LaTeX Template for Typesetting Arizona State University Dissertations and Theses
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ASU Dissertation Template

This is a LaTeX template for typesetting Arizona State University (ASU) dissertations and theses following ASU's format manual. The template file is dissertation_template_latex.tex.


Arizona State University already offers a LaTeX dissertation template, but this template offers several new features:

  • Includes all required and optional sections, including a copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements, preface, endnotes, and biographical sketch.
  • Correct formatting for main matter (chapters) and back matter (appendices), which makes it easy to organize your entire document.
  • For the typesetting engine, works with either pdftex or xetex. (xetex makes it easy to use any of the approved fonts.)
  • For references, works with natbib and biblatex. (biblatex makes it easy to use Chicago, MLA, and APA style references.)
  • Better separation of content and formatting. For example, write your table captions however you want and they will appear correctly in the list of tables. This arrangement makes it much easier to produce another (much better-looking version) of your dissertation/thesis in case you want to share a better-looking version with colleagues.
  • Internal document references work. For example, clicking on an in-text citation jumps down to that citation in the references list.
  • Bookmarks work, so there is a navigation side menu in the PDF that contains the major document elements (e.g., table of contents and each chapter heading), so the PDF is easier to navigate.
  • Writes PDF metadata (including the title, name, and keywords) automatically.
  • Uses the memoir document class, so it is easier to change formatting and create a book-length work in general.

TeX engines

This template will run with either pdftex or xetex. You will probably want to use xetex in order to use one of the required fonts, such as Garamond or Century. (If you are running the template on your own computer, make sure these fonts are installed on your system before trying to use them with xetex.) But pdftex sometimes runs much faster than xetex, so for drafting, you may want to use pdftex and then check the output periodically with xetex.

Making PDFs with the template

On ShareLaTeX

Start a new project in ShareLaTeX and copy in the files from this repository. ShareLaTeX can make a PDF from these TeX files online without your needing to install TeX on your own computer.

On your own computer


I recommend that Windows users download and install the latest version of MiKTeX, and I recommend that Mac users download and install the latest version of MacTeX. Both of these are large TeX distributions that are (1) easy to install, (2) contain all the packages used in the template, and (3) probably contain any additional packages that you will want to use.

Linux users beware: The LaTeX packages in default repositories are often out of date and may not work with this template, so make sure your packages are up to date. You may need to download packages manually or customize your setup. If you're a Linux user, I trust you can get TeX working on your own.

Making with latexmk

I recommend using latexmk to typeset your document. latexmk is an excellent command line tool that will run and re-run TeX, BibTeX, biber, etc. until the document is completely typeset. If you use latexmk, you will not need to manually run pdftex, then biber, then pdftex to format citations, for example. latexmk is usually bundled with TeX distributions, but you can also get it here.

Step-by-step: Making the sample file

To preview the formatting in the full template, you can create a sample using dissertation_template_latex_sample.tex.

First, make sure that you have an up-to-date TeX distribution on your system. (See the "Requirements" section above.) Second, download the template and supporting files to your computer. A couple ways to get these files on your computer are:

  1. Click the "Download ZIP" button on this page, and then unzip the downloaded file.

  2. If your computer has git installed, open a terminal and enter:

    git clone

Third, open a terminal (if you have not already), and navigate into the directory with the template files. For example, enter the following command in the terminal:

cd ~/Downloads/ASU-Dissertation-Template

Finally, use latexmk to process the sample file with xetex by entering the following in the terminal:

latexmk -pdf -xelatex dissertation_template_latex_sample.tex

Or use latexmk to process the sample file with pdftex by entering the following in the terminal:

latexmk -pdf dissertation_template_latex_sample.tex

Both of these commands should produce a PDF called dissertation_template_latex_sample.pdf, which is the sample document.

Step-by-step: Making your dissertation/thesis with the template

Follow the same steps for making the sample file in the previous section, but change the name of the *.tex file from dissertation_template_latex_sample.tex to dissertation_template_latex.tex. For example, use latexmk to process the template file with xetex by entering the following in the terminal:

latexmk -pdf -xelatex dissertation_template_latex.tex

Continuous preview mode

latexmk also has a continuous preview mode (initiated with the flag -pvc), which watches a *.tex file and all supporting files (including separate chapter files) for changes. When any of these files are changed, latexmk automatically re-runs TeX and produces a new PDF. It's a great tool for checking formatting. For example, to use latexmk to process the template file with xetex in continuous preview mode, open a terminal and enter the following:

latexmk -pdf -xelatex -pvc dissertation_template_latex.tex

Editing the template

To use the template to create your dissertation or thesis, you'll obviously need to edit the template file.

Notations in template

This template is organized so that the code you need to change is indicated with %<. For example, one line in the template that needs to be edited is the following:

\newcommand*{\pointsize}{12pt}          %<Set the font size

Optional changes are indicated with %~, for example,

\chapter*{Acknowledgements}             %~Acknowledgements are optional

Important warnings are indicated with %!.

Including other files

Make sure that LaTeX can find any external files that are called in this document (typically, individual chapter files and the bibliography files). The easiest way to make sure LaTeX can find all the external files is to put them in the same folder as the template file.

Supporting documentation

This template uses the memoir document class. The memoir document class has excellent documentation, so if you need to change the formatting for some reason or if you need to understand what this code is doing, start by checking the memoir documentation. memoir also offers a lot of features if you need to do something not already included in the template (e.g., numbering equations consistently). And of course, CTAN has documentation for all the packages used in this template. ShareLaTeX also has excellent documentation both on LaTeX in general and using ShareLaTeX.

Currently no style or class

I have intentionally not created a style file. All the code appears in the template file itself because, in my experience, using custom style files can make it difficult to find and fix issues. The disadvantage of this approach is a lengthy preamble in the template file, but the advantage is having all the relevant code in one document. If there is enough interest in either a style file or packaging everything in a class, I will create them.


I have adapted some code from the default Pandoc latex template. Pandoc is a great utility, and you can learn about it here.


Feel free to contact me with questions or suggestions: Robert Kutter (

Find out more about me and my work here:

Copyright 2018 Robert W. Kutter