The Sphinx Thesis Resource
Makefile Python TeX CSS HTML
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Creating a PhD thesis is typically done using LaTeX. This works really well for producing a PDF, but a giant PDF file is not a great way to put documents on the web. There are solutions that exist to turn latex source files into HTML, but in my experience, they tend to produce poor HTML output.

The Sphinx project is a wonderful tool for creating portable documents, allowing for output to many different formats. Unfortunately, it has many shortcomings when trying to typeset something so advanced as a PhD thesis. The aim of this project is to modify Sphinx to support all of the needs of a thesis writer. Many of the patches are not appropriate for contributing directly to the upstream Sphinx repository, so this is instead a separate project.

This sphinxtr output is available in several formats at:

The source code for sphinxtr can be found at:


If you are running the apt packet manager you can install the requirements with the following command:

sudo apt-get install python-setuptools python-virtualenv texlive-full

Otherwise you can maybe find other ways to install the following packages:

Now create a virtualenv. This will help you to separate the requirements from this project from other Python projects you might have:

virtualenv venv
source ./venv/bin/activate


You can get out of the virtualenv by either closing the terminal or by calling deactivate.

Then install the required Python packages:

pip install -r requirements.txt


You need make. The following targets are supported:

Builds HTML format, separated into sections
Builds HTML format on a single page
Builds text files, separated into sections
Builds a single text file
Builds into latex source files and then compiles into a PDF. Requires latex.


The following changes and additions have been made from vanilla Sphinx:

  • A cross-format bibtex bibliography based on sphinx-natbib
  • Tables that can go inside figures
  • Changed table formatting to look pretty, like booktabs
  • Improved alignment in table environment
  • Added support for short captions that show up in the "list of figures" section
  • Changed equation reference formatting from "(1)" to "1"
  • Full customization of latex preamble and style file
  • Numbered figures
  • Numbered section references
  • A singletext output that builds into a single text file, similar to singlehtml
  • A subfigure environment

Documents Using sphinxtr