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The UK TeX Users Group is organising another introductory LaTeX course on April 15th, 2011 in Cambridge.

Using LaTeX to Write a Thesis

This course is aimed at beginners and will cover a range of topics connected with writing a dissertation in LaTeX, including:

  • Installing LaTeX for the first time
  • Creating a document
  • Document structure
  • Graphics
  • Managing a bibliography with BibTeX

Registration

The course only costs £10, so I imagine places will be taken very quickly.

To register, e-mail Joseph Wright <joseph.wright@morningstar2.co.uk> and include:

  • Your completed UK-TUG membership form as an attachment (a year’s membership is included in the course fee)
  • Details of your LaTeX experience (if any), including which operating system you use
  • What your general subject area is (to help plan the course content)

Useful Links

Full details of the course and more information about booking conditions are posted here: http://uk.tug.org/2011/03/12/latex-training-course-15th-april-2011-cambridge/

Typesetting a document as large and complex as a doctoral dissertation is never going to be an easy task, but there’s no need to start from scratch. There are lots of templates freely available online to get you started.

Here are a range of templates from European and American universities. Although many have been produced by science departments, most of these templates are easily adapted for the purposes of humanities students.

**Note that not all of these are official university templates.**

Italian Thesis Template

An Italian template called toptesi is available through CTAN and can be modified for both undergraduate and graduate dissertations. Its multilanguage support makes it a good option for humanities students.

Thanks to Fulvio Corno for bringing this template to my attention.

UK University Thesis Templates

The UK TeX Users Group has compiled the following list of university thesis templates for the UK:

Out of all the templates on this list I liked the ones from the University of Southampton and the University of Cambridge the most.

The University of Southampton offers a range of templates in addition to one for a PhD dissertation. There are also templates for a CV, conference paper and reports.

The thesis template from the Cambridge University Engineering Department is pretty basic, but it’s well put together and has good documentation. The latest version is from July 2010.

US University Thesis Templates

This is only a selection of the templates available out there, but here are some of the better (or at least more recent) ones.

I particularly liked the template that Jeffrey Dwoskin put together to comply with the Princeton dissertation guidelines.

Check Your University’s Formatting Regulations

Once you’ve found a suitable template it’s really important to check what formatting specifications your university requires for the final version of the dissertation. Then you can adjust your generic template accordingly.

For example, the university regulations are likely to specify the page size, line spacing, font size, single- or double-sided printing, etc. They may also set out the requirements for the front matter of the dissertation, such as your name, dissertation title, degree for which it is submitted, a declaration of originality, etc.

Useful Links

For those of you who missed the UK TeX Users Group and University of East Anglia course back in July, there’s another LaTeX training session happening at Oxford this October.

An Introduction to LaTeX

The Department for Continuing Education at Oxford University is organising a full-day course on October 16th.

It is aimed at beginners and will cover creating documents (including letters), graphics and bibliography.

Registration

The course costs £50 and enrolment is either online or by downloading an application form – both available on the course webpage:

http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/details.php?id=O10P133MAJ

I’ve just discovered that the LaTeX course organised by the UK TeX Users Group and the University of East Anglia is now fully booked.

There’s clearly a need for introductory courses like these!

Future Courses

It sounds like the UK TeX Users Group will repeat this course later in the year if there’s sufficient demand. Joseph Wright writes:

We are starting a list of interested people in case anyone drops out, and will be looking at holding another course later in the year if there is the interest. So do consider sending a registration e-mail: the more people we know are interested the more likely it is that another course can be organised.

Who to Contact

As before, please email Joseph Wright <joseph.wright@morningstar2.co.uk> with details of your experience with LaTeX and your academic subject area.

In London on July 30th the UK TeX Users Group and the University of East Anglia will be running a course on how to use LaTeX to write a thesis.

Course Content

You don’t need to be an expert to take part – the course is aimed at people new to LaTeX. The topics covered include:

  • Creating a document
  • Document structure
  • Graphics
  • Managing a bibliography with BibTeX

Registration

The course only costs £10, so I imagine places will be taken very quickly.

To register, e-mail Joseph Wright <joseph.wright@morningstar2.co.uk> and include:

  • Details of your LaTeX experience (if any)
  • If you’re bringing a laptop  with you to the course
  • What your general subject area is (to help plan the course content)
  • Any special requirements (diet, access, etc.)

Useful Links

Full details of the course (including the programme) are posted here: http://uk.tug.org/2010/06/17/latex-training-course-using-latex-to-write-a-thesis/.

Using fancyhdr

Using fancyhdr

This package allows you to customize headers and footers in the LaTeX document.

You can find comprehensive information on this package in The LaTeX Companion.

Here I’ll explain how to make a simple header showing your name and the date.

This is what you need to include:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{fancyhdr}
\pagestyle{fancyplain}

\begin{document}

\lhead{John E. Smith}
\rhead{\today}

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Quisque ut ante pulvinar mauris interdum euismod. Aliquam dui tellus, blandit at, tincidunt ac, feugiat id, nibh.

