History Essay Format
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History essays are an example of formal writing that is structured according to a certain set of guidelines. The history essay format is usually divided into sections, which follow a precise order:
A history essay presents a clear idea of what to expect in the succeeding paragraphs. This is called a thesis statement. It usually captures all the elements of the essay in a single sentence, the most important of which are the key facts that will be elaborated and expounded in the rest of the essay.
It is important to note that the introduction must present facts or evidence, so avoid stating opinions or using declarative statements that start with “I”.
2. Body or Supporting Paragraphs
The facts or evidences that support the thesis statement are described in detail in the paragraphs that make up the body.
In following the proper history essay format, these elements are usually made up of the vital characters and the supporting events that were critical in shaping the main historical event. These are backed up by the names of the key players, dates, locations, and terms and translations that describe the point in history when the event took place.
The first sentence for each paragraph is the topic sentence, which gives a preview of what the paragraph will be all about. Sentence construction follows the guidelines presented in the introduction, precluding any form of personal observation.
The last paragraph of the essay will be the closing paragraph, which reviews what has been previously stated. The thesis statement is reiterated, stated a little differently, giving it more punch and power.
Unless otherwise specified, following the conclusion are usually several additional sections that provide further clarifications or references to the facts and evidences cited. These important parts add credence to the content of the history essay.
It is important to cite sources and add footnotes as these are quick and convenient ways to refer the reader to such. Footnotes are also used to give more pieces of information or the writer’s personal thoughts about a certain idea presented in the paper.
The bibliography is usually a separate sheet of paper which contains a list of sources the writer has referred to while making the history essay. This is organized in an alphabetical manner and is properly indented and spaced.
Patrick Karl O’Brien is a British academic and historian. He is currently professor emeritus of global economic history at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Read his book review: An Engagement with Postmodern Foes, Literary Theorists and Friends on the Borders with History.