Doing Purdue University Theses Using LaTeX
Mark Senn
February 24, 2017
permanent URL (web address) for this document:


This document describes how to use the puthesis (Purdue University thesis) LaTeX typesetting system documentclass to format Purdue University master's bypass reports, master's theses, PhD dissertations, and PhD preliminary reports. All the needed software is free.

New puthesis.cls file released today  (February 22, 2017)

A new puthesis.cls file was released today that makes the leader dots in the table of contents and other places extend farther to the right. I'm working on a new version of puthesis for the new specifications. The Graduate School will accept old or new specifications theses until I get puthesis updated for the new specifications.

Change Requests Should come Faculty or Staff  (February 24, 2017)

I used to make changes to puthesis based on what a graduate student wrote about what their school or department's Graduate Office told them. The process is now more formal—a faculty or staff member from that school or department's Graduate Office or the Purdue Graduate School needs to contact me directly to request changes that will affect more than one person.

Special Note: Use Overleaf  (May 4, 2016—updated October 28, 2016)

The Graduate School and I recommend you use Overleaf. I answer puthesis questions about LaTeX and how to use the Overleaf interface to LaTeX. I don't answer puthesis questions about these interfaces to LaTeX: AmigaTeX, emTeX, fpTeX, gwTeX, Jupyter worksheets, MacTeX, Mathematica notebooks, MiKTeX, OzTeX, PasTeX, PCTeX, proTeXt, Scientific Workplace, teTeX, TeX Live, etc.

Special Note: Collaborating With Your Major Professor(s) using Overleaf  (May 4, 2016)

See Can I add inline or margin comments to the pdf? for how to use LaTeX commands to make inline or marginal notes to communicate with your major professor(s).

See Rich commenting is here! ... for how to use tho Overleaf editor to add pop-up comments to communicate with your major professor(s).

Special Note: Not at West Lafayette Campus

If you are not at Purdue's West Lafayette campus check with your school/department/program to get help locally—they'll be more familiar with any special rules.

Special Note: Purdue Polytechnic Institute

I support puthesis for all schools/departments/programs at Purdue University's West Lafayette Campus except for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute—they use their own version of puthesis. If you are a Purdue Polytechnic student see the Purdue Polytechnic Thesis and Dissertation Formatting web page.

Special Note: APA Format

There is no combination of options that will automatically give proper headings, tables, and figures according to Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, sixth edition, fifth printing, January 2011. (Informally this is known as the APA format—I call it APA6.) APA6 specifications are geared toward short papers and journal articles. It does not specify the format for the table of contents, list of tables, list of figures, etc. It does not specify the numbering that should be used for chapters, sections, subsections, subsubsections, equations, etc. From page 5 of the manual (thanks to John S. Hansen, Reference Librarian, University if Wisconsin-Stout for providing the citation):

The Publication Manual presents explicit style requirements but acknowledges that alternatives are sometimes necessary; authors should balance the rules of the Publication Manual with good judgement. Because the written language of psychology changes more slowly than psychology itself, the Publication Manual does not offer solutions for all stylistic problems. In that sense, it is a transitional document: Its style requirements are based on the existing scientific literature rather than imposed on the literature. (American Psychologgical Association, 1994, p. xxiii)
I am lobbying that schools and departments that prescribe APA format to allow the use of the (in my opinion, and I have almost thirty years of typesetting experience) better default puthesis behaviour for headings, tables, figures, etc. Based on the questions I'm getting, I think some schools and departments have switched to using the puthesis defaults or people have figured out how to get what their schools and departments want without my help. APA6 style text citations and bibliographies can continue to be used, contact me if you have any problems.


The puthesis template is the graduate schools' official template, so all formatting (unless there is some sort of error) should be correct.
—Ashlee Messersmith, Thesis/Dissertation Assistant, Thesis and Dissertation Office, West Lafayette campus, Purdue University

Table of Contents

See Dissertation Advice by Olin Shivers. and How To Write A Dissertation by Douglas E. Comer for advice regarding the content of a dissertation.

What is puthesis?

