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ETD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why should I do an ETD?
  • You can have your thesis/dissertation published on the Internet, making it quickly and inexpensively available to employers, faculty, students and other interested readers around the world. Statistics from other universities reveal that theses/dissertations published online are accessed many times more than paper ones. 
  • You can express yourself in a more technologically advanced way. You can include photos, graphs, and drawings in your work without having to worry about print quality, expensive printing costs, or durability. 
  • You can advance your skills in electronic publishing, the medium of the future. 
  • You can finish your thesis or dissertation more efficiently by interacting with your professors electronically and saving on copying costs.
2. Why do I need to create a PDF of my manuscript?

Converting theses/dissertations to PDF and distributing them in that file format has many advantages:

  • The leading web browsers support PDF, and the format and paging stays consistent whether someone views the ETD from Windows, Macintosh, or Unix platforms. Since Acrobat Reader can be downloaded at no cost, publishing your work in PDF will make it possible for people anywhere to read your work for free.
  • PDF files can also be created easily from most leading word processing software packages such as MS Word. The converted PDF work will retain your text, pictures, photographs, and other content.
  • And finally, PDF files are accepted by ProQuest for dissertation and thesis publication, including all GW dissertations and theses.
3. What other electronic files are allowed?

The text portion of your thesis or dissertation should be a PDF document. Some theses and dissertations will only have text content, while others may include images and additional multimedia content.

You can use any of the document formats below if you have content other than text. These formats are already approved by ProQuest for inclusion in ETDs.

  • Images:

* GIF (.gif)

* JPEG (.jpeg)

* PDF (.pdf) use Type 1 PostScript fonts

* TIFF (.tif)


  • Video:

* Apple Quick Time (.mov)

* Microsoft Audio Video Interleaved (.avi)

* MPEG (.mpg)


  • Audio:

* AIF (.aif)



* MIDI (.midi)

* MPEG-2

* SND (.snd)

* WAV (.wav)


We do not wish to limit you to any particular file formats and encourage you to work with software programs you feel comfortable with. If you wish to use a format other than the ones above, please email the Library ETD Administrator to discuss your needs.

4. Will I need to purchase software?

No, you do not need to purchase additional software. Acrobat DC (part of Adobe Creative Cloud) is freely available for download for all GW Students, Faculty and Staff.  

Adobe Acrobat DC Professional edition is also available on public computers in Gelman Library and in the computer labs on both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses for student use to convert their manuscripts to Adobe PDF format. Please go to the Classrooms & Labs page for information on these facilities. In addition, there is a PDF conversion tool for MS Word and RTF software users available as part of the ETD Submission website.

5. Can I publish my thesis or dissertation in PDF if I already started writing it using another word processing program? 

Absolutely. That is the normal way to do it because it is easy to convert most word processing documents into PDF files, which will typically be the last step in publishing your ETD.

We encourage you to write your dissertation in whatever word processing program you prefer and are most comfortable using. However, using Google Docs is not recommended, because formatting changes to the document may occur when converting a Google doc to PDF.

6. Are any size limits imposed on ETDs?

The ProQuest server to which you will be uploading the PDF of your thesis or dissertation does not have any specific size limitations. However, if you have an unusually large file and find you are unable to upload your document, please contact the Library ETD Administrator to make arrangements to use an alternative submission method.

7. Are there any style or format specifications for my ETD?

Yes, the University has established certain basic style and format requirements that apply to students in all GW schools. Information on the University Formatting Guidelines are available on our website. Different GW schools have some variation in the basic formatting style, so you must also consult your own school's style and format specifications in case you are required to do something additional or special. Schools have written guidelines on the preparation of theses and dissertations that cover style, format, and other topics as well. Be sure you follow them.

8. Who is responsible for processing the electronic submission after I get my dissertation/thesis committee approval?

After your committee signs off on the thesis or dissertation, send the ETD Access Approval form to the contact person in your school's graduate office and submit your ETD to the ProQuest ETD web site for review. The ETD Access Approval form will indicate that the paper copy you presented to your thesis advisor and the final electronic copy have been checked against each other by both you and your advisor and they match exactly.

Once you submit your ETD to the ProQuest ETD Administrator, the Library ETD Administrator will check its format (not its content) and contact you if any corrections to the format are needed and resubmission is required. When the formatting requirements have been met, the Library ETD Administrator will assign your submission to the School ETD Administrator in your graduate office.

After your School administrator has received and approved the the appropriate paperwork and submission, you will receive an email notification from ProQuest that your submission has been accepted. The School must approve the work before it is officially approved in the system.

After your submission has been delivered to and processed by Proquest (normally 6-8 weeks), your fully approved ETD will be released for the level of access you chose on the approval form (open access or traditional publishing/immediate or delayed release). If, like most ETD authors, you choose to make your ETD accessible worldwide, the ETD will be accessible through the University's Institutional Repository (GW ScholarSpace) and ProQuest's Dissertations and Theses database. It will also be made free of charge through the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD).

Online Resources

Searching for other authors' dissertations and theses

If you're conducting a literature review and are interested in other ETD authors' findings on your topic, the library has you covered. Our webpage provides guidance on searching library and Web resources for Dissertations and Theses from GW and other national and international institutions.

Other recommended resources