Simple Header

Simple Header

Phasellus id metus. Aliquam erat volutpat. Donec fringilla. Donec euismod, velit quis adipiscing hendrerit, enim eros tempor mi, a hendrerit ipsum eros eget leo.

\end{document}

Here is the output PDF of the document: SimpleFancyhdr.pdf

The fancyhdr package was created by Piet van Oostrum.

Useful Links

The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List

If you find yourself wondering how to create your chosen transliteration style and can’t find the right character input, this will make happy reading:

The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List by Scott Pakin (4.3Mb PDF)

Common Transliteration Symbols in LaTeX

PDF Preview

PDF Preview

At 152 pages, the comprehensive symbol list is a bit unwieldy.

As a quick reference, I’ve made a one-page table of the most commonly used transliteration symbols for dealing with French, German, Spanish and transliterated Arabic – along with some examples.

You can download it from here:

Common Transliteration Symbols in LaTeX (61Kb PDF)

Semtrans Package

For people working with Semitic languages, the Semtrans package can be useful.

I found this after weeks searching for how to represent the Arabic letter kha’ in the style commonly used in German scholarship (a letter ‘h’ with a little u underneath). You get this by typing \U{h}. See page 14 of the comprehensive symbol list. `Ayn is \Ayn.

N.B. When using the command \U{h} in a section heading, you need to add \protect beforehand, so the command becomes \protect\U{h}. Otherwise, you will get error messages and the symbol won’t display. Thanks to Berteun for this tip. I haven’t found any difficulties with the \Ayn command.

This is the program you will use to write your LaTeX files and to generate a final PDF output. The reasons for using an editor include:

  • it helps manage the file generation process – there are short-cuts to the most common commands, such as generating a PDF file
  • there are short-cuts to formatting controls
  • it has syntax highlighting
  • there are good text navigation features

For Windows, I recommend TeXnicCenter. See http://www.toolscenter.org/.

TeXnicCenter Screenshot

TeXnicCenter Screenshot

Another alternative is WinEdt. This can be downloaded and used free for a trial period of 31 days. Thereafter you have to buy it – currently $40 for educational use. See http://www.winedt.com/.

WinEdt Screenshot

WinEdt Screenshot

For Linux there is Kile. See http://kile.sourceforge.net/ for screenshots.

These are just the programs I’m familiar with – there are lots of other editors out there. And for the minimalist approach you can just use Notepad and generate a PDF from the command line…

Important Features

Here are some things to bear in mind when choosing an editor:

Can you do a word count? TeXnicCenter doesn’t have one, so I use a free PDF wordcount called Translator’s Abacus. (Beware of a program called LaTeX Word Counter – it doesn’t seem to count footnotes.)

Is there a spell-check? TeXnicCenter automatically has one for US English and German, but you can add more languages:

  • Download the dictionary you want from http://lingucomponent.openoffice.org/download_dictionary.html – it’s a .zip file (TeXnicCenter uses the spelling engine of OpenOffice).
  • Unzip the .zip file and copy the .aff and .dic files in it to C:\Program Files\TeXnicCenter\language (you’ll see the English and German files already there).
  • Restart TeXnicCenter. Select ‘Tools’ then ‘Options’. Click on the ‘Spelling’ tab and select the new dictionary you want to add.

What you need:

  1. A computer to install the LaTeX on.
  2. A LaTeX editor. This is the piece of software you will use to write your LaTeX files and to generate a final PDF output.
  3. Somewhere to save all your files.
  4. Patience.

Installing LaTeX

LaTeX comes in several flavours – they all effectively do the same job. Some are specific to certain platforms (Windows/Mac/Linux/etc.).

MikTeX

I work on Windows and use MikTeX. To download this, go to http://miktex.org/. As of today, the latest stable version is MikTeX 2.7. Click on the link to this under ‘Downloads’ in the navigation bar. You will then find a page with simple installation instructions.

Useful links

University of Cambridge PWF Machines

According to the Cambridge University Computing Service pages, LaTeX and TeX are installed on the Windows PWF machines. For details, see http://www.cam.ac.uk/cs/pwf/pclist.html.

The Engineering Dept. has a useful webpage about LaTeX: http://www.eng.cam.ac.uk/help/tpl/textprocessing/.

PDF Manual

The manual, The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX, is freely available as a PDF in a dozen languages. It contains a lot of useful information.

Published Guides

The LaTeX Companion

The LaTeX Companion

I highly recommend The LaTeX Companion by Frank Mittelbach et al., second edition (Boston: Addison Wesley, 2006).

Paperback details:
ISBN-10: 0201362996
ISBN-13: 978-0201362992

It covers everything you’re likely to need – and more. At the moment, it costs about £35 from online retailers.

It can sometimes be tricky to find what you’re looking for in the index, but if you look back at the table of contents, you can usually work out which section it might be under.

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