Developing Ideas for your History Essay

One of perhaps the most difficult aspects of writing any essay is developing the ideas that will go in to the essay. This most often takes the most amount of time and thought and can be both very rewarding and very frustrating. So, there are some quick tips on how to develop ideas for your next history essay.

  1. Organize the Facts. Putting together sentences does not make an essay. It is important to start with a main idea and organize facts and research according to an order that will make sense to the reader. Developing this kind of outline is the first step in ensuring a coherent and cohesive history essay.
  2. Use the Elements. There are two basic elements of academic history writing: evidence and a thesis. These two elements are broken down into three parts: the introduction, the argument, and the conclusion. All basic writing, including academic writing, needs to follow this formula to be successful.
  3. Develop a solid thesis. This is the biggest part of planning for a history essay. The thesis is not simply restating a question. Instead, it is formulating a distinct position or personal interpretation of some problem or observation. This is the time for the writer to show off their originality and creativity. It is important to ensure that the thesis is not simply an opinion, but is in fact based in research and factual evidence.
  4. Be sure to use “historical” writing. Historical writing is not quite the same as other academic writing. Historical writing can be far more in-depth and includes placing evidence, support, and arguments in the right time and place, including the past. This can be tricky and requires that the writer spend time formulating thoughts as they relate to history and placement in time.
  5. Understand the topic. Be sure to understand fully the question that the paper is hoping to answer. It is important to differentiate between evaluating something and simply describing it or analyzing an idea rather than comparing it to another. All of these missteps can drastically change and alter the success of a historical essay.
  6. Be Original. When determining how to write a historical essay and what information to include, it is important to give credit where credit is due. That means always ensuring to give proper reference to ideas that were given previously. It does not matter how good a historical essay is if it has been plagiarized.