I write my PhD thesis in LaTeX and I am unsure about one aspect of the pagination.

Usually books have three different page numerations: the frontmatter counts in Roman letters, the main matter with Arabic numbers, and the backmatter in a combination of letters and Arabic numbers, like A 1, A 2, B 1 etc.

The general layout of my thesis follows a book style, where the number of the pages are on the top left corner on even pages and on the top right corner on odd pages. So far, so common.

As I would like to design the thesis so that it gives readers steady feedback for orientation wherever they are in the thesis (this is why I added chapter-wise table of contents and a list of references cited in the corresponding chapter), I have the following question:

Is it good practice to give a feedback to the reader where he/she is in the main matter by adding the total sum of pages to the actual page number, i. e. adding something like Page 13 of 200 or 13/200 to the top left/right corners?

Or may it be considered unnecessary, redundant, distracting or demotivating ("What? Page 13 of this mess and 187 to go?")?

  • Are you planning to put the chapter and/or section the reader is in at the top of (some of) the pages (or indicating this some other way - thumbs for example)?That would probably give the reader enough info – user53923 Nov 7 '18 at 15:36
  • 4
    This seems like it would be better answered by the Manual of Style written by the university for the thesis than online. – anonymous Nov 7 '18 at 21:08
  • @user53923, yes, this is what I indeed do, too. On the top left is the chapter name, on the top right the current section title. – Til Hund Nov 8 '18 at 11:18

Is it good practice to give [feedback on the reader's relative position in a manuscript by including the] sum of pages[, e.g.,] Page 13 of 200 or 13/200...? Or [is it] unnecessary, redundant, distracting or demotivating...?

Giving feedback on the relative position can be useful, but you needn't explicitly provide additional information (e.g., page 13 of 200), since this information is already implicitly known, e.g., from the physical stack of paper or from the PDF reader.

Pro-tip: Make sure the page numbers match the PDF page numbers.

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  • 3
    In addition to the valid general advice, make sure to follow the style sheet of your department, if it exists. – henning -- reinstate Monica Nov 7 '18 at 18:01

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