Freedom, Markets, and Well-being Fall 2021

Thesis Plumbing


We talked about some of the practical aspects of writing a thesis. Specifically, we talked a lot about keeping track of sources and citing them properly in your thesis. I also explained how the document with the title page and other front matter works.


You cannot figure out the rules for citations by reasoning because they are arbitrary. And you cannot trust online databases to get the citations right; as I showed you, they will say stuff like “Leviathan had two authors, one of whom is still alive!” (Leviathan was published in 1651 and only one guy wrote it. I promise.)

I showed how the program zotero works. It is very good at getting bibliographic information out of, say, the library’s website, and it is very good at putting it in to Microsoft Word. It is what I would use.

But you still have to edit the information it grabs from other sources. There is no way around that.

When in doubt, there are some very good sources. The Chicago Manual of Style has a quick guide that is good enough for almost any question you will have. If it isn’t, we have a subscription to an electronic edition of the whole thing.

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab is also very good. It has quick references for all the major style guides.

The Claremont Colleges Library has guides to APA style, MLA, Chicago, and Legal citations (which are very tricky).

Finally, Matthew Butterick’s Practical Typography is where you should go for answers to questions about typography.