Last modified: 2017 May 24


for the American University-College of Arts and Sciences


AUTHESIS is a package of files that produces a document which conforms to American University's College of Arts and Sciences (AU-CAS) dissertation formatting requirements. Since early 2008, there have been two acceptable formats.
a) the AU-CAS traditional dissertation formatting requirements, as embodied in the original Guide to Thesis Preparation, and
b) the AU-CAS revised dissertation format, and embodied in the published addendum to the Guide to Thesis Preparation.
Either one of the above options is acceptable, it is up to the dissertation writer to select which format is more to their liking (see instructions below on how to select either option). Dissertations using either format have passed all stages of the approval process. We strongly prefer the revised format, which drops certain formatting requirements dating to the use of typewriters for thesis preparation.

AUTHESIS was initially hacked by Alan Cibils from UCTHESIS, which is available on CTAN, while he completing his PhD. Faculty member Alan Isaac has done most of the work on AUTHESIS since 2002. The thesis class has been very stable for a decade, but it is always possible to find a bug. Currently bug reports should go to Alan Isaac.

Download Instructions

You need to make sure you get exact copies of the plain text files reference below. The most reliable method is to right click the file links, and then save the files to your hard drive. Before presenting your dissertation for review, please make sure that you have the most recent version of all the files needed to process your dissertation.


For your convenience in proposal formatting, you may wish to use auproposal.sty with the article class. (You can test this style file with test_auproposal.tex.) Just put the style file in your proposal folder and add the following in your preamble.

\title{Dissertation Title}
\author{Your Name}
\degreeyear{\today}   %\today produces the current date, not just year
\degree{Doctor of Philosophy}
\chair{Your Chair}
\secondreader{Your Second Reader} 
\thirdreader{Your Third Reader}

The big payoff is that \maketitle command will then correctly format your title page.


That is the big payoff. However, you will also be provided a frontmatter environment to contain a table of contents, if you wish.

Installing the AUTHESIS class

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before handing in the final version of your thesis or dissertation, make sure that you have the latest version of the AUTHESIS class.
To install the AUTHESIS class, you should install four files: Generally, you can deposit these in your localtexmf LaTeX class file repository (look for your other *.cls files) or in your working directory (with your thesis files). We have had good experiences with the latter approach.
You will also need two bibliography files: The au-cms.bst file provides a bibliography style conforming roughly to the Chicago Manual of Style; it was hacked by Alan Cibils from chicago.bst (available on CTAN). Nowadays most people choose the natbib.sty citation styles, which are very powerful. To use the natbib.sty citation styles, put the command \usepackage{natbib} in your preamble, and put the natbib.cfg file in the directory containing your thesis files. (The natbib.sty file should have been included in your LaTeX installation; otherwise you can probably use this version. You can get the latest version from CTAN.)
Until recently, we provided au-cms.sty. If you are familiar with the chicago.sty citation styles, you can use au-cms.sty (hacked from chicago.sty, which is available on CTAN). Several dissertations have been formatted with the au-cms.sty file, so we are confident in not expecting difficulties there. Note that you cannot just use chicago.bst and chicago.sty, since we have included modifications for adding an entry for the bibliography into the table of contents, working with underlined titles, and other formatting changes to accomodate AU's format.

IMPORTANT: You should use natbib.sty for citations, which is included in your LaTeX distribution. Please look within the file natbib.sty for information on how to use the LaTeX "\cite" commands. You will primarily use \citet (cite as text) and \citep (cite in parentheses).

If you are using the traditional AU-CAS format (but why would you??), you will also need the underline package in order to underline your bibliography book and journal titles and your section headings. We do not recommend going this route: the traditional format is an ugly hangover from the days of typewriters.

NOTE for Scientific Word Users: Adding a LaTeX package to Scientific Word will provide you with guidance on how to make authesis work with Scientific Word. You will want authesis.cst and AmericanUniversityThesis.shl. We do not provide any support for this, but we do want to hear about problems.

PDF PRINTING NOTICE: If you are using pdflatex or pdftex to generate .pdf files and printing them with the Acrobat Reader, make sure that the "fit to page" box is un-checked. If that box is checked, it will result in your thesis or dissertation being printed with incorrect margins.

Using the AUTHESIS class


We provide a template for you to get started: a test thesis with an associated bib file. It is strongly recommended that you carefully examine this template file: look at its contents to see how to code your LaTeX dissertation file. You will want to follow what you see inside the template file very closely.

If you have trouble compiling the template file, you probably forgot to download the class files. (See the installation directions above.)

