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Guidelines to Your Dissertation’s Acknowledgement Section

If you are now thinking about creating your Acknowledgments page, most probably things have gone well in your final defense, and you are just about to print the final copy. You should be proud to have finished the journey, regardless of the time it took.

But though this part of your dissertation is not part of the final grade, you should give it some considerable thought. Once printed, anyone who accesses your printed study will see what is written there, which is why you don’t want to just place any random thought.

So take a look at some things to consider for your Acknowledgment page.

  • Check the university guidelines

Some universities are very strict about what can or cannot be included in the Acknowledgment section. They may not accept the final paper if you go beyond their boundaries. Check first so you don’t spend extra time revising it.

But assuming your university is NOT so strict …

  • Be thankful

During your entire doctoral journey, you must have been helped by many people - academically, professionally, and emotionally. This is the time to thank them for their efforts in clarifying things, teaching you, or just providing support. So take the time to thank them.

  • Organize it somehow

Since this section is not graded, there’s no need to be that systematic. However, if you’d like future audiences to understand what you have to say, there should be some form of organization. Many students begin first with those who helped academically, followed by those who assisted them professionally (if any), and then family and friends.

Please note that you can reverse that order if you prefer it. What matters is that there is a semblance of order in how you acknowledge key people so people are not confused.

  • Have fun with it

Because you’ve worked so hard at making your dissertation, it is also okay to have some fun with the Acknowledgment page, provided you stay within ethical and professional boundaries. Some doctoral candidates may include a heartfelt story about a loved one who helped them or even a "eureka" moment during their research. Others insert an inspiring poem, song, or message to the reader (which is often related to the theme of the research).

  • Avoid negativity

If you’d like your superiors and peers to respect you, do avoid any negativity. Although you may have encountered various setbacks because of difficult people, now is NOT the time to give them the

  • Don’t go beyond two pages

Most Acknowledgment sections are just a page long. Perhaps for those with a story, song, or poem to share, it may reach two pages. Anything more is just too much.

  • Proofread it

If you have an immaculate dissertation but a poorly written Acknowledgment, people may wonder if you wrote the paper. So do proofread it before printing it.


Writing your Acknowledgment section should be a very satisfying part of your dissertation journey. Show your readers who you are and how much the journey meant to you by making something worth reading.