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Feb 19

Good looking thesis using latex: Part I

Latex is a very powerful candidate while comes the question of writing a thesis (which contains lot of equations). Since thesis is one of the most important works in our education, it is better to invest time to give it a smart look. That’s why before writing a thesis, some of the preliminary tasks should be done. Here I’ll list the packages that can be used to generate a good looking thesis and write a bit details about some packages (but not all). If anyone wants to use these packages, I recommend them to read the documentations first.

Preparation

This is the most important part.

  1. You need to create a tex/latex project. I’m using texniccenter in winXP (linux has kile which is similar to it). Please take a look at the help file how to generate a project if you don’t know it already.
  2. Use separate tex/latex file for each chapter (easier to modify and include in your project).
  3. Use separate .bib file for bibliography.

By the way, I generally use pdftex (not normal latex). You can include .pdf, .png etc. directly in pdftex, however, .eps file cannot be included. You should convert those .eps figures first to .pdf before include those in pdflatex.

Special packages

Some of the following packages will give you the opportunity to make a good thesis.

  1. nomencl: Produce list of symbols. If you want to include list of symbols in your thesis, it is very important to use this package while start writing your thesis.
  2. acronym: This is very common to use acronym in all our writing. It is also important to use it from beginning of your writing.
  3. fancyhdr: Everyone wants different looking header and footer in their document. This package gives you the opportunity to customize your header and footer.
  4. fncychap: Although Fancy header is common in different documents, I have rarely seen the use of fancy chapter heading. In my view fancy chapter heading “Sonny” is really awesome.
  5. lastpage: Some people want page x of y printed in the footer of their document. This package is needed for this purpose.
  6. tocbibind: Table of contents (ToC) does not generally include bibliography, index etc. the it. This package can be used to includes ToC, Bibliography, index etc. in the table of contents.
  7. natbib: Sometimes people need to cite some paper in this form [3-6]. This is possible with sort&compress (or compress) option of natbib package.
  8. tikz: Although pstricks is one of the very well known package for drawing inline figures in latex, I have found tikz/pgf is also very strong candidate. Since pstricks can not be used while compiling pdftex, tikz is a very good choice. Using tikz/pgf, it is also possible to generate a good looking presentation as well. Since after writing your thesis, you need to give a presentation, why don’t you generate that in pdftex.

These are the special packages I used that give my thesis a bit smart looking. In the next part, I’ll tell about organization and formatting of the thesis.

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