I'm currently in the process of writing my thesis. I had created my own Makefile but this one here is one Makefile I'm happy that I found about. It has many latex utilities I had not known before (like texi2dvi) and it makes everything much easier for the latex writer.

I've made some customizations so that evince is fired instead of xdvi and I've set the environment variable stuff inside the Makefile. I've also changed the default target (using .DEFAULT_GOAL special variable). Change as you please, and enjoy writing your work (instead of pulling your hair because of Latex!).