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3. Referencing your Thesis

3.1 Quotations

3.2 Citations

3.3 Bibliographies


For referencing tips and templates for specific academic style guides, go to MLA, Chicago or APA.

Thesis References Editing Sheffield.png

3.2 Citations


Now let's move onto the referencing of your quotations, aka parenthetical citation.

It's a bit of a mouthful, which is ironic as it’s the simplest way of citing your material once you get the hang of it.


As well as keeping intrusion on what you're saying about a text to a bare minimum, this also means not having to add in a footnote for every quotation you use.

Remember: always stick to the specific academic style guide required for your thesis (see Chicago, APA or MLA). 

In-text citations


For some working examples, let’s use Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities.


The basic layout is (Author Page), with no commas or any other punctuation: e.g. (Wolfe 27).


If the author’s name already appears in the same sentence, just put the page number.


If you're looking at more than one work by the same author, use a shortened form of the relevant title, still with no other punctuation: (Bonfire 12). 


Depending on the style required for your essay, underline or italicise the title of any prose text.


Keep your reference markers as close to the relevant quotation as possible, especially if you have more than one citation in the same sentence. This is important for clarity, and for keeping your reader on-side.

Using citations effectively


Now onto the most crucial question of all when it comes to citations. When, and how, to use them?


This is a lot simpler than many essays make out. In general, for every claim you make, offer proof in the form of a quotation from the text, and then give your own guidance or commentary on the significance of that proof.


This is how it goes:


  1. Make a substantive claim.

  2. Use textual evidence to illustrate your claim. Choose 2-3 pertinent examples per claim, taken from your primary or secondary sources, or both.

  3. Discuss your examples, showing what they individually, and taken collectively, bring to your claim.


This third element is often missing from graduate-level analyses, because students tend to treat quotations as self-explanatory, thereby glossing over their significance. 


Of course, don’t stick to this formula too rigidly or your thesis will start to look mundane from a structural point of view. Try alternating between direct quotations and indirect paraphrasing. 


And never end a paragraph with a quotation, whether it's from the text or from a critic. It should always be you who has the final say; it’s your argument.

Next: Bibliographies

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