If you have trouble compiling the template file, do the following.
  1. download autest.tex, autest.bib, and all the class files into a single folder
  2. open a console (bash on most systems, but cmd or PowerShell on Windows) and change to that folder
  3. in the console, enter pdflatex autest
If the pdflatex command is not found, you did not install LaTeX correctly. If it is found, you should now find autest.pdf in the same folder. Notice that the bibliographic information is not yet included. If you do not understand why, please read a LaTeX introduction.

General Information

We provide autest.tex, which produces a sample dissertation (by the fictitious, but very irritating, Will U. Finnish). Use this test file as a skeleton and fill in the appropriate information.

If you are using BibTeX for your bibliography (which we strongly recommend) you must run LaTeX at least three times after running BibTeX. This is required in order to get correct page numbers in the table of contents and lists of figures and tables.

Users who are not quite fluent in LaTeX and TeX should generally not look at the core files: authesis.cls, auecon.clo, aucas.clo, and autxx.clo (where xx=10, 11, or 12 depending on the point size you choose). These contain the code that produces your dissertation output, but users should not be changing them. (If you think a change is needed, file a bug report.) However, there are some comments in therse files that could be helpful. Cibils inserted comments with the label ABC wherever he made a change to the original package. Isaac inserted comments with the literal AI wherever he made a change.

You will need some basic understanding of LaTeX. Start with The not so Short Introduction to LaTeX by Tobias Oetiker. Since you're going to be writing a 100+ page document, you should invest in a copy of the LaTeX manual (by Leslie Lamport the original author of LaTeX). Many people like the more detailed Guide to LaTeX2e (by Helmut Kopka and Patrick Daly).

Using LaTeX to Write a PhD Thesis by NicolaL.C.Talbot provides additional details. The LaTeX Companion, by Goossens, Mittelbach, and Samarin (who have been involved in developping and supporting the new version of LaTeX) is also quite good. It gives a lot of additional information on commonly available style packages, and for advanced users it includes useful information for writing or modifying classes.

SPA Students

Students from the School of Public Affairs need to add to lines to their thesis preamble:

\renewcommand\deansigline{\parbox{2.1in}{Dean of the School}}   % used below dean's signature
\renewcommand\schoolorcollege{School of Public Affairs}   % used in Faculty specification

Choosing the AUTHESIS Class

To use the AUTHESIS class, make sure that the authesis.cls file is on your TEXINPUTS search path and use the authesis class with appropriate options. For example, you can put the following command at the start of your input file: \documentclass[econ,11pt]{authesis}.

What the AUTHESIS Class Does

The AUTHESIS style is a modified version of the standard LaTeX REPORT style. The available commands are often identical to those of the REPORT style, so your best starting point for documentation is probably the LaTeX manual written by Leslie Lamport.

Key features of the authesis class include the following:


There are five primary options: The options are selected on the \documentclass line, e.g.:
The default is: 10pt,cas. If this is fine with you, then all you need to specify is:

Front Matter

The other key service provided by this class is that it generates correct front matter (title page, copyright page, abstract, etc.) with a fairly simple set of commands. The format of the front matter is specified quite explicitly in the document Guide to Preparation of Theses and Dissertations distributed by the AU College of Arts and Sciences, your department, or the library. It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that you obtain a copy of this document and read it before you get too far into your dissertation given that it will be up to you to provide some of the formatting requirements. For example, table captions must go above the table, but figure captions must go below a figure. You need to know this kind of information to insert items in their appropriate place.

A complete example of the use of the front matter commands can be found in the sample dissertation distributed with the class (autest.tex). Look for the declarations


To use the front matter macros and environments, you must first declare a number of text strings:
Dissertation title
Your name
Year your dissertation will be granted
The title of your degree (e.g. Doctor of Philosophy)
Title and name of your committee chair (e.g. "Professor Hai Lee Browed")
Title and name of the second reader on your committe
Title and name of the third reader on your committe
\fourthreader through \sixthreader
You can have up to six readers (besides the chair), BUT, to have their names appear on your cover-page, you will have to modify authesis.cls. This is a bit of a mess; let us know if you think of a better way to do it. Perhaps the best is to just stick to the traditional three readers!
The official title of your field. This is usually your department's name (e.g. Economics).

Title, Approval, and Copyright pages

The title and copyright pages have extremely rigid formats that allow them to be generated automatically once the above declarations have been made. To generate them, invoke the macros
\maketitle is duplicated because you must have two copies of the title page. You should probably invoke them in that order, because that's the order required by the guidelines.

