Steps for Writing a History Paper Writing a history paper is a process. Successful papers are not completed in a single moment of genius or inspiration, but are developed over a series of steps. When you first read a paper prompt, you might feel overwhelmed or intimidated.
To read the article, click Steps for Writing a History Paper Writing a history paper is a process. Successful papers are not completed in a single moment of genius or inspiration, but are developed over a series of steps.
When you first read a paper prompt, you might feel overwhelmed or intimidated. If you think of writing as a process and break it down into smaller steps, you will find that paper-writing is manageable, less daunting, and even enjoyable.
Writing a history paper is your opportunity to do the real work of historians, to roll up your sleeves and dig deep into the past. What is a history paper? History papers are driven by arguments.
In a history class, even if you are not writing a paper based on outside research, you are still writing a paper that requires some form of argument. For example, suppose your professor has asked you to write a paper discussing the differences between colonial New England and colonial Virginia.
It might seem like this paper is straightforward and does not require an argument, that it is simply a matter of finding the "right answer.
You might argue that the main differences between colonial New England and Virginia were grounded in contrasting visions of colonization. Or you might argue that the differences resulted from accidents of geography or from extant alliances between regional Indian groups.
Or you might make an argument that draws on all of these factors. Regardless, when you make these types of assertions, you are making an argument that requires historical evidence. Any history paper you write will be driven by an argument demanding evidence from sources.
Remember that the staff of the History Writing Center is here to assist you at any stage of the writing process. Make sure you know what the paper prompt is asking. Sometimes professors distribute prompts with several sub-questions surrounding the main question they want you to write about.
The sub-questions are designed to help you think about the topic. They offer ideas you might consider, but they are not, usually, the key question or questions you need to answer in your paper. Make sure you distinguish the key questions from the sub-questions.
Otherwise, your paper may sound like a laundry list of short-answer essays rather than a cohesive argument. A helpful way to hone in on the key question is to look for action verbs, such as "analyze" or "investigate" or "formulate.You do not write a paper "about the Civil War," however, for that is such a large and vague concept that the paper will be too shallow or you will be swamped with information.
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This is one of my secrets in teaching how to write a college paper. In the body of the essay, you will provide evidence – point by point – that college life rocks because of college classes, professors, and extracurricular activities – in that order.
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HISTORY PAPER History Department Hamilton College ©Trustees of Hamilton College, Acknowledgements write. In addition to the College’s style guide, Essentials of Writing, we recommend Strunk and White, The Elements of Style and Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual.