Dissertation Info

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Info on Formatting Your Dissertation

You're ready to start writing up your Master's or PhD Thesis but now need to get into the nuts and bolts of the formatting. You can find the disseration template here.

Basic Dissertation LaTeX document

The file dissertation.tex is a basic starting point for making your thesis using ucthesis.sty. These files have been altered to conform to changing thesis requirements and styles desired by particular committee members. These should conform to the requirements for the dissertation, but you must check yourself to ensure that no undesirable formatting occurs. You can start by using the following files:

Documentation of changes to these files has been added along with the changer's initials.

Current Requirements:

The current requirements (as of November 2010) are taken from the UC Berkeley graduate web-page. Please ALWAYS check with the graduate department to get the most up-to-date requirements and samples of how to format each part of your dissertation (e.g., Berkeley Graduate Division Policies)

  • Your Name: Do not use a different name than that which is officially recognized by UC Berkeley (i.e. the name on your transcript and Bearfacts). For example, do note use only a middle initial when your record shows a full middle name. To correct this, petition to change your name with the Registrar’s Office before the last day of the semester.
  • Committee and Signatures': The committee listed on your title page (and the signatures you submit to the Graduate Division) must match your currently approved committee. If you have made any changes to your committee since Advancement to Candidacy, you must request an official change from the Graduate Division. Consult your departmental adviser for details.
  • Page Size: The standard for a document’s page size is 8.5 x 11 inches. If compelling reasons exist to use a larger page size, you must contact the Graduate Division for prior approval.
  • Pagination: Your manuscript is composed of preliminary pages and the main body of text and references. Page numbers must be positioned either in the upper right corner, lower right corner, or the bottom center and must be at least ¾ of an inch from the edges. The placement of the page numbers in your document must be consistent throughout. (Be Careful! If you have any pages that are rotated to a landscape orientation, the page numbers still need to be in a consistent position throughout the document as if it were printed and bound.)
  • Page Numbering:
    • Do not count or number the title page, the approval (signature) page, or the copyright page. All other pages must have numbers. DO NOT SKIP PAGE ” 1 “.
    • Your abstract must have Arabic numeral page numbers. Start numbering your abstract with the number “1” and continue in sequence (1, 2, 3, etc.)
    • The remaining preliminary pages may include a dedication, a table of contents, a list of figures, tables, symbols, illustrations, or photographs, a preface, your introduction, acknowledgments, and curriculum vitae. You must number these preliminary pages using lower case Roman numerals beginning with the number “i” and continue in sequence to the end of the preliminary pages (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.).
    • The main body of your text and your references also use Arabic numerals. (Re-)Start the numbering of the main body with the number “1” and continue in sequence (1, 2, 3, etc.), numbering consecutively throughout the rest of the text, including illustrative materials, bibliography, and appendices. (Yes! The first page of your abstract and the first page of your main text both start with ‘1’)
  • Margins: For the manuscript material, including headers, footers, tables, illustrations, and photographs, all margins must be at least 1 inch from the edges of the paper. Page numbers must be ¾ of an inch from the edge.
  • Spacing: Your manuscript must be single-spaced throughout, including the abstract, dedication, acknowledgments, and introduction.
  • Tables, charts, and graphs may be presented horizontally or vertically and must fit within the required margins. Labels or symbols are preferred rather than colors for identifying lines on a graph.
  • Abstract: The abstract must be numbered separately with arabic numerals starting with ’1′.
  • Signature page: The signature page must not contain any page numbers or extra notations.
  • Title page: The title page does not contain page numbers. The term and year listed on the title page must be the term of your degree. Do not write Summer. Dissertations filed in the summer must say Fall since that is when it will be conferred. If you have a Designated Emphasis, it must be listed on your title page. If you are receiving a joint degree, it must be listed on your title page.
  • Organizing your manuscript: The proper organization and page order for your manuscript is as follows:
    • Title Page
    • Copyright page or a blank page
    • Abstract
    • Optional preliminary pages such as:
      • Dedication page
      • Table of contents
      • List of figures, list of tables, list of symbols
      • Preface or introduction
      • Acknowledgements
      • Curriculum Vitae
    • Main text
    • References
    • Bibliography
    • Appendices

Permission to Include Previously Published or Co-Authored Material

If you plan more than incidental use of your own previously published or co-authored material in your dissertation or thesis — a practice common in the sciences and engineering and sometimes followed in other fields — you must request permission to do so from the Dean of the Graduate Division, at least two to three weeks prior to filing. See the graduate division for how to properly obtain such permission.

Use of Copyrighted, Previously Published Material

The shelving of your manuscript in the University Library, and, for dissertations, the availability of the manuscript from UMI (ProQuest) Dissertation Publishing, constitutes a form of publication. Because of this, it is your responsibility to obtain permission to include copyrighted material in your manuscript. This includes most journal articles and books, unless you are the owner of the copyright. The agreement form you sign with ProQuest specifically absolves it of any such responsibility. Again see the graduate division for more information on this subject.


