Harvard GSAS PhD Thesis LaTeX Template

NOTE: This page has nothing to do with `Harvmac' (outdated Harvard TeX macros), or the `Harvard' bibliography style! Rather, it is intended to help those using the LaTeX scientific typesetting package format their PhD theses for submission to Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.

NOTE: It is also rather out of date; I make no claim that any of the below is still relevant. Please consider hosting it yourself!

Related pages:

This page is my attempt to pass on something useful from what I learned during my not-so-recent thesis completion, in October 2000. I hope it may save some of you from pain and late-night LaTeX formatting nightmares.

Notice that the Harvard GSAS format is only necessary for the bound (Archives) copy of the thesis, and its associated unbound (boxed) copy, both of which are submitted to the Registar's Office. Copies for your research group, copies for your departmental library (in my case Physics Research Library), personal copies, etc, need not follow this format, and will certainly look more professional if you play with the format (see below).


In January 2000 the Harvard University GSAS format was updated. The new `Form of the Doctoral Thesis' handbook is available online here. As well as the two people it lists to contact at Pusey library (whose expertees lie mainly with the physical requirements), I found the Registrar's Office (5-1519, I spoke to Lauren Lemire but there may be others there who can help) most useful. It seems some issues with the new format are being ironed out and it is best to ask.

One of the crucial things I learned from her was the preferred font size: 12pt Times New Roman. So put away that ruler and stop counting average characters per inch (CPI) - this is an outdated specification (thankfully). Also the new format of the Abstract is not crucial: as long as you have the new information (your name, advisor's name, thesis title) on the page somewhere then it's fine. I have updated the .cls file to include a new Abstract format that I designed. The page-numbering in the front matter is also not crucial, she told me; as long as arabic-numbered pages start at 1 on the first page of Chapter 1, then this is fine (for instance, my style file below does not put iii on the first page of the Abstract, but does put iv on the second, etc).


Here is huthesis.cls (version 1.4, Sep 2007), which I modified from Adam Lupu-Sax's port from UCTHESIS (from students at University of California). It has correct margin spacing, handles single- and double-sided, has my updated Abstract format (including correct headering of multi-page Abstracts), correct page numbering (roman in frontmatter, arabic in main body - however not all frontmatter pages are of a format where a number appears on that page), and has three different spacing options: \ssp (1.0 single spaced), \hsp (1.37 "one and a half"-spaced), and \dsp (1.8 "double"-spaced). Harvard GSAS requires "double"-spacing for the Abstract, Acknowledments, main body of the text, etc. But true 2.0 double-spacing is so horrendous (in my opinion) that you wouldn't want to use it. Besides, 1.8 allows you to cram in that all-important extra line or two per page. You could easily change the spacing options by editing this .cls file. This style file also uses the fancy-header package fancyhdr.sty which I believe is standard with current LaTeX distributions.

You will also need the font specification files: hut10.clo, hut11.clo, hut12.clo, depending on which font size you use (remember 10pt is smaller than 12pt). I found that for my own thesis copies, 11pt was more appropriate than the almost childishly-large 12pt required for Harvard.

Also you might want to read ucthesis.readme which is a description of the features of the original style file. I found that 'draft' mode was not so good as simply using \ssp at the beginning of the document.

To get you going, you can latex my thesis skeleton, get that working, then inject your content and play around. You will need:

thesis.tex (main file: chooses packages, gives order of chapters and appendices)
frontmatter.tex (abstract, acknowledments, citations to published work, dedication, etc)
mathdefs.tex (I include in case you find any of my equation abbreviations in there useful - certainly the \be and \ee save your wrists. It also includes a semi-workable version of the APS mathletters macro which allows you to number blocks of equations 3a,3b, etc... however the referencing of these equation numbers still has errors! Let me know if you solve this one.)
ch1.tex (my actual chapter 1 - includes references to other chapters which will not be resolved [appear as ??])
ap1.tex (dummy appendix A)
fig1.eps (example Encapsulated PostScript figure used in appendix A)
b.tex (wrapper for bibliography)
bibs.bib (actual bibliography - in BibTeX format)
The whole package (huthesis.cls, hut*.clo, ucthesis.readme, and my skeleton) can be downloaded here as a gzipped tar file.

You will need to ensure that the huthesis.cls and hut*.clo files are accessible in a directory which is included on your TEXINPUTS environment variable, so latex can find them. Then simply execute the command 'latex thesis', and you will get a prompt asking which files you want to process. Type eg 'frontmatter,ch1' to latex those two sections, or any combination of chapters and appendices separated by commas. This feature really saves some time while editing single chapters. Enter 'all' to latex the whole thing. This should run without errors, and give the .dvi file. As usual you will need to rerun it, and run 'bibtex thesis' at the appropriate times. (For latex info see here, here, here and here, etc. and the usual books.) I included (using epsfig) an example figure placed using the float package.

Also maybe relevant is a Harvard thesis.cls page, which I did not find useful at all (it seems to have vanished anyway).


I suggest for you own copies of the thesis: changing to 11pt font, \ssp or \hsp spacing, and double-sided pages. This looks a lot more like a professional publication and less like a draft of a children's book. You may also want to experiment with altering the definitions of figure caption environments in huthesis.cls, to have smaller text in these captions (\smallssp etc). Note that there is a complication with double-sided pages, namely that the 'parity' (physics term for whether the page is odd [wide left margin] or even [wide right margin]) is determined from the page number. Therefore if your frontmatter has an odd number of pages, the parity will be incorrect when the page counter is reset to 1 at the beginning of Chapter 1. To correct this, you will need to add an extra blank page in the frontmatter, probably after the dedication is best. My resulting thesis is downloadable as gzipped postscript (2.6Mb) here.
Please email me with any suggestions or additions: ahb at math dot dartmouth dot edu

Better still: become the new maintainer of this page, since I've been out 11 years now... !

Alex Barnett
Dec 8, 2011

Additional thanks to:    Bill Bies; Marc Hill; Nusrat Rabbee (abstract debug); Jamie Kellogg and David Kastrup (for preview-latex compatibility); Frederick Matsen, Dan Hopkins (minor fixes).