how to write an introduction for an essay history

How to write an introduction for a history essay

Facade of the Ara Pacis

Every essay needs to begin with an introductory paragraph. It needs to be the first paragraph the marker reads.

While your introduction paragraph might be the first of the paragraphs you write, this is not the only way to do it.

You can choose to write your introduction after you have written the rest of your essay.

This way, you will know what you have argued, and this might make writing the introduction easier.

Either approach is fine. If you do write your introduction first, ensure that you go back and refine it once you have completed your essay. 

What is an ‘introduction paragraph’?

An introductory paragraph is a single paragraph at the start of your essay that prepares your reader for the argument you are going to make in your body paragraphs .

It should provide all of the necessary historical information about your topic and clearly state your argument so that by the end of the paragraph, the marker knows how you are going to structure the rest of your essay.

In general, you should never use quotes from sources in your introduction.

Introduction paragraph structure

While your introduction paragraph does not have to be as long as your body paragraphs , it does have a specific purpose, which you must fulfil.

A well-written introduction paragraph has the following four-part structure (summarised by the acronym BHES).

B – Background sentences

H – Hypothesis

E – Elaboration sentences

S - Signpost sentence

Each of these elements are explained in further detail, with examples, below:

1. Background sentences

The first two or three sentences of your introduction should provide a general introduction to the historical topic which your essay is about. This is done so that when you state your hypothesis , your reader understands the specific point you are arguing about.

Background sentences explain the important historical period, dates, people, places, events and concepts that will be mentioned later in your essay. This information should be drawn from your background research . 

Example background sentences:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Castles were an important component of Medieval Britain from the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 until they were phased out in the 15 th and 16 th centuries. Initially introduced as wooden motte and bailey structures on geographical strongpoints, they were rapidly replaced by stone fortresses which incorporated sophisticated defensive designs to improve the defenders’ chances of surviving prolonged sieges.

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The First World War began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The subsequent declarations of war from most of Europe drew other countries into the conflict, including Australia. The Australian Imperial Force joined the war as part of Britain’s armed forces and were dispatched to locations in the Middle East and Western Europe.

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The 1967 Referendum sought to amend the Australian Constitution in order to change the legal standing of the indigenous people in Australia. The fact that 90% of Australians voted in favour of the proposed amendments has been attributed to a series of significant events and people who were dedicated to the referendum’s success.

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level)  

In the late second century BC, the Roman novus homo Gaius Marius became one of the most influential men in the Roman Republic. Marius gained this authority through his victory in the Jugurthine War, with his defeat of Jugurtha in 106 BC, and his triumph over the invading Germanic tribes in 101 BC, when he crushed the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and the Cimbri at the Battle of Vercellae (101 BC). Marius also gained great fame through his election to the consulship seven times.

2. Hypothesis

Once you have provided historical context for your essay in your background sentences, you need to state your hypothesis .

A hypothesis is a single sentence that clearly states the argument that your essay will be proving in your body paragraphs .

A good hypothesis contains both the argument and the reasons in support of your argument. 

Example hypotheses:

Medieval castles were designed with features that nullified the superior numbers of besieging armies but were ultimately made obsolete by the development of gunpowder artillery.

Australian soldiers’ opinion of the First World War changed from naïve enthusiasm to pessimistic realism as a result of the harsh realities of modern industrial warfare.

The success of the 1967 Referendum was a direct result of the efforts of First Nations leaders such as Charles Perkins, Faith Bandler and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Gaius Marius was the most one of the most significant personalities in the 1 st century BC due to his effect on the political, military and social structures of the Roman state.

3. Elaboration sentences

Once you have stated your argument in your hypothesis , you need to provide particular information about how you’re going to prove your argument.

Your elaboration sentences should be one or two sentences that provide specific details about how you’re going to cover the argument in your three body paragraphs.

You might also briefly summarise two or three of your main points.

Finally, explain any important key words, phrases or concepts that you’ve used in your hypothesis, you’ll need to do this in your elaboration sentences.

Example elaboration sentences:

By the height of the Middle Ages, feudal lords were investing significant sums of money by incorporating concentric walls and guard towers to maximise their defensive potential. These developments were so successful that many medieval armies avoided sieges in the late period.

Following Britain's official declaration of war on Germany, young Australian men voluntarily enlisted into the army, which was further encouraged by government propaganda about the moral justifications for the conflict. However, following the initial engagements on the Gallipoli peninsula, enthusiasm declined.

The political activity of key indigenous figures and the formation of activism organisations focused on indigenous resulted in a wider spread of messages to the general Australian public. The generation of powerful images and speeches has been frequently cited by modern historians as crucial to the referendum results.

While Marius is best known for his military reforms, it is the subsequent impacts of this reform on the way other Romans approached the attainment of magistracies and how public expectations of military leaders changed that had the longest impacts on the late republican period.

4. Signpost sentence

The final sentence of your introduction should prepare the reader for the topic of your first body paragraph. The main purpose of this sentence is to provide cohesion between your introductory paragraph and you first body paragraph .

Therefore, a signpost sentence indicates where you will begin proving the argument that you set out in your hypothesis and usually states the importance of the first point that you’re about to make. 

Example signpost sentences:

The early development of castles is best understood when examining their military purpose.

The naïve attitudes of those who volunteered in 1914 can be clearly seen in the personal letters and diaries that they themselves wrote.

The significance of these people is evident when examining the lack of political representation the indigenous people experience in the early half of the 20 th century.

The origin of Marius’ later achievements was his military reform in 107 BC, which occurred when he was first elected as consul.

Putting it all together

Once you have written all four parts of the BHES structure, you should have a completed introduction paragraph. In the examples above, we have shown each part separately. Below you will see the completed paragraphs so that you can appreciate what an introduction should look like.

Example introduction paragraphs: 

Castles were an important component of Medieval Britain from the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 until they were phased out in the 15th and 16th centuries. Initially introduced as wooden motte and bailey structures on geographical strongpoints, they were rapidly replaced by stone fortresses which incorporated sophisticated defensive designs to improve the defenders’ chances of surviving prolonged sieges. Medieval castles were designed with features that nullified the superior numbers of besieging armies, but were ultimately made obsolete by the development of gunpowder artillery. By the height of the Middle Ages, feudal lords were investing significant sums of money by incorporating concentric walls and guard towers to maximise their defensive potential. These developments were so successful that many medieval armies avoided sieges in the late period. The early development of castles is best understood when examining their military purpose.

The First World War began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The subsequent declarations of war from most of Europe drew other countries into the conflict, including Australia. The Australian Imperial Force joined the war as part of Britain’s armed forces and were dispatched to locations in the Middle East and Western Europe. Australian soldiers’ opinion of the First World War changed from naïve enthusiasm to pessimistic realism as a result of the harsh realities of modern industrial warfare. Following Britain's official declaration of war on Germany, young Australian men voluntarily enlisted into the army, which was further encouraged by government propaganda about the moral justifications for the conflict. However, following the initial engagements on the Gallipoli peninsula, enthusiasm declined. The naïve attitudes of those who volunteered in 1914 can be clearly seen in the personal letters and diaries that they themselves wrote.

The 1967 Referendum sought to amend the Australian Constitution in order to change the legal standing of the indigenous people in Australia. The fact that 90% of Australians voted in favour of the proposed amendments has been attributed to a series of significant events and people who were dedicated to the referendum’s success. The success of the 1967 Referendum was a direct result of the efforts of First Nations leaders such as Charles Perkins, Faith Bandler and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. The political activity of key indigenous figures and the formation of activism organisations focused on indigenous resulted in a wider spread of messages to the general Australian public. The generation of powerful images and speeches has been frequently cited by modern historians as crucial to the referendum results. The significance of these people is evident when examining the lack of political representation the indigenous people experience in the early half of the 20th century.

