These are the things you need to take into account when writing your report:
- Orthogonality: Do the chapters cover distinct subjects of my work (good), or are there many overlaps in the subjects covered by the chapters (bad)?
- Completeness: Do the chapters form a complete impression of my work (good) or do I miss some important issues (bad)?
- Pertinence: Are all the chapters pertinent (they are about things that are used in the work, which is good), or do I have lots of text just to fill in pages (bad)?
- Balance: Are the chapters balanced with respect to the amount of information (good), or do I have a couple of ‘thin’ chapters and one or two “thick’ ones (bad)?
- Consistency: Is your structure built according to a logical order of subjects, like, e.g., problem definition, approach, produced results and conclusions (good), or is the structure a collection of unrelated items (bad)?
General outline MSc thesis:
- Unnumbered region: begin (informal)
- List of contents
- Numbered region (formal)
- Background (Motivation)
- Structure of the report
- N. Conclusions and recommendations
- Unnumbered region: end (formal)
- References (literature)
- Take care of the audience you are writing for.
- Give preference to simple and short sentences.
- Be precise. For example, use only one term to refer to some concept and keep the terminology consistent.
- Give preference to the direct forms. For example, it is preferable to write ‘The chapter discusses…’ in place of ‘In the chapter … is discussed’.
- Give preference to the present tense. For example, it is preferable to write ‘This chapter discusses…’ in place of ‘This chapter will discuss’ or ‘This chapter discussed’.
- Try to make the layout of your text such that it is ‘inviting to read’. For example, do not write too much text in a page without a break (e.g., section, sub-section, figures of tables), separate paragraphs with empty space or indentation, and do not emphasize too many words.
- Emphasis should be homogenous throughout the text. We recommend the use of italics for emphasis.
- A clear figure or table says more than 1000 words, but be careful: a bad figure says 1000 wrong words!
- Be consistent with layout, captions, cross-references, etc. For example, place figures and captions always in the same place, use always the same font for similar things, etc.
- Use chapters and sections to enforce the logical structure of your reasoning. This results in a thesis that appeals to the intuition of the reader.
- Do not go too deep in the sub-sections. This normally indicates that the whole thesis is badly structured. For example, this manual has 20 to 30 pages and goes until level 2 (e.g., section 3.2); for an MSc thesis of around 100 to 150 pages it is reasonable to go until level 3.
- Every time you have numbered sections in a chapter or numbered subsections in a section, you should have at least two. For example, a numbered section hanging alone in a chapter actually means that the chapter remains monolithic.
- Avoid using footnotes, unless you have some remark that would ruin the line of reasoning if placed in the body of the text. These situations are very rare.