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Intro to Form and Style Review: Document Expectations


The Form and Style Review is conducted by Walden University’s Form and Style editors and is one of the 7 Stages of Approval during the capstone process. Each dissertation, doctoral study, and project study (capstone) at Walden University will go through this process. The Form and Style Review occurs once the committee has approved the final document and the URR passes it on to our team. 

Editors will provide a student with a review of their document. The review will be focused on APA Style (including writing style, citations, references, and tables and figures), scholarly tone, voice, and Walden and Proquest document formatting requirements. Using MS Word Track Changes, we begin by completing a line edit of the first chapter or section of the capstone.  We then conduct a review of 10-15 pages of each remaining chapter or section. Following that, we line edit the first few pages of the references as well as check the formatting and information contained in the appendices. We will also model how to format tables and figures according to APA Style. 

When we return the document, we will include a cover letter where we explain the general types of changes that we have implemented, as well as general comments for improvement going forward. We also include a Form and Style Checklist to help the student with any other changes that may need to be made. 

Document Formatting & APA Style

The submitted capstone study must follow Walden and APA specifications for formatting and style. Useful resources include the Walden DBA, DHA, DIT, DNP, DPA, DrPH, DSW, EdD, PhD, and PsyD templates; F&S checklists; and the Dissertation Guidebook or Doctoral Study Guidebook. You should refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition for formatting and style, keeping in mind that a few Walden capstone specifications supersede APA guidelines, such as Level 0 headings and different margin widths.

Focus of the Review

Walden F&S editors review capstone studies for logic, flow, precision, clarity, and compliance with APA style. We conduct a line-by-line edit of Chapter 1 (dissertation) or Section 1 (doctoral or project study) of a capstone draft and several pages of the remaining chapters or sections as well as the reference list and appendices, then noting any errors or patterns of error. Our comments address areas such as

  • clarity and economy of expression
  • scholarly and objective language
  • cohesion and alignment of elements throughout the study
  • formatting of margins, page numbers, headings, tables, figures, citations, and reference list entries.

We use a writing assessment rubric to guide our feedback for (a) cohesion and flow, (b) APA, and (c) voice and grammar.

What to Expect

All manuscripts will require some revision after the F&S review, and you can expect us to use both track changes and comment balloons to model and explain revisions. Our advice will 

  • indicate patterns of errors for revision 

  • ask critical questions to help clarify prose 

  • suggest changes for writers and their committees to consider before the capstone study becomes a permanent written record of the students' academic achievement. 

Our feedback falls into three categories: required changes, highly recommended revisions, and suggested revisions. 

Upon receiving the F&S Review from an editor, students should use only the document from the F&S editor throughout the remainder of the approval process.  Editors set the required formatting in that document (margins, pagination, spacing, etc.), so students should avoid making any additional changes to document formatting when they receive their F&S review.   

In addition, moving forward with that document (versus trying to apply the editor’s changes to another version) will also mean that students keep that proper, required formatting in the document that they use to continue with for capstone approval.  Margin and pagination requirements can be found under Document Expectations on the Form and Style website.  In addition, students can consult the Form and Style Templates page for help navigating and using the template.   

For questions, contact

Capstone Margin and Pagination Requirements

The “front matter” of the document has different pagination and margin formatting. The front matter consists of the title pages, dedication, acknowledgements, Table of Contents (TOC), List of Tables, and List of Figures. There should be no page numbers on the first few pages. Roman numeral pagination of the remaining pages of the front matter begin at the TOC. The pagination is different in the TOC, using roman numerals, to ensure that the first page of Chapter/Section 1 begins at page 1. In addition, the top and bottom margins are different to accommodate the different locations of the page numbers (at the bottom, center of the page for front matter; top right corner for the body of the document).

The order and pagination of the preliminary pages are as follows:

  1. Abstract title page (no page number)
  2. Abstract (no page number)
  3. Title page (no page number)
  4. Dedication (optional; no page number; use double-spacing and normal paragraphing)
  5. Acknowledgments (optional; no page number; use double-spacing and normal paragraphing)
  6. TOC (page i)
  7. List of Tables (paginated consecutively after the TOC)
  8. List of Figures (paginated consecutively after the List of Tables)  

Starting with the first page of the TOC, set the page numbers in lowercase roman numerals, centered in the footer, 1 in. from bottom of the page.

Page 1 is the first page of Chapter/Section 1 (not the first page of the TOC). Page numbers appear in the upper right on all pages of the chapters, references, and appendices.

Margins for preliminary pages

Title pages, abstract, dedication, acknowledgements, and TOC, including lists of tables and figures

  • Top = 1 inch
  • Bottom = 1.3 inch
  • Left = 1.5 inch
  • Right = 1 inch

Make sure the page number is 1 in. from the bottom of the page: Set the footer at 1 in.

Margins for main body of text

Page 1 to end of references and appendices

  • Top = 1.3 inch
  • Bottom = 1 inch
  • Left = 1.5 inch
  • Right = 1 inch

Make sure the page number is 1 in. from the top of the page: Set the header at 1 in.

Capstone Spacing Requirements

APA 7 requires one space between sentences. This is a change from APA 6, where either one or two spaces was allowed between sentences as long as there was consistency throughout the document.

A few spacing reminders:

  • In APA Style, one space is the requirement after a colon.
  • In APA Style, once space is the requirement between elements of the reference.