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Introduction to
Writing History

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Writing History with Objects and Documents

Teacher's Note
Student's Guide

Student's Guide to Writing Effective Essays

An essay is a written argument made to prove a specific position or point of view about a historical event. It is an analytical evaluation of a topic, examining both the pros and cons of the issue at hand. As you prepare to write an essay keep in mind the following recommendations:

  • Read the question carefully making certain that you understand the goal of the question. Write a brief summary that describes what the question is asking.

  • List and sort information that might be useful in answering the essay. Then, organize the material into an outline, chart, or some other graphic organizer.

  • Examine the outline and construct an argument that you will defend in your paper. This is the essay's thesis.

  • Write an introductory paragraph, which includes a thesis, background to the topic, and a general overview of the issues involved in proving your position.

  • Write the body of the paper. Remember that paragraphs with topic sentences are necessary. Be sure that all of the paragraphs are logically sequenced and linked together.

  • Write a paragraph that addresses any contradictions or counterarguments to your thesis. This paragraph should not refute the overarching theme, but should serve to temper your position somewhat. This will demonstrate your awareness of the complexity of historical analysis.

  • Write a conclusion. Here you will restate your thesis and summarize the major points of your argument. Remember not to introduce new ideas at the end of the paper.

  • Proofread the essay. Check the outline to see if you included all the facts you intended and made all the points you outlined.

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