Puthesis stands for “Purdue University thesis” (pronounced “pew thesis”). It is a LaTeX typesetting system documentclass used to format Purdue master's bypass reports, master's theses, PhD dissertations, and PhD preliminary reports. The software is free and is available for Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Unix, and the web ((Free Overleaf accounts). The Graduate School announced it is sponsoring free Overleaf Pro accounts in January, 2016. Please inform me if you notice any differences between the Graduate School's or your school or department's specifications and what puthesis does.

Why use puthesis?

The Thesis/Dissertation Office recommends using puthesis.

Thousands of people have graduated using it. You won't need to “reinvent the wheel.”

All formatting details are done automatically, you can concentrate on the content of your thesis instead of worrying about margins, typefaces, etc.

It is especially convenient for typesetting mathematics.

Many people think it produces more attractive output than other systems.

All the software needed is free and is available for a wide variety of operating systems. Purdue has an (Overleaf) license so you can use LaTeX on the web.

Some (especially engineering, mathematics, and science) journals use LaTeX. You may be able to cut large chunks out of your thesis, change a few lines at the top of the resulting file, and send that to a journal.

Using LaTeX and BibTeX is very common in the scientific community. Sooner or later you may need to learn it anyway.


Many candidates have made favorable comments about puthesis when depositing their theses. We strongly recommend candidates consider learning puthesis prior to the writing process. Using puthesis cuts formatting discrepancies to almost zero, drastically reduces the possibility of revision requests, and helps ensure stress-free deposits!
—Mark D. Jaeger, Manager, Thesis/Dissertation Office

The puthesis class file for LaTeX has helped hundreds of ECE graduate students meet the requirements for format approval. Using it allows them to focus on the content of their thesis without concern for the myriad of formatting details that it automatically handles. The Graduate School's Thesis/Dissertation Office also recommends the use of puthesis and LaTeX.
—Andy Hughes, ECE Thesis Format Advisor

Complete list of testimonials.

Mailing list

Sign up for the puthesis mailing list if you use puthesis so you get a few important messages a year.

These LaTeX packages are incompatible with puthesis

Package   What Happens
caption captions are wrong
float (I forget the exact problem that causes)
pdfsync first line of text doesn't always start in right place
subfiles page numbering is wrong

Using “thesis” for “thesis” and “dissertation”

The document necessary to get a Purdue PhD is a “dissertation”. For historical reasons, to use the same nomenclature as other Purdue departments, and be able to lump instructions describing master's bypass reports, master's theses, PhD dissertations, and PhD preliminary reports together the word “thesis” will be used to refer to any of these. “Dissertation” will be used to refer to things that are dissertation-specific only.

Puthesis requires LaTeX

Puthesis requires LaTeX and BibTeX. See LaTeX for more information. Puthesis is designed to run on, and I only answer LaTeX questions when you are using

I only answer questions about the user interface for I've been asked about these LaTeX-related things in the past but don't support them

Download the puthesis software

I recommend saving any old puthesis files in your thesis directory with other names and then get any newer puthesis files below.

File Version Comment
puthesis.cls 2017-02-22 production Purdue University thesis documentclass (change history)
xputhesis.cls 2008-04-21 experimental Purdue University thesis documentclass (change history and instructions)
cheputhesis.cls 2008-04-21 a special version of xputhesis for Chemical Engineering
notoccite.sty Jul 20, 2000   don't increment bibliography citation numbers in table of contents
pulongtable.sty   2006-09-14 used for multiple page tables

Download the template files

The template files below are meant for you to save and modify as necessary for your thesis. In each file search for “CHANGE” and change things as necessary. I recommend putting “%%” before any existing lines that need to be changed and adding any new line(s) immediately below the existing lines.

If you are on a Linux or Unix computer you may be able to use the following procedure to simplify getting the files:

This procedure will create a “template” subdirectory if one doesn't already exist. The all.bib through vita.tex files listed below will get overwritten in the template directory. Be careful!

Get this template.tar.gz file and then type

gunzip template.tar
tar xf template.tar
to save the trouble of getting each file individually. If that doesn't work, get each file separately.

