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Guide to CaltechTHESIS

Theses must be submitted in electronic form as part of the graduation requirements for Caltech. This guide serves as a tool for this process.

Format and Presentation Guidelines

File format and presentation

  • The final text of the deposited thesis must be in PDF format.
  • Please use the Grad Office Ph.D. thesis regulations for format and presentation as your primary guideline in formatting your thesis.
  • Include a separate page with a bibliography of all published, or accepted-for-publication, material included in the thesis. Include the URLs as part of the citations whenever available.
  • If one of your files requires specific software to run it that is not regularly or easily obtainable, consider uploading a copy of that software as a zipped file. The same applies to programs you may have written for material in your thesis.
  • Data sets can be loaded as supplementary material. Add them as zipped files if they are extremely large (>100 Mb - use your judgment).
    • We highly recommend adding your datasets to CaltechDATA and linking them back to your thesis record.


  • The default page margins in the templates are set for single-sided pages: 1.5" on left margin, and 1" on other 3 margins
  • If you do NOT plan to print your thesis, you may change the margins to 1" on all margins.
  • If you do plan to print your thesis on double-sided pages, consider changing your settings so the 1.5" margin aligns correctly for the inner margin on both left and right pages. This will allow enough space for the binding to not hide any text in the inner margins.


  • Embedded fonts, which should be either TrueType or Type 1, are required for the PDF.
  • Font size should be 11- or 12-point.

Original source files

  • You must upload your original source files (i.e, your thesis in its pre-PDF format), in CaltechTHESIS to store them as archival sources in your CaltechTHESIS record. This will help us as we deal with format migration and obsolescence in the future, and will also preserve a copy for you should you ever need one.
  • TeX files should be zipped, and the zip file uploaded.

Abstract presentation in CaltechTHESIS

  • Library staff will compare the CaltechTHESIS Abstract to the thesis' Abstract, and correct the layout and special characters as necessary and possible.
  • If your abstract has multiple paragraphs, include HTML paragraph coding (<p>...</p>) in your abstract to ensure your paragraphs display properly.
  • Problematic symbols and special characters in an abstract:
    • If your abstract contains the mathematical symbols "<" or ">" AND you are using any kind of HTML coding as well, you will need to replace the ">" with "&gt;", and the "<" with "&lt;" to prevent display errors in the text block of the abstract.
    • Avoid the use of and ampersand (&).  Use the word "and" instead.
    • Check out Character Entity References in HTML 4 and XHTML 1.0 for alternatives for the display of special characters.

File size restrictions

  • We set no limit to the size of any of the files you submit for your thesis. We do require 1 file with the full thesis.  However, do additionally consider uploading separate chapter files to make it easier for readers to download.

LaTeX and Word Templates

LaTeX Templates

Up-to-date Caltech LaTeX thesis templates can be found and used directly in Caltech's Featured Templates section of the Overleaf website.

Students are not required to have an Overleaf account to use the templates, but will have access to useful extra features if they do - for more information on using Overleaf, and to claim your free 10GB upgrade to Overleaf Pro through the Caltech institutional license, please visit the Caltech portal on Overleaf..

You can download the Overleaf files as zip files to your own computer if you prefer to use them that way. Open up a blank thesis template on the Overleaf site, then click on Project at the top of the screen. A green box labeled “Download as ZIP” will show up in the left column, and you can choose which types of files you want to download.

Word Templates

Naming your Thesis Files

Your thesis file names should include your own name as well as your graduation date.  Please do not use "thesis.pdf" as the file name for your uploaded thesis.


  • smith_jane_2012_thesis.pdf ; SmithJane2012thesis.pdf ;
  • smith_jane_2012_thesis_ch1.pdf ; SmithJane2012ThesisCh1.pdf ;
  • smith_jane_thesis_bibliography.pdf ; SmithJaneThesisBibliography.pdf

File Types

File types

Caltech has traditionally required thesis to be in textual form.  In the past few years, however, graduate students and the Graduate Office have considered alternative formats for theses, including in particular multi-media, multi-form and cross-platform.  After consultations, the current guidelines for students preparing theses are as follows:

  • If your thesis is textual (think "book"), you must submit the final version in PDF format.  
  • If you are a graduate student who is planning to prepare your thesis in an unconventional format, you must talk to the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Author Services/Librarian about it.  If it is approved, your thesis' preliminary pages and first chapter in file must still be textual and in PDF format. 
  • We absolutely want your original source files.  Please upload them as zip files, identifying them as "source files" in the Description field. After uploading the file, click on the Show Options link, then add your descriptive statement in the Description field.  Choose "Archival Material" as the Content type.  These files will be permanently embargoed, and not released to public view.
  • Supplemental materials are accepted in many file formats.  If you are using a non-standard one, please contact us to make sure we can handle it.  You should consider the use of the CaltechDATA repository as  a safe home for these supplemental files, and include links in the thesis and supplemental files'  records going in both directions.

Symbols and Special Characters for Abstracts

Many authors have trouble replicating the appearance of their thesis' abstract in the CaltechTHESIS record.  Below are some tips to get you started.  While your abstract may look funny in the user mode, it should display correctly in public mode.  Save your changes as you go along and check the abstract's view in the Preview mode.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call!

  • HTML coding can be used to break up paragraphs:
    • <p>at the beginning of each paragraph
    • </p> at the end of each paragraph
  • Superscripts can be similarly noted:
    • <sup> ... </sup>  ex: <sup>4</sup>, or <sup>123</sup> - for superscripts
    • <sub> ... </sub> - for subscripts
  • There are many tables online that have useful coding that can be copy-pasted into the abstract.  I find this one particularly helpful:
    • Some day-to-day symbols, "&", ">' and "<", are particularly problematic, and you should use the number column display (&#...;) in their place
    • For others, you can copy-paste either the entry in the entity displayed column or the number column
  • If you need further help, just ask!  We have other helpful web pages at our fingertips, especially for math and astronomy

Recent Thesis Examples

Examples of Recent Theses with Good Published Contents and Contributions pages