UMass Thesis Style

Formatting a UMass Thesis in LaTeX:

''Typing Guidelines'' and LaTeX:


In this guide, we explain how to transcribe a mathematical thesis into a printed format using LaTeX, and a so-called style file in which we incorporated much of what the Grad School requires in terms of preliminary pages, numbering and general formatting. DISCLAIMER: We have tried to design the output according to the Grad School's ''Typing Guidelines'', and have consulted with them on several occasions, but we cannot guarantee that they won't have any objections to the form of your thesis.

We will show how to use this style file, called umthesis.sty to typeset your dissertation by going step-by-step through a simple example. Once the essentials are explained, we will present an example that discusses more advanced features of our style file, and that demonstrates what we consider to be a good way of organizing a large document into little pieces so as to enable easy editing, proofreading, and even major revisions. We suggest that you keep those files as a template for your own thesis.

We had to make a number of choices which may not be exactly what you had in mind for your dissertation. Some of it could have, no doubt, be done differently. Our guiding principle was to make the package be as complete and easy to use as possible, while keeping very close to standard LaTeX. We wanted to reduce the task of typesetting your dissertation as much as possible to a ''mere'' typing task.

This guide assumes a base-level knowledge of LaTeX. If you are unfamiliar with using LaTex, we suggest first looking at David R. Wilkins' Getting Started with LaTeX (or another comparable online resource).

''The Typing Guidelines''

Let us briefly recall what elements you need according to the ''Typing Guidelines for Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations'' [ 1 ] which you have received from the Grad School. It requires

  • a title page
  • a copyright page
  • a signature page

modeled after the samples starting on page 11 of the Guidelines [ 1 ]. Furthermore, you may want

  • a dedication
  • acknowledgments
  • an abstract (required for doctoral dissertations)

The body of the dissertation should be typeset one-sided and double-spaced, with chapter headings all capitalized (a point of disagreement between us and the Grad School). Finally, your dissertation title should not contain any math symbols.

All of this can be done in standard TeX or LaTeX, and has been incorporated into the umthesis.sty style file, which is a modification of LaTeX' standard report style. It also contains a re-definition of the table of contents, the figure environment, and the lists of figures/tables, since the LaTeX standards don't conform to the Grad School's requirements. If you use figures or tables in your thesis, you must include a List of Figures/Tables which can be done quite easily if you use umthesis.sty .

To see how exactly all of this is done, we have prepared a brief example dissertation, and will lead you step-by-step through the crucial parts.

Using the File umthesis.sty :

The Example Dissertation - Step by Step

The example dissertation can be downloaded via the links at the end of this guide. Opening the zip file will create a directory called umthesis-example that contains the following files:

  • Your personal copy of the umthesis.sty style file
  • Instructions.tex (latest version of this document)
  • commands.tex
  • thesis.tex
  • title.tex
  • 1-chapter.tex
  • 2-chapter.tex and
  • bibliography.tex

Alternatively, you can also get the example dissertation by logging in to a lab computer and typing the command 'get-umthesis-example' in a terminal window. The will create a new folder 'umthesis-example' in your home directory, containing the same files listed above.

The file umthesis.sty uses TeX commands to redefine some LaTeX macros. We have tried to provide some comments for the curious experimenter. However, in this guide, we will only be concerned with how to use this file, and not with how it works.

As our cunning naming scheme suggests, the 'chapter' files and bibliography.tex contain someone's actual (LaTeX) thesis; commands.tex defines new commands, personal abbreviations and additional fonts; title.tex appears to be concerned with preliminary pages, using a host of commands from umthesis.sty (moreover introducing us to Arthur, the author); and--finally--a file termed thesis.tex which appears to contain mostly gibberish.

Since importance and understandability are known to be inversely proportional to each other, our detailed examination will proceed in reverse order.


If you are preparing a large document such as a dissertation, it is clearly advisable to split it up into smaller pieces, say chapters. Using the LaTeX commands \include and \includeonly allows you to process one portion of the document at a time, taking into account the numbering in, and cross-referencing to other portions of your document. This is nicely described in chapter 8 of ''LaTeX for Everyone'' [ 2 ].

