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Design and layout of PhD thesis and Master Thesis

0.— Foreword

An integral part of PhD Thesis projects is its presentation. This applies to any job you may do: if it is not presented, if you do not show it, it is going to have no value at all.

A PhD student, as any scientist, do has a profession (or it is in the path to) who is not designer of books and covers. Most students can not afford or do not want to use the services of professional designers either because they are expensive or better yet, because they want to have full control of her work. This means to spend time learnig programs for desing or layout like Illustrator or Indesign, both professional high end tools used for publishers and editorials. This requieres time, and in most cases that time can not be spend for this purpose.

Based on our experience, the jobs are done mostly in Word. But, although this is a very poweful word proccessor, it is no so much a layout programa, specially when you need high end features.

We do not recommend to use Word at all.

Nonetheless, if you want to go ahear in Word, here are some advice:

1.— Basic layout with Word

To use word, you can follow the next steps:

  1. Page setup definition. Since we do not use copiers, we are not bound to standard page sizes and so, we can print any size. Consequently we can design our PhD Thesis as we like. The most common sizes are A4 (210x297 mm), 190x270mm, B5 (175x250mm).
  2. Decide if we want single or double sided PhD Thesis .
  3. If the final PhD Thesis is going to have single sided pages, then you have to set left and right margins
  4. If the final PhD Thesis is going to have doubled sided pages, you need to click simmetrical margins and then it is changed to inside and outside margin. The most simple and used setting, is to use the same margin in both sides. An if you use headers and footers or numbering centered, most of the problems are avoided.
  5. Once defined, you should work within the margins.
  6. If you need to put elements outside the defined margins, the most common case is to have them up to the edge, a process called bleeding. Those elements use to be graphics, pictures, backgrounds or when the paragraphs or heading do have rules above o below it. To have those elements reach the edge, it is neccesary to use a layout with bleeds, which is an area 3-5 mm wide where those elements are located so when the pages are cut down to finnish the books, the so ugly white lines are avoided.
  7. Word DO NOT ALLOW BLEEDS, so if you need to have this type of finnishing, it is adviced to use a professional program as those described above. Bellow we have a section devoted to bleeding. The video show from min 16 onwards how to make Word documents with bleeding. Take a look.
  8. If you still need bleeding and have to use Word, then you have to do a page at least 5 mm wider at all ends, assuming that those 5 mm are going to dissapear in the final stage of cutting and so will be not in the final PhD Thesis. Nontheless, that area is used to take the bleeding elementes (background, pictures, etc) out of the page limits so after cutting they are up to the edge
  9. If you are asking yourself why so many bothers, the answear is, as you know, that there is no perfect machine, and all of them do have a error limit called tolerance and you have to deal with it. I suggest you print the same page many times in your printer and you will see that none of them is in the same exact micrometric position; there is a minimal variation and to avoid it in the final result is why we use the bleeding.


2.- The bleeding

The bleeding in PhD Thesis is the extension of graphics, background, pictures, etc (as needed) beyond the defined page margin in order to have them reach the edge of the page, so when the finished thesis is cut, is free of white lines.

Any professional know what it is: Furthermore, she knows that it is absolutely necessary in order to have a perfect finish of the thesis.

This is a quite complex subject, specially to realize yourself , so here we have a video explaining it and its necessity. If you just want to know how to make layout with bleeding, jump to min 16.



3.- Professional Design

If you want, need and have the time to dedicate to it, you can use any of the professional layout programs as QuarkXpress o Adobe Indesing. Have in mind that those programs are very expensive. Indesign is no longer for sale, just rent on a monthly basis.

There is a free (as in gratis) program called Scribus available for the main platforms.


3.1- Layout and design PhD Thesis with Indesign-part1/4


This n.1 video on a series of 4 (plus some extras) explains how to prepare the basic components of the thesis: tables, graphics, pictures and text before their layout into Indesign.




3.2- Layout and design PhD Thesis with Indesign-part2/4


In this n. 2 video, we explain how to create master pages, the use of text and graphics boxes, how to import text and how to create and apply paragraph styles. Also, how to later modify them.




3.3- Layout and design PhD Thesis with Indesign-part3/4


In this n. 3 video, we explain how to import images, tables and pictures to their boxes; the margins on those boxes and how to scale, center and crop the graphics.




3.4- Layout and design PhD Thesis with Indesign-part4/4


In this n. 4 video, we do a quick recap and then explain how to export to loseless pdf for its perfect impression and binding of the PhD Thesis. Also, how to create a package to be send o a service bureau like ours.



3.5- Layout and design PhD Thesis with Indesign-Extra


In this n. 5 video, how to create and handle footnotes.



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