THE HISTORY ESSAY

1. Every essay needs a forceful introduction that contains a thesis or central idea that guides the paper. The thesis may be more than one sentence. The thesis must be an original thought rather than a restatement of the prompt or question. The introduction should also address context, usually designated by a time frame. 

2. Every supporting paragraph must have a clear topic sentence or transition sentence. Clear topic sentences introduce new ideas and link ideas to the thesis.  Certain key words help indicate the relationship of ideas: to compare use also, similarly; to contrast use on the other hand, although, nevertheless, despite, still, yet, however, in spite of; to intensify use also, in addition, moreover, furthermore; to show sequence use first, last, next, finally, subsequently, later, ultimately; to provide an example use for example, for instance, specifically; or to indicate cause and effect use consequently, as a result, because, accordingly, thus, since, therefore, so.  Ideally, the reader may read just the topic sentences and get the main line of argument.

3. Avoid broad or universal statements like "Throughout history," "From the beginning of time," or "People have always..." Such statements are rarely true.

4. Use concrete evidence and analysis to support the main idea of each paragraph.

5. The conclusion must address the question "So what?" The conclusion is not merely a restatement of the thesis or introduction. A strong conclusion points toward long-term changes or trends. 

6. At the first reference to any person, provide the person's full name. Thereafter, use the person's last name.

7. Use the past tense.

8. Use the active voice.

9. Avoid contractions.

10. Avoid "not." 

11. Avoid conversational language, slang or jargon. Generally such language is imprecise.

12. Use this with caution. This must refer to an antecedent noun or pronoun, never to an earlier sentence or idea.  
The President waited two weeks before responding to the frontal challenge.
This His hesitation emboldened others to challenge him as well.

13. There are and there is make weak introductions to sentences and are usually superfluous.

There are a number of works that explore nativism.
A number of works explore nativism.

14. Do not abbreviate United States, the names of states, or the names of other countries.

15. Whole numbers from one to ninety-nine and numbers that can be expressed in two words must be spelled out (one hundred, two thousand), not written as numerals, when they appear in the text. Numbers in dates appear as numerals when day, month, and year or day and month are given (4 July 1776 or July 4, 1776). Spell the number if one or more words appear between the day and the month (Fourth of July).

16. Avoid labels for human beings like black, white, male, female. Such words reduce human beings to things. All human beings are entitled to their humanity. Use black people, white people, men, women, not blacks, whites, males, females. Such words are never capitalized.

17. Use “feel” only when emotions are the issue. Your “feelings” have no place in a paper. What counts is what you think.