I am reading a thesis that was printed from a microfilm copy. It is arranged like this:

Abstract...........................(3 pages with no page number)
Acknowledgements...................pages i-ii.
Table of contents and figures......pages iii-xvii.
Chapter 1..........................pages 1-18.

I want to cite inline in the ([LASTNAME] 1972:[PAGE]) format something from the abstract pages that is not said as well and explicitly elsewhere in the thesis.

This is quite unusual, is there a standard way of citing a page appearing before page i?

  • 1
    I'd probably go with ([LASTNAME] 1972: Abstract). But on the other hand, what's in the abstract should be also discussed broader somewhere in the text, so if you want to refer to a particular thing, find the pages where it's discussed. Or if the whole work is relevant, just ([LASTNAME] 1972).
    – user68958
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


What are you currently writing? If this is a master's thesis you could ask your professor. He/she can give you a definitive answer.

Please note: When you are citing, the highest priority is that the reader can easily find the cited information. From that point of view there is nothing with corey979's idea of using ([LASTNAME] 1972:Abstract). Any reader can easily decode the meaning.

However, the reason you give for citing the abstract raises some questions: There may be something wrong with this thesis if the abstract contains information that is not included in the thesis itself. You should either try to find the information in the thesis or find another (=better) source for the cited information.

  • 1
    The same introductory info is in fact there in the early part of the main text, but is expressed differently, not as well focused, and has to be deduced from material on different pages. In the abstract it is said succintly. Yes this is a Master thesis. How did you know? I think the (Lastname 1972:Abstract) is a good idea, no need to bother my supervisor with this.
    – Pertinax
    Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 21:03

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