Oxford Thesis Template   21 comments

titlepageAs anyone who has written a thesis will tell you: Like it or not, at some point in the writing process, you will spend far too much time tweaking a minor formatting issue. Thankfully, typesetting tools like LaTeX can minimize this headache by providing consistent, structured formatting.

LaTeX and similar tools follow a “what you see is what you mean” model, unlike Microsoft Word, which is “what you see is what you get”. When you’re starting a new section in a LaTeX document, you don’t click bold and increase the font size. Instead, you type \section, and the engine automatically assigns a section number and format, updates the table of contents, and even adds within-document links. This all sounds complicated, but if you’ve written HTML, you know the idea. (Word power-users will reply that Word has similar tricks up its sleeve. This is true, but LaTeX explicitly separates text from layout, preventing a lot of the “gremlins” that creep into Word documents.)

Of course, this paradigm creates a significant disconnect between the text you type and the beautiful PDF document that results. This is where a good template comes in. It defines everything from how the title page is laid out to what the page header looks like in the bibliography. For a LaTeX user (and anyone writing a document as long as a thesis should be), a good template is everything. I was lucky enough to find a template that Sam Evans adapted for social sciences use based on the original maths template by Keith Gillow. I wound up making my own modifications, and re-packaged the template for posterity.

Download the Oxford thesis template here.

Some of the features of this template are:

Fantastic chapter pages. The template retains Sam Evans’s use of the quotchap and minitoc packages to (optionally) include an epigraph and brief table of contents at the beginning of each chapter. I found this a great way to inject a bit of personality into the thesis (via the epigraph) and ensure that my reader wasn’t getting lost (table of contents). My modifications cleaned up some of the spacing, ensuring single-spaced tables and slightly more compact chapter headings.

Table of Contents refinements. Careful attention was paid to spacing and page headings in the table of contents as well as other heading sections. This can get tricky in documents using lots of packages. This template also inserts an “Appendices” page (and ToC entry) between chapters and appendices.

Table of abbreviations. Many science and engineering theses use lots of abbreviations. Humanities and social sciences theses often need glossaries. While there are some dedicated LaTeX classes that meet these needs in complex cases, I decided to create a simple list environment to handle the routine cases.

Highlighted corrections. Most Oxford theses go through a round of corrections, as time-honored a tradition as the viva itself. Minor corrections generally just involve sending a PDF of your revised thesis to your internal examiner. (Major corrections often require a more exacting process.) This class allows you to designate text (or figures, etc) as a correction. You can then toggle between generating a document in which these corrections are highlighted in blue (ideal for sending to your examiner for a quick read-through) and just printing them without any adornment (for generating your final copy).

Page layout, draft, and spacing options. In a few keystrokes, you can switch between a double-spaced, single-sided, binding-margin document (ideal for submission), a 1.5-spaced, double-sided document (for your parents’ copy), or a version with equal left and right margins (for submitting as a PDF). An optional draft notice (with date) can be included in the footer — just remember to turn it off before submitting!

Master’s thesis title page. Some masters’ degrees require title pages with a candidate number and word count rather than a name and college, to ensure anonymity for the examinees. They also require a statement of authenticity / originality on the title page. This template has a quick option to switch to this master’s submission format. And, just as importantly, it can be turned off when you want to print a version for yourself.

Posted 12 Jul 2015 by John McManigle in Technical

21 responses to Oxford Thesis Template

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thanks very much to you and Sam Evans for developing this! I’m hoping to use it (or a slightly modified version) for my MSc thesis this year.

    Laura Lamont
    • Fantastic! I wonder if it would be worth putting this on GitHub or similar, so that as people make/suggest modifications, others can make use of it… Out of curiosity, what did you decide to modify?

      John McManigle
  2. Thanks very much for this. it’s amazing. I am trying to change the titles of the chapters though to align left rather than right..how do I do that? I have been trying all day!

    • Hi Anne, So unfortunately left-aligning chapter titles isn’t an option that the quotchap package (which my class uses to format chapter titles) contains by default. Which doesn’t mean what you’re asking for is impossible, just that it’s a little clumsy.

      Probably the easiest way is to insert the following block of code in Oxford_Thesis.tex just above the line that says %%%%% THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie on line 97).

