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Writing a Good History Essay- History Essay Tips
  • Sep 2022
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Writing a Good History Essay- History Essay Tips

27th September 2022

A history professor explains how to write a great history essay, from topic selection through argumentation.

Almost every history class will require you to write an essay. What if you've never written a history paper before? What if you're a history major who has trouble answering essay questions?

Between my undergraduate and graduate studies, I wrote over 100 history papers, graded over 1,500 history essays, supervised over 100 capstone research projects, and served on more than ten graduate thesis committees.

Here's my best advice on how to write a history paper.

How to Write a History Essay in 6 Simple Steps

You've prepared the prompt or assignment, but you're stuck wondering, "How do I start a history essay?" Take a few steps before you begin typing to make the process simpler.

Understanding how to start a history essay will help you succeed whether you're writing a three-page source analysis or a 15-page research report.

Step 1: Understand the History Paper Format

One of the numerous sorts of history papers may be assigned to you. Persuasive essays and research papers are the most prevalent. History teachers may also assign you to produce an analytical report on a certain source or an essay on secondary sources.

Take some time to read the assignment. If you're not sure what style of history paper format your professor prefers, ask.

An argument will be required for whatever sort of paper you write. A good argument may salvage a poor paper, whereas a weak argument can derail an otherwise great work.

An introduction that introduces the topic and argument, body paragraphs that offer your evidence, and a conclusion is also required for your paper.

Step 2: Choose a History Paper Topic

If you're lucky, the professor will provide you with a selection of history paper subjects to choose from for your essay. If not, you'll have to make your own.

What is the greatest method for selecting a topic? Begin by requesting references from your lecturer. They will have the finest ideas, which will save you a lot of time.

Start with your sources instead. Most history papers need a substantial number of original materials. Choose whatever sources you wish to utilize and create a subject around them.

Finally, think about starting with an argument. Is there an urgent issue that your publication can address?

Before proceeding, seek comments from your lecturer on your topic. Most students select a topic that is either too wide to be a doctorate dissertation or too narrow to fit under the page restriction.

Your professor can assist you in developing a focused, successful subject. This process will also save you a significant amount of time later on.

Step 3: Write Your History Essay Outline

Isn't it time to start writing? No, not yet. Before you begin writing the first draft of your history essay, you should establish an outline.

Perhaps you learned how to outline an essay in high school. Use that format if it works for you. It was easier for me to create outlines based on the primary source quotations I intended to include in my paper.

As a consequence, my plans resembled a collection of quotes that had been haphazardly divided into parts.

Consider your argument while you work on your outline. You don't need your argument finalized just yet; it can wait till revisions. However, evaluate your viewpoint on the sources and issue

Make a list of broad views on the issue, and then develop a key question that your article will address. This preparation stage can also help to guarantee that important information is not overlooked.

Step 4: Start Your Rough Draft

It's finally time to get started on the drafting! Some students like to begin with the body paragraphs of their essays, while others prefer to begin with the introduction. Determine what works best for you.

Incorporate quotations into the body paragraphs using your plan, and be sure you examine the quotes as well.

Consider your history essay as you would a case: the introduction serves as your opening statement, the body paragraphs serve as your evidence, and the conclusion serves as your closing statement.

When writing a history essay conclusion, be sure to connect the data to your major argument, or thesis statement.

Don't worry about finding the ideal words for your initial draft; you'll have time to refine it later during revisions. This draft has been dubbed the "sloppy copy" by some.

Step 5: Revise, Revise, Revise

Begin working on the second draft once you have completed the first. Revisions will make your paper considerably stronger and more interesting to read.

Look for any typos or unfinished sentences throughout revisions. Look for missing footnotes and pay close attention to your argument and proof.

This is the moment to ensure that all of your body paragraphs have subject sentences and that your paper satisfies the assignment criteria.

If you have the time, take a break from the paper and return to it with fresh eyes. Then continue revising.

Step 6: Spend Extra Time on the Introduction

No matter how long your paper is, one paragraph will define its grade: the opening.

The introduction establishes the topic of your article, the major subject to be addressed, your strategy, and your argument.

In a brief paper, the introduction may consist of only one paragraph. It's frequently several paragraphs in a lengthier document. For example, the beginning of my Ph.D. dissertation was 28 pages long!

Make good use of your introduction. Make a convincing case for your position. Then, write and modify your argument until it is crystal clear. If you're having trouble, consider the following strategy:

Determine the major question your article addresses and create a one-sentence response. My shorthand argument in a normal 3-to-5-page paper was to say, "X happened because of A, B, and C." Then, in the body paragraphs, explore and evaluate points A, B, and C.

Tips for Taking Your History Essay to the Next Level

You've completed every stage of how to write a history essay and still have time before the deadline. What can you do to improve your essay? Here are some pointers.

  • Consult Your Professor: Each professor searches for a distinct thing in papers. Some people emphasize the debate, while others want to see sources engaged. Inquire with your lecturer about the elements they value the most. Get comments on your topic, argument, or manuscript as well. If your professor offers to read a draft, take them up on it.

  • Write a Question — and Answer It: A good history essay begins with a question. "What caused Rome to fall?" "What was the cause of the Protestant Reformation?" "How did the civil rights movement shape up?" Your query may be wide, but try to focus it down. Here are several examples: "How did the Vandal invasions contribute to the collapse of Rome?" "What impact did the Lollard movement have on the Reformation?" "How effective was the NAACP's legal strategy?"

  • Hone Your Argument: The argument in a history paper is usually about why or how historical events (or historical changes) occurred. Your argument should respond to a historical inquiry. How can you tell whether you have a compelling case? A rational individual should be able to disagree. The objective is to persuade the reader that your view is supported by the most evidence.

  • Address Counterarguments: Every argument has flaws, and every history paper has them. Is there evidence that contradicts your claim? Take care of it. Your lecturer is aware of the counterarguments, therefore address them directly. Add a paragraph before the conclusion to your usual five-paragraph essay to answer these counterarguments.

  • Ask Someone to Read Your Essay: If you have the time, having a friend or peer read your essay may be quite beneficial, especially if you can ask someone in the class. Request feedback on your argument by asking the reader to point out any errors. Check to see if they detect any counterarguments you fail to answer. You may return the favor by reading one of their papers later.

Congratulations, you have completed your history essay! When your professor returns your paper, read their remarks carefully. Take note of your paper's strengths and faults. And utilize this experience to produce a better essay the following time.



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