Writing History

Paper-Writing Guide shows the components of a good history paper. If you only look at one writing link, look at this one.

Grading standards.  How I evaluate the papers that students write based on class assignments.  I use a different and more involved set of standards for research papers.  

They Say, I Say.  Academic writing means entering into a conversation with other intellectuals

Ask Better Questions.  One key to writing a good paper is to start with a good question. Framing good questions takes effort. Here are some tips.

Writing process.  A suggested step-by-step process for writing history papers.

Writing is thinking.  Lincoln used writing to think more deeply.  You should too.

Golay's writing tips.  Helpful guidance from Michael Golay, Exeter History Teacher, and prolific author.

Peer editing.  Guidelines for an in-class peer editing workshop.

Rewrite policy. You must follow these steps if you want to rewrite a paper.

How to write a thesis statement that is concise, arguable and specific.

Marius's Four Types of Historical Writing: Adapted from A Short Guide to Writing About History, by Richard Marius


Research the web


College professors' writing guides

Writing Inspiration

The History Department Statement; binding on all students

Part of the mission of the history department is to train students to be critical thinkers in the discipline of history.  In doing so, the department expects students to be invested in their education and fully participate in their learning.  Regular contributions to Harkness discussions are one measure of this process, but students are also asked to produce work outside that classroom that constitutes a measurement of this work.  The expectation that accompanies these assessments in all their various forms is that students are producing work largely on their own merit, utilizing on-campus resources such as the library staff, Writing Center and peer tutoring when warranted.  Because graded assessments are to be representative of a student’s understanding and conveyance of scholarly materials, students may consult faculty on campus or family members, but in a limited capacity as critic, not a writer.  Students may not purchase papers online, use artificial intelligence to produce written materials, or engage with automated electronic interfaces that generate substantial improvements to a formal assessment.  It is worth recalling that plagiarism (see below)  is the unacknowledged use of another person’s ideas or words (or in the case of technology a computer-generated algorithm) and these practices either violate this rule or may misrepresent the level of knowledge and vocabulary acquisition by a student.  Therefore, the department requires all major take-home assessments to be turned in through the Academy’s online learning platform.  In cases where questions arise about an assessment, a student may be asked to provide the originating electronic document or direct access to that document to fairly judge the authenticity of that student’s efforts in fulfilling the guidelines of the project.


The most basic definition of plagiarism is the failure to properly acknowledge one’s sources. The most serious form of plagiarism is the deliberate use of a source without alteration or attribution; cutting and pasting unacknowledged material from the Internet into an essay is one example. Failing to cite sources, failing to place borrowed phrasing between quotation marks, failing to paraphrase, incorrect placement of footnotes/citations, and copying the work of another person may also be considered forms of plagiarism.

The history department expects that students will cite their sources in their writing, as one of our educational goals is to train students in this critical scholarly practice. The teachers in the history department understand that mistakes in citation might occur as part of the learning process and that these mistakes may be unintentional. One of the tasks of the teacher is to notify a student when a form of plagiarism has occurred, so that a student might correct this mistake in the future.

However, plagiarism can be a serious issue of academic dishonesty and can lead to disciplinary action. In a case of academic dishonesty, a teacher must notify the chair of the history department and a discipline case may ensue. We expect that students will follow the guidelines for citing sources, ask their teachers when they have questions about citations, and learn from their mistakes. Above all, we expect that students will be honest in representing their own work and in acknowledging the sources they have used.