Hope this is not a stupid question but I'm a newbie to LaTeX. I am using LaTeX to write my Humanities thesis and while I am concentrating on the content at the moment I am just using a template I found on-line to work with. I am the only one in the department using LaTeX so there are no guidelines/template in-house to use. There are certain elements I have to adhere to such as what headers and footers contain, but noting drastic.

My aim is, partly to help learn LaTeX, is to write up my own document for the finalised thesis. I have read some guides and it appears to me that the document class book is suited for a thesis as I can put frontmatter mainmatter and backmatter. I then get the sense that memoir class is based on book class but has more packages by default.

I suppose what this boils down to is if I use the memoir class is it easier to customise the document?

PS: I use LaTeX on Ubuntu 14.04 with TeXstudio and compile with pdflatex and biber for my references.

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    i'm not a memoir user, so please take this with a grain of salt. the book class is sort of a "least common denominator". the segmentation is appropriate, and i'm pretty sure that memoir is reasonably parallel. but memoir allows much more flexibility, and has much better (and more thorough) documentation. it was created by someone to whom books mean something for themselves, and to be proud of, not just as a means to get information out to users. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 13:41
  • I think you should give ConTeXt a try.
    – Manuel
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 16:09
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    @barbara beeton (tangentially): memoir was the outcome of a long project of Peter Wilson’s, rather than a development of book class. his interim work consisted of a series of packages, whose contents were merged with something that was almost certainly influenced by book, but wasn’t in any real sense a development of it. (imo, anyway...) Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 17:20
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    @wasteofspace -- didn't mean that it was developed from book, but that it is intended to be used particularly for books, not for journal articles. it certainly has both a lot more capabilities, and much superior output than book. (if i were starting a project from scratch, and weren't constrained to ams classes, i'd use memoir. i've rarely seen such a well designed and documented tool. peter wilson has my full admiration for his accomplishment.) Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 19:16
  • I'm not sure what are exactly the needs in humanities, but ConTeXt will definitely be a superset of memoir. I think you should give it a try.
    – Manuel
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


Yes, memoir is ideal for a humanities thesis. I am using it for mine.

The memoir class incorporates the functions of a large number of commonly used packages to provide a more consistent interface, and is designed to be easy to customize. So instead of loading a dozen possibly conflicting packages---geometry to change margins, and setspace to change line spacing, and titlesec to format section headings, etc., etc.---you just specify memoir as your document class and use its settings, all lovingly detailed in the documentation at texdoc memoir. There's even an example of how to set up an academic thesis in the manual.

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    And what is ideal for a maths o biology thesis? Memoir, Koma, or just bare Latex?
    – skan
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 17:58

From the memoir manual:

The memoir class is an attempt to integrate some of the more design-related packages with the LaTeX book class.[...] The memoir class effectively incorporates the facilities that are usually accessed by using external packages. In most cases the class code is new code re-implementing package functionalities.

IMHO is a good document class to make a thesis, or any other document ... but there many good thesis templates using different documents classes. Specially if you are newbie, take your time to find the template\document class with a "default output" most near to your requirements, so you will need a minimal customization. Good starting points are LaTeX Templates, writeLaTeX and, of course CTAN.

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