How To Cite A PhD Dissertation In The MLA Format: Basic Tips


If you’re writing a paper within the liberal arts or humanities, you’ll be required to use a Modern language Association (MLA) style to cite the sources and format a list of works cited. This style is widely known but students often have trouble when it comes to citing PhD dissertations and theses. It takes a while to read the entire MLA handbook, so you might find useful the following basic tips designed for students who want to cite everything correctly:

  1. A list of works cited begins on a separate page at the end of your paper.

  2. All citations should be double-spaced without additional lines.

  3. The citation of a PhD dissertation should start by listing the full name of the author. Don’t use initials if possible, for example: Smith, Anna Rose.

  4. After the author’s name, you should put a title of the PhD dissertation in italics.

  5. Typically, you should specify the type of thesis or dissertation that you’re citing. For instance, write a “Diss.” for a PhD dissertation and “MS thesis” for a master of the sciences thesis.

  6. The name of the school should be followed by the name of the city where the school is situated. Some supervisors also ask to add an abbreviated name of the state.

  7. It is necessary to indicate the year when the dissertation was accepted.

  8. If you retrieved the PhD dissertation in hard copy, you should add the word “print” to the citation.

  9. If you accessed the source in an electronic database, you need to note the database where you found the document and indicate the date when you did this.

  10. Keep in mind that MLA no longer requires URLs when you cite electronic sources.

If you have any questions, you can go to the library to get an MLA manual, consult your professor, or visit your school’s academic writing center. The latter option is very helpful since there you’ll be able to get high-quality samples of academic writing, including lists of works cited formatted in the MLA. A center’s instructor can check your citations and tell you whether you formatted them correctly.

You’ll save time and effort by using special bibliographic software to create and organize the citations in the MLA format. You can also find online services that allow students to format all the citations correctly. Some students also use the options provided by their word processors. However, it’s often less convenient, compared to use of bibliographic software programs.