In one of the doctoral thesis howto books (Rugg and Petrie, I think) the advice given is to prepare a document that summarises one page of your thesis per line of page. I'm interested in working with LaTeX (I used XeLaTeX, memoir and BibLaTeX/Biber to generate my humanities thesis) to create such a summary document.

I don't want to create such a document on a trial and error basis - writing a line of text, compiling, checking, reviewing and revising. My question is what packages and customisation might be helpful to accomplish my goal? I would want the summary page to refer to the thesis page and then the rest of the line to be filled with my précis of the page.

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    To be honest, a document like this is all about the content and the thinking process involved in generating it. You won't have space for much more than a few \emphs or \textcolors. You'll probably to load geometry to decrease your margins, that's about it. You may however want to include some of your most important references, but once again, that's more to do with the selection that the typesetting. – Chris H Dec 24 '13 at 12:09
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    It is not clear what's the problem from a TeX point of view. Would you like your summary to be part of the main thesis document or not? Are you trying to generate some information automatically? Are you looking for a particular layout? – Bordaigorl Dec 24 '13 at 12:43
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    This is not clear...that summarises one page of your thesis per line of page, can you please rephrase? – Yiannis Lazarides Dec 24 '13 at 14:38
  • I understand that you need to create a kind of abstract about your thesis. So the suggestion is to write a line per page. It means that if your thesis has 200 pages, you need to create that document with 20 lines where you expose in a nutshell the matter of your work. If I'm right, @ChrisH in part too and this is something out TeX. You can try to assemble a document with LaTeX but... ¿how could LaTeX select the right line of each page? In the hypothetical case you do achieve it, then, how to make sense and achieve consistency that selection of lines? Only rewriting. – Aradnix Dec 31 '13 at 8:29
  • Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think as @YiannisLazarides that we didn't understood or your question have not relation with TeX and friends. – Aradnix Dec 31 '13 at 8:30

Slightly different approach to Ethan Bolker: I did something similar in my thesis, including the summary inside the document itself, towards the end, as a (literal) recapitulation.

% Maintain a nice little history block to add things into
\edef\recap{ }
\newcommand{\recapAdd}[1]{\protected@edef\recap{\recap{}#1 }}

And then later on to print things out:

\section{Recapitulation and closing remarks} \label{recapitulation}

In between, use \firstsentence to add things into the "recap" buffer.

\firstsentence{The diffusion of digital technologies (bla bla bla).}

You can use \recapAdd in places where you want to add to the recap buffer, but for stylistic reasons you don't want to immediately echo the text back out:

\recapAdd{Theories of pedagogy can help us ``\emph{get to the root of
conditioning through practising repetitions}'' -- but they fail to model
the productive, explicating, way in which learning unfolds in online peer
production communities.} \textbf{Theories of pedagogy can help us ``\emph{get to the root of
conditioning through practising repetitions}'' \cite[p. 199]{sloterdijk2013change}
-- but they fail to model the productive, explicating, way in which learning
unfolds in online peer production communities.}

PS: Marian Petre was my internal examiner and I passed :-)


If I understand your question correctly, this strategy may work.

In your thesis, issue a \precis command (as in the example below) as often as you want a comment in the summary document. That won't happen automatically once per page, but I suspect that's not what you really want.

Then compile the file with your precis, as shown.

If you adopt this idea there are ways to improve it. For example, you might want to have a new section in the summary document for each chapter of the thesis, with chapter name and chapter number. You could arrange to have a precis generated automatically for each chapter or section.

The mythesis.tex file below contains all the chapters. For your real thesis each chapter should probably be \included from its own file. You can also \include the precis in the thesis itself after the \immediate\closeout\precistext.




\immediate\write\precistext{\arabic{page}: #1 \par}

\precis{Summary of introduction}
Here is the complete introduction.

\chapter{Literature Review}
\precis{First short summary of literature review}
\precis{Second short summary of literature review}

\chapter{My Contribution}
\precis{Here's what I discovered that no one knew before.}
This chapter is empty because I haven't done the work yet.

\precis{It was a lot of work  but worth it.}





Here are the not quite page by page contents of my thesis:



Then compiling precis.tex yields

enter image description here

Now some shameless promotion. My wife Joan Bolker's bestselling Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day may help you do the actual work instead of procrastinating by spending too much time on formatting questions.


A Quickie...

If you do not plan on using endnotes in your document an easy hack would be to just insert your one-line summaries in this environment :

\endnote{This is about that}

The Endnotes section will gather them, which should be enough for your intended use. Once the document is finished you can get them to not print by adding


in your preamble.

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