As we all know, every paper/thesis/dissertation has to have references. These tell the reader that you know what you’re talking about because you’ve read every article ever written on your subject! (At least, that’s what it feels like.) Also, they indicate that you can justify your research in light of what others have done. Both are equally important, especially in a dissertation/thesis. Therefore, references are a must in any technical writing. However, so many are missed, or incompletely or incorrectly cited.

Ways to Cite a Reference: APA, MLA, Other

There are several ways to cite a reference; the one chosen will depend on the journal or dissertation instructions, so be sure to check these. They may just say to follow APA or use a numerical notation, but it’s a guideline, and you must stick to it.

Once the style is known, be consistent with how references are cited. There are many different official formats out there – APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, Vancouver – the list is seemingly endless. If you are unfamiliar with the citation style that you’ve been given, the Internet is the best place to start. There are essential guides to all these referencing styles there. It will give you the basics, and then our dissertation editors can fine-tune it for you. Our academic editors at are familiar with all of these styles.

If you have no reference style, then the key is to be consistent. Don’t change between numbers and authors (e.g., Smith et al.12 to Smith et al. (1987)). The same applies to the reference list. If there is no set reference list style, then just make sure that all references follow the same format.

If you know which style guide you need to use, tell your FirstEditing editor. You may think it’s obvious from the article – sometimes it is – but more often than not, it isn’t! If we know, it makes our job a lot easier, as we are familiar with most styles. And if we are unfamiliar with it, we’ll find out what it is, and make sure it’s correct! If our dissertation editors need to format your reference style, just indicate at least a Level 2 edit. That will ensure that all references follow your indicated format and that the references cited are in the reference list, and vice versa.

Originally posted 8/23/2010 and happily updated 10/29/2017. Thanks for reading!

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