Dissertation Writing Guidelines: How To Make Citations Properly

A dissertation is supposed to represent the culmination of the student's learning and research. For the student to demonstrate their abilities, they must be able to cite information properly. If information and quotes are not cited, it is technically considered plagiarism. To avoid plagiarism charges, students should use the following guide for citing their sources.

Learn the Writing Style

Each writing style requires a different type of citation. Students commonly write papers in Chicago, MLA or APA style. Since there are slight differences between these styles, students should figure out which type of writing they are doing before they begin.

Citing Within the Body of the Document

One of the main types of citations is known as the parenthetical citation. With this type of citation, students write the author's name and publication year in parentheses. For example, students may add (Smith 2004) after a quote. For quotes, students should always use quotation marks. If the student is just citing information or data, they will need to write it out in their own words. At the end of the information, the student would add the parenthetical citation.

Get Specific

For academic journals, a parenthetical citation may need to be more specific. Instead of writing (Smith 2004), the student may need to write (Smith 2004:153). The last number is the page number that the information was found on. Academic journals prefer this type of citation because it allows them to quickly check the quality of the student's data.

Using Two Authors

When two authors wrote the same article or document, the student must track both of them. This would be listed as (Smith and Jones 2004). If multiple sources are cited at once, the student should separate each source using a semicolon.


For Chicago style, footnotes are preferred over parenthetical citations. Chicago style is commonly used for subjects like history that require high-quality sources. For fellow historians to judge the quality of the source, they need more information than just the last name and publication year. Due to this, the entire source information is listed in the footnotes. Students may also want to add information about the quality or limitations of using a particular source.

Once the student has sourced their information in the document, they still need to create a bibliography. The bibliography should be listed alphabetically according to the author's last name. Depending on the type of source material, each listing may be structured differently.