Strategy for Starting a Thesis from Scratch

The CLAS Linux Group have posted this information on behalf of others. This information is likely dated. Use at your own risk.

  1. Create a file called thesis.tex to use as your "master" file. This is the big daddy of them all, and will link together the other files that will make up your thesis. Note that a comment in LaTeX is preceded by a percent sign ('%') and extends to the end of the line. Suppose you plan to have 4 chapters and 2 appendices (which you can change later, of course). Here's a good thesis.tex to start with:

    % thesis.tex (starting point of my thesis)

    % Declare overall type of document (use 12pt report class):

    % Import uithesisXX.sty file:


    % Specify which pieces (other .tex files) you plan to include later:


    % Include all of the other pieces of your thesis:


  2. Create a file prelude.tex to specify which features in uithesisXX.sty you are using, your personal information, and your title & abstract. For example:

    % prelude.tex (specification of which features in 'uithesisXX.sty' you
    % are using, your personal information, and your title & abstract)

    % Specify features of 'uithesisXX.sty' you want to use:
    \abtitlepgtrue % special title page announcing your abstract, not to be bound with thesis (required)
    \abstractpgtrue % special version of your abstract suitable for microfilming, not to be bound with thesis (required)
    \titlepgtrue % main title page (required)
    \copyrighttrue % copyright page (optional)
    \signaturepagetrue % page for thesis committee signatures (required)
    \dedicationtrue % dedication page (optional)
    \acktrue % acknowledgments page (optional)
    \abswithesistrue % abstract to be bound with thesis (optional)
    \tablecontentstrue % table of contents page (required)
    \tablespagetrue % table of contents page for tables (required only if you have tables)
    \figurespagetrue % table of contents page for figures (required only if you have figures)

    \title{MY THESIS TITLE} % use all capital letters

    \author{My Name} % use mixed upper & lower case
    \advisor{Title and Name of My Advisor} % example: Associate Professor John Doe
    \dept{Statistics} % your academic department
    \submitdate{December 1998} % month & year of your graduation

    { This is the abstract that I want bound with my thesis. It's optional. }

    { This is the abstract to turn in for microfilming. Specific formatting
      requirements (eg., limits on \#words and use of symbols and fonts) are
      described in the UMI Microfilming guide, which you can get from the
      Graduate College. It's required. }

    { This is optional; start with the word "To"; you do not need to end with a period }

    { This is also optional. Use complete sentences here. }

    % Take care of things in 'uithesisXX.sty' behind the scenes (it sounds weird, but you need these commands):

  3. Place all of your LaTeX new command definitions in a file called newcom.tex:

    % newcom.tex (new command definitions)

    % Some examples (yours may be different):

  4. Create a separate files chap1.tex, chap2.tex, chap3.tex, chap4.tex for each chapter. Here is an example for the first of our 4 chapters, illustrating the use of sectioning commands (make sure you capitalize the "C" in \Chapter!):

    % chap1.tex (Chapter 1 of my thesis)


    \section{The Problem}

    Here's the problem I'm trying to solve.


    Here's some background on the problem, the model for which is described in section~\ref{intro:prob:model}.

    \subsection{The Model}

    Here's the model I'm using for the problem, whose background is mentioned in section~\ref{intro:prob:bkgd}. Here's a lemma important to the model (for the proof, see Appendix~\ref{app:proof:easy}):
    This is a Lemma.

    \section{Previous Approaches}

    Here are some previous approaches to this problem, which is defined in section~\ref{intro:prob}.

  5. If you have one or more appendices, create a tiny little file called app0.tex to implement the "switch" to appendix mode:

    % app0.tex (silly little file to separate chapters from appendices)

  6. Create the appendices app1.tex and app2.tex, using the sectioning command \Appendix instead of \Chapter:

    % app1.tex (will be Appendix A)


    \section{Proof of Lemma~\ref{easylemma}}

    \noindent \textbf{Proof}:\quad The result is clearly obvious.

  7. Add content to the various .tex files to build your thesis. Always compile thesis.tex (not the other .tex files) when you want to view your changes. To shorten compile time, comment out lines in the \includeonly section of thesis.tex that you are not updating at the moment. LaTeX will then include the most recently compiled version of these files. The page numbers may be off, but you will still have access to labels within the commented-out files. For example, if you are working on Chapter 3, you have not made any recent changes to Chapters 1-2, and you haven't started on Chapter 4 or the appendices, you will make your \includeonly statement look like this:


There is no need to comment out any \include statements. If you add more chapters or appendices, be sure to add statements for them.