In the late second century BC, the Roman novus homo Gaius Marius became one of the most influential men in the Roman Republic. Marius gained this authority through his victory in the Jugurthine War, with his defeat of Jugurtha in 106 BC, and his triumph over the invading Germanic tribes in 101 BC, when he crushed the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and the Cimbri at the Battle of Vercellae (101 BC). Marius also gained great fame through his election to the consulship seven times. Gaius Marius was the most one of the most significant personalities in the 1st century BC due to his effect on the political, military and social structures of the Roman state. While Marius is best known for his military reforms, it is the subsequent impacts of this reform on the way other Romans approached the attainment of magistracies and how public expectations of military leaders changed that had the longest impacts on the late republican period. The origin of Marius’ later achievements was his military reform in 107 BC, which occurred when he was first elected as consul.

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How to Write an Introduction For a History Essay Step-by-Step

graphic of Female writing essay main

An introduction of a historical essay acquaints the reader with the topic and how the writer will explain it. It is an important first impression. The introduction is a paragraph long and about five to seven sentences. The parts include the opening sentence, arguments and/or details that will be covered, and a thesis statement (argument of the essay). 

What Is A History Essay?

An essay is a short piece of writing that answers a question (“Who are the funniest presidents ”) discusses a subject (“What is Japanese feudalism ”), or addresses a topic (“ Causes and Effects of the Industrial Revolution ”).  A historical essay specifically addresses historical matters.

These essays are used to judge a student’s progress in understanding history. They also are used to teach and analyze a student’s ability to write and express their knowledge.  A person can know their stuff and still have problems expressing their knowledge.  

Skillful communication is an essential tool.  When you write your introduction to a historical essay remember that both the information and how you express it are both very important.  

Purpose of An Introduction

If a person is formally introduced to you, it is a means of getting acquainted.  

An introduction of a historical essay acquaints the reader with the topic and how the writer will explain it.  The introduction is a roadmap that lays out the direction you will take in the essay.

This is done by the opening paragraph, which is about five to seven sentences long.  

Grab the Reader’s Attention 

The introduction of a historical essay should grab the attention of your reader.   

It is the first time the reader has to react to your essay.  Make sure it is clear, confident, and precise .  The introduction should not be generic.  It should not be vague.  

Do not provide sources in the introduction.  You do not want the reader to check them out instead of finishing the introduction.  Leave sources to the body of the essay.  

When Should You Write The Introduction?

A movie is not filmed straight through.  Parts of a movie are filmed separately and later edited together.  This is also possible when writing an essay, especially with the ease of computers.

An introduction works off the rest of the essay.  If you have already written the whole essay, it can be easier to write an introduction.  I often write the blog summary on top last.  

Others will find it useful to write the introduction first, perhaps because it provides a helpful outline for the rest of the essay.  It is a matter of personal taste and comfort level.  

Step-By-Step Instructions 

Step one: opening sentence.

The first sentence of your introduction sets the stage and draws the reader in.  

The opening sentence should introduce the historical context of the subject matter of your historical essay.  Historical context is the political, social, cultural, and economic setting for a particular document, idea, or event.  For instance, consider this opening sentence:

The Emancipation Proclamation was an official presidential declaration handed down in the middle of the Civil War declaring slavery was now abolished in areas under Confederate control.  

A possible topic of the historical essay is “ The Strengths & Weaknesses of the Emancipation Proclamation .”  This opening sentence sets the stage.  We are no longer in the current day reading about something in the living room.  We are in the middle of the Civil War.  

There are various ways to start things off.  For instance, you can use a quotation such as President Wilson’s or Winston Churchill’s famous sayings about democracy .  

The important thing is to grab the reader’s attention and start the ball rolling.  Know your audience.  An academic audience expects a more studious approach.  And, don’t just start with a catchy sentence that has no value to the rest of the historical essay.  

Step Two: Facts/Statistics/Evidence

The next step in writing an introduction is to write a few sentences (three to five) summarizing the argument you will be making. These sentences would provide the facts and arguments that will be expanded upon in the body of the paper.  The sentences are basically an outline.  

If we continue with the previous subject, the summary section can be like this:

It was a major moral accomplishment to use the abolishment of slavery as a war measure. Meanwhile, it had pragmatic benefits, including as a matter of foreign policy, and harmed the South’s chances to win the war. Nonetheless, the measure was of questionable legality and had the possibility of causing major divisions. 

The introduction should be clear and crisp.  Try to remove unnecessary content.  This is not just about filling a word quota.  The introduction should have actual content, not empty calories.  

Step Three: Thesis Statement  

The finale of the introduction is the thesis statement , the argument being made in the essay.  This should be one sentence long.  An example would be:

The Emancipation Proclamation was as a whole very successful while having various disadvantages that still made it a risky proposition.  

The thesis sentence is very important.  It summarizes the core of the essay.  The reader is now informed about what you are about to argue.  The body of the essay should fill in the details.  

In Conclusion About Introductions … 

An introduction at a party, date, or in a historical essay is about making a good first impression.  The basics are the same.  Catch the other person’s attention, provide a snapshot of what you are trying to say, and make the person hungry for more.  

The other person often has the obligation to “hear” what you have to say.  Take it as an opportunity.  And, remember, if you mess up, it will be a lot harder to impress later on.

Teach and Thrive

A Bronx, NY veteran high school social studies teacher who has learned most of what she has learned through trial and error and error and error.... and wants to save others that pain.

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UCLA History Department

Introductions & Conclusions

The introduction and conclusion serve important roles in a history paper.  They are not simply perfunctory additions in academic writing, but are critical to your task of making a persuasive argument.

A successful introduction will:

  • draw your readers in
  • culminate in a thesis statement that clearly states your argument
  • orient your readers to the key facts they need to know in order to understand your thesis
  • lay out a roadmap for the rest of your paper

A successful conclusion will:

  • draw your paper together
  • reiterate your argument clearly and forcefully
  • leave your readers with a lasting impression of why your argument matters or what it brings to light

How to write an effective introduction:

Often students get slowed down in paper-writing because they are not sure how to write the introduction.  Do not feel like you have to write your introduction first simply because it is the first section of your paper.  You can always come back to it after you write the body of your essay.  Whenever you approach your introduction, think of it as having three key parts:

  • The opening line
  • The middle “stage-setting” section
  • The thesis statement

“In a 4-5 page paper, describe the process of nation-building in one Middle Eastern state.  What were the particular goals of nation-building?  What kinds of strategies did the state employ?  What were the results?  Be specific in your analysis, and draw on at least one of the scholars of nationalism that we discussed in class.”

Here is an example of a WEAK introduction for this prompt:

“One of the most important tasks the leader of any country faces is how to build a united and strong nation.  This has been especially true in the Middle East, where the country of Jordan offers one example of how states in the region approached nation-building.  Founded after World War I by the British, Jordan has since been ruled by members of the Hashemite family.  To help them face the difficult challenges of founding a new state, they employed various strategies of nation-building.”

Now, here is a REVISED version of that same introduction:

“Since 1921, when the British first created the mandate of Transjordan and installed Abdullah I as its emir, the Hashemite rulers have faced a dual task in nation-building.  First, as foreigners to the region, the Hashemites had to establish their legitimacy as Jordan’s rightful leaders.  Second, given the arbitrary boundaries of the new nation, the Hashemites had to establish the legitimacy of Jordan itself, binding together the people now called ‘Jordanians.’  To help them address both challenges, the Hashemite leaders crafted a particular narrative of history, what Anthony Smith calls a ‘nationalist mythology.’  By presenting themselves as descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, as leaders of the Arab Revolt, and as the fathers of Jordan’s different tribal groups, they established the authority of their own regime and the authority of the new nation, creating one of the most stable states in the modern Middle East.”

