Typesetting and Style
Despite the generic title, this page actually discusses typesetting with
LaTeX. It is rather more difficult to get anywhere near LaTeX's standards of
quality with any other package, especially when it comes to mathematical or
technical documents, so we strongly recommend it for your thesis.
The first part of a working LaTeX environment is a TeX
distribution. Depending on your operating system, we recommend the following:
- Windows: use MikTeX.
- OS X:
- Linux/*nix: your
distribution's package management system should offer TeXlive (2008 is preferred
as of this writing) for installation.
Yes, TeX is that
big. Most of it is actually font data. You can in some cases get a stripped
down distribution that omits some packages and fonts.
Getting an Editor
The second part is a good editor. While any text
editor will do, you should find one that has special LaTeX support, such as
syntax highlighting and macro completion. The choice again depends on your
- Windows: TeXnicCenter
- OS X: TeXShop or TextMate
- Linux/*nix: Kile (KDE),
Bluefish (Gnome), orif you're not afraid of themEmacs (with AucTeX) or Vim
(with LaTeX suite) [in no particular order]. Again, your package manager should
We recommend that you use our thesis
template. It supplies most of the basic structure required for a thesis,
includes a lot of comments about the packages used and should get you started
Finally, you'll have to learn the language. Tobias
Oetiker et al., The Not So
Short Introduction to LaTeX, is a good starting point. Next, since you'll
presumably use a lot of math, read the AMS documentation
which describes some of the most used equation layouts. The AMS packages are
always distributed with LaTeX.
Between these two, you should be able to
start writing your thesis. The following documents will prove useful as you
- Winston Chang's LaTeX cheat
sheet is a very helpful reference for LaTeX commands.
- The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List lists all sorts of weird, arcane, or
mathematical symbols. The title is spot on; if it isn't in there, it most
likely doesn't exist yet. Bookmark it.
- Bibliographies are usually
handled with BibTeX, which is part of every TeX distribution. Wikipedia has a
nice overview of BibTeX. Your
LaTeX environment of choice should handle the compilation side.
the entries with minimal fuss, browse to Google Scholar. Click "Scholar
Preferences", select "Show links to import citations into:
BibTeX" at the bottom, "Save Preferences". Then try an arbitrary
scholar search; it will show a link "Import into BibTeX" below the
search hit. Click it and copy the entry into your .bib file, voila.
- For graphics: there is a nice overview by Troy Henderson.
Style and Art
- There is a nice collection of
Knuthian wisdom which covers most of the issues that involve mathematics at
- For the non-mathematical art side, consult the first part of the
Memoir documentation. The
document class itself is also very good, though usually overkill for a
- The Chicago
Manual of Style is the preferred style guide for American English.
- We hand around a title page template, ask your supervisor. (If you ever
write a paper or book, check if the target journal or publisher has a style
guide of its own.)
may not have a direct relevance to your thesis, but it still good to know about
- Presentations: the beamer package (usually comes with LaTeX) makes
slides in LaTeX. See the comprehensive beamer
documentation. (If you're on OS X, note that it is also possible to use
LaTeX together with Keynote. Your resident mac guru can tell you more.)
- It is actually possible to generate graphicsespecially graphs,
commutative diagrams, etc.right in LaTeX. PGF/TikZ (usually packaged with
LaTeX) is the tool of choice. See the PGF documentation
or some examples.
- The comp.lang.tex FAQ
covers some more difficult, yet frequent, questions.
Questions and Feedback
Frank Mousset and
Hafsteinn Einarsson if you have any
questions, feedback or corrections.