Thesis in LaTeX. The Basics

It is all a matter of letting go and start typing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t even have an hour of experience writing \LaTeX. There are tons of material on the internet that will get you started. And then, as you encounter more complex things you don’t know how to do (for instance, customizing the indentation and position of figure captions, or writing chemical reactions, or whatever), you’ll realize that many other people stumbled upon the same issues. The good news is, they asked how to solve them and the answers are just there, a click away from a google search.

Alright, so what should you do to start writing your thesis? First of all, download and install a \TeX distribution (see the options depending on your operating system at Latex Project) and a Text Editor. My advise if your are a newbie, get a dedicated \LaTeX text editor, because it will come with a few things that will make your life easier (such as an output integrated viewer, code snippets…). You can have a look at the countless options at Wikipedia or Stack Exchange. If you are too lazy for all that, there are some online alternatives such as ShareLatex or Overleaf. And in case you wonder, I use Texpad on my Mac and I am very happy with it.

Next thing, you’ll need to decide whether to write all the code from scratch or get a template. You have many templates available online, such as in Latex Templates, ShareLatex or Overleaf. However, I started from scratch, from a blank page, and wrote all the code. Am I crazy? Why would I do that, having beautiful templates out there? Well, I actually learned a lot by writing everything myself and sometimes templates can be a bit difficult to understand—especially when you want to customize something.

But it wasn’t that difficult thanks to an amazing tutorial series produced by ShareLatex. Yeah, I basically watched their 5 Videos (5–6 min each) and copied most of the code they showed, also found on their Blog. As easy as that, just watch/read the tutorial, copy the code and you’ll get a basic understanding of \LaTeX and a basic thesis outline in an hour or two.

There are some other interesting sources of information you should check out. Be it as reference –while you start writing your content– or to get helpful tips. Here I list but a few that were specially helpful for me:

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