An updated R Markdown thesis template using the bookdown package
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This project was inspired by the bookdown package and is an updated version of my Senior Thesis template in the reedtemplates package here.

Currently, the PDF and gitbook versions are fully-functional. The word and epub versions are developmental, have no templates behind them, and are essentially calls to the appropriate functions in bookdown.

If you are new to working with bookdown/rmarkdown, please read over the documentation available in the gitbook template at This is also available below at

The current output for the four versions is here:

Under the hood, the Reed College LaTeX template is used to ensure that documents conform precisely to submission standards. At the same time, composition and formatting can be done using lightweight markdown syntax, and R code and its output can be seamlessly included using rmarkdown.

Customizing thesisdown to your institution

In an ideal world, this package would support a variety of different LaTeX templates from a wide range of institutions and we'd love to get it there at some point. Until that time, realize that this was designed to only work with the Reed College LaTeX template but others have adapted it to work with their institutions. Here are a couple that have customized it to fit their needs. It is recommended you review how they changed the files by comparing their repositories to this one and then make tweaks to yours as needed. Feel free to file an issue on this repo if you have questions/troubles:

  • Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel at Duke University: thesisdowndss
  • Zhian Kamvar at Oregon State University: beaverdown
  • Ben Marwick at the University of Washington: huskydown
  • Jake Thompson at the University of Kansas: jayhawkdown

Using thesisdown from Chester's GitHub

Using thesisdown has some prerequisites which are described below. To compile PDF documents using R, you are going to need to have LaTeX installed. It can be downloaded for Windows at http:// and for Mac at Follow the instructions to install the necessary packages after downloading the (somewhat large) installer files. You may need to install a few extra LaTeX packages on your first attempt to knit as well.

To use thesisdown from RStudio:

  1. Install the latest RStudio. Only the version as of Oct 2017 has a recent enough Pandoc included so you may need to upgrade this separately or install a newer RStudio.

    #> [1] TRUE
  2. Install the bookdown and thesisdown packages:

  1. Use the New R Markdown dialog to select Thesis:

    New R Markdown

    Note that this will currently only Knit if you name the directory index as shown above.

  2. After choosing which type of output you'd like in the YAML at the top of index.Rmd, Knit the index.Rmd file to get the book in PDF or HTML formats.

  3. Edit the individual chapter R Markdown files as you wish and then re-run step (4) again.