How to Write a Thesis: Book Review of Umberto Eco in Translation

by DerdriuMarriner

The book How to Write a Thesis is a 2015-released translation of Come si fa una tesi di laurea, a classic Italian 1975-published review by Umberto Eco.

Writing a thesis takes 6 to 36 months

The book How to Write a Thesis acknowledges the 2015-released translation skills of Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina concerning Come si fa una tesi di laurea by Italian humanities professor and writer Umberto Eco. The content, form, and style manual begins with the worst case scenario of students who are clueless and desperate about choosing a topic, cinching research, and completing writing. The 1975-published review classic therefore considers a range of writing schedule deadlines, from a rigorous six-month minimum to a super-relaxed three-year maximum.

The seven chapters, preceded by forewords and introductions and succeeded by notes, disappoint no one, writing-blocked or not, since task completion depends upon:

• narrow thesis focus;
• retrievable research-worthy resources;
• vigilant pre-submission protocols.




Umberto Eco on October 14, 2011

Das Blaue Sofa / Club Bertelsmann
Das Blaue Sofa / Club Bertelsmann

Writing a thesis upsets unexperienced, unprepared, unwilling writers


Professor Eco's conclusions on the multi-applicability of a thesis completed by a passionate competitor emerges logically from task-specific chapters. Individual chapters furnish specifics on: 

  • defining thesis attributes and audiences; 
  • eliminating broad, difficult, feckle topics; 
  • finding primary and secondary sources for bibliographic research; 
  • getting together a workable introduction and title for a table of contents structuring -- between the beginning concerns and concluding results and suggestions -- history, hypothesis, indicators, interpretation, and proof; 
  • heading into drafts facilitated by index cards and notes and founded upon judicious definitions and personalizations, manageable paraphrases and quotations, and proper grammar and references; 
  • ideating a final draft defendable by advisee, advisor, and advisory committee. 

Everything gets covered, even academic humility and collective projects. 


Umberto Eco is emeritus professor and president of Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici (Graduate School for the Study of the Humanities) at Università di Bologna, founded in 1088 with centuries of tradition as center of learning.

Henry of Germany delivers a lecture to university students in Bologna ~ Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia: 14th century (ca. 1360 - 1390) parchment by Laurentius de Voltolina
Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings), Berlin, northeastern Germany
Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings), Berlin, northeastern Germany

Writing a thesis vaunts local resources, narrow focuses


The 223-page text holds succinct guarantees to realizing unfaltering progressions through the above-mentioned six hurdles within six months. Prescriptions and proscriptions indicate successful thesis-writing by students in the humanities even though the information is adjustable to non-humanities disciplines. They join to identify such personally comfortable and professionally practical guideposts as: 

  • applying pioneering or revisionist scientific specificity and utility to direct-experience, journalistic, and political topics;
  • favoring ancient over contemporary, historical over theoretical, monograph over survey topics;
  • keeping research sorted and sources straight with annotated photocopies and bibliographic, idea, quote and reading index cards. 

Examples and explanations keep citation-befuddled writers atop: 

  • anonymous/multiple/pseudonymed authors; 
  • books; 
  • chapters, classics; 
  • editions, essays; 
  • journals; 
  • monumental/unpublished works;
  • newspapers; 
  • official/private documents, originals; 
  • proceedings; 
  • reprints; 
  • series; 
  • translations. 


Umberto Eco is a member of Accademia dei Lincei (literally "Academy of the Lynx-Eyed"), an Italian science academy founded in Rome in 1603:

The Academy's offices are housed in Palazzo Corsini, a 1730-1740 late baroque palace built for florentine princely family of Corsini.
Rome, central-western Italian Peninsula
Rome, central-western Italian Peninsula

Writing a thesis works in 17 world languages


Forewords by Harvard University Professor Francesco Erspamer and by DePaul University Professors Caterina Mongiat and Geoff Farina, introductions by Professor Umberto Eco of the Accademia dei Lincei, Università di Bologna, and Università degli Studi di San Marino for the 1977 and 1985 Italian editions, and seven chapters leave students in particular and writers in general culturally enriched, educationally entertained, and geo-historically enthralled. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology publication consistently mentions the importance of:

  • catering to locally accessible research and retrievable resources;
  • choosing defensible, likeable, trouble-free topics;
  • consulting relevant foreign languages;
  • creating random, spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness thoughts for first drafts only.

How to Write a Thesis numbers among the modern household's indispensable guides to educational accomplishment and professional achievement.


How to Write a Thesis by Umberto Eco ~ translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina ~ Available now via Amazon

How to Write a Thesis, first written for Umberto Eco's students, offers practical advice in an absorbing style.
Umberto Eco writings



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Umberto Eco on 9 May 2005

Ufficio Stampa Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria
Ufficio Stampa Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria

Sources Consulted


Eco, Umberto. 1977. Come si fa una tesi di laurea: le materie umanistiche. Milan, Italy: Tascabili Bompiani.

Eco, Umberto. 2015. How to Write a Thesis. Introduction by Francesco Erspamer. Translated from the Italian Come si fa una tesi di laurea: le materia umanistiche by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina. Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.; and London, England, U.K.: The MIT Press.


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atmospheric film adaptation of Umberto Eco's best-known work
film adaptations of Umberto Eco's works

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Umberto Eco's best-known book, a medieval mystery.
Umberto Eco writings
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/06/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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