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Dissertation Epigraphs: 7 Things You Need To Know


When writing a dissertation, you may be required to include an epigraph. Here are a few things that you need to know.

  • What is an epigraph?
  • An epigraph refers to a short quotation that is usually put at the beginning of a work or chapter with the goal of setting the theme or mood. The literary device can be in form of quotation, poem or sentence that is usually put at the document’s beginning. It could also be made of a simple piece that consists of a few sentences which are written by another writer.

  • What are the uses of the epigraphs?
  • The epigraphs serve different purposes. It could be used as the introduction, example, summary or to associate the work with another famous literary work in a bid to generate certain context that needs to be presented in the piece or even to draw comparison.

  • Helps to brush the paper
  • The epigraph is a sophisticated piece of literature that can help to brush the paper.

  • Why it is used in the beginning
  • There are moments when you will read a book and get so absorbed in it such that you don’t want to let it go. The fact that the book is quite amazing will make you want to hold everything that is in it. Consider a situation where you think you have completed the book only to come across the epigraph reflecting on everything you have read.

  • Indenting of the epigraph
  • This text is usually indented from the left margin just like it is the case with a block quote. Include the author’s name in the line that falls below the name of the author. Ensure that the source title is also given.

  • Exceptions to indenting rule
  • Do not include the source in reference section. However, this rule comes with exceptions such as literary works/ journal or a quotation that permission has been given for its use. In these situations, all you will need to do is to cite author, page number and year at the work’s end without any period. The same way you would do with a block quote. Ensure that source is listed in reference section.

  • Epigraph vs similar sounding epigraphs
  • It is important to avoid confusing epigraph with similar-sounding epigraph such as a pointed, brief and usually satirical poem or text and epitaph which is a short text whose role is to honor a deceases person. However, there are instances when these 3 categories can coincide.