How to Write a Good History Essay
Googling "how to write a history essay" may land you with thousands of articles, tips, essay samples, and recommendations. You can get confused and frustrated, choosing to go with the shortest article. But that won't give you the whole picture. As a result, you turn to Facebook or Instagram, your progress stalls, and you submit something that can hardly be called a decent piece of academic writing. Sounds painfully familiar? Well, let's break this vicious circle once and for all! If you're eager to learn the art of writing essays of this type, this article is your ultimate guide!
What Is a History Essay?
Before we proceed any further, it's essential to clarify the definition of a history essay as it will give us a sense of direction.
There are a lot of essay types, so you should have a good idea on which of them you're going to use. When you are given a task to write a historical essay, you should never hesitate to seek your professor for some essay-related advice. Of course, the Internet is not to be neglected either as it's always helpful, but asking your professor about your upcoming history essay can save your time and provide you with the essential info you can rely on when brainstorming topic ideas.
For now, we will give you a short explanation to get you started. Essentially, a history essay either defines the field itself by expounding on its definition and development stages or discusses a particular event that occurred in the history of the world or a country. It can also focus on one prominent personality or a specific period. The number of possible history essay topics can go on for ages.
The world is billions of years old, and even though only a tiny part of that is documented and immortalized in printed works, there are still millions of issues for you to discover and dissect.
7 Steps to Writing a Good History Essay
Don't know where to get the best ideas on how to start a history essay? Not sure what goes after what? Doubtful whether you need a thesis statement? Check out our short guide to writing essays about history!
- Analyze the essay question. Highlight the keywords, making sure you understand all the terms you need to cover. It's only after you've looked up their definition can you get down to the actual writing.
- Make sure you understand the paper questions and know how to answer them. Keep in mind that you should explain each of them differently.
- Work on the main argument only after you've performed research. The main argument (thesis statement) should be clear enough to base your essay on it.
- Prepare a plan. This way, you'll be able to organize your thoughts and ideas. Once you're done, start developing an outline, a skeleton of your paper.
- When working with sources, remember to distinguish between secondary and primary ones. The paper you are working on needs a strong argument, so be sure to use scholarly and respectable literature. However, depending on an essay type, it is possible to use two kinds of sources. Your professor will give you recommendations and requirements you are to use.
- Always think critically when working with sources and making judgments. When reading a source, ask yourself about the reason the writer made the argument and how it fits into the general historical and social situation. Are there any weaknesses or limitations of the arguments provided?
- Take notes while reading. Don't be afraid to overuse the paper; surely, you won't need all the data you put down, but it helps to set the best direction for your essay. Remember to cite correctly if the idea is not yours.
Your history paper should have a clear and logical structure. Fortunately, the formatting requirements are pretty much standard here: a minimum of five paragraphs are required, including an introduction, body paragraphs (supporting your thesis), and conclusion (restating your thesis and summing up your major findings and results).
History Essay Outline Template
Can't come up with an outline for your paper? Depending on the topic and type, your framework may differ. Let's take a look at this example to understand the general idea of how it may look.
- Introductory paragraph
- Start with an opening sentence in order to grab the reader's attention.
- Write 2-4 sentences so that you could narrow down the topic before moving on to the main point.
- Develop a thesis statement consisting of 1-2 sentences to present your main arguments and position.
- Body paragraphs
- Make sure your central part comprises three arguments to support your thesis.
- Limit one paragraph to one idea so that your reader can see every point clearly.
- Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.
- Provide evidence (quotes, charts, statistics, etc.) that back up anything you state.
- Add your explanation of the facts you've mentioned if you think it's suitable.
- Concluding paragraph
- Use different words to restate your thesis statement.
- Sum up your arguments to show that the ideas stated are supporting the thesis.
Last but not least tip — give the first draft of the paper to someone you trust to proofread it and point to shortcomings in your work if any.
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