Thirteen Rules for Writing a Good Paper- History 254
by Maurice Isserman
- Does the paper begin with a strong lead paragraph that hooks the reader? For guidance, see “Get off to a good start,” p. 2 in Writing a Good History Paper (hereafter WAGHP).
- Does the paper offer a clear thesis statement early on? See “State a clear thesis,” p. 2 in WAGHP.
- Do all paragraphs have a clear topic sentence? See “Paragraph goes nowhere/has no point or unity,” p. 12 in WAGHP.
- Do the sentences in each paragraph follow in logical order?
- Is each paragraph restricted to a single idea or major point?
- Have you avoided clutter? See “Be precise,” p. 4, “Wordy/verbose/repetitive,” p. 11, “Explain/what’s your point?/unclear, huh?," p. 12 and “Jargon/pretentious theory,” p. 15 in WAGHP.
- Have you avoided misuse of the passive voice? See “Abuse of the verb to be,” p. 12 and “Misuse of the passive voice,” p. 11 in WAGHP.
- Have you kept tenses consistent? See “Tense inconsistency,” p. 13 in WAGHP.
- Have you avoided the use of free-floating quotes? See “Free-floating quotation,” p. 14 in WAGHP.
- Have you avoided indefinite antecedents for pronouns? See “Unclear antecedent,” p. 17 in WAGHP.
- Have you been specific, making good use of concrete examples, avoiding vague generalizations?
- Have you avoided common punctuation errors, like comma splices and mistaken use (or non-use) of apostrophes?
- Have you employed the correct format for footnote citations? (Historians prefer the Chicago Manual of Style footnote and bibliographic format.