’Tis the season for giving thanks, and this is your friendly reminder that the Thanksgiving table is not the only place where a show of gratitude may be appreciated, if not warranted. There are a number of ways writers can give thanks, including in the form of a dedication, an acknowledgment, a credit line, a figure caption, or an in-text citation. And you don’t even have to wait until November! You can give writerly thanks as often as you like, all year round.

A dedication typically stands alone—that is, on a page by itself—near the beginning of a work. Use it to thank your teacher, your students, your uncle, your cat—the choice is yours. 

Acknowledgments also appear at the outset of a work and serve as a space for authors to acknowledge, in more detail than a dedication allows, any individuals (such as family members or colleagues) or subsidies (such as grants or fellowships) that contributed to the development or publication of a work.

A credit line can be used to acknowledge that a text or artwork under copyright has been used in a new publication with the express permission of the copyright holder. A credit line might read, for example, “Reprinted with kind permission of the author” or “Courtesy of the National Gallery.” For illustrations that appear in an unpublished student paper, giving thanks typically takes the form of a figure caption.

And last but certainly not least, the old standby: the in-text citation. After all, the words and ideas of others are something to be grateful for, and what better way to show your gratitude than to give credit where credit is due?

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Susan Doose

Susan Doose is an associate editor at the MLA. She received her PhD in German studies from Rutgers University, where her dissertation focused on the function of framing devices in German realist literature. Before coming to the MLA, she worked as a freelance copyeditor, translator, and German-language teacher.