I have already posted about the LaTeX template that I developed for Arizona State University (ASU) theses and dissertations. I was and am highly motivated to help ASU grad students get through format review quickly and painlessly. In my view, the template is a great step in that direction.
In the README for the GitHub repo for the dissertation template, I invite users to contact me if they need help using the template. Most of the messages that I have gotten are actually requests for help setting up TeX rather than resolving problems with the template. It seems that people that struggle to use the template are stumbling on the first step: getting a TeX distribution up and running on their computers.
Troubleshooting these problems is incredibly difficult from a distance. There are so many things that could be going wrong on the user end. The problem could be with the TeX distribution or my dissertation template; it could be the particular TeX editor that the person is using; or it could be something else entirely. I have to admit I’m not sure how to troubleshoot these problems unless I’m sitting at the user’s computer and able to try it out for myself, but in-person support is not a practical solution.
So I have turned my dissertation template into a ShareLaTeX template. ShareLaTeX is an online LaTeX editor. Anyone can write or upload LaTeX code, and ShareLaTeX will convert it into a PDF—no need for installing TeX on your own computer. I’ve tried it out over the past couple days, and it seems like quite a fast, stable site with some cool features. Creating an account is painless; it just takes an email account and password. I don’t think you even need to confirm your email address.
Once you have an account, you can start a new project based on the ASU dissertation template. Go to the page for the ASU dissertation template, and click “
Open in ShareLaTeX”. ShareLaTeX will automatically create a new project for you based on the template.
I have tested the template on ShareLaTeX, and it runs great. So ASU grad students rejoice! You now have an even more user-friendly way to format your dissertations and theses.
ShareLaTeX also provides some tutorial information for people new to LaTeX:
The second point, the documentation page, contains a wealth of information about LaTeX basics, such as making text bold and inserting tables, and more advanced topics, such as integrating R code into your LaTeX documents. (By the way, I’m sort of blown away that ShareLaTeX supports R. This is an incredibly handy feature.)
To recap, the basic steps for using the ASU dissertation template on ShareLaTeX follow:
- Start a new project based on the ASU dissertation template:
- Visit the template page.
- Click the “
Open in ShareLaTeX” button.
Update the template with your own dissertation information (e.g., author name) and content. (The README file and the template file itself walks you through where and how to update the template.)
Click the “
Compile” or “
Recompile” button to make your document.
Using ShareLaTeX should make dissertation and thesis formatting easier than it was before. For people who want an entirely painless formatting experience, I offer a typesetting service through my consulting company. I’ll take your LaTeX files and update them so that your thesis or dissertation passes format review. I have found that many people end up coming to me after going through a couple rounds of revisions with the format reviewers at the grad office as graduation deadlines are fast approaching. Please don’t wait to get in touch if you’re stuck on formatting. I’ll help however I can, whether answering questions by email (for free) or doing the typesetting myself (for a fee).