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Guide to writing history essays - Resources By Discipline Humanities Writing Resources Guide NCSU Libraries

Consider this In my opinion, John is completely wrong.


By this point, you know what the prompt is asking, you have brainstormed possible responses, and you have done some research. Who is a pronoun and is not needed when a proper noun, in this case Mary, has already been used. There may be an enormous number of texts which makes it hard to know where to start, or maybe you are really struggling to find relevant material.

Find such words in the paper prompt and circle them. Abbreviation principles It is now common practice to use full stops only where the abbreviation of the word does not contain the last letter of the word. In effect, it is a way of saying If you don t accept my thesis, you can check the evidence yourself. The chief reason is that no other method provides as effective a means of testing a student s comprehension of a topic.

Just as playing a musical instrument involves certain must be kept accurate, hand and fingers must be held correctly, attacks and releases must be executed in a certain waywriting also has disciplines. In what follows we will briefly discuss the nature of historical writing, lay out a step by step model for constructing an essay, and provide a set of useful observations from our experience as instructors regarding problems that most frequently crop up in student writing.

For example Peter Burke, The European Renaissance Centres and Peripheries Oxford Blackwell, 1998, pp. L38 1996 Very accessible anthology of writing guides that teaches critical thinking and writing strategies through case studies, with an emphasis on argument.

Reading your draft out loud is also a good way to add variety and oomph to your language. It s important to provide all the needed information, but also to present it in a cohesive, intelligent way. First, lay your first draft aside for a day or so to gain distance from it. Make sure you distinguish the key questions from the sub-questions.


Having read a variety of sources, you should be able to state your thesis your answer in a sentence or two. It s not a murder mystery, for instance, full of surprising plot twists or unexpected revelations. Annotation All sources which you have used in order to assist your interpretation of your evidence the historical scholarship, or secondary sources, should be annotated, when an annotated bibliography is required in the unit. Examiners look for quality rather than quantity, and brevity makes relevance doubly important.


Of course, good preparation and time management can help you avoid these negative experiences.

Each photograph, photocopy, or scanned image should appear on a single sheet of paper unless two images and their captions will fit on a single sheet of paper with one inch margins on all sides. They are not specific enough, however, and require more work. More important is that you demonstrate your understanding of the question set. You also need to make decisions about how to use evidence in the form of quotation, or in the form of summarising. Is not a clich such as fit as a fiddle, time after time, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, all in due time or what goes around comes around. A linking sentence efficiently links the current paragraph to the next.


- Is my paper free of grammar and spelling errors? Therefore structure your outline to let incidental facts recede as supporting evidence, and to emphasize answers to intelligent questions.

Plagiarism involves the deliberate taking of specific words and ideas of others without proper


Each photograph, photocopy, or scanned image should appear on a single sheet of paper unless two images and their captions will fit on a single sheet of paper with one inch margins on all sides.

Obviously, you cannot write a good paper if you haven t done the readings, so be sure to keep up. ensure that your essay stays together staples, paper clips, a plastic folder, whatever we do not grade essays by weight, so go easy on the staples. Introduction Unlike a persuasive essay where the writer captures the reader s attention with a leading question, quotation or story related to the topic, the introduction in a history essay announces a clear thesis statement and explains what to expect in the coming paragraphs. This step can feel overwhelming, but remember that you have already done a lot of work andarmed with your working thesis, source annotations, and outlinehave all the tools needed. Mabbett- Palgrave Higher Education Toggle helper textThis website uses cookies. Your goal in the draft is to articulate your argument as clearly as you can, and to marshal your evidence in support of your argument. You might be asked to do any number or all of these different things in the essay, so think about how you can do the following Explain provide an explanation of why something happened or didn t happen. When you return to the question, it may be that the problems have resolved themselves. If the date is the more important, state the date if time elapsed is the more important, use a phrase such as two years later.

The introduction of a persuasive essay or paper must be substantial. As you produce this list, notice if any paragraphs attempt to make more than one point mark those for revision. This is the main point she will make in her essay. Here you give your carefully thought out definitions of the key terms, and here you establish the relevant time-frame and issues in other words, the parameters of the question. Admit when your opponent is correct and you weaken his arguments. For more information, visit our section about thesis statements. Remember that I want to learn what you think about the issues, and you should use quotations to develop your argument and analysis.

Do we have to consider short-term and long-term successes? These represent the most serious omission students regularly make. On the other hand, do not take historiography to extremes, so that the past itself is virtually ignored.

Abel, Valuing Care Conflicts between Charity Workers and Women Clients, Journal of Women s History, vol. You can fill in the smaller gaps of your research more effectively later. Like lawyers in court, you should make an opening statement, in this case, an introduction.


Make sure you distinguish the key questions from the sub-questions. Coaches and trainers teach best ways of holding a bat or golf club, best ways of swinging a tennis or squash racket, and best ways of executing a forward pass.

You must both follow the proper citation style in your footnotes and bibliography, and document always but only when such documentation is required. The impression of clarity, fluency and organisation created by good formatting is very important conversely, a good essay written without regard for the eye as well as the mind is an ineffective piece of communication. You can of course follow the herd and repeat the interpretation given in your textbook. Here you give your carefully thought out definitions of the key terms, and here you establish the relevant time-frame and issues in other words, the parameters of the question. For example, you might find that as increased, women made fewer textiles at home, but retained their butter and soap making tasks. If you can establish which years are relevant and consequently which are irrelevant you will have made a very good start. For the introduction to this essay you might want to briefly give some historical context by mentioning the end of the Cold War and how this changed the climate in which foreign policy had to operate.

Two words have been eliminated from the sentence but every bit of its meaning has been preserved. Diction a formal tone sophisticated language is used to address an academic audience. Meet Michelle Kuhl, a faculty member in the UW Oshkosh history department. Example of a bibliography Bibliography Unless otherwise specified by the history teacher or assignment outline, a bibliography should always be included on a separate page which lists the sources used in preparing the essay. Again, as with all essay arguments, you must provided sound evidence to support your case, and try to explain why the counter arguments are invalid. No matter how well you make your case, or how valid your argument, just either comparing or contrasting will lose you plenty of marks because you have not done fully what the question asked you to. Step 5 Conclusion The conclusion is the easiest part of your essay.

Mark up your first draft, ask tough questions whether your argument is clear and whether the order in which you present your points is effective! Can and should be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. Look at your set essay question and ask yourself whether you are being asked to explain, interpret, evaluate, or argue. It should be obvious, from your middle paragraphs, what question you are answering.

Social Conditions in France, at Suffragists Picketing the White House, January 1917 photograph, at Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, Emancipated from Bodily Servitude by the State of New York, in 1828 1850, at Using Resources From the Internet and WWW While there are some very useful sites for historians, including homepages describing research, or containing documents, photographs and interpretive materials, or providing primary documents like speeches, transcripts or debates, you need to be as critical and careful in your use of WWW resources as in your use of any other kind of evidence.

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