In this spirit, we have put the title page, the chapters and the bibliography into separate files, and have one master file, thesis.tex , that controls what is being processed. Here is what is looks like:

%%% This is the master file for your thesis, called ’thesis.tex’.
% It loads essential setups, the umthesis.sty style
% file, private definitions etc. but does not contain any
% specific thesis text.
% It just loads/includes the title pages, the chapters, the
% bibliography and whatever else you may need.
%%%This following line was for use with latex, version 2.09
%\usepackage{amstex} % v1.2
\usepackage{amsmath} % v2
\usepackage{amsfonts} % v2
%%% Some ‘‘standard’’ newcommands. (some of those need AMS-Latex)
% Specifies, among other things, what constitutes a Theorem,
% a Corollary, a Lemma, a Proof etc.
% %%%
%%% The dissertation consists of the following files, which
% are \include’d in their proper places further down:
%%% This is the end of the end of the preamble.
% May the document begin .....
%%% Page styles [default is ’preliminary’]
%\pagestyle{thesis} % Page # upper right hand corner.
%\pagestyle{draft} % Page # as ’thesis’ with ‘DRAFT’ written on top.
%\pagestyle{preliminary} % Page # at bottom middle
% % Page # at bottom with ‘DRAFT’.
%%% List of Figures/Tables [default is both true]
\figurespagetrue % We DO want a list of figures.
\tablespagefalse % We do NOT want a list of tables.
%%% Preliminary pages (title, signature, copyright...) in file title.tex
\include{title} % Makes everything before Chapter one.
%%% And now include the text of the chapters, bibliography etc.
% The \includeonly command in the preamble determines what actually
% gets included; e.g. appendix is ignored here (it doesn’t exist
% anyway).
%% These are some gadgets that may make things more readable and dense!
%% Can be skipped on first reading; make sure to play with this.
% \beginsinglespace
% Some single spaced text ......
% \endsinglespace
% In particular,
% \beginsinglespace
% \include{1-chapter}
% \include{2-chapter}
% \appendix % Use \soloappendix if it has one chapter only.
% \include{appendix}
% \include{bibliography}
% \endsinglespace
%%% That’s all !

So what do we have:

  • \documentclass[12pt]{report} starts your thesis as a LaTeX file using 12pt fonts (Fonts smaller that 12pt may lead to minuscule subscripts in math mode... something the Grad School likes to return!)
  • \usepackage{amsmath} loads the 'amstex' option for LaTeX, and
  • \usepackage{umthesis} loads the umthesis.sty option as a substyle of 'report'.
  • \input{commands.tex} loads definitions of additional fonts, personal abbreviations, mathematical operators and re-definitions of environments. We have tried to comment on what they are, and whether or not they require ' amstex '. You may or may not want any of this for your own thesis.

    Since the specific designs of proofs, propositions, lemmata and corollaries and the conventions to number them are a highly personal matter, I have not included their definitions in umthesis.sty , but transparently defined some standard versions in commands.tex : theorem, assertion, proposition, lemma, definition, claim, corollary, remark, condition, example and proof. In addition, I have included some fairly simple examples that may be helpful in making even major changes. If you want to define some ''theorem-like'' environment, you need to give it a name not contained in the above list. Of course, you can remove the corresponding entries in commands.tex or give them a different name (e.g. your own 'proposition' environment could be called prp ).

  • \pagestyle gives you a way to have LaTeXproduce dated draft copies of your thesis and change the location of page numbers; just try it!
  • \figurespagetrue and \tablespagefalse tell LaTeXexplicitly that we want a List of Figures, but that a List of Tables should be omitted. The umthesis.sty default is to make both.
  • \include{title} includes 'title.tex' which makes all the preliminary pages, detailed in the next section.
  • \include{1-chapter} ... The reason for this strange naming scheme is ''unique file completion'': the first letter of the file name uniquely identifies the file, so that the ESC key in UNIX and the TAB key in Emacs will complete the full name after just typing the first letter
  • Finally note that there is no file appendix.tex as part of our example, so it was omitted from the \includeonly list on purpose.

You see, if you discard all the comments, it's just two hands full of commands, most of them pure LaTeX. These let you control whether you want to process your entire thesis, or only a single chapter. So far, we have not seen much of umthesis.sty , except that it is being loaded.

The area where the umthesis.sty style file exerts most of its power--and which is, hence, full with of cryptic commands--is the file responsible for the required preliminary pages: title.tex .

Pre-Text: title.tex

First, let's take a look at title.tex :

As you can see, it begins with a long list of definitions that give LaTeX all the information it needs to produce the first three preliminary pages: the title page, the copyright page and the signature page. The command to actually do this is \beforeprefacewhich makes sure these pages have the right format, do not have page numbers, are not listed in the table of contents, but are counted silently, etc.

If you want to dedicate your thesis to someone, you may use \dedicationsection{Dedication} . If you do not want the title ''Dedication'', replace it by a tilde (~). You can change font types, sizes, styles in the dedication text as you please.