      This should redefine the chapter-heading command to move both the grey number and the chapter title to the left side of the page. Hope it helps!

      John McManigle
  3. Hi John,

    Thanks very much for this. With a bit of a clumsier tweak from me the script did exactly what I wanted as I also needed the “Chapter” word before the number.

  4. Pingback: Structure your thesis – thesismathblog

  5. It is the most beautiful template which I have referred. But I would like to use “Chapter 1” instead of only number. HOW can I do, please? I am the beginner in Latex

    • Hi Le, Probably the easiest way is to insert the following block of code in Oxford_Thesis.tex just above the line that says %%%%% THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie on line 97).

      John McManigle
  6. Hi John, great code! I’m having difficulty changing the position of the page numbers. I would like for the number to always be at the bottom centre of the page…
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Sandra, So sorry for the delay in responding! Add the following lines to Oxford_Thesis.tex just before THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie line 97):

      John McManigle
  7. Hi John, thanks a lot! Well, the only problem for me is that my computer doesn’t seem to be able to find the figures/beltcrest.pdf file, so it’s always an empty square where the logo is supposed to be inserted..

    • Interesting… Is the figures/beltcrest.pdf file in the directory with the rest of your thesis? If you just download the thesis file, unzip it, and compile it, does the logo appear? I’m afraid this is one of those problems that’s probably specific to how the files are laid out on your computer, so you might be better off bribing a technically-minded friend to figure it out. I can’t debug it well without being at your computer…

      John McManigle
  8. Hi John, thank you for sharing this brilliant template, I’ll be using it for my MSc dissertation. I have removed the quote and want the Section header i.e ‘Chapter 1’ to start where the quote started instead of mid page, can you assist ?

    William Sereki
    • Hi William, Apologies for the late reply! There are no doubt more “correct” answers to this question in terms of modifying the chapter headings entirely, but the simplest answer to your question is to insert the following line:

      into Oxford_Thesis.tex just above the line that reads THE ACTUAL DOCUMENT STARTS HERE (ie on line 97 in the template version). You can adjust the “-80pt” to your heart’s content. For your reference, setting it to (+) 40pt will match how the template already is. Setting it to 0 will leave a generous top margin that you might find looks appropriate even without a quote. But do play with it!

      John McManigle
  9. Hello John, thanks for the template.
    How do I add my bibtex database i.e the reference list to my document?

    • I’m afraid there are so many different ways to configure BibTeX and other reference managers for LaTeX that I’m not able to provide help on any in particular. It also tends to involve pretty individual help depending on your setup. This template should work with whatever your preferred LaTeX referencing setup is, so I suggest getting in-person help from someone at your uni who has done it before.

      John McManigle
  10. Hi John,

    I was wondering how I could decrease the upper margin of the title page so that there is more space for additional subtitles below. Thank you for the amazing template!

    • Apologies for the late reply! Assuming you are writing a DPhil thesis, add a line to ociamthesis.cls after line 217 (\begin{center}) that adds a negative vertical space. Try: \vspace*{-3cm} That section of the file would then look like:

      If you are writing a master’s thesis, you should instead change line 201 (\vspace*{-3ex}) to have a larger space. Try -3cm.

      John McManigle
  11. Hi, thanks so much for publishing this!

    I can’t figure some things out, though:
    1. I was wondering is there a way for the examples not to start from 1 with the beginning of every chapter? This seems to be happening because of the chapters being in their separate .tex files.
    2. There seems to be something weird happening with some of the formatting when I have a figure, a table or a big example. The text gets spread out. The LaTeX community online suggests adding \raggedbottom to the preamble but it does not seem to work. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!!

    • 1. I didn’t use Examples myself; can you show me what your command is to start an example? That will help me answer this question.

      2. Yes, raggedbottom will fix this, at the expense of not having the bottoms of your pages line up neatly. Instead of adding it to the preamble, change line 193 of Oxford_Thesis.tex (just before chapters are included) from \flushbottom to \raggedbottom

      John McManigle
      • Dear John, thanks so much for your answer.

        It’s a linguistics thesis so I’m using \ex. and \exg.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *