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Glossary of a thesis

Date published by Date updated: October 14, 2015

A glossary is a list of all terms used in your thesis that are not immediately obvious to the average reader.

When do you use a glossary?

You add a glossary whenever this increases the readability of your thesis. If you use, for example, many technical terms then it is advisable to add a glossary.

Sort terms alphabetically

Sort the glossary in alphabetical order and provide a short explanation or definition. Sorting the terms alphabetically ensures that the reader can easily look up the terms.

Where do you put the glossary in your thesis?

You place the glossary at the beginning of the document, just after the table of contents (or, if applicable, the list of figures or list of abbreviations). Readers of your thesis can then first look through the key terms before they actually read your thesis in full.

If you only have a few terms that need explaining, you can choose to add the explanations in a footnote. This method saves the reader the work of flipping back to the glossary.

Abbreviations do not belong in the glossary

Don’t explain an abbreviation in the glossary. If you have a lot of abbreviations, put these in the list of abbreviations. Do you only have a few abbreviations in your thesis? Then you can explain the abbreviations in the text.

Example Glossary


Example glossary

Additional lists in your thesis

In addition to the use of a glossary, you could also use a list of figures and tables and a list of abbreviations. When doing so, make use of the following order:

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Article by Michelle Mertens

Michelle is responsible for the support at Scribbr. Day in day out she receives many questions about thesis proofreading, how to write a thesis and how to prevent plagiarism. She loves to write clear and easy to understand articles about these topics to help students out.

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