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Department of Statistics

Peter Bloomfield

LaTeX materials

LaTeX is an essential document-formatting tool for statisticians and many other scientists.

Two of the most important documents that a student will have to prepare are the dissertation, and a presentation of the dissertation results. LaTeX can play an important role in the preparation of both.

The look of a document is determined by its class, the details of which are defined in a class file. Choosing a good class is the first step to creating a satisfying document.


The NCSU Graduate School has very specific guidelines for the preparation of an online dissertation. A page of templates includes a zip archive that provides:

The class was created by Josh Hykes from Nuclear Engineering, who also maintains a web page devoted to LaTeX materials. On Josh's page, you will find a link to a zip archive containing his most recent version of ncsuthesis, which is usually the same as the version on the Graduate School's page, but which at times will contain recent enhancements.

While no class can be guaranteed to produce a dissertation that meets the Graduate School's guidelines, and the responsibility to do so lies solely with the candidate, you should have little trouble meeting those guidelines if you use this class.

This archive contains another set of sample LaTeX files, set up to use the new class. It does not contain the class file itself--you should obtain the latest version of that from either the Graduate School's page or Josh's page.


The Graduate School website has two examples of Ph.D. dissertations formatted using this class. One uses the default formatting for a book, including the Computer Modern fonts that are the default in all TeX documents; the other exercises various options by including the file optional.tex, and specifies different fonts. That file describes a number of alternatives to Computer Modern that give quite different, and attractive, typography. However, if your dissertation contains mathematical material, you should check carefully that the font you choose provides all the symbols, including variants, bold versions, and so on, that you need. Computer Modern provides the most inclusive set of mathematical symbols.

Heading Capitalization

One Graduate School rquirement is that an entry in the Table of Contents should be capitalized in the same way as the heading on the page where the corresponding part of the dissertation is found. For example, if the heading of the references page is "REFERENCES", then the Table of Contents entry must also be all-caps.

With some choices of options, you may find these entries do not match. You can make certain headings all-caps in both places by using:

where the last command changes the header on the otherwise empty page that precedes any appendices; appendices are still headed "Appendix A", and so on. Any such line could be placed in the preamble.


The sample LaTeX files use the booktabs package, to enhance the quality of tables. The author of booktabs, Simon Fear, has strong opinions about the layout and general appearance of tables. Your dissertation will look much better if you follow his guidelines.


Most journals in statistical areas, and in many others, prefer or require the Author (year) style for citations. This is not an option in the standard LaTeX book class; if you use the natbib package and the plainnat bibliography style, the \cite command will put Author (year) citations in the text.


The Graduate School's web page also has a link to an archive of files for making presentation slides using the Beamer class.

This archive contains a slightly modified Beamer theme that adheres a little closer to NCSU's branding. See the sample PDF file--suggestions for improvement and contributions are all welcome!


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