The first draft of the introduction, while a good initial step, is not strong enough to set up a solid, argument-based paper.  Here are the key issues:

  • This first sentence is too general.  From the beginning of your paper, you want to invite your reader into your specific topic, rather than make generalizations that could apply to any nation in any time or place.  Students often run into the problem of writing general or vague opening lines, such as, “War has always been one of the greatest tragedies to befall society.”  Or, “The Great Depression was one of the most important events in American history.”  Avoid statements that are too sweeping or imprecise.  Ask yourself if the sentence you have written can apply in any time or place or could apply to any event or person.  If the answer is yes, then you need to make your opening line more specific.
  • Here is the revised opening line: “Since 1921, when the British first created the mandate of Transjordan and installed Abdullah I as its emir, the Hashemite rulers have faced a dual task in nation-building.”
  • This is a stronger opening line because it speaks precisely to the topic at hand.  The paper prompt is not asking you to talk about nation-building in general, but nation-building in one specific place.
  • This stage-setting section is also too general.  Certainly, such background information is critical for the reader to know, but notice that it simply restates much of the information already in the prompt.  The question already asks you to pick one example, so your job is not simply to reiterate that information, but to explain what kind of example Jordan presents.  You also need to tell your reader why the context you are providing matters.
  • Revised stage-setting: “First, as foreigners to the region, the Hashemites had to establish their legitimacy as Jordan’s rightful leaders.  Second, given the arbitrary boundaries of the new nation, the Hashemites had to establish the legitimacy of Jordan itself, binding together the people now called ‘Jordanians.’  To help them address both challenges, the Hashemite rulers crafted a particular narrative of history, what Anthony Smith calls a ‘nationalist mythology.’”
  • This stage-setting is stronger because it introduces the reader to the problem at hand.  Instead of simply saying when and why Jordan was created, the author explains why the manner of Jordan’s creation posed particular challenges to nation-building.  It also sets the writer up to address the questions in the prompt, getting at both the purposes of nation-building in Jordan and referencing the scholar of nationalism s/he will be drawing on from class: Anthony Smith.
  • This thesis statement restates the prompt rather than answers the question.  You need to be specific about what strategies of nation-building Jordan’s leaders used.  You also need to assess those strategies, so that you can answer the part of the prompt that asks about the results of nation-building.
  • Revised thesis statement: “By presenting themselves as descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, as leaders of the Arab Revolt, and as the fathers of Jordan’s different tribal groups, they established the authority of their regime and the authority of the new nation, creating one of the most stable states in the modern Middle East.”
  • It directly answers the question in the prompt.  Even though you will be persuading readers of your argument through the evidence you present in the body of your paper, you want to tell them at the outset exactly what you are arguing.
  • It discusses the significance of the argument, saying that Jordan created an especially stable state.  This helps you answer the question about the results of Jordan’s nation-building project.
  • It offers a roadmap for the rest of the paper.  The writer knows how to proceed and the reader knows what to expect.  The body of the paper will discuss the Hashemite claims “as descendants from the Prophet Muhammad, as leaders of the Arab Revolt, and as the fathers of Jordan’s different tribal groups.”

If you write your introduction first, be sure to revisit it after you have written your entire essay.  Because your paper will evolve as you write, you need to go back and make sure that the introduction still sets up your argument and still fits your organizational structure.

How to write an effective conclusion:

Your conclusion serves two main purposes.  First, it reiterates your argument in different language than you used in the thesis and body of your paper.  Second, it tells your reader why your argument matters.  In your conclusion, you want to take a step back and consider briefly the historical implications or significance of your topic.  You will not be introducing new information that requires lengthy analysis, but you will be telling your readers what your paper helps bring to light.  Perhaps you can connect your paper to a larger theme you have discussed in class, or perhaps you want to pose a new sort of question that your paper elicits.  There is no right or wrong “answer” to this part of the conclusion: you are now the “expert” on your topic, and this is your chance to leave your reader with a lasting impression based on what you have learned.

Here is an example of an effective conclusion for the same essay prompt:

“To speak of the nationalist mythology the Hashemites created, however, is not to say that it has gone uncontested.  In the 1950s, the Jordanian National Movement unleashed fierce internal opposition to Hashemite rule, crafting an alternative narrative of history in which the Hashemites were mere puppets to Western powers.  Various tribes have also reasserted their role in the region’s past, refusing to play the part of “sons” to Hashemite “fathers.”  For the Hashemites, maintaining their mythology depends on the same dialectical process that John R. Gillis identified in his investigation of commemorations: a process of both remembering and forgetting.  Their myth remembers their descent from the Prophet, their leadership of the Arab Revolt, and the tribes’ shared Arab and Islamic heritage.  It forgets, however, the many different histories that Jordanians champion, histories that the Hashemite mythology has never been able to fully reconcile.”

This is an effective conclusion because it moves from the specific argument addressed in the body of the paper to the question of why that argument matters.  The writer rephrases the argument by saying, “Their myth remembers their descent from the Prophet, their leadership of the Arab Revolt, and the tribes’ shared Arab and Islamic heritage.”  Then, the writer reflects briefly on the larger implications of the argument, showing how Jordan’s nationalist mythology depended on the suppression of other narratives.

Introduction and Conclusion checklist

When revising your introduction and conclusion, check them against the following guidelines:

Does my introduction:

  • draw my readers in?
  • culminate in a thesis statement that clearly states my argument?
  • orient my readers to the key facts they need to know in order to understand my thesis?
  • lay out a roadmap for the rest of my paper?

Does my conclusion:

  • draw my paper together?
  • reiterate my argument clearly and forcefully?
  • leave my readers with a lasting impression of why my argument matters or what it brings to light?

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How to Write a History Essay

Last Updated: December 27, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 242,970 times.

Writing a history essay requires you to include a lot of details and historical information within a given number of words or required pages. It's important to provide all the needed information, but also to present it in a cohesive, intelligent way. Know how to write a history essay that demonstrates your writing skills and your understanding of the material.

Preparing to Write Your Essay

Step 1 Evaluate the essay question.

  • The key words will often need to be defined at the start of your essay, and will serve as its boundaries. [2] X Research source
  • For example, if the question was "To what extent was the First World War a Total War?", the key terms are "First World War", and "Total War".
  • Do this before you begin conducting your research to ensure that your reading is closely focussed to the question and you don't waste time.

Step 2 Consider what the question is asking you.

  • Explain: provide an explanation of why something happened or didn't happen.
  • Interpret: analyse information within a larger framework to contextualise it.
  • Evaluate: present and support a value-judgement.
  • Argue: take a clear position on a debate and justify it. [3] X Research source

Step 3 Try to summarise your key argument.

  • Your thesis statement should clearly address the essay prompt and provide supporting arguments. These supporting arguments will become body paragraphs in your essay, where you’ll elaborate and provide concrete evidence. [4] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • Your argument may change or become more nuanced as your write your essay, but having a clear thesis statement which you can refer back to is very helpful.
  • For example, your summary could be something like "The First World War was a 'total war' because civilian populations were mobilized both in the battlefield and on the home front".

Step 4 Make an essay...

  • Pick out some key quotes that make your argument precisely and persuasively. [5] X Research source
  • When writing your plan, you should already be thinking about how your essay will flow, and how each point will connect together.

Doing Your Research

Step 1 Distinguish between primary and secondary sources.

  • Primary source material refers to any texts, films, pictures, or any other kind of evidence that was produced in the historical period, or by someone who participated in the events of the period, that you are writing about.
  • Secondary material is the work by historians or other writers analysing events in the past. The body of historical work on a period or event is known as the historiography.
  • It is not unusual to write a literature review or historiographical essay which does not directly draw on primary material.
  • Typically a research essay would need significant primary material.

Step 2 Find your sources.

  • Start with the core texts in your reading list or course bibliography. Your teacher will have carefully selected these so you should start there.
  • Look in footnotes and bibliographies. When you are reading be sure to pay attention to the footnotes and bibliographies which can guide you to further sources a give you a clear picture of the important texts.
  • Use the library. If you have access to a library at your school or college, be sure to make the most of it. Search online catalogues and speak to librarians.
  • Access online journal databases. If you are in college it is likely that you will have access to academic journals online. These are an excellent and easy to navigate resources.
  • Use online sources with discretion. Try using free scholarly databases, like Google Scholar, which offer quality academic sources, but avoid using the non-trustworthy websites that come up when you simply search your topic online.
  • Avoid using crowd-sourced sites like Wikipedia as sources. However, you can look at the sources cited on a Wikipedia page and use them instead, if they seem credible.

Step 3 Evaluate your secondary sources.

  • Who is the author? Is it written by an academic with a position at a University? Search for the author online.
  • Who is the publisher? Is the book published by an established academic press? Look in the cover to check the publisher, if it is published by a University Press that is a good sign.
  • If it's an article, where is published? If you are using an article check that it has been published in an academic journal. [8] X Research source
  • If the article is online, what is the URL? Government sources with .gov addresses are good sources, as are .edu sites.

Step 4 Read critically.

  • Ask yourself why the author is making this argument. Evaluate the text by placing it into a broader intellectual context. Is it part of a certain tradition in historiography? Is it a response to a particular idea?
  • Consider where there are weaknesses and limitations to the argument. Always keep a critical mindset and try to identify areas where you think the argument is overly stretched or the evidence doesn't match the author's claims. [9] X Research source

Step 5 Take thorough notes.

  • Label all your notes with the page numbers and precise bibliographic information on the source.
  • If you have a quote but can't remember where you found it, imagine trying to skip back through everything you have read to find that one line.
  • If you use something and don't reference it fully you risk plagiarism. [10] X Research source

Writing the Introduction

Step 1 Start with a strong first sentence.

  • For example you could start by saying "In the First World War new technologies and the mass mobilization of populations meant that the war was not fought solely by standing armies".
  • This first sentences introduces the topic of your essay in a broad way which you can start focus to in on more.

Step 2 Outline what you are going to argue.

  • This will lead to an outline of the structure of your essay and your argument.
  • Here you will explain the particular approach you have taken to the essay.
  • For example, if you are using case studies you should explain this and give a brief overview of which case studies you will be using and why.

Step 3 Provide some brief context for your work.

Writing the Essay

Step 1 Have a clear structure.

  • Try to include a sentence that concludes each paragraph and links it to the next paragraph.
  • When you are organising your essay think of each paragraph as addressing one element of the essay question.
  • Keeping a close focus like this will also help you avoid drifting away from the topic of the essay and will encourage you to write in precise and concise prose.
  • Don't forget to write in the past tense when referring to something that has already happened.

Step 3 Use source material as evidence to back up your thesis.

  • Don't drop a quote from a primary source into your prose without introducing it and discussing it, and try to avoid long quotations. Use only the quotes that best illustrate your point.
  • If you are referring to a secondary source, you can usually summarise in your own words rather than quoting directly.
  • Be sure to fully cite anything you refer to, including if you do not quote it directly.

Step 4 Make your essay flow.

  • Think about the first and last sentence in every paragraph and how they connect to the previous and next paragraph.
  • Try to avoid beginning paragraphs with simple phrases that make your essay appear more like a list. For example, limit your use of words like: "Additionally", "Moreover", "Furthermore".
  • Give an indication of where your essay is going and how you are building on what you have already said. [15] X Research source

Step 5 Conclude succinctly.

  • Briefly outline the implications of your argument and it's significance in relation to the historiography, but avoid grand sweeping statements. [16] X Research source
  • A conclusion also provides the opportunity to point to areas beyond the scope of your essay where the research could be developed in the future.

Proofreading and Evaluating Your Essay

Step 1 Proofread your essay.

  • Try to cut down any overly long sentences or run-on sentences. Instead, try to write clear and accurate prose and avoid unnecessary words.
  • Concentrate on developing a clear, simple and highly readable prose style first before you think about developing your writing further. [17] X Research source
  • Reading your essay out load can help you get a clearer picture of awkward phrasing and overly long sentences. [18] X Research source

Step 2 Analyse don't describe.

  • When you read through your essay look at each paragraph and ask yourself, "what point this paragraph is making".
  • You might have produced a nice piece of narrative writing, but if you are not directly answering the question it is not going to help your grade.

Step 3 Check your references and bibliography.

  • A bibliography will typically have primary sources first, followed by secondary sources. [19] X Research source
  • Double and triple check that you have included all the necessary references in the text. If you forgot to include a reference you risk being reported for plagiarism.

Sample Essay

how to write an introduction for an essay history

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  • ↑ http://www.historytoday.com/robert-pearce/how-write-good-history-essay
  • ↑ https://www.hamilton.edu/academics/centers/writing/writing-resources/writing-a-good-history-paper
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
  • ↑ http://history.rutgers.edu/component/content/article?id=106:writing-historical-essays-a-guide-for-undergraduates
  • ↑ https://guides.lib.uw.edu/c.php?g=344285&p=2580599
  • ↑ http://www.hamilton.edu/documents/writing-center/WritingGoodHistoryPaper.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.bowdoin.edu/writing-guides/
  • ↑ https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/hppi/publications/Writing-History-Essays.pdf

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

To write a history essay, read the essay question carefully and use source materials to research the topic, taking thorough notes as you go. Next, formulate a thesis statement that summarizes your key argument in 1-2 concise sentences and create a structured outline to help you stay on topic. Open with a strong introduction that introduces your thesis, present your argument, and back it up with sourced material. Then, end with a succinct conclusion that restates and summarizes your position! For more tips on creating a thesis statement, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Introductions

What this handout is about.

This handout will explain the functions of introductions, offer strategies for creating effective introductions, and provide some examples of less effective introductions to avoid.

The role of introductions

Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write. Usually when you sit down to respond to an assignment, you have at least some sense of what you want to say in the body of your paper. You might have chosen a few examples you want to use or have an idea that will help you answer the main question of your assignment; these sections, therefore, may not be as hard to write. And it’s fine to write them first! But in your final draft, these middle parts of the paper can’t just come out of thin air; they need to be introduced and concluded in a way that makes sense to your reader.

Your introduction and conclusion act as bridges that transport your readers from their own lives into the “place” of your analysis. If your readers pick up your paper about education in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of Chapel Hill, television, e-mail, and The Daily Tar Heel and to help them temporarily enter the world of nineteenth-century American slavery. By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying. Similarly, once you’ve hooked your readers with the introduction and offered evidence to prove your thesis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. (See our handout on conclusions .)

Note that what constitutes a good introduction may vary widely based on the kind of paper you are writing and the academic discipline in which you are writing it. If you are uncertain what kind of introduction is expected, ask your instructor.

Why bother writing a good introduction?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work. A vague, disorganized, error-filled, off-the-wall, or boring introduction will probably create a negative impression. On the other hand, a concise, engaging, and well-written introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and your paper.

Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion. In many academic disciplines, your introduction should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. Your introduction should also give the reader a sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs and pages that will follow. After reading your introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper.

Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should capture your readers’ interest, making them want to read the rest of your paper. Opening with a compelling story, an interesting question, or a vivid example can get your readers to see why your topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an engaging intellectual conversation (remember, though, that these strategies may not be suitable for all papers and disciplines).

Strategies for writing an effective introduction

Start by thinking about the question (or questions) you are trying to answer. Your entire essay will be a response to this question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end. Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will likely be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point. Imagine that you are assigned the following question:

Drawing on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , discuss the relationship between education and slavery in 19th-century America. Consider the following: How did white control of education reinforce slavery? How did Douglass and other enslaved African Americans view education while they endured slavery? And what role did education play in the acquisition of freedom? Most importantly, consider the degree to which education was or was not a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

You will probably refer back to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay, and the prompt itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction. Notice that it starts with a broad statement and then narrows to focus on specific questions from the book. One strategy might be to use a similar model in your own introduction—start off with a big picture sentence or two and then focus in on the details of your argument about Douglass. Of course, a different approach could also be very successful, but looking at the way the professor set up the question can sometimes give you some ideas for how you might answer it. (See our handout on understanding assignments for additional information on the hidden clues in assignments.)

Decide how general or broad your opening should be. Keep in mind that even a “big picture” opening needs to be clearly related to your topic; an opening sentence that said “Human beings, more than any other creatures on earth, are capable of learning” would be too broad for our sample assignment about slavery and education. If you have ever used Google Maps or similar programs, that experience can provide a helpful way of thinking about how broad your opening should be. Imagine that you’re researching Chapel Hill. If what you want to find out is whether Chapel Hill is at roughly the same latitude as Rome, it might make sense to hit that little “minus” sign on the online map until it has zoomed all the way out and you can see the whole globe. If you’re trying to figure out how to get from Chapel Hill to Wrightsville Beach, it might make more sense to zoom in to the level where you can see most of North Carolina (but not the rest of the world, or even the rest of the United States). And if you are looking for the intersection of Ridge Road and Manning Drive so that you can find the Writing Center’s main office, you may need to zoom all the way in. The question you are asking determines how “broad” your view should be. In the sample assignment above, the questions are probably at the “state” or “city” level of generality. When writing, you need to place your ideas in context—but that context doesn’t generally have to be as big as the whole galaxy!

Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that isn’t necessarily true, and it isn’t always the most effective way to craft a good introduction. You may find that you don’t know precisely what you are going to argue at the beginning of the writing process. It is perfectly fine to start out thinking that you want to argue a particular point but wind up arguing something slightly or even dramatically different by the time you’ve written most of the paper. The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument. However, an introduction written at the beginning of that discovery process will not necessarily reflect what you wind up with at the end. You will need to revise your paper to make sure that the introduction, all of the evidence, and the conclusion reflect the argument you intend. Sometimes it’s easiest to just write up all of your evidence first and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will match the body of the paper.

Don’t be afraid to write a tentative introduction first and then change it later. Some people find that they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. That’s fine, but if you are one of those people, be sure to return to your initial introduction later and rewrite if necessary.

Open with something that will draw readers in. Consider these options (remembering that they may not be suitable for all kinds of papers):

  • an intriguing example —for example, Douglass writes about a mistress who initially teaches him but then ceases her instruction as she learns more about slavery.
  • a provocative quotation that is closely related to your argument —for example, Douglass writes that “education and slavery were incompatible with each other.” (Quotes from famous people, inspirational quotes, etc. may not work well for an academic paper; in this example, the quote is from the author himself.)
  • a puzzling scenario —for example, Frederick Douglass says of slaves that “[N]othing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bondage, under which they have been groaning for centuries!” Douglass clearly asserts that slave owners went to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of slaves, yet his own life story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.
  • a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote —for example, “Learning about slavery in the American history course at Frederick Douglass High School, students studied the work slaves did, the impact of slavery on their families, and the rules that governed their lives. We didn’t discuss education, however, until one student, Mary, raised her hand and asked, ‘But when did they go to school?’ That modern high school students could not conceive of an American childhood devoid of formal education speaks volumes about the centrality of education to American youth today and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in past generations.”
  • a thought-provoking question —for example, given all of the freedoms that were denied enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Frederick Douglass focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy?

Pay special attention to your first sentence. Start off on the right foot with your readers by making sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and polished way.

How to evaluate your introduction draft

Ask a friend to read your introduction and then tell you what he or she expects the paper will discuss, what kinds of evidence the paper will use, and what the tone of the paper will be. If your friend is able to predict the rest of your paper accurately, you probably have a good introduction.

Five kinds of less effective introductions

1. The placeholder introduction. When you don’t have much to say on a given topic, it is easy to create this kind of introduction. Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don’t really say much. They exist just to take up the “introduction space” in your paper. If you had something more effective to say, you would probably say it, but in the meantime this paragraph is just a place holder.

Example: Slavery was one of the greatest tragedies in American history. There were many different aspects of slavery. Each created different kinds of problems for enslaved people.

2. The restated question introduction. Restating the question can sometimes be an effective strategy, but it can be easy to stop at JUST restating the question instead of offering a more specific, interesting introduction to your paper. The professor or teaching assistant wrote your question and will be reading many essays in response to it—he or she does not need to read a whole paragraph that simply restates the question.

Example: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass discusses the relationship between education and slavery in 19th century America, showing how white control of education reinforced slavery and how Douglass and other enslaved African Americans viewed education while they endured. Moreover, the book discusses the role that education played in the acquisition of freedom. Education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

3. The Webster’s Dictionary introduction. This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition of one or more of the words in the assigned question. Anyone can look a word up in the dictionary and copy down what Webster says. If you want to open with a discussion of an important term, it may be far more interesting for you (and your reader) if you develop your own definition of the term in the specific context of your class and assignment. You may also be able to use a definition from one of the sources you’ve been reading for class. Also recognize that the dictionary is also not a particularly authoritative work—it doesn’t take into account the context of your course and doesn’t offer particularly detailed information. If you feel that you must seek out an authority, try to find one that is very relevant and specific. Perhaps a quotation from a source reading might prove better? Dictionary introductions are also ineffective simply because they are so overused. Instructors may see a great many papers that begin in this way, greatly decreasing the dramatic impact that any one of those papers will have.

Example: Webster’s dictionary defines slavery as “the state of being a slave,” as “the practice of owning slaves,” and as “a condition of hard work and subjection.”

4. The “dawn of man” introduction. This kind of introduction generally makes broad, sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time, throughout the world, etc. It is usually very general (similar to the placeholder introduction) and fails to connect to the thesis. It may employ cliches—the phrases “the dawn of man” and “throughout human history” are examples, and it’s hard to imagine a time when starting with one of these would work. Instructors often find them extremely annoying.

Example: Since the dawn of man, slavery has been a problem in human history.

5. The book report introduction. This introduction is what you had to do for your elementary school book reports. It gives the name and author of the book you are writing about, tells what the book is about, and offers other basic facts about the book. You might resort to this sort of introduction when you are trying to fill space because it’s a familiar, comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers details that your reader probably already knows and that are irrelevant to the thesis.

Example: Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave , in the 1840s. It was published in 1986 by Penguin Books. In it, he tells the story of his life.

And now for the conclusion…

Writing an effective introduction can be tough. Try playing around with several different options and choose the one that ends up sounding best to you!

Just as your introduction helps readers make the transition to your topic, your conclusion needs to help them return to their daily lives–but with a lasting sense of how what they have just read is useful or meaningful. Check out our handout on  conclusions for tips on ending your paper as effectively as you began it!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Douglass, Frederick. 1995. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself . New York: Dover.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write a History Essay with Outline, Tips, Examples and More

History Essay

Before we get into how to write a history essay, let's first understand what makes one good. Different people might have different ideas, but there are some basic rules that can help you do well in your studies. In this guide, we won't get into any fancy theories. Instead, we'll give you straightforward tips to help you with historical writing. So, if you're ready to sharpen your writing skills, let our history essay writing service explore how to craft an exceptional paper.

What is a History Essay?

A history essay is an academic assignment where we explore and analyze historical events from the past. We dig into historical stories, figures, and ideas to understand their importance and how they've shaped our world today. History essay writing involves researching, thinking critically, and presenting arguments based on evidence.

Moreover, history papers foster the development of writing proficiency and the ability to communicate complex ideas effectively. They also encourage students to engage with primary and secondary sources, enhancing their research skills and deepening their understanding of historical methodology.

History Essay Outline

History Essay Outline

The outline is there to guide you in organizing your thoughts and arguments in your essay about history. With a clear outline, you can explore and explain historical events better. Here's how to make one:

Introduction

  • Hook: Start with an attention-grabbing opening sentence or anecdote related to your topic.
  • Background Information: Provide context on the historical period, event, or theme you'll be discussing.
  • Thesis Statement: Present your main argument or viewpoint, outlining the scope and purpose of your history essay.

Body paragraph 1: Introduction to the Historical Context

  • Provide background information on the historical context of your topic.
  • Highlight key events, figures, or developments leading up to the main focus of your history essay.

Body paragraphs 2-4 (or more): Main Arguments and Supporting Evidence

  • Each paragraph should focus on a specific argument or aspect of your thesis.
  • Present evidence from primary and secondary sources to support each argument.
  • Analyze the significance of the evidence and its relevance to your history paper thesis.

Counterarguments (optional)

  • Address potential counterarguments or alternative perspectives on your topic.
  • Refute opposing viewpoints with evidence and logical reasoning.
  • Summary of Main Points: Recap the main arguments presented in the body paragraphs.
  • Restate Thesis: Reinforce your thesis statement, emphasizing its significance in light of the evidence presented.
  • Reflection: Reflect on the broader implications of your arguments for understanding history.
  • Closing Thought: End your history paper with a thought-provoking statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

References/bibliography

  • List all sources used in your research, formatted according to the citation style required by your instructor (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago).
  • Include both primary and secondary sources, arranged alphabetically by the author's last name.

