I'm trying to produce a PDF file using the Harvard dissertation template [1] file through XeTeX. I am using TeXnicCenter 2.02 stable (64-bit) on Windows 7.

When trying to compile the thesis.tex document, TeXnicCenter yields a bunch of errors.

Reducing the contents of the thesis.tex file to the MnWE:


produces the same errors. The first one still lies in B.mf:

 >> readfrom 
! Isolated expression.
<to be read again>
( 1.26 if unknown gen_sigma : readfrom( "gen_sigma") fi 
! Extra tokens will be flushed. 

Having a closer look at some other the errors, TeXnicCenter seems to be unable to locate the fonts: The font "Chaparral Pro" cannot be found.

I'd say that I've got installed all required packages concerning XeTeX, and have chosen the right output profile XeLaTex->PDF.

I have updated all installed packages through MikTeX update manager.

I've been googling for a while and did not find any useful hint/solution. I even downloaded the sources of a PhD dissertation [2] referenced by the above templated, and even if an output is actually produced (which is almost acceptable, except for the cover, where an lmrlmsslmtt string is randmonly placed at the top of the page), the compilation log displays many errors related to the one described above.

Any hints?

[1] https://github.com/aleifer/LaTeX-template-for-Harvard-dissertation

[2] https://github.com/aleifer/dissertation

  • Welcome! Can you prepare a small, compilable example which we can copy-paste-compile to reproduce the problem? You can do this by commenting out code in your document to see if the error remains. Eventually, you'll have just as much code as you need to produce the error. If it isn't obvious at that point, you will have an Mn-WE (Minimum (non-Working Example) to post here, making it much easier to help you. Note that your best best is likely not to use a template at all unless it is specifically designed for your institutional guidelines (and even then...).
    – cfr
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 23:52
  • thanks for devoting time to this. The Mn-WE is the very thesis.tex source file downloaded from reference [1]. I get ~300 errors. The first one reads ` ! Isolated expresion <to be read again> if unknown gen_sigma : readfrom("gen_sigma") fi ! Extra token will be flushed` in the file B.mflocated in {MiKTeX_PATH}\fonts\source\public\levy-font All subsequent errors seem to be located in that file as well. Removing the input chapters and the bibliography, and keeping only chapter1 does not reduce the number of error, so I guess the content is not the issue at this point.
    – Jon
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:07
  • 1
    That is not minimal. Cut it down to the minimum code needed to reproduce the problem. Then paste that here. You can edit your question, paste the example and then highlight the code and use the {} button to format it (or ctrl+k). You can find help creating a suitable example in these guidelines on creating a minimal working example (MWE).
    – cfr
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 21:25
  • 1
    The template does some odd things. It is using deprecated commands and packages, including font switches deprecated 20+ years ago. The files include copies of standard packages, but it isn't clear why. Is the idea that you should use those versions, even if newer ones fix bugs? Have then been modified? If so, they should be renamed to avoid confusion (and comply with the licence if any are LPPL). It uses preamble commands in the class file. It hard-codes options which ought not be hard-coded. Etc. No obvious reason for it to use B.mf, but who knows? Note that you must install the fonts, too.
    – cfr
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 21:37
  • 1
    You would be better to start with something like one of the KOMA classes or Memoir and configure it to your liking that to use a template which gives you trouble before you even start and is seriously deprecated. The template may look as if it will save you time and it may now, but it won't over the course of your project because you'll have trouble continually and it will always be a headache.
    – cfr
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


There are bugs in the class file:

  • figurewithin and and tablewithin are options which are not known by package caption

  • the optional argument Ligatures={{Historic,Contextual,Rare}} has too many braces

Here you'll find a corrected version which will produce a title page when running xelatex:

enter image description here

As an alternative delete all files in the subdirectory packages because they old and are all part of the current TeX distribution.

  • 1
    Thanks for the update Herbert. Fixed the bugs you spot, used the class file you shared, dropped the packages subdirectory, and changed the class file accordingly (using the TeX distribution's fltpage package) but the same errors persist unfortunately. Commenting the lines having to do with the Chaparral Pro font files in the class file does produce the title page. But I'm wondering what should I do to use those font files, or whether there is a newer version of the template to avoid these issues.
    – Jon
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 20:18

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