Start by charting out your evidence. o Visualize how different sources serve different themes, thus giving shape to your argument. • Create an outline. o A good outline saves time and heartache, because it maps out your argument and your logical path. o Answer all parts of the question. Make sure you cover all the necessary themes and ideas, as well as the span of the historical time period in question. • Write clearly and in complete sentences. o Avoid slang or sloppy sentence constructions. o Proof read your work carefully. Let others proof read your work, too. o One good technique is to read your essay out loud, which makes it easier to spot mistakes and awkward phrasing. • Avoid “fluff” in the introduction. o Either provide relevant and necessary background or start with your argument. • Write a clear thesis statement. o A thesis statement answers the question as specifically as possible; it states your essay’s argument. o It is impossible to write a good essay without a compelling thesis statement, because the point of an essay is to prove an argument. • Make the paragraph your primary unit of organization. o A good essay follows a logical path, and paragraphs are your reader’s signposts. o Use strong topic sentences as the first sentence of each paragraph. • Provide evidence. o Specific examples should back up general points. o Use historical evidence from your secondary source (the textbook). Provide names, dates, and specific historical information that illustrates the point that you are making. o Use primary sources (from the reader) to provide in-depth examples from the time period. • Analyze the primary source evidence. o After you have presented a source, explain what it means and how it proves your argument. o Be clear about how you use this source. What is its purpose, its audience, its methods, its biases, its limitations? • Use quotations judiciously. o Quotations are effective, but overuse diminishes your authority. • Avoid the use of “I” or “This essay will prove…” o A formal academic essay does not use such sentence constructions.