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. In this site you will find guides for basic writing, a FAQ section for common problems while writing history, and the history TA's contact information.
Here are some links to Purdue’s OWL workshops. These useful PowerPoint presentations will guide you through some general writing skills that students are expected to know at the college level. The OWL program has been very successful in improving the writing skills of participating student and these little guides and sure to be a great benefit.
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 style of citation. I the library has a good guide for writing citations at the address below.
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. A good starting point for understanding plagiarism is found at the address below.
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.