If you are using Windows computer you may be able to use the following procedure to simplify getting the files:

This procedure will create a “template” subdirectory if one doesn't already exist. The all.bib through vita.tex files listed below will get overwritten in the template directory. Be careful!

Get this file and then type

to save the trouble of getting each file individually. If that doesn't work, get each file separately.

If you weren't able to get all the template files using the instructions above you can get them one at a time here:

File Version Comment
all.bib 2007-02-06 a simple BibTeX database file
bibliography.tex 2010-06-21 the bibliography
demo-citations.tex 2007-02-06 demonstrate citations
demo-figures.tex 2007-02-06 demonstrate figures
demo-mathematics.tex 2007-02-12 demonstrate mathematics
demo-multicols.tex 2004-04-23 demonstrate multicols
demo-tables.tex 2014-08-08 demonstrate tables
demo-text.tex 2007-07-17 demonstrate text
front.tex 2017-01-08 front matter: statement of approval, dedication, acknowledgments, preface, table of contents, list of tables, list of figures, symbols, abbreviations, nomenclature, glossary, abstract
introduction.tex 2007-02-06 “Introduction” chapter
mydefs.tex 2007-02-06 my command definitions
plot.eps 2004-10-14 plot used by Figures chapter
recommendations.tex   2007-02-06 “Recommendations” chapter
summary.tex 2007-02-06 “Summary” chapter
thesis.tex 2014-08-08 this is the main file
vita.tex 2007-02-06 a vita is required only in a doctoral dissertation

Depending on your installation of LaTeX you may need to put copies of the puthesis.cls and pulongtable.sty files in the template directory to be able to do a latex thesis command there.

If LaTeX complains about missing files

If LaTeX complains about missing files when you do your thesis, then, and only then, get the appropriate files below. Email to get any files not listed.

File Version Comment
ama.bst 3/27/02 produce AMA (Amerian Medical Association) format bibliographies (only needed if you are using ama option) (See top of file after choosing link for more instructions)
apacite.* 2007/09/03 produce APA (Amerian Psychological Association) format bibliographies and citations (only needed if you are using apacite option) (See “Contents of the README file” on screen after choosing link for more instructions)
astron.sty 1990 produce citations in the `author-year' format, which is widely used among astronomical journals
cite.sty 3.8 (Apr 1999) change, for example, citations [1,2,3] to [1–3]
endnotes.sty 09/14/94 used to put footnotes at the end of a chapter instead of bottom of page
ifthen.sty 2001/05/26 v1.1c defines \ifthenelse and other commands
jfm.bst 1.1 revised 12/2005 The Journal of Fluid Dynamics bibliography style, you only need this if you use the jfm option. See the top of jfm.bst file for instructions.
jfm2.bst v1.1 (SGLS,RJW) 12/97,02/07 A modified Journal of Fluid Dynamics bibliography style, you only need this if you use the jfm2 option. See the top of jfm2.bst file for instructions.
lsalike.bst 06-Jan-94 Linguistics Society of America like bibliography style, you only need this if you use the ling option.
lsalike.sty 06-Jan-94 version 1.0alpha Linguistics Society of America like bibliography definitions, you only need this if you use the ling option.
natbib.sty 2003/06/06 7.1 (PWD) defines miscellanous bibliography-related commands/td>
pumeunsrt.bst 2013-04-04   you only need this if you are in Mechanical Engineering
rotating.sty   1997/09/26, v2.13   used to rotate text and figures
subfigure.sty 2002/07/30 v2.1.4   used to put footnotes at the end of a chapter instead of bottom of page

If you need the files below (especially report.cls) your LaTeX may not be set up right.

File Version Comment
graphicx.sty   1999/02/16 v1.0f used to include Encapsulated PostScript files
lscape.sty 2000/10/22 v3.01   prints across widest dimension of paper
report.cls 2004/02/16 v1.4f a documentclass that should come with latex to do reports

Documentclass options

All theses must follow the Purdue University Graduate School's A Manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses. Individual departments and schools may have additional rules and regulations—they're listed immediately after the school or department in the table below.

