Architecture dissertation

I should start writing my architectural dissertation. I want to use InDesign. What do you guys suggest? Buy a InDesign template from the internet or create a one from scratch? Are there any sites that teach you how to start and manage a dissertation thesis design?


Indesign isn’t really a beginner-level piece of software to just open and use. If there is a template available, that might be the route to go, but there are many ways to set things up in InDesign that can be confusing or non-standard. I don’t trust templates by others much. Especially not free ones.

InDesign is a powerful layout tool, but do you need more than Word?

InDesign is a specialized, pro page layout app; not a writing tool. Even if you plan to ultimately typeset it in InDesign, a word processor would be a much more appropriate tool for the writing stage.

If I were writing a dissertation, I’d likely do so in InDesign or Affinity Publisher, but that’s because I’m very familiar with both and there’s no reason to use a word processor for the writing only to have to import it into InDesign and reformat it.

But as I said, that’s what I would do because I’ve used those tools for years. For someone unfamiliar with InDesign, the learning curve and the aggravation associated with it might be problem. On the other hand, if in the end, your dissertation needs to be formatted in InDesign for some reason, I suppose you might as well deal with it at the beginning instead of just at the end by importing the text from a word processor.

As for InDesign templates, you’re likely asking the wrong people. We’re designers, so we tend to do things from scratch rather than relying on others’ already built work. Many universities have style guidelines for dissertations. If yours does, is it possible they already have a template you could use? Alternatively, if you can find a suitable template online, I suppose that could work too.

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Do you have a thesis advisor yet? Your institution will probably have very rigid style guidelines for layout and formatting. Your advisor can guide you through that.

By using Indesign you are probably incorporating a whole other layer of unnecessary work, and frustration, for yourself. You’re going to spend what, 500 hours, writing your thesis, and maybe 10 hours laying it out? Don’t use a screwdriver to hammer nails into a board. Use the right tool for the right job. You’re going to be doing a lot of writing and editing, so use a word processor, like Word.

In Word, create custom styles for everything that match your university guidelines, and name them so they are distinct from Word’s default styles… Thesis Header, Thesis Footer, Thesis Page Number, Thesis Footnotes, Thesis End Notes, Thesis Index, etc.

My University doesn’t impose a thesis structure, that’s why I thought of making the design from the start in InDesign.

You are right about word tho, it has a lot of text formatting options. I think I’ll write it in word at first and then move the content to InDesign.

Are we correct in assuming you are proficient in InDesign? Obviously this determines the level of our advice.

If you go this route, use Place to bring the final Word file into ID, and make sure Show Import Options is checked. ID will bring in all the styles from Word along with the text. Are you familiar with styles? Great tool for making lots of formatting changes quickly and consistently throughout large documents.

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