Over the years I have written many formal papers, including two theses and two dissertations. In doing so, I have been required to follow various writing guidelines, such as the Chicago Manual Style, the MLA (Modern Language Association) style, and now “Turabian.” Nicknamed after its author, Kate L. Turabian, the book’s real title is “A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.”
Although tedious to follow, meeting these guides’ respective instructions have been doable—at least up until now, as I strive to get my second dissertation approved. Frankly, I am stymied by Turabian. I study the book, find the appropriate example, and implement it, only to be told that I did it wrong. In desperation, I consulted with a dissertation proofreader, schooled in all things Turabian. She guided me in further fine-tuning my documentation and formatting the layout so that it fully conformed to the Turabian way.
Alas, the results were still not good enough. In some cases, Turabian seems to offer options. I apparently picked the wrong ones. Even though I can site a Turabian section that supports how I did things, my professors can refer me to an alternate section that provides a different approach.
In the end, it is not what Turabian says that matters, but my professors. Their way is the right way.
Of course, my professors don’t always agree about Turabian either. Right now I am tasked with undoing something for one professor, that another one told me to do!
I don’t really care; I just want to get my dissertation approved.
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!