Notes (if applicable)

  • Include footnotes or endnotes to provide additional explanations, citations, or commentary on specific points within your history essay.

History Essay Format

Adhering to a specific format is crucial for clarity, coherence, and academic integrity. Here are the key components of a typical history essay format:

Font and Size

  • Use a legible font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri.
  • The recommended font size is usually 12 points. However, check your instructor's guidelines, as they may specify a different size.
  • Set 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Double-space the entire essay, including the title, headings, body paragraphs, and references.
  • Avoid extra spacing between paragraphs unless specified otherwise.
  • Align text to the left margin; avoid justifying the text or using a centered alignment.

Title Page (if required):

  • If your instructor requires a title page, include the essay title, your name, the course title, the instructor's name, and the date.
  • Center-align this information vertically and horizontally on the page.
  • Include a header on each page (excluding the title page if applicable) with your last name and the page number, flush right.
  • Some instructors may require a shortened title in the header, usually in all capital letters.
  • Center-align the essay title at the top of the first page (if a title page is not required).
  • Use standard capitalization (capitalize the first letter of each major word).
  • Avoid underlining, italicizing, or bolding the title unless necessary for emphasis.

Paragraph Indentation:

  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches or use the tab key.
  • Do not insert extra spaces between paragraphs unless instructed otherwise.

Citations and References:

  • Follow the citation style specified by your instructor (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago).
  • Include in-text citations whenever you use information or ideas from external sources.
  • Provide a bibliography or list of references at the end of your history essay, formatted according to the citation style guidelines.
  • Typically, history essays range from 1000 to 2500 words, but this can vary depending on the assignment.

how to write an introduction for an essay history

How to Write a History Essay?

Historical writing can be an exciting journey through time, but it requires careful planning and organization. In this section, we'll break down the process into simple steps to help you craft a compelling and well-structured history paper.

Analyze the Question

Before diving headfirst into writing, take a moment to dissect the essay question. Read it carefully, and then read it again. You want to get to the core of what it's asking. Look out for keywords that indicate what aspects of the topic you need to focus on. If you're unsure about anything, don't hesitate to ask your instructor for clarification. Remember, understanding how to start a history essay is half the battle won!

Now, let's break this step down:

  • Read the question carefully and identify keywords or phrases.
  • Consider what the question is asking you to do – are you being asked to analyze, compare, contrast, or evaluate?
  • Pay attention to any specific instructions or requirements provided in the question.
  • Take note of the time period or historical events mentioned in the question – this will give you a clue about the scope of your history essay.

Develop a Strategy

With a clear understanding of the essay question, it's time to map out your approach. Here's how to develop your historical writing strategy:

  • Brainstorm ideas : Take a moment to jot down any initial thoughts or ideas that come to mind in response to the history paper question. This can help you generate a list of potential arguments, themes, or points you want to explore in your history essay.
  • Create an outline : Once you have a list of ideas, organize them into a logical structure. Start with a clear introduction that introduces your topic and presents your thesis statement – the main argument or point you'll be making in your history essay. Then, outline the key points or arguments you'll be discussing in each paragraph of the body, making sure they relate back to your thesis. Finally, plan a conclusion that summarizes your main points and reinforces your history paper thesis.
  • Research : Before diving into writing, gather evidence to support your arguments. Use reputable sources such as books, academic journals, and primary documents to gather historical evidence and examples. Take notes as you research, making sure to record the source of each piece of information for proper citation later on.
  • Consider counterarguments : Anticipate potential counterarguments to your history paper thesis and think about how you'll address them in your essay. Acknowledging opposing viewpoints and refuting them strengthens your argument and demonstrates critical thinking.
  • Set realistic goals : Be realistic about the scope of your history essay and the time you have available to complete it. Break down your writing process into manageable tasks, such as researching, drafting, and revising, and set deadlines for each stage to stay on track.

How to Write a History Essay

Start Your Research

Now that you've grasped the history essay topic and outlined your approach, it's time to dive into research. Here's how to start:

  • Ask questions : What do you need to know? What are the key points to explore further? Write down your inquiries to guide your research.
  • Explore diverse sources : Look beyond textbooks. Check academic journals, reliable websites, and primary sources like documents or artifacts.
  • Consider perspectives : Think about different viewpoints on your topic. How have historians analyzed it? Are there controversies or differing interpretations?
  • Take organized notes : Summarize key points, jot down quotes, and record your thoughts and questions. Stay organized using spreadsheets or note-taking apps.
  • Evaluate sources : Consider the credibility and bias of each source. Are they peer-reviewed? Do they represent a particular viewpoint?

Establish a Viewpoint

By establishing a clear viewpoint and supporting arguments, you'll lay the foundation for your compelling historical writing:

  • Review your research : Reflect on the information gathered. What patterns or themes emerge? Which perspectives resonate with you?
  • Formulate a thesis statement : Based on your research, develop a clear and concise thesis that states your argument or interpretation of the topic.
  • Consider counterarguments : Anticipate objections to your history paper thesis. Are there alternative viewpoints or evidence that you need to address?
  • Craft supporting arguments : Outline the main points that support your thesis. Use evidence from your research to strengthen your arguments.
  • Stay flexible : Be open to adjusting your viewpoint as you continue writing and researching. New information may challenge or refine your initial ideas.

Structure Your Essay

Now that you've delved into the depths of researching historical events and established your viewpoint, it's time to craft the skeleton of your essay: its structure. Think of your history essay outline as constructing a sturdy bridge between your ideas and your reader's understanding. How will you lead them from point A to point Z? Will you follow a chronological path through history or perhaps dissect themes that span across time periods?

And don't forget about the importance of your introduction and conclusion—are they framing your narrative effectively, enticing your audience to read your paper, and leaving them with lingering thoughts long after they've turned the final page? So, as you lay the bricks of your history essay's architecture, ask yourself: How can I best lead my audience through the maze of time and thought, leaving them enlightened and enriched on the other side?

Create an Engaging Introduction

Creating an engaging introduction is crucial for capturing your reader's interest right from the start. But how do you do it? Think about what makes your topic fascinating. Is there a surprising fact or a compelling story you can share? Maybe you could ask a thought-provoking question that gets people thinking. Consider why your topic matters—what lessons can we learn from history?

Also, remember to explain what your history essay will be about and why it's worth reading. What will grab your reader's attention and make them want to learn more? How can you make your essay relevant and intriguing right from the beginning?

Develop Coherent Paragraphs

Once you've established your introduction, the next step is to develop coherent paragraphs that effectively communicate your ideas. Each paragraph should focus on one main point or argument, supported by evidence or examples from your research. Start by introducing the main idea in a topic sentence, then provide supporting details or evidence to reinforce your point.

Make sure to use transition words and phrases to guide your reader smoothly from one idea to the next, creating a logical flow throughout your history essay. Additionally, consider the organization of your paragraphs—is there a clear progression of ideas that builds upon each other? Are your paragraphs unified around a central theme or argument?

Conclude Effectively

Concluding your history essay effectively is just as important as starting it off strong. In your conclusion, you want to wrap up your main points while leaving a lasting impression on your reader. Begin by summarizing the key points you've made throughout your history essay, reminding your reader of the main arguments and insights you've presented.

Then, consider the broader significance of your topic—what implications does it have for our understanding of history or for the world today? You might also want to reflect on any unanswered questions or areas for further exploration. Finally, end with a thought-provoking statement or a call to action that encourages your reader to continue thinking about the topic long after they've finished reading.

Reference Your Sources

Referencing your sources is essential for maintaining the integrity of your history essay and giving credit to the scholars and researchers who have contributed to your understanding of the topic. Depending on the citation style required (such as MLA, APA, or Chicago), you'll need to format your references accordingly. Start by compiling a list of all the sources you've consulted, including books, articles, websites, and any other materials used in your research.

Then, as you write your history essay, make sure to properly cite each source whenever you use information or ideas that are not your own. This includes direct quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. Remember to include all necessary information for each source, such as author names, publication dates, and page numbers, as required by your chosen citation style.