The next two pages, Acknowledgments and Abstract, should get page numbers and be listed in the table of contents. \prefacesection{Title} provides exactly that, with ''Title'' as the headline of that page.

The ''Abstract'' page shows a way to get something fairly close to what the Grad School asks for in their sample.

Finally, \afterpreface takes care of the table of contents, and the lists of figures/tables (if \figurespagefalse or \tablespagefalse were not defined in thesis.tex ).

Recall that in order to get cross-references and page numbers in the table of contents right, you may have to run LaTeX twice (even three times in unfortunate circumstances).

The Body: 1-chapter.tex, 2-chapter.tex, bibliography.tex

The main part of the thesis is then fairly straightforward LaTeX. Therefore this part of the guide will highlight some potential pitfalls:

  • Chapter headings need to be all in capital letters. You have to do that yourself.
  • If you use math mode in figure captions, and chapter or section headings, you should use $ ... $ as opposed to \( ... \).. The latter is fragile : you get very stange error messages, and the corresponding entry in the Table of Contents, say, will be gobbled up.
  • If you use commands that you have defined using \newcommand in headings or captions, you should put a \protect right before it (since such are fragile by default).
  • You can define an alternate heading to go into the Table of Contents, as follows:


    Note that the Grad School explicitly requires these two to be the same , but it may be necessary to add some extra space to the TOC entry (using the TeXcommand \phantom{...}) for perfection.

  • LaTeX provides a built-in numbering and referencing system that is superior to any other TeX dialect in that is does a lot automatically in a fairly intelligent way. I very strongly suggest that you do use LaTeX' referencing facilities in their unmodified form, i.e. use \label, \ref, and \pageref, \cite, and bibitem. The time learning about those is well-spent.
  • Do not even think about explicitly writing or quoting equation numbers. You'll end up in hell's kitchen, and I'm not saying this lightly.

    For completeness, but with hesitation did I decide to provide some information about the inner workings of LaTeX' referencing system, and how to make it go your way. This hesitation finds its expression in the tiny font size.

    LaTeX automatically associates counters to environments--even user-defined ones--and deduces from the structure of the number when to increase it, and when to reset it to zero. To give an example using equations: The counter associated to the \begin{equation} — \end{equation}environment is called \theequation. If I define \def\theequation{arabic{chapter}.arabic{equation}} which means I want (6.4) for the above equation, then this tells LaTeX to increase the counter whenever another equation needs to be labeled, and to reset the counter to zero at the beginning of a new chapter. In effect, I told LaTeX that I want to number by chapter. Conversely, requesting (4) would tell LaTeX immediately that you want to label equations consecutively throughout the document. See Lamport C.7.3 for a more concise outline. Of course, you can take things into your own hands, by defining \def\theequation{arabic{equation}}, which makes labels like (4) and re-set the counter at the beginning of every chapter ''by hand'': \setcounter{equation}{0}. Again, I do recommend that you relegate such issues to the final stages of your dissertation typing project.

    Note that LaTeX2e provides a command called \numberwithin{equation}{chapter} to handle these questions.

  • If your appendix contains only one chapter, it should not be labeled APPENDIX A (since there is no APPENDIX B). Our umthesis.sty provides a command \soloappendix to replace the standard \appendix in this case.

Note that while you're working on your thesis, you may prefer single spacing to double spacing. In general, spacing of a document is controlled by

\renewcommand{baselinestretch}{x} ,

where x =1 in single-spacing and (around) x =1.7 is double-spaced.

The umthesis.sty style file let's you switch easily between single and double spacing mode within one and the same document:

\beginsinglespace – \endsinglespace and \begindoublespace – \enddoublespace.

For information on viewing, printing, including pictures please be referred to the ''LaTeXLocal-Guide'' [ 6 ].


The thebibliography environment has been redefined to match the Grad School's format requirements, while maintaining all functionality of \cite described in the LaTeX books.

Source Files From the Example Thesis:

Download umthesis.sty Style File: umthesis.sty

Download Chapter One: 1-chapter.tex

Download Chapter Two: 2-chapter.tex

Download the Bibliography File: bibliography.tex

Download Full Example Thesis:


Typing Guidelines for Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations, Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Revised in November 1990.
LaTeXfor Everyone, Hahn.
A Crash-Course in LaTeX with the New Font Selection Scheme and in -LaTeX, Gordon Kieffer, RCF Publication.
The TeXbook, Donald Knuth.
LaTeX-- User's Guide and Reference Manual, Leslie Lamport.
LaTeXLocal Guide, Mark Stowell, RCF Publication.