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General paper considerations
Paper essentials (Follow these if you want a good grade!)
- Do you understand the question? Before starting to write your paper, check the exact wording of
the assignment and make sure that you understand whether the assigned question
requires analysis, description,
narration, explanation or evaluation? (These are all different.) For example:
- How did Dickens describe conditions
in Coketown? (Description)
- What happened to Gilgamesh after
he met Enkidu? (Narration of a sequence of events.)
- Why did Gilgamesh search for
immortality? (Analysis; offer possible explanations, with support,
for why something happened.)
- How did the Industrial Revolution
affect Coketown? (Analysis of the effects of factories on the
inhabitants of the town.)
- Are Machiavelli's arguments
about politics still applicable to the United States today? (Evaluate Machiavelli's
ideas in light of current practices. This requires
the ability to analyze and then compare.)
- If you are confused or not sure, ask your instructor.
- Have you read the required book or document? Do
you have notes to help compose your paper (with appropriate page number
locations to help you locate quoted evidence)? When you read the assigned book or document,
focus on answering the assigned question;
your paper is not a summary of everything in the book or document.
- Does your paper have proper paragraph structure? For a one-page paper, that means either four or five distinct paragraphs.
- Does your paper have an introduction, body of paragraphs (each with a proper topic sentence) and conclusion?
introduction should not exceed two-three sentences and should not
include quoted or cited material; just provide the points that you will
cover in your paper. Is your introduction clear and relevant to the assigned
question? Does your thesis answer the specific assigned
- Your conclusion should also not exceed
two-three lines, and it should sum up your paper (not introduce new
- Does each paragraph in your paper begin with a topic
sentence that is relevant to your thesis and that reflects the exact wording of your
- Did you include (and properly cite) quoted evidence
from the assigned reading to support your
thesis? This use of evidence is absolutely crucial. Usually
you should include two to three relatively short quotes per paragraph. Make sure that the
quoted material that you use is relevant to the point that you are making in the
- Have you followed these keys to success?
- Make sure that each statement/sentence is absolutely relevant
to the assigned question. (In a one-page paper, you cannot afford to have non-relevant
- Word choice and selection must be very accurate
in a short paper. (Do not waste space with meaningless words.)
- No quoted excerpts in either your introduction or conclusion
- Did you follow the Writing Style
Rules for writing in the course? Please check the other support materials in Charlie's History Writing Center.
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