NOTE: The top margin on the title page must be 2 inches. Unfortunately, LaTeX adjusts the margins depending on how many lines there are in the dissertation title. I have calibrated the top margin to work for three line titles. If your title is longer or shorter you might have to go into authesis.cls and modify the top margin setting.

The Front Matter

Abstract Environments

You need to provide a numbered (in lower case roman numerals) abstract page. (Comment: once upon a time you need to provide two abstract pages, which are identical except that one must be unnumbered. This is no longer the case.)

To generate a numbered abstract page:
Abstract text here

The Abstract must be inside the Front Matter so that the page is numbered correctly (in lower case roman). Therefore it is important that you place the \begin{frontmatter} command before the \abstract command.

Other Front Matter

The remaining front matter (dedication, table of contents, lists of figures and tables, acknowledgements) must be put inside the frontmatter environment, which ensures that page-numbering is handled properly. Within this frontmatter environment, you put the environments and commands for the rest of the front matter. There are environments for dedication and acknowledgements and the standard LaTeX commands for producing \tableofcontents, \listoffigures, and \listoftables.

The standard LaTeX commands are well documented in the LaTeX manual. You will probably have to hand edit the .lof (list of figures) and .lot (list of tables) files to make verbose captions more suitable for this front matter. Once you do this, remember to use the \nofiles macro to keep them from getting overwritten.

The acknowledgements and dedication environments make their contents start on a new page. The acknowledgements environment also put the word Acknowledgements in large, bold, centered text at the top of the page. For formatting the dedication page, you're on your own. After all, the dedication is a kind of poetry and there's no predicting the right way to format poetry.

Other commands not found in the standard report style

The smalltabular and smalltabular* environments are equivalent to the tabular and tabular* environments, except that they use the \small font. The scriptsizetabular and scriptsizetabular* use the \scriptsize font.

Using the AU Thesis Class with Lyx on the Mac

The following guidance was provided by a student. I have not tested it. Please report your experiences if you try this.

Place authesis.cls, aucas.clo, aut10.clo, aut11.clo, aut12.clo, auecon.clo at this location: users/username/library/texmf/tex/latex/authesis/. (You will need to created the folder 'authesis'.)
Put a Lyx "layout" file here: username/Library/Application Support/LyX-1.5/layouts/
A sample layout file reads as follows:

#% Do not delete the line below; configure depends on this #

# Read the definitions from report.layout
Input report.layout

The general LyX directions tell you to open LyX and reconfigure, but that may not work. Instead, open the terminal application and type: cd ~/Library/Application\ Support/LyX-1.5/ and then type: python /Applications/ After doing this, you should be able to open LyX and select the authesis class from your list of classes. Apparently to work with this set up. the test thesis (above) needs to be altered. Here are two ways of fixing it: a) cut everything from \degreeyear up to \copyrightpage and paste it above the title b) use this layout file below as an alternative.
#% Do not delete the line below; configure depends on this #

# Read the definitions from report.layout
Input report.layout

Style DegreeYear
       CopyStyle       Author
       LatexName       degreeyear
               Size    Normal
       Align Left
       LabelType Static
               Series Bold
       LabelString "Year of Degree: "
       Margin Dynamic

Style Degree
       CopyStyle DegreeYear
       LabelString "Degree: "
       LatexName degree

Style Chair
       CopyStyle DegreeYear
       LabelString "Chair: "
       LatexName chair

Style SecondReader
       CopyStyle DegreeYear
       LabelString "Second Reader: "
       LatexName secondreader

Style ThirdReader
       CopyStyle DegreeYear
       LabelString "Third Reader: "
       LatexName thirdreader

Style DegreeField
       CopyStyle DegreeYear
       LabelString "Field of Degree: "
       LatexName degreefield

Style Abstract
       Margin                Static
       LatexType             Command
       LatexName             abstract
       NextNoIndent          1
       LeftMargin            MMM
       RightMargin           MMM
       ParIndent             MM
       ItemSep               0
       TopSep                0.7
       BottomSep             0.7
       ParSep                0
       Align                 Block
       AlignPossible         Block
       LabelType             Centered_Top_Environment
       LabelString           "Abstract"
       LabelBottomSep    0.5
         Size                Small
         Series              Bold
         Size                Large

Style AbstractN
       CopyStyle Abstract
       LabelString           "Numbered Abstract"
       LatexName abstractn

Style Acknowledgements
       CopyStyle Abstract
       LabelString           "Acknowledgements"
       LatexName acknowledgements