The general form of the \documentclass command is

Separate multiple options with commas.

The “use ece now, option when available” messages below mean you can at least use the ece option to check that your LaTeX input is recognized by LaTeX. If you're lucky, using ece for your document or ece with some of the other options beginning with the endnote option below will do the formatting correctly for your thesis. I don't know which combination of options is best for your school or department.

For Use Option Additional Rules and thesis format contact(s) (date info last checked)
Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering aae Jennifer LaGuire (2011-07-02)
Agricultural and Biological Engineering use ece now, abe when available none (2012-03-13)
Agricultural Economics agecon A Manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses,
Department of Agricultural Economics,
Purdue University, 1999–2000.
Lou Ann Baugh (2012-03-13)
Agronomy agry Phyllis Graves and Jeff Volenec (2006-10-19)
American Studies use ece now, amst when available major professor and committee (2006-10-18)
Animal Sciences use ece now, ansc when available waiting to hear back from Alan Grant (2006-10-18)
Anthropology use ece now, anth when available Talin Lindsay (2012-03-29)
Art & Design use ece now, ad when available Jill Stickrod (2012-03-29)
Basic Medical Sciences use ece now, bms when available major professor and committee (2011-11-29)
Gloria Powell (2011-11-29)
Biological Sciences use ece now, biol when available Georgina Rupp (2012-03-29)
Biomedical Engineering use ece now, bme when available no school/dept/program additional formatting rules
Sandy May (2012-03-30)
Botany & Plant Pathology use ece now, btny when available Tyson McFall
Chemical Engineering che Thesis Format Check List (PDF file)
Heading Examples (Word file)
Deb Bowman (2012-03-13)
Chemistry chem Chemistry Thesis Format Office
A Thesis/Dissertation Formatting Manual for the Purdue Univeristy Chemistry Department
Liz Hewitt and Cindy Salazar (assistant) (2012-03-30)
Civil Engineering ce The Basics for the Preparation of Graduate Thesis
Architectural, Geotechnical and Materials:
    Cathy Ralston (2011-06-30)
    Melissa Geiger (2011-06-30)
Environmental and Hydraulics:
    Judy Haan (2011-06-30)
Geomatics and Transportation:
    Dorothy Miller (2011-06-30)
    Molly Stetler (2011-06-30)
Communications use ece now, com when available major advisor (2012-04-12)
Comparitive Literature use ece now, cmpl when available Ronnie Wilbur (2011-08-25)
Comparitive Medicine use ece now, svm-icmgp when available major professor and committee (2011-08-25)
Comparitive Pathobiology use ece now, cpb when available major professor and committee (2011-11-29)
Barbara White (2011-11-29)
Computer Science cs William Gorman and Renate Mallus (2011-08-31)
Consumer Sciences & Retailing use ece now, csr when available Jeannie Navarre (2011-08-25)
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences eas student's major advisor (2006-10-11)
Education Curriculum and Instruction edci James Lehman (2006-10-19)
Electrical and Computer Engineering ece ECE Thesis Format/Deposit -checklist (see “Formatting Requirements” section)
Andy Hughes (2012-04-02)
Engineering Education use ece now, ene when available (unknown) (2011-08-25)
English use ece now, engl when available student's major professor (2011-08-25)
Entomology use ece now, entm when available student's major professor and committee (2011-08-25)
Food Science use ece now, fs when available none (2011-08-25)
Health Sciences hsci student's major professor (2012-04-02)
History use ece now, hist when available none (2011-08-25)
Horticulture use ece now, hort when available none (2011-08-25)
Industrial Engineering ie student's major professor and committee (2012-04-02)
Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences use ece now, ibsc when available major professor and committee (2011-11-29)
Sue Wood (2011-11-29)
Languages and Cultures use ece now, lc when available Thesis Format Advisor Web Site
Susan Clawson (2012-03-30)
Linguistics use ece now, ling when available Ronnie Wilbur (2011-08-23)
Sue Wood (2011-11-29)
Management mgmt Kelly Felty (2011-09-08)
Materials Engineering mse Thesis Format Guidelines, June 2001, School of Materials Engineering
Vicki Cline (2012-03-29)
Mathematics math Steven R. Bell (2011-09-06)
Mechanical Engineering me Ganesh Subbarayan (2013-09-13)
Nuclear Engineering ne Ashley Lauren Brooks (2011-08-23)
Nursing use ece now, nur when available none (2011-08-25)
Sue Wood (2011-11-29)
Pharmacy Practice use ece now, phpr when available major professor and committee (2011-08-25)
Sue Wood (2011-11-29)
Philosophy use ece now, phil when available (unknown) (2011-08-25)
Sue Wood (2011-11-29)
Physics phys Stephen Durbin (2006-10-19)
Psychological Sciences use ece now, psy when available Departmental Guidelines for 2014.pdf
Julie Smith (2011-08-25)
Sociology use ece now, soc when available major professor and committee (2011-08-25)
Statistics stat Anna M. Hook (2016-02-29)
Theatre use ece now, thtr when available none (2011-08-25)
Veterinary Clinical Sciences use ece now, vcs when available major professor and committee (2011-11-29)
Jessica Sheely (2011-11-29)
Use optionFor
bypassmaster's Bypass Report
dissertationPhD Dissertation
prelimPhD Preliminary Report
thesismaster's Thesis
Use optionFor
endnotesFootnotes at end of chapter instead of bottom of page.
Use optionFor Bibliograhy Style
abbrvabbreviated author names
abbrvnatabbreviated natbib
amaAmerican Mathematical Association
apaciteAmerican Psychological Association
(if apacite doesn't work try apalike)
apalikeAmerican Psychological Association like
jfmJournal of Fluid Dynamics
jfm2Journal of Fluid Dynamics modified
phaipAmerican Institute of Physics journals
plainnatplain natbib
unsrtunsrt (default)
unsrtnatunsrt natbib
Use optionTo
coversheetsUse Bibliography, Appendix, and Vita coversheets (default).
nocoversheetsDon't use Bibliography, Appendix, and Vita cover sheets.
Use optionTo
chapterblankpagesStart chapters on next odd-numbered page (default).
nochapterblankpagesStart chapters on next page.
Use optionTo
nonchapterblankpagesStart non-chapters on next odd-numbered page (default).
nononchapterblankpagesStart non-chapters on next page.
(The following are nonchapters: abstract, acknowledgments,
bibliography, list of figures, list of tables, preface,
table of contents, and vita.)
Use optionTo
miserSave paper—same as nononchapterblankpages,
nochapterblankpages, and nocoversheets.
nomiserNot save paper—same as nonchapterblankpages,
chapterblankpages, and coversheets.
Use optionFor
uglyheadingsCentered, underlined, upper and lower case sections.
Centered, not underlined, upper and lower case subsections.
Left justified, underlined, upper and lower case subsubsections.

