[Tex/LaTex] Class for the thesis (amsbook currently)… should I use memoir or KOMA-Script


I am in the process of writing up a PhD thesis (on an Engineering topic) in the LyX environment, and I'm trying to decide what class/layout to use. I'm new to LyX & LaTeX.

My supervisor seems to have fairly rigid requirements on what the document looks like:

  • Approx. 2.5cm margin each side of pages
  • All chapter, section headings to be left aligned. No paragraph indents
  • Very plain (read: ugly) format, typically a Times font with 1.5 spacing, etc. etc.

I have worked so far using the template Lyx template for UNSW thesis, which is close to what I need, but the layout file seems to use the amsbook document class. It does not seem straightforward (or very transparent) to make the few style changes I need.

Basically, I just want to get the format nice (as nice as I can make it within the bounds of what my supervisor will accept). I don't want to mess around too much with styles.

Can you recommend a template I should use, or document class I should use, given these constraints? I have read a bit about the memoir class, but I'm not sure if that is the best option. Alternatively, I have read about KOMA-Script classes, which are maybe another option?

Keen for your insight – because at the moment I'm not sure whether I should try to battle on with the template I'm using (try to fix up chapter headings, figure labels, etc), or start from scratch using something else. I don't want to mess around for a long time, before realising I should have just started off with a different class/template.

Best Answer

To begin with, cmhuges is absolutely right:

[O]ne of the best things about TeX and friends is that it allows you to separate content from style. So you shouldn't need to worry about the template too much initially- you can bash out the writing using a simple documentclass, and save the style tweaking for the inevitable days when you lack the energy for the hard stuff :)

I'll add that when preparing for a bulky LaTeX document, there are some package/formatting decisions that should be made at the beginning insofar as they will influence the user macros and environments to be used in the document body. Examples are:

  • Using biblatex for bibliography/citation management vs. relying on more traditional solutions;

  • Using csquotes for handling inline and display quotations (especially if one wants to use "active quotes");

  • Using cleveref for automatic type-specific formatting of cross-references vs. relying on the standard \ref macro;

  • Using listings for displaying source code vs. relying on simpler (verbatim-like) environments.

Contrary to that, the style requirements mentioned in your question (regarding margins, sectioning headings alignment, paragraph indentation, line spacing, and fonts) are not related to macros/environments in the document body at all. That is, you'll have to deal with them eventually by tweaking the preamble (using means provided either by whatever document class you've chosen or by additional packages), but you don't have to deal with them before writing your text. (And to avoid procrastination, perhaps you shouldn't deal with them at the start.)