I'm at the stage in writing my dissertation where most of the substantive aspects are finished and the only tasks left are more or less administrative. However, one thing that I've been avoiding is writing the "Acknowledgements" section. Obviously I will thank my supervisor, committee members, other faculty and staff that have played a meaningful role in my education, other students who have been friends and co-workers, my close friends, and my family (in that order!), but I'm struggling with how to approach it. Does anyone have advice or hot tips about what to do or not do that they'd be willing to share? Is it possible to make it meaningful without sounding contrived or pedantic or disingenuous? Do I go with the standard disclaimer about how any errors that remain after getting all that wonderful help and support are mine alone...? Thanks!
I'd like to add one more point to JeffE's answer - though I have no idea how localized this is:
Over here, the "I-did-the-work-myself" declaration contains a phrase that noone but those named in the acknowledgements did help with the work. So in addition to thanking all the people whom you like to thank for moral support etc. (where forgetting someone would be impolite, but usually not have any further consequences), it is legally important not to forget anyone who helped with the work.