Example output

For Documentclass line
Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering I need to add the links marked with ?????
Agricultural and Biological Engineering ?????
Agricultural Economics ?????
Agronomy ?????
American Studies ?????
Animal Sciences ?????
Anthropology ?????
Art & Design ?????
Basic Medical Sciences ?????
Biological Sciences ?????
Biomedical Engineering ?????
Botany & Plant Pathology ?????
Chemical Engineering ?????
Chemistry ?????
Civil Engineering ?????
Communications ?????
Comparitive Literature ?????
Comparitive Medicine ?????
Comparitive Pathobiology ?????
Computer Science ?????
Consumer Sciences & Retailing ?????
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences ?????
Education Curriculum and Instruction ?????
Electrical and Computer Engineering ?????
Engineering Education ?????
English ?????
Entomology ?????
Food Science ?????
Health Sciences ?????
History ?????
Horticulture ?????
Industrial Engineering ?????
Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences ?????
Languages and Cultures ?????
Linguistics ?????
Management ?????
Materials Engineering ?????
Mathematics ?????
Mechanical Engineering ?????
Nuclear Engineering ?????
Nursing ?????
Pharmacy Practice ?????
Philosophy ?????
Physics ?????
Psychological Sciences ?????
Sociology ?????
Statistics ?????
Theatre ?????
Veterinary Clinical Sciences ?????

