LaTeX is a "document preparation system", not a word processor. Your working document consists of one or more text files containing your thesis content and mark-up tags, analogous to HTML. This document is then processed by a formatting program to provide a nice looking document in the output format of your choice. Postscript for printing, and PDF for viewing electronically, are popular output formats. Review additional information on how to use LaTeX to create an E-Thesis, including a thesis template.

The following sections provide a brief summary of some issues you should be aware of if you choose to use LaTeX to prepare your thesis.

Accessible documents

LaTeX has no built-in capability to produce accessible documents. And there are currently no standard add-on packages that accomplish this. The UW thesis template will be updated to add this capability when it becomes available.

Creating a PDF from LaTeX documents

An e-thesis requires the student to submit a PDF file for viewing electronically over the web. There are two ways to create this PDF file.

  1. The simplest way to produce PDF is to use the "pdflatex" program, instead of "latex", to process your source files.
    1. Pdflatex requires PDF, PNG, JPEG or TIFF graphic formats.
    2. The problem with this method is that you cannot include encapsulated postscript (EPS) graphics (the graphics format most commonly used in LaTeX), so if you have any EPS files you will need to convert them to PDF (using Ghostview or Acrobat).
    3. You also need to change the device driver option for the "graphicx" and "hyperref" packages loaded in the preamble of your LaTeX source document. That is, load the graphicx package as: \usepackage[pdftex]{graphicx}.
    4. Then use the \includegraphics command to include the figures as usual, making sure that they have the file type specified in the file extension (.tiff, .pdf, .jpg, .png).
  2. Use the "latex" and "dvips" programs to generate a PostScript file, and then use a tool such as Acrobat or GhostScript to convert the PostScript file into PDF.
    1. To generate a good-looking e-thesis in PDF, Type 1 PS fonts must be used to create the original PS file. PS output is generated from a LaTeX device-independent file (DVI file) through a graphics device driver.
    2. The commonly available (free) distributions of LaTeX, "tetex" or "texlive" for Unix/Linux and "MikTeX" for Windows, use a DVI-to-Postscript driver called "dvips".
    3. Since LaTeX documents are processed in one piece, a thesis is easily converted into a single PS file, and subsequently into a single PDF file, as required for e-submission.
    4. There is a potential problem in generating PS suitable for conversion to PDF. The default mode of dvips is to use bit-map versions of the default Computer Modern fonts when it creates PS. A PS file created this way has blurry (jagged) text when converted to PDF. However, there is an option to the dvips command that imbeds the PS versions of the default Computer Modern font when it creates PS. PDF created from a PS file with embedded PS fonts will look good. The command to use is dvips -Ppdf -o mythesis.dvi when converting a file called mythesis.dvi into

Some other notes:

  1. Figures (drawings) should scale up and down without loss of detail. I.e., they should not be bit-maps. Typically, you should draw your illustrations with a drawing program and save them in a scalable format such as SVG, WMF, EPS, and then convert them to PDF. Alternately, print to file through a PS printer driver to make a PS file then convert that to EPS and then to PDF (with GSView and/or Acrobat). You should draw your figures to the size you want in your thesis, rather than scaling them afterwards. To include graphics into your LaTeX document, use the "graphicx" package in the preamble of your LaTeX source file, and use the \includegraphics command defined therein (see example below).
  2. Electronic theses require all materials to fit on letter sized paper. It is possible to rotate large figures and tables so that they fit sideways on the page. To do this, include the "rotating" package in the preamble of the document, and use the \sidewaysfigure or \sidewaystable environments defined therein (see example below). The above method rotates both the figure and its caption. It is also possible to rotate the figure independently of the caption using an option to the \includegraphics command.
  3. There are packages available that substitute other PS Type 1 fonts for the default Computer Modern font in LaTeX. If these packages, e.g. "times", "helvet", and "palatino", are used they replace the Computer Modern fonts for text, but not for mathematics. If using the "latex" formatter rather than "pdflatex", the "-Ppdf" option should always be used when using dvips to generate PS from the DVI file.
  4. The "thesis91e" document class defined at UW is now obsolete and should not be used. A properly formatted thesis can be generated using the standard "report" or "book" document classes. See the IST/SAW notes for details including a thesis template.
  5. The "hyperref" package should be used to automatically hyperlink your PDF document (table of contents, etc.) and to link to any extra materials provided with an enhanced thesis.