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I am writing a master thesis of about 80-100 pages and want to know a good way of structuring my document either using only chapters or chapters and "parts". f first wanted to post this question to the TeX Stack Exchange but realized that it was too philosophical.

As most thesis writers I use LaTeX and I have seen thesis templates that use \part (classicthesis) and ones that do not (master thesis template from a university). I think that classicthesis is mostly aimed at PhD thesis documents that are longer and will become a "book".

So when is it appropriate to use \part? Any specific document length in pages or number of chapters?

When you use \part then a page is cleared after the text. Is this a style that is used in American PhD thesis documents? Why is this done?

I have also looked at some textbooks and they often do not have something similar to part. Instead these books only use chapters. One of my favorite textbooks (Artificial Intelligence: A modern approach by Russel) uses parts but no actual pages that show the parts name. Instead they are only visible in the table of contents.

My two competing ideas are with and without parts:

   \chapter{Introduction}
\part{Concepts}
   \chapter{Background}
   \chapter{Related work}
\part{Methods and systems}
   \chapter{Proposed method}
   \chapter{Implementation}
\part{Evaluation}
   \chapter{Experiments}
   \chapter{Analysis}
\part{Conclusions}
   \chapter{Conclusions}
   \chapter{Future work}
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    This would fit on tex.sx better than here. – StrongBad Oct 12 '12 at 7:34
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    And welcome to academia.sx – StrongBad Oct 12 '12 at 7:35
  • @DanielE.Shub: I'm not sure it's a fit for tex.SE, because not everything is technical, it's rather a question of style. – user102 Oct 12 '12 at 8:07
  • I would advise you to ask at writers.sx (writers.stackexchange.com). I think it's a better fit there and you might get a sound advice with references to style manuals (The Chicago manual of style, etc.) – walkmanyi Oct 13 '12 at 14:21
  • What does your advisor/grad school say? Thats perhaps one of the most important factors that decide the style of your report.. – dearN Oct 13 '12 at 19:02
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So when is it appropriate to use \part? Any specific document length in pages or number of chapters?

It is appropriate when you feel it appropriate! Seriously though, assuming that there isn't any guideline from your university (otherwise, you probably wouldn't be asking the question), it's really a personal choice, the same than about the splitting chapter/section/subsection/subsubsection/paragraph. The structure of a document is there to help the reader, in particular for long documents. A part could be something that can be read separately (i.e., with no references to the other parts), or could be something containing some huge chapters; tt could reflect a chronological order (before, during, after), or a conceptual separation (theoretical, applied), etc.

In case of doubt, talk with your advisor!

When you use \part then a page is cleared after the text. Is this a style that is used in American PhD thesis documents? Why is this done?

As @Daniel pointed out, this is a rather technical question, that is more likely to be answered on tex.SE.

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Apart from my advice in comments above to ask at writers.sx, I think you might want to consult manuals of style. E.g., The Chicago Manual of Style, speaks about division of a work in chapter 1, subsection 1.47 on division of a text into parts. I do not have the book besides me, so try to take a look at your library. Also The Oxford Guide to Style in subsection 1.3.2 speaks about this and says the following:

Arranging a work into parts is useful when a lengthy text falls easily and sensibly into logical divisions of similar length.

My personal opinion is, that for a work of 80-100 pages, division into parts is a waste of paper and imposes a too high cognitive load on the reader. Such a text is not lengthy enough to be eligible for such a crude division into multi-chapter parts. Do you have something like 3 times (parts) of at least 3 chapters each in your thesis? If so, and your thesis is about 80-100 pages, then IMHO, something is wrong with your structure to start with. Parts would make sense for a dissertation, or a similar manuscript if you would for example attack a problem from several aspects, each of a size and structure of several chapters.

My personal advice: Keep it simple! This is a master thesis, not a memoir.

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When you use \part then a page is cleared after the text. Is this a style that is used in American PhD thesis documents? Why is this done?

Actually, the primary reason for this, I believe, is related to traditions in bookbinding. In the "old" days, it was accepted practice to begin each major new section with a right-hand page. Even now, some books are published in such a way that every chapter will start on a right-hand page, whether or not the previous chapter ended on a left-hand page.

Given that, the assumption would be that you'd want to have a blank page after the "part" page, and that the "part" page, as well as the first page of the ensuing chapter would both be "right-handed" when the thesis is printed in two-sided format. If you have to submit it in one-sided form, this becomes a bit of a nuisance, but I suspect this is an option that can be turned off in LaTeX.

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