Review and Ask for Advice

As you near the completion of your history essay writing, it's crucial to take a step back and review your work with a critical eye. Reflect on the clarity and coherence of your arguments—are they logically organized and effectively supported by evidence? Consider the strength of your introduction and conclusion—do they effectively capture the reader's attention and leave a lasting impression? Take the time to carefully proofread your history essay for any grammatical errors or typos that may detract from your overall message.

Furthermore, seeking advice from peers, mentors, or instructors can provide valuable insights and help identify areas for improvement. Consider sharing your essay with someone whose feedback you trust and respect, and be open to constructive criticism. Ask specific questions about areas you're unsure about or where you feel your history essay may be lacking.

History Essay Example

In this section, we offer an example of a history essay examining the impact of the Industrial Revolution on society. This essay demonstrates how historical analysis and critical thinking are applied in academic writing. By exploring this specific event, you can observe how historical evidence is used to build a cohesive argument and draw meaningful conclusions.

how to write an introduction for an essay history

FAQs about History Essay Writing

How to write a history essay introduction, how to write a conclusion for a history essay, how to write a good history essay.

how to write an introduction for an essay history

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How to Write a Good History Essay. A Sequence of Actions and Useful Tips

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Before you start writing your history essay, there is quite a lot of work that has to be done in order to gain success.

You may ask: what is history essay? What is the difference between it and other kinds of essays? Well, the main goal of a history essay is to measure your progress in learning history and test your range of skills (such as analysis, logic, planning, research, and writing), it is necessary to prepare yourself very well.

Your plan of action may look like this. First of all, you will have to explore the topic. If you are going to write about a certain historical event, think of its causes and premises, and analyze what its impact on history was. In case you are writing about a person, find out why and how he or she came to power and how they influenced society and historical situations.

The next step is to make research and collect all the available information about the person or event, and also find evidence.

Finally, you will have to compose a well-organized response.

During the research, make notes and excerpts of the most notable data, write out the important dates and personalities. And of course, write down all your thoughts and findings.

It all may seem complicated at first sight, but in fact, it is not so scary! To complete this task successfully and compose a good history essay, simply follow several easy steps provided below.

Detailed Writing Instruction for Students to Follow

If you want to successfully complete your essay, it would be better to organize the writing process. You will complete the assignment faster and more efficient if you divide the whole work into several sections or steps.

  • Introduction

Writing a good and strong introduction part is important because this is the first thing your reader will see. It gives the first impression of your essay and induces people to reading (or not reading) it.

To make the introduction catchy and interesting, express the contention and address the main question of the essay. Be confident and clear as this is the moment when you define the direction your whole essay will take. And remember that introduction is not the right place for rambling! The best of all is, to begin with, a brief context summary, then go to addressing the question and express the content. Finally, mark the direction your essay about history will take.

Its quality depends on how clear you divided the whole essay into sections in the previous part. As long as you have provided a readable and understandable scheme, your readers will know exactly what to expect.

The body of your essay must give a clear vision of what question you are considering. In this section, you can develop your idea and support it with the evidence you have found. Use certain facts and quotations for that. When being judicial and analytical, they will help you to easily support your point of view and argument.

As long as your essay has a limited size, don’t be too precise. It is allowed to summarize the most essential background information, for example, instead of giving a precise list of all the issues that matter.

It is also good to keep in mind that each paragraph of your essay’s body must tell about only one issue. Don’t make a mess out of your paper!

It is not only essential to start your essay well. How you will end it also matters. A properly-written conclusion is the one that restates the whole paper’s content and gives a logical completion of the issue or question discussed above. Your conclusion must leave to chance for further discussion or arguments on the case. It’s time, to sum up, give a verdict.

That is why it is strongly forbidden to provide any new evidence or information here, as well as start a new discussion, etc.

After you finish writing, give yourself some time and put the paper away for a while. When you turn back to it will be easier to take a fresh look at it and find any mistakes or things to improve. Of course, remember to proofread your writing and check it for any grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. All these tips will help you to learn how to write a history essay.

how to write an introduction for an essay history

How to Write an Introduction to a History Essay

Liza hollis.

A strong history essay begins with an introduction that sets the tone.

The introduction in any essay should grab the attention of your reader while introducing them to the topic of discussion. Introduction paragraphs are generally no more than five to seven sentences in length. In a history essay, your introduction paragraph should serve to give your reader some historical context to your argument, while easily transitioning them to the body of your essay.

Consider your audience. Your history essay should be written with a particular audience in mind, whether it is an instructor, classmates, a journal or any other publication. With that in mind, focus your introduction on piquing the interest of this primary audience.

Write an attention-grabbing lead to draw your readers in. This first sentence should set the tone for your paper and introduce the topic of discussion. You could include a fact or statistic as the first sentence. Or you could introduce a historical quote that relates to your essay. An example of a lead sentence could be, “During World War II, women were called on to step up and fill the roles of men in the workplace.”

Include three to five more sentences that expand on the sentence you posed at the beginning of your introduction. These could include more facts or statistics if your paper is expository, or evidence that support your side of a debate if your paper is argumentative. These sentences should fluidly lead your reader to the thesis, or the main idea of your history essay.

Develop a thesis for your history essay. Your essay will be doomed from the start if it does not express a concise and specific idea that functions as an outline for your paper to follow. This thesis should be conveyed in the final sentence of your introduction, while preparing your reader for the body of the essay. For example, “This paper will address the incidents leading up the Civil War and how the use of the railroad contributed to Union victory.”

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

how to write an introduction for an essay history

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

how to write an introduction for an essay history

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

how to write an introduction for an essay history

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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  • What is an Argumentative Essay? How to Write It (With Examples)
  • How to Paraphrase Research Papers Effectively
  • How to Cite Social Media Sources in Academic Writing? 
  • How Long Should a Chapter Be?

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

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Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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how to write an introduction for an essay history

This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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How to Write an Introduction for History Essay

Table of Contents

An essay is a sustained piece of writing that responds to a question, topic, or issue.

For example, the skills tested in history essays include historical comprehension, interpretation and analysis, planning, research, and writing.

Students must study the topic, understand its focus and requirements, investigate relevant information, and write a clear, well-organized essay.

Writing a quality history essay could be challenging, even for the most capable students. Essay writing develops and improves with practice and experience, as with other skills.

This article provides straightforward steps and writing aids that will propel you into writing brilliant introductions for your history essays. Read on!

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What Is History Essay?

A history essay is an academic essay that responds to a particular historical event. If a paper is about the Battle for Berlin, it would be a history essay. The article would react to the battle’s events, drawing from and analyzing relevant history and drawing conclusions from the fight’s result.

History essays are used to analyze and evaluate student appreciation for history. History essays are generally easier to write than history papers because they provide a format the student already knows.

Step-by-Step Guide: Introduction for History Essay

Here are some basic tips on how to write a successful introduction for history essay .

1. Analyze the Topic

This is an obvious piece of advice that some pupils tragically disregard. Regardless of the subject or topic, the first step to writing a successful essay is to devote considerable attention to the question.

Analyzing the topic may need you to explain the reasons and/or implications of a particular event or circumstance. It may also need to:

  • Inquire whether you agree or disagree with a certain assertion.
  • Assess the relative importance of a person, organization, or event.
  • Describe and/or analyze the reasons and/or implications of a certain action or event.

The first step is to read the essay question numerous times. Underline, highlight, or annotate terms or keywords in the question content.

Consider what it will need of you. Who or what is the target of your attention? Does it specify or imply a specific timeframe? What problem or concern is it requesting you to address?

2. Start With a Plan

Every essay must begin with a detailed outline. You should start formulating a plan as soon as you have received your essay question and given it some attention.

Prepare for research by generating and recording thoughts and ideas. What are your immediate thoughts or reactions to the question? What subjects, events, individuals, or concerns are associated with the question?

Are there any further questions or concerns that arise from the question? What issues or events do you require additional information about? Which historians or resources could be helpful?

If you face a mental “brick wall” or are unsure how to approach the subject, don’t be afraid to share it with another person. Consult your instructor, a qualified classmate, or a reliable individual. Remember that your plan may change after you begin your study as you discover new information.

