Thesis Dissertation Service

As part of Otterbein University’s support for open-access systems like the Digital Commons @ Otterbein and the OhioLINK Electronic Thesis and Dissertations (ETD) Center, the Courtright Memorial Library works with various programs on campus to provide support for making student scholarly work available online. Each program, including Honors, Distinction, Graduate Schools, and others, has a set of guidelines that explain which system, or both, is required for each program’s student as well as other important information. Please refer to your program’s guidelines. If you have completed your defense and have had your project approved by your program, please follow the links below to submit your project online.

On This Page

What are Digital Commons @ Otterbein and the OhioLINK ETD Center?

The Digital Commons @ Otterbein and OhioLINK ETD are free, online, databases containing electronic versions of master’s theses, dissertations, and undergraduate honors theses (full text and abstracts). The content is uploaded to the ETD as a PDF that reproduces the format of the printed document. If a thesis contains non-print elements, they can be incorporated into the PDF or stored along with it. The Digital Commons @ Otterbein and OhioLINK ETD program both provide open access to a student’s thesis or dissertation, and this thesis or dissertation will be indexed by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and other Internet search engines.

Formatting Guidelines

I. Program-Specific Formatting Guidelines

In accordance with Otterbein’s efforts to make educational content available to everyone, we ask that you do your best to make your paper accessible. Accessible documents mean that they will be usable by screen readers and other assistive technologies and will widen the scope of who can access your paper. We hope to introduce you to creating more accessible professional writing as you progress in your career.

It is always best, if possible, to start with an accessible source document (e.g., in Microsoft Word) and export it to an accessible PDF. This way, if the document is edited later, the document’s accessibility features will still be intact. When the document is exported again to PDF, the accessibility features will again be passed to the PDF. All PDFs submitted need to meet the following  Minimum Requirements for Digitally Accessible PDFs:

When creating content, a few basic steps should be followed to ensure your content is accessible. The core steps needed for accessibility are the same regardless of whether your document is in Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, or another document format:

II. Creating an Accessible PDF Copy

  • Each thesis or paper needs to be in the form of a single PDF file before it can be submitted to OhioLINK ETD Center.
  • Word
    • Microsoft Word can be used to create and check accessible documents. Otterbein provides Office 365 for Students if they need to download a newer version of it. You can also check your paper for accessibility in word.  Please do your best to address any errors or warnings that come up.
    • Using Heading Styles – Heading styles make a big difference in helping your document meet accessibility standards. Headings organize a document so people can find the content they need or understand how it is laid out.
    • Adding Alt Text to Images – Adding alt text to images and figures helps screen readers relay the objects in a document. See the Social Security Administration Alternative Text Guide and WebAIM: Alternative Text for more information.
    • Embed Fonts -When fonts are embedded, readers of your work can see your document as you intended, using the same fonts you used.
    • Document Properties – Editing document properties creates additional data about the details of a file. This helps with the organization and identification of files based on their properties. It is also necessary to set the document properties to ensure it is accessible. Setting properties such as Author, Title, and Language helps identify a document.
    • Saving the PDF with Bookmarks – Heading styles are retained when converting to a PDF and creating bookmarks, which all can use to navigate the document in a clean and concise manner. Having a descriptive file name can give information about the document.
  • Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Accessible
  • How to create PDF files
    • Converting to accessible PDF
      • In Word, click File, then Save As.
      • Choose where you want the file to be saved.
      • Select PDF as the Save As type, then select Options.
      • Check the box for Document structure tags for accessibility.
      • Click OK.
    • Check accessibility of PDFs:  The Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a helpful tool for resolving many PDF issues. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is available on computers in the labs on campus.  ITS automatically initiates student accounts upon enrollment. First-time users should open Adobe Pro and log in using their Otterbein email address. You will then get a confirmation/authentication code for password creation for future access. Adobe password will not be affiliated with the university network password for returning users. If you have any issues accessing the software, please contact ITS for help.
  • File Names – Consideration should be given to the file name of the PDF version of your paper or project. An appropriate naming scheme for your PDF file should include your last name, or a combination of last name, first name and middle initial, date/year, and should not contain any spaces, special characters: ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; < > ? , [ ] { } ‘ “. Use capitals and underscores instead of periods or spaces, or slashes. Example file names include smithja_final_etd.pdf and smithja_final_etd2021.pdf.


For all programs, students and their faculty advisors will have the option of selecting an embargo period to accompany the full publication of the project in question. Under an embargo situation, all abstracts remain fully searchable, but download and access to the main document is restricted automatically until the time of the embargo has passed. The specific time periods an embargo may be selected for may change depending upon your program. In each case, however, we require the signature of the faculty advisor in order to implement an embargo period. Once the Upload Authorization Form has been completed, including the appropriate embargo period, if any, you may select that option when you upload your paper. If you have any questions about embargoes, please speak to a librarian.

Honors, SYE & Distinction Programs

If you are completing the Honors, SYE, or Distinction programs, please follow the steps outlined in the program procedures below, as appropriate. In addition, you must turn in your signed title page and the complete Upload Authorization Form, also found below, to the Library, and you must upload your project no later than two weeks before the end of the semester. Honors and Distinction students are required only to submit their projects to the Digital Commons @ Otterbein.

Graduate Programs

If you are completing work in a graduate program, please follow the steps outlined in the program procedures below, as appropriate. You must submit your signed title page and the complete Upload Authorization Form, also found below, to the Library, and you must upload your project no later than April 15. Graduate students must submit their papers/projects to the Digital Commons @ Otterbein (DC) AND the OhioLINK Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Center. (poster only to DC). We recommend registering for an ORCID number before submitting your paper/project. Registration is free. ORCID Identifiers help distinguish one researcher from another, especially when names are similar. ORCID can be an online profile that links to a researcher’s works, funding, and professional website. It enables auto-updates of a researcher’s record when their creative and scholarly works are published.

Capstone Programs

The Digital Commons @ Otterbein is a repository of all Otterbein scholarly and creative works and so supports projects from programs other than just the Honors, Distinction, and Graduate schools. If your program has a structure in place to support the dissemination of works via the Digital Commons @ Otterbein, please review the following program procedures documents and associated upload authorization forms.

Please see the Library’s full Schedule of Operations for additional information.

Contact the Library

138 West Main Street.
Westerville, OH 43081

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