Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

Rackham Dissertation Template (LaTeX)

This LaTeX template is for a properly formatted University of Michigan dissertation. It is a version of an older template that has been handed down and modified by generations of students since the late 1980's. Obsolete code has been removed, the tex and sty files have been extensively debugged, and it now conforms to LaTeX2e and all Rackham guidelines. The two zip files below contain all necessary files for installation of LaTeX on a Windows operating system and the dissertation template itself.

LaTeX Installation

For those who need to install LaTeX, all necessary files for a Windows installation are open source and included in the file There are several different editors and programs that can be used. One set that is known to work well is included in this zip file, but updated versions of each program can be found with a simple web search. The files should be installed in the following order: a Perl distribution such as ActivePerl, a TeX distribution such as MikTex, a LaTeX editor such as TeXnicCenter, a postscript interpreter like Ghostscript, and a postscript viewer like GSView.

About the Dissertation Template

The dissertation template itself is found in, and contains all necessary files to write a dissertation, along with lots of sample LaTeX code. The thesis.pdf file contains some brief instructions and an example of a complete dissertation. All sample LaTeX code is contained in the several .tex files and the .bib file.

Main Components

The main components are the thesis.tex file and the rac.sty file, the latter of which contains all updated formatting commands and conforms to Rackham guidelines as of the Fall of 2008. It should not need any modification. The thesis.tex file is the main program to be edited and compiled, and has several lines of commentary throughout to make life easier. If BibTeX is used to format a bibliography (and for a dissertation, it should be), then the References.bib file is also needed.

Acronymns and Additional Style Files

If a list of acronyms is desired, make all additions in abbr.tex and read acronym.pdf on for details on how to call them in the text. Other files in this template that may be helpful (but don't necessarily need to be used) include a style file that formats your bibliography in the format of the American Geophysical Union (agu04.bst) and a style file that allows you to use abbreviations for many scientific journal names when typing out the bibliography (aas\_macros.sty). Properly formatted BibTeX data can be found in places like the NASA ADS or google scholar, which sometimes use journal name abbreviations.

Helpful Tips

As shown in the template, it is useful to separate chapters into their own subfolders, with each folder containing that chapter's .tex file as well as all associated figures. For the figures, just call the name of the file, without the suffix (i.e., for a figure named LabSetup.png, type includegraphics\{Chap5/LabSetup\}) and the graphicx package will figure out what type of file it is. To compile the thesis into a PDF format, some format other than .eps must be used with the figures. To compile to a ps format, the figures need to be in .ps or .eps. Included are a few pages of sample code in the .tex file for Chapter 2 to help you get started, including code for writing equations, citations, abbreviations, tables, and calling graphics. Always be sure to compile your thesis.tex file a couple of times to get the references and page numbering updated. It is recommended that you keep the files of sample code somewhere as a reference until you get the hang of coding up citations, equations, etc.

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