3. Start Investigating

After analyzing the question and formulating a preliminary plan, you should begin collecting information and proof.

The majority will begin by reading an overview of the topic or issue, typically found in reputable secondary sources. This will refresh or expand your existing knowledge of the problem and offer a foundation for additional questions or research.

From this point on, your research should take shape, directed by the essay question and your planning. Identify unfamiliar terms or concepts and learn their meanings. As you gather information, consider whether it is pertinent or beneficial for answering the question. Be resourceful with your research by looking in several locations.

If you are having trouble accessing information, consult your instructor or a reliable individual for assistance.

4. Develop an Argument

Every good history essay has a clear and convincing thesis statement. A thesis is the central concept or argument of an essay. It acts as both the query response and your paper’s primary focus.

Idealistically, you should be able to articulate your argument in a single sentence.

An essay employing this argument would then clarify and defend these claims in greater depth. Additionally, it will support the claim with argument and facts.

You should begin considering your essay’s thesis at some point during your research. You should be able to summarize it or answer the essay question in a single sentence.

Try to present your argument in a robust, authoritative, and convincing manner. It should sound like the confident response of someone knowledgeable about the topic.

5. Plan an Essay Format

This refers to the history essay structure. Once the majority of your research is complete and you have a solid argument, begin to draft a potential essay structure. This does not need to be elaborate; a few lines or dot points are sufficient.

Every essay must include an introduction, numerous body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your paragraphs should be well-organized and arranged in a logical order.

Paragraphs can be organized chronologically or thematically (covering events or topics according to their significance or relevance). Each section should have a leading sentence that serves as a clear indicator.

Once you have finalized your essay’s outline, you should begin drafting.

6. Create an Engaging Introduction

Many regard the essay’s start to be its most essential component. It is crucial for multiple reasons.

  • It is the initial impression the reader has of your writing.
  • Introducing your argument and address the question.
  • Outlining the direction of your essay.

Aim for an introduction that is concise, assured, and engaging. Do not squander time with a lengthy story-telling in the beginning; go right to the topic.

Start by providing some context, then address the question, state your argument, and establish the overall direction of your essay.

7. Create Complete Paragraphs

Many students in the field of history fall into the trap of writing brief paragraphs, often consisting of only one or two sentences. A good history essay has paragraphs that are typically 100-200 words in length and function as “mini-essays.”

The focus of a paragraph should be limited to a single topic or issue, which must be thoroughly explored.

A good paragraph will begin with a compelling topic or signposting sentence, also known as an effective introductory sentence.

This phrase introduces the paragraph’s topic and explains its relevance to the issue and your argument. Good paragraphs include comprehensive explanations, some analysis and proof, and a quotation.

8. Conclude With a Powerful Ending

Your essay’s final paragraph is the conclusion. A strong ending should accomplish two goals. First, it should restate or reinforce the thesis statement. Second, you should conclude your essay with a polished conclusion that is neither abrupt nor clunky.

This can be accomplished with a concise summary of “what happened next.” Your conclusion need not be as lengthy or elaborate as your body paragraphs. Avoid providing new evidence or information in conclusion.

9. Cite and Reference Your Sources

A history essay is only likely to be successful if it contains proper citations. Citations or references to credible sources should support your essay’s material, ideas, and arguments.

In addition to acknowledging the work of others, referencing brings legitimacy to your writing. It also provides the instructor or grader with insight into your study.

10. Proofread, Edit, and Solicit Comments

Before being submitted for evaluation, each essay must be checked, amended, and, if required, rewritten. Ideally, essays should be prepared a few days before their due date, then set away for a day or two before being proofread.

While proofreading, check for spelling and grammatical problems, typographical errors, wrong dates, and other factual issues.

Consider how you may improve the essay’s clarity, tone, and organization. Does your writing have a logical structure and flow? Is the navigation in your essay functional and clear? Some sentences may be too long or “rambling.” Repeat yourself often? Do paragraphs require expansion, refinement, or reinforcement with further evidence?

Read your essay out loud, either to yourself or to someone else. Seek assistance and critique from a skilled writer or someone you respect (they need not have expertise in history, only in effective writing).

Writing Tips for Historical Essays

When writing a history essay, the writer must plan out the layout, sequence, and analyze the source material. Here are other tips to follow:

1. Always Use the Third Person When Writing

Never use self-referential language such as “I believe” or “that is my contention.” Good historical writings should adopt the viewpoint of a knowledgeable and impartial third party. They should not sound like an individual giving a perspective, but rather, they should sound rational and factual.

Always use past tense while writing. Using the past tense is an obvious suggestion for a history essay. Always be mindful of your tense usage. When proofreading your writing, watch out for mismatched tenses. One exception to the rule regarding past tense is when discussing the work of contemporary historians.

For example:

“Christian writes…” sounds better than “Christian wrote…” or “Christian has written…”

2. Avoid Generalizations

This is an issue with all writings, but especially with history essays. Generalization is the process of drawing broad conclusions from one or more specific instances.

In history, it occurs most frequently when students examine a particular group and then generalize their experiences to a much wider group. Keep an eye out for them when proofreading.

3. Avoid Rambling

As a general guideline, most of your phrases should be concise and succinct. The longer a sentence develops, the greater the possibility that it may become cumbersome or unclear.

Lengthy sentences easily become disconnected, vague, or ramble. Avoid excessively long sentences and pay particular attention to sentence length when proofreading.

4. Use an Active Voice When Writing

In writing about history, the active voice is preferred above the passive voice. In the active voice, the subject carries out the action. The active voice prevents sentences from being too long, wordy, and unclear.

As with any type of writing, researching, planning, and producing good quality content takes time and effort. With persistence and practice, your historical essay will be as good as it can get.

How to Write an Introduction for History Essay

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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  1. How to write an introduction for a history essay

    1. Background sentences. The first two or three sentences of your introduction should provide a general introduction to the historical topic which your essay is about. This is done so that when you state your hypothesis, your reader understands the specific point you are arguing about. Background sentences explain the important historical ...

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    (a.k.a., Making) History At first glance, writing about history can seem like an overwhelming task. History's subject matter is immense, encompassing all of human affairs in the recorded past — up until the moment, that is, that you started reading this guide. Because no one person can possibly consult all of these records, no work of ...

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    Step Two: Facts/Statistics/Evidence. The next step in writing an introduction is to write a few sentences (three to five) summarizing the argument you will be making. These sentences would provide the facts and arguments that will be expanded upon in the body of the paper. The sentences are basically an outline.

  5. Introductions & Conclusions

    Introductions & Conclusions. The introduction and conclusion serve important roles in a history paper. They are not simply perfunctory additions in academic writing, but are critical to your task of making a persuasive argument. A successful introduction will: draw your readers in. culminate in a thesis statement that clearly states your argument.

  6. PDF Introductions

    Harvard College Writing Center 1 Introductions The introduction to an academic essay will generally present an analytical question or problem and then offer an answer to that question (the thesis). Your introduction is also your opportunity to explain to your readers what your essay is about and why they should be interested in reading it.

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  9. How to Write a History Essay

    Step 1: Understand the History Paper Format. You may be assigned one of several types of history papers. The most common are persuasive essays and research papers. History professors might also ask you to write an analytical paper focused on a particular source or an essay that reviews secondary sources.

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    Ensure that your introduction is concise and clear so as to capture your reader's curiosity. *Tip: It will be extra impressive to the reader if you outline in a couple of sentences the most prominent schools of thought / historiography on your subject. The introduction is key to making your essay stand out. Mastering a technique for writing ...

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    writing, in other words, is not merely a cosmetic addition to your essay; it is the stuff of clear thought and rigorous argumentation. The following is an introduction to the basics of writing history essays. It is not meant to be a set of iron laws that may never be violated. Instead, these are guidelines that should

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    Download Article. 1. Have a clear structure. When you come to write the body of the essay it is important that you have a clear structure to your argument and to your prose. If your essay drifts, loses focus, or becomes a narrative of events then you will find your grade dropping.

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    1. The placeholder introduction. When you don't have much to say on a given topic, it is easy to create this kind of introduction. Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don't really say much. They exist just to take up the "introduction space" in your paper.

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