normally somewhere around 0,6–0,8 cm.
  • NOTE that if the indentation of the style “normal” is set, the indentation is automatic and the tab key should not be used.


  • The cover of the dissertation is a different template, standardized for the whole university. It is a separate pdf-document and can be found here with instructions.
  • When everything is done, take another look at the paper. Update the Table of Contents for the last time. If the text is justified (which is required in many faculties), divide words between lines with a dash to avoid big empty spaces between words. Here is a useful overview of hyphen use from the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
  • Do not forget to submit the paper to the faculty’s office in print as well as an electronic copy to the University Library. See instructions here.
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