Tips for Citing a Dissertation Correctly in Chicago Style


Citing a dissertation correctly in Chicago Style can be a daunting task for many students and researchers. However, mastering the art of citation is crucial in maintaining academic integrity and giving credit to the original authors. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the intricacies of citing a dissertation in Chicago Style, ensuring your scholarly work adheres to the highest standards of citation and referencing.

Understanding Chicago Style

Before delving into the specifics of citing a dissertation, let’s briefly understand what Chicago Style is and why it’s widely used in academia.

What is Chicago Style?

Chicago Style is a citation and referencing system developed by the University of Chicago Press. It provides guidelines for citing sources and formatting documents in various academic disciplines. The two most common citation styles within Chicago Style are the Author-Date and Notes-Bibliography systems.

Choosing the Right Citation Style

When citing a dissertation in Chicago Style, it’s essential to choose the appropriate citation style. Depending on your professor’s or institution’s guidelines, you may opt for either the Author-Date or Notes-Bibliography system.

Author-Date System

The Author-Date system, also known as the “parenthetical” or “in-text” citation style, is commonly used in the sciences and social sciences. In this style, you include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses within the text.

Example: (Smith 2020)

Notes-Bibliography System

The Notes-Bibliography system, on the other hand, is often preferred in the humanities and arts. It involves the use of footnotes or endnotes for citations and a bibliography page that lists all sources used.

Formatting In-Text Citations

If you choose the Author-Date system, ensure you follow these guidelines for in-text citations:

  1. Include the author’s last name followed by the publication year in parentheses.
  2. Place the citation within the sentence, before the punctuation.

Example: According to Smith (2020), proper citation is crucial for academic integrity.

Creating a Bibliography Entry

In the Notes-Bibliography system, each source cited in your dissertation should have a corresponding entry in the bibliography. Here’s how to create a bibliography entry for a dissertation:

  1. Author’s Name: Begin with the author’s full name, last name first.
  2. Title: Include the title of the dissertation in italics.
  3. Degree Type: Mention the type of degree (e.g., Ph.D., Master’s).
  4. University: Specify the university where the dissertation was submitted.
  5. Publication Year: Provide the year of publication.
  6. URL (if applicable): If the dissertation is available online, include the URL.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Citing a dissertation correctly requires attention to detail. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Incomplete Information

Ensure you have all the necessary details about the dissertation, including the author’s full name, publication year, and the university where it was submitted.

Incorrect Formatting

Chicago Style has specific formatting guidelines for citations and bibliography entries. Double-check your formatting to ensure it aligns with the chosen style.

Neglecting the DOI or URL

If the dissertation is available online, include the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) or URL in your citation.


Citing a dissertation in Chicago Style doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. By understanding the principles of the chosen citation system and paying attention to detail, you can ensure your academic work is properly cited and adheres to the highest standards of scholarship.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the difference between the Author-Date and Notes-Bibliography systems in Chicago Style?

The Author-Date system uses in-text citations with the author’s last name and publication year, while the Notes-Bibliography system employs footnotes or endnotes for citations and a bibliography page.

2. Do I need to include page numbers when citing a dissertation in Chicago Style?

Page numbers are typically not required when citing a dissertation unless specific portions of the dissertation are being referenced.

3. How do I format the bibliography page in Chicago Style?

The bibliography page should list all sources alphabetically by the author’s last name. Each entry should include complete publication information following the Chicago Style guidelines.

4. Can I use a citation management tool for citing dissertations in Chicago Style?

Yes, citation management tools like Zotero and EndNote can be helpful in formatting citations and bibliography entries in Chicago Style.

5. Where can I find more information about Chicago Style citation guidelines?

You can refer to the official Chicago Manual of Style for comprehensive guidance on citation and formatting in Chicago Style.

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