  • The commands \caption, \part, \chapter, \section all allow for an optional argument that specifies an alternative text that will appear in the table of contents or table of figures. This is useful to provide a short description of an object like a caption that is otherwise verbose.
  • The following is a fix I've used for the URL package to correct some rendering problems:

%%%%% URL package fix %%%%%
 \endlinechar=13 \catcode\endlinechar=12
 \catcode13=12 %
\endgroup %

Recommended Packages:

  • \usepackage{showframe}: used for drafting purposes to show the text boundaries around every page (MUST BE COMMENTED OUT FOR FINAL SUBMISSION)
  • \usepackage{ifmtarg}: Special package that provides the command \@ifmtarg which allows one construct macros that test if their argument is empty and uses if-then-else syntax but can only be used in your style files.
  • \usepackage{caption}: One of several packages that provides captions for figures, tables, algorithms, etc. Use the [bf] option to make the captions bold-font.
  • \usepackage{glossaries}: One of several package for doing indexing. See documentation at Glossaries Manual



  • 10pt, 11pt, or 12pt: Chooses the size of your dissertation font. It appears the new requirements (as of November 2010) suggest font at least 12 (see below). This is an open issue that should be resolved ASAP.
  • oneside, twoside: Selects whether your dissertation will be formatted with every page centered (oneside) or in the staggered left-right format for a book (two-side)
    • Note: based on a committee member's request, I changed the oneside format so that the command \clearchapterdoublepage will indeed start the next chapter on an odd-numbered page. This change can be reverted by altering the definition of this command in uct10.clo, uct11.clo, or uct12.clo by simply uncommenting the \if@twoside command that I commented out in its definition.
  • svgnames: This is an option I found useful if you want named colors; colors specified by svgnames. Also see the documentation on xcolor (e.g., Manual on xcolors)
  • draft, comment, final: Chooses different formatting for when you are preparing a draft (different margins), a draft for comments (more margin room for notes), or a final document. In draft and comment mode, Overflows will be highlighted by adding a black overflow box at the end of the overflowing text. YOU MUST USE final MODE FOR YOUR FINAL SUBMISSION.


  • ucthesis.sty imports the following packages automatically (this may cause conflicts with other packages or your own macro definitions):
    • \usepackage{url}
    • \usepackage[final]{graphicx}
    • \usepackage[plainpages=false,breaklinks=true,colorlinks=true,urlcolor=black,citecolor=black,linkcolor=black,bookmarks=true,bookmarksopen=true,bookmarksopenlevel=3,pdfstartview=FitV]{hyperref}
    • \usepackage{amssymb}
    • \usepackage{amsmath}
    • \usepackage[letterpaper]{geometry}
    • \usepackage{rotating}
    • \usepackage{natbib}

Finalizing the Dissertation

  • Make sure you switch to final mode for your final submission. Otherwise your margins may not be correct.
  • It appears that the newest dissertation guideline (as of November 2010) requires a font not smaller than 12pt font, whereas previously 11pt was allowed. However, I did submit my in November 2010 in 11pt and it was accepted. This is an issue that should be resolved ASAP as font size can dramatically change the layout of your dissertation and possibly lead to overflows and other formatting problems that can be awful to deal with right before the deadline.
  • Under the new electronic submission, you should make sure to properly embed your fonts in your dissertation--this can potentially lead to a rejection of your submission forcing a last minute rush to recompile your dissertation. If you're using the latex / dvips / ps2pdf chain, you should use the following options:
    • for dvips, use the options: -Ppdf -t letter -G0
    • for ps2pdf, use the options: -dMaxSubsetPct=100 -dSubsetFonts=true -dEmbedAllFonts=true -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress

Note that the /prepress option is apparently crucial, or it will not embed common fonts (eg. Roman) even though you used the option EmbedAllFonts. I'm not positive about pdflatex, but you can check your embeddings with the command pdffonts which shows for each font used, its type, whether its embedded, whether its subsetted, and some other info. Ideally, you want all fonts to be embedded (subsetting saves space). I think, ideally you want all Type 1 fonts. I had many Type 3 (bitmap fonts) that were unfortunately embedded in some old figures I was using---try to avoid these if possible.

  • In Latex, I used the command "\usepackage{showframe}" to visually check for overflows---it draws a bounding box around each page so you can visually inspect for overflowing figs or text. Be sure to

remove it before submitting though!!!

Known Issues

Error: "! Package ifpdf Error: Name clash, \ifpdf is already defined."


OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

Results of running pdflatex --version

pdfTeX 3.1415926-1.40.10-2.2 (TeX Live 2009)
kpathsea version 5.0.0
Copyright 2009 Peter Breitenlohner (eTeX)/Han The Thanh (pdfTeX).
There is NO warranty.  Redistribution of this software is
covered by the terms of both the pdfTeX copyright and
the Lesser GNU General Public License.
For more information about these matters, see the file
named COPYING and the pdfTeX source.
Primary author of pdfTeX: Peter Breitenlohner (eTeX)/Han The Thanh (pdfTeX).
Compiled with libpng 1.2.39; using libpng 1.2.39
Compiled with zlib 1.2.3; using zlib 1.2.3
Compiled with xpdf version 3.02pl3


To fix this, I made the following changes in ucthesis.cls

@@ -1527,14 +1527,14 @@ Dissertation Committee Chair
 % Matt's Declarations
-    \pdffalse % we are not running PDFLaTeX
+    \ispdffalse % we are not running PDFLaTeX
 \pdfoutput=1 % we are running PDFLaTeX
-\pdftrue \fi
+\ispdftrue \fi
 %%% To easily plot in draft mode WITH figures on, add "final" to the list of ar
 %%%  In other words, change

I'm guessing my default packages were alreadying including something called ifpdf (maybe this one).

Errro: "! Package natbib Error: Bibliography not compatible with author-year citations."

Full text of error:

! Package natbib Error: Bibliography not compatible with author-year citations.

(natbib)                Press <return> to continue in numerical citation style.

Environment: (Same as for the "\ifpdf is already defined" error described above).


This may have been caused by some of the references I had copied in from my papers. To get around this, I set natbib to use numerical reference style explicitely with the following change to ucstyle (as described in the documentation for natbib under the section titled "Options that can be added to \usepackage")

@@ -1567,7 +1567,7 @@ Dissertation Committee Chair

Dissertation Workshop Information

The department will run a dissertation year workshop upon request. Notes for the 2011-2012 year here

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