How to Write a History Essay

Structure of the Essay

  • Answer the question! It may seem a bit obvious, but many history essays simply do not answer the question posed.


  • Introduction. Probably the key to any History Essay. It should state what you will do in the essay. Have a Thesis Statement that directly answers the question. The rest of the introduction should explain what to expect in the coming paragraphs. A strong introduction shows that you already know what you are doing before you start to write.
  • Body. Here you offer historical evidence that supports what you were saying in the introduction. Each new paragraph should have a topic sentence which supports your Thesis Statement. The sentences in the paragraph should then support the paragraph's topic sentence.
  • Summary. For goodness' sake do not skim here. This is where you quickly remind the reader of the points you have made and how they support your Thesis Statement which answers the Question. A good way to remember how to do a summary is to ask yourself, "So, what was the point I was trying to make."


  • An essay with a strong conclusion, weak body, and strong summary is better than an essay with a weak introduction, enormous amount of information in the body, and weak summary.
  • Make sure your facts are relevant rather than related. An example: You are trying to explain how to write an essay and start using facts on the manufacture of paper. Now paper is related to an essay (you use it to write on) but it is not relevant to how to write an essay.


  • Unnecessarily flowery language (use concise language and get to the point)
  • Irrelevant facts. They should all directly relate to the points you make.
  • Strong and highly opinionated statements without adequate factual support.
  • Dumping huge amounts of information rather than reasoning historically.