Welcome to the University of Arizona’s History Department Writing Center. Our goal is to ensure that you have access to resources to help improve your skills as a student and future professional.
Here are some links to useful writing resources on various websites:
What is the general format of a history essay?
All history essays, unless specified by the instructor, are comprised of an introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction should contain a very brief summary of the topic and your thesis statement. The body of the essay should explain evidence that support the thesis with each paragraph answering a different portion of the study. The conclusion should bring the essay back together and show how the thesis is proven.
What is a good/clear thesis statement?
A good thesis statement makes worthy arguments that takes a side rather than restate a general concept. Be sure to carefully read what is asked of you for the assignment and what kind of argument you need to make. After you decide what you want to say in your thesis, you need to clearly communicate the point. Make sure that your word choice and grammar are accessible and straightforward, too much embellishment might hide your argument. Specifically state what your argument is rather than using general words. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for the reader.
How do I know which citation format to use?
Generally, historians use the Chicago Manual (note-bibliography) style of citation. This includes source citations found in footnotes at the bottom of each page and a bibliography at the end to summarily list all of the sources, with a slightly different format for each. However, it is always wise to check with an instructor or reread the assignment's requirements before you begin writing.
Be sure to visit the UA Library's webpage for instructions on How To Cite your sources. This page also has a link to the Chicago Manual of Style, as well as other style guides. There is a Chicago Manual of Style citation guide available online that gives sample citations for the most common types of sources, such as books, journal articles, newspapers, and websites.
For specific guidelines and examples of Chicago style citations, as well as verbal descriptions of how to construct Chicago style citations, you can access Purdue OWL information page here: Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition
How do I know if I am plagiarizing?
The basic rule of thumb for plagiarism is if you use someone else’s words, ideas, concepts or specific opinion without citing them, you are at fault. This includes using another’s words, paraphrasing their ideas in your own words, or using their images without acknowledgement.
If you want to know more, feel free to explore the UA Library's webpages on:
What is a good length for a quotation?
Most students think that a longer quotation takes up space that they do not have to fill in. This is not true. Remember that the longer the quote is, the longer your analysis of that quote must be. Only quote the part you need as evidence to reinforce your argument. Most should be short and to the point, giving you more space to make your own ideas shine. Generally speaking, the more economical the quote, the better your essay will be.
Updated: September 2018