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5 Basic Citation Rules for Writing an MLA Dissertation

Your graduate dissertation will likely be the most important academic document you ever produce. It will be the last requirement towards earning your master’s or doctoral degree and will likely set you up with the foundation for your future professional work. Writing a dissertation in MLA is a lot easier than some of the other formats. But there are still basic things you should know. Here are five citation rules you should know when writing an MLA dissertation:

  • Rule #1) Everything borrowed should be cited and referenced.
  • There is absolutely no exception to this rule. Anything that is borrowed – quotes, data, paraphrased material – should be properly cited. To miss doing so can put you at risk of receiving accusations of plagiarisms, a serious offense that is often punishable in expulsion from the department or school.

  • Rule #2) Be sure to include author’s name and page number.
  • All citations should include the author’s name and page number in which the original material was found. When you introduce an author for the first time you may include the title of the work where you found the material. From that point forward you only need to include the author’s name and page number.

  • Rule #3) Use block quotes when quotations or four or more lines.
  • Sometimes students will try to make their work seem longer than it actually is, and one of the most common ways of doing this is to include large blocks of quotes. First of all, you should only use quotes if you can’t paraphrase an idea in better and more concise terms. Second of all, use block quotes only when the content being used comes to four lines or more, everything else should be kept within your text.

  • Rule #4) Stay consistent throughout your academic work.
  • One of the biggest pet peeves professors have is reading students’ works that aren’t consistent when it comes to how citations are made. Stick with a single style throughout the document to avoid confusing and annoying the review committee. Any drop in consistency will send the wrong message that you have not taken the work seriously.

  • Rule #5) Be sure to add a works cited page at the end.
  • Lastly, you should always include a “Works Cited” page at the end of your MLA dissertation. Entries should be arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name and include all publication information for the original source, including title, city of publication, year and any volume or issue number of applicable.