In the theory section of my Computer Science thesis, I treat a toolbox to get a job done. In the introduction of the chapter, I will place a flow diagram showing the order and possible combinations of toolboxes, like so (but more complicated, I'd say around 12 interconnected boxes in 4 layers):

[A]    [B]
 |    / | \
 |   /  |  \ 
 |  /   |   \
[C]    [D]  [E]------[D]

I am typesetting on Din-A4 with rather big margins (because A4 is such a bad format for thesis...) and constantly feature marginpars (Quotes, Loosely related infos, ...).

I am toying with the idea of putting small versions of the flow diagram in the marginpar, with the currently described toolbox highlighted by color. Similar to a thumb-index, but not aligned to each other through pages, just one picture at the start of the sections.

What do you think about it typographically?

what do you think about it from a content perspective? Am I helping the reader too much?

  • What kind of thesis is this? A Master or Diploma thesis or a PhD thesis? – Christian Lindig Apr 26 '11 at 10:17
  • Master's Thesis – B3ret Apr 26 '11 at 10:51
  • I was asking to get a sense for the size of your audience which might be slightly bigger for a PhD thesis. – Christian Lindig Apr 26 '11 at 11:36

I’d say: go for it.

I did this in my master thesis after seeing that both Nature and Science (two of the most important science publications) liberally put figures into their margins and that it works nicely for them.

(Screenshot from my master thesis)

Furthermore, your stated purpose (orientation) sounds like a prime example of margin usage.

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  • Hi your thesis layout looks good.. I was intending to something like this for my report ( but also with a grey background to the images). Is it possible for you to share the latex file for your thesis? thanks – Asif Nov 25 '11 at 0:18
  • @Asif I intended to but as of now, the source code doesn’t compile because of changes to some of the packages I used (which are still in beta stage), and I have no idea when this will change. – Konrad Rudolph Nov 25 '11 at 11:57

I advice you to look at the tufte-latex class, both for an inspiration as well as a practical tool to achieve what you want. Typographically what you are proposing has been used over and over in many good publications.

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I applaud your typographical efforts. As a computer scientists I'd like to caution you that your thesis most likely is read only by few people and they might not value your efforts as much. In terms of overall results (think grade and peer recognition) it might be better to publish parts of your thesis as a paper at a workshop or conference.

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    Unfortunately I have to agree with you. But personally I wrote my master thesis more for personal satisfaction than anything else (and I believe many other TeXnicians do the same). – Konrad Rudolph Apr 26 '11 at 10:42
  • I know that. Unfortunately the only Conference fitting my paper till now rejected it, because I didn't know about a whole related research area. The comment of Konrad Rudolph is true for me too. I write it mainly for myself. – B3ret Apr 26 '11 at 10:52
  • 1
    Then go for it. I can definitely relate to the satisfaction that comes from working on something beautiful. – Christian Lindig Apr 26 '11 at 11:34

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