Documentclass commands


Your name. Used in title page and abstract. Example:
\author{Alan A. Apple}
This name should match the name the university uses for you.


The campus you will graduate from. Used in title page. Example:
\campus{West Lafayette}
The following campuses are valid:


Your major professor or major professors. Used in abstract. Examples:
\majorprof{Alan A. Apple}
\majorprofs{Alan A. Apple and Bertrand B. Blueberry}
\majorprofs{Alan A. Apple, Bertrand B. Blueberry and Charles C. Cherry}


The degree name, abbreviation, month, and year. The month and year are for when the degree is awarded. Used in title page and abstract. Example:
\pudegree{Doctor of Philosophy}{PhD}{May}{2015}


Title of your thesis. Used it title page and abstract. Example:
\title{An Example Thesis Done with LaTeX}
Subscripts and superscripts are not allowed in the title.

Weird commands defined by puthesis

In addition to the commands shown in the template files, puthesis also defines the following commands. As far as puthesis is concerned, these commands can be used anywhere. Double check comments in the template files to make sure it is ok to use then them there. For example, no subscripts or superscripts are allowed in the thesis title.

Use \num for numbers

Right now the \num command just prints the number in math mode so any minus signs come out as minus signs and not hyphens. Later it will do what is described in the next paragraph.

The \num command, separates numbers of more than four digits into groups of three on either side of the decimal point, separated by a space. If the magnitude of a number is less than one, the decimal point should be preceded by a zero.

Use \ten to get powers of ten

The \ten command will switch into and out of math mode if necessary.

Units and abbreviations (ECE-specific)

Use the International System of Units (SI Units). Refer to units listed in Appendix I of Thesis Format for information on prefered usage of units, conversion factors, etc.

Unit symbols should be used with measured quantites, e.g., 1mm, but unit names are used in text without quantities, e.g., “a few millimeters”.

If quantities must be expressed in English units, the SI equivalents should also be given in parentheses, i.e., “a distance of 4.7 in (12 cm)”.

Most acronyms and abbreviations should be defined the first time they are used in text. A list of acronyms and abbreviations, including a list of those that need not be defined, is given in Appendix II of Thesis Format.

Defining commands not specific to your thesis

If you would like to use the same commands in multiple documents, put them in a mydefs.tex file and use \input{mydefs} to read in those definitions.

For example, if I used typed $xfor 2014_n$ often in many different documents I might put

in my mydefs.tex file.

Then, whenever I typed \xn it would be the same as typing $x_n$. This definition can be made more flexible by including ensuremath like this

That way \xn can be used in text or math mode and LaTeX will go in and out of math mode if necessary.

Defining commands specifc to your thesis

I like to put thesis-specific command definitions after any \input{mydefs} command I use.

If I was writing a lot about different vectors with elements 1 to some upper limit, I could put the following in my root file

\newcommand{\vec}[2]{\en{#1_1},~\en{#1_2},\ \ldots,~\en{#1_#2}}
so I could type
\vec xy
to get
x1, x2, ..., xy


I only support documents that use “\documentclass[options]{puthesis}” and use the latest puthesis.cls file available from this web page.

Part of thesis that bug is in


The optional notes section at the end of the thesis (immediately before the vita in PhD theses) is not implemented.

FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions

Can I run LaTeX on the web? Answer.

Converting LaTeX to Word? Answer.

How can I get Adobe Reader to read a new PDF file and update the screen? Answer.

Part of thesis with problem

Documentclass Options

Title page


Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Symbols, Abbreviations, Nomenclature or Glossary

Including journal articles

Including Publications List


Chapter Heading









Common writing mistakes


If you have any comments after reading the Frequently Asked Questions send them to


If you have any questions after reading the Frequently Asked Questions see How to Request puthesis Help.

Revised: February 24, 2017
Created: March 27, 1997