dalthesis -- Dalhousie University Thesis Document Class

Clyde Clements

Version 2.2

dalthesis is LaTeX2e document class that is intended to meet the requirements for theses produced at Dalhousie University.

Installing dalthesis
Documentation
What’s New
The margins are still wrong!

Installing dalthesis

To use dalthesis you only need the document class file dalthesis.cls. Move this file to a directory searched by LaTeX. The path where LaTeX will search for input files is system dependent, but LaTeX will always search the current directory. The document class file may be downloaded from the following link: dalthesis.cls

Documentation

The documentation for dalthesis is provided in several different formats:

What’s New

Since the summer of 2003, the Faculty of Graduate Studies has become stricter on adherence to the thesis formatting guidelines, and so changes had to be made to dalthesis. Some of these changes are quite significant and if you are upgrading from an older version of dalthesis, you will notice a difference in the format of your thesis. In particular, Grad Studies now requires the bottom margin to be strictly one inch. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not! Allow me to explain.

Most pages in a thesis formatted with dalthesis will have the page number in the upper right-hand corner. Enforcing the proper margins for the top, left, and right edges of the paper is quite easy. With the top margin set, the correct bottom margin is achieved by setting the text height (LaTeX parameter \textheight) so that the text will end exactly one inch from the bottom edge of the paper. This is easily accomplished. However, not all pages have the page number in the top right-hand corner. The preface pages, as well as the first page of each chapter, have the page number centered at the bottom. And this number must be one inch from the edge of the paper. In order to achieve this and still have the top margin set as before, it requires setting \textheight to a new, smaller value for these pages. LaTeX was not designed to easily allow for such a situation. To quote from the LaTeX book by Lamport:

These parameters are all rigid lengths. They are normally changed only in the preamble. Anomalies may occur if they are changed in the middle of the document.

Normally \textheight is a constant that is set at the beginning of a document, but now dalthesis needs to switch \textheight between two possible values as the document is being processed.

To achieve a one-inch bottom margin, dalthesis was modified so that:

  1. Pages with the number in the top right hand corner have the text placed one inch from the bottom edge.
  2. Pages with the number centered at the bottom have the page number placed one inch from the bottom edge; the \textheight is reduced for such pages.

The new version of dalthesis has already been used by several people without any problem. Unfortunately, it is still possible that someone may encounter an “anomaly”. When you process your thesis with the new version of dalthesis, scan the log file for any messages about large overfull \vbox’es. If there are none, then you are fine.

With the implementation of changes 1 and 2 mentioned above, most pages will now have their content exactly one inch from the bottom edge. However, due to LaTeX’s (or rather TEX’s) page-breaking mechanism, there may still be some pages that have a bottom margin that is larger than one inch. For example, if a section heading occurs at the very bottom of the page, LaTeX will leave some space at the bottom of the page and move the heading to the next page. Generally, it is considered better typographical design to have some extra white space at the bottom of a page than to have a “widowed” section heading.

Change Log

Outlined below are some of the major changes between each version of dalthesis.

The margins are still wrong!

Some users have reported that the margins are incorrect with dalthesis. As far as I know, dalthesis does produce the correct margins as required by the regulations. If you are getting margins that do not appear correct (in particular, if the top margin is much shorter than one inch and the bottom margin is much larger), then please ensure that you are selecting the proper paper size in your LaTeX’ing process. To elaborate, when you process your document with latex, dalthesis uses letter size as the default paper size, so the dvi file will be correct. However, when you convert the dvi file to PostScript with dvips, dalthesis is no longer in control! The default paper size selected by dvips may very well be something other than letter size (it is quite often A4). To ensure that you are getting the proper paper size, pass the option ‘-t letter’ to dvips.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please email me.

Clyde Clements
clyde@mathstat.dal.ca
2003/12/12