Choosing The Right Dissertation Format: 5 Rules To Keep In Mind

Dissertation formatting might not be as important the argument and proof in the paper, but it is a necessary component. Each academic discipline has unique requirements so that the components of the paper are recognizable to decision-makers who read the papers. From the beginning of the writing process, you need to be aware of the formatting and follow it to the letter. In many cases, you will not have any say in the formatting, because some schools adopt one style and every student needs to use it. Here are some of the rules to remember:

  1. Choose a manual and stick to it. The manuals of choice are usually from the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), Turabian, and The University of Chicago Press (Chicago Style). When you pick a style, it is recommended that you buy the manual and read through it marking pages that will apply the work you will do. If your college requires you to use a certain style, then you should buy that manual and get to know it.

  2. Know the order of sections. Not only will you need to be able to format your paper with fonts, margins, and line spacing, but you will need to put the paper in a specific order. Each style is slightly different, so you do not want to use APA for page styling and then MLA for order of sections. Your dissertation committee with notice the discrepancy and they will return the paper to you so you can redo it. This could put you behind on your deadlines and recreate problems with earning your degree.

  3. Use a bibliography app. When you know what style you need to use, find an app that will properly format the bibliography entries for you. Everyone does this and it makes the process of creating a bibliography less stressful.

  4. Get permissions. If you are using anything that is copyrighted, it is important that you get permission from the stakeholders. Sources that are considered “fair use” do not need permission. You could have problems with plagiarism without letters of permission.

  5. Find sample pages and use them. Most students who are working on their dissertations use sample pages to guide them through the formatting process. Since the formatting is precise work, having a page to compare to makes it much easier to see if you are following the process correctly.

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