History 388                                                              University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Fall 2003                                                                                                         Prof. L. Lovett


Writing Guidelines


As you are writing your paper, please consider the following guidelines.



·Your introduction should grab the attention of your reader and explain why the subject of your paper is important and interesting.

· Your paper must have a clear and disputable thesis.

This is one of the most important parts of any paper.  Your thesis is a brief statement of the argumentative claim that you will defend and demonstrate in the rest of your paper.  

· Your introduction should give enough background so that your reader can understand your thesis. 

You will support and elaborate your thesis in the body of your paper.

· Thesis statements in history often explain how or why something happened or take a position for or against a particular interpretation of historical trends or events.



Body Paragraphs

· In the body of your paper, you should present historical evidence that supports your thesis.

· Each paragraph in your paper should focus on a single topic.

· Each paragraph should clearly address some aspect of your thesis. When considered together, the paragraphs forming the body of your paper should form a coherent and convincing argument.for your thesis

· Please use evidence from primary sources to support specific claims in each paragraph, and take care that your presentation of historical facts is clear and accurate.

·Strive for smooth transitions between paragraphs.



· Your conclusion should reiterate the most important aspects of your argument.

· Use your conclusion to demonstrate the significance of your argument. Make sure that your conclusion provides an answer to the question, ³So what?²



· Always write in complete sentences.

· Proofread your paper for spelling and grammatical errors.

· When possible, write in the active voice. For example, instead of  "The bill was passed by Congress," use "Congress passed the bill."

·REVIEW AND REVISE. Ask someone NOT in this class to read your paper before you revise it. If they cannot understand your argument or its supporting evidence, you need to rework your paper.

·DO NOT PROCRASTINATE.  Please do not turn in a paper that you have thrown together the night before it is due.



You must cite your sources. NO EXCEPTIONS. Plagiarism is a serious violation of expected academic conduct.  Your work must be your own.  If you quote or paraphrase work from someone else, you must give credit and provide a reference for that source.  The History Department has a style sheet describing how to cite your sources and format your references at http://www.umass.edu/history/links_writing.html.  Guidelines concerning plagiarism are located on the same webpage.


Writing Center

            Take advantage of the campus writing center!

            The Writing Center is staffed with tutors ready to work with you one-on-one. You do not need an appointment.

Their schedule is as follows:

Mondays-Wednesdays 10:00am - 6:00pm, Bartlett 303A; 6:00pm - 8:00pm, Bartlett 101

Thursdays 10:00am - 6:00pm, Bartlett 303A


More information is available on their website at http://writingprogram.hfa.umass.edu/writingcenter/writingcenter.html.



More Writing Resources

The History Department has a set of writing resources online at http://www.umass.edu/history/links_writing.html. 

See especially the online guides for writing history papers.