How to Write a History Essay and Score the best Grades

author By Mary Boies

Students usually find it difficult to write an excellent essay. This is because most of them do not have the skills to do excellent research and to articulate their views properly. Nevertheless, writing a brilliant essay is something that can be done, especially if a student gets the right info and puts in a good effort.

how to write a history essay like a pro

In this post, you will get the right information on how to write a good history essay from scratch. The information will include the standard history essay structure and a step-by-step guide on how to write a history essay.

The info presented in this post is sufficient to help anyone write an excellent history essay. However, if you feel you need help at any point in the writing process, you should know we are a custom history essay writing service. We can help you complete your history essay or write it from scratch.

What is a History Essay?

A history essay is a piece of writing that focuses on a topic related to a historical event or personality. The best history essay is one that is well-researched to prove a thesis statement in a logical and flowing manner.

An excellent history essay will primarily focus on a past event. At the same time, it will show the implication of the event in the present and the future.  It is an essay that shows the student has properly researched the topic to understand it thoroughly, especially its most important aspects.

To write a successful history paper, you need a total understanding of the history paper writing process. This guide provides you with that total understanding and will help you craft an A-grade history essay if you put in the right effort.

Types of History Essays

The types of history essays you can expect at the university level include history research papers, history synthesis essays, primary source analyses, and book reviews.

Each type of paper has its own writing guidelines and rules. Be that as it may, all types of history essays require good research, organization, and articulation of points.

History Essay Format

In this section, you will discover the history essay format or structure that you can use to answer any type of history essay question.

As anyone would expect, the structure has three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.

1. Introduction

A successful history essay has a good introduction. A good introduction for a history essay presents the student’s core response to the essay question. It has a strong thesis for a history essay. An introduction can help you earn top marks in your essay when properly written.

While it is important for a good introduction to highlight the major points that will be shared in the essay, it is also important to ensure you do not go into details. Each major point should be talked about in its own body paragraph.

2. Body

The body of a history essay typically features three paragraphs. However, if the essay is long, more paragraphs are acceptable. Each body paragraph (except the last one), should be dedicated to highlighting and explaining a single main point in support of the thesis.

The recommendation to dedicate a single body paragraph to a single main point will help to make your work more organized. It will also help to prevent the repetition of major points, explanations, examples, and ideas. Take your time writing each body paragraph to ensure you totally convince the reader to support your position.

As mentioned a moment ago, each body paragraph should focus on a single major point except the last one. So what is so special about the last body paragraph? Well, it is where you should highlight and disprove alternative/opposing arguments.

You complete your essay by using the last body paragraph to highlight and disprove opposing arguments. You show that your essay is well-researched and well-developed. A college history essay without this important paragraph is considered incomplete.

3. Conclusion

After articulating your main points in the body paragraphs, you should tie up your history essay with a nice conclusion. Knowing how to conclude a history essay is crucial if you want to get a good grade in your history paper.

The most important thing to remember when writing your history conclusion is that the conclusion is not a space for new ideas, points, examples, or arguments,

The correct way to write your conclusion is to first paraphrase the thesis statement. This should be followed by highlighting your main points using different words. What should follow next is a closing statement that wraps the whole thing up.

At the end of the day, your conclusion should show that your thesis for the history essay was valid and that you supported it convincingly.

History Essay Outline Example

You discovered the important elements of the history essay structure in the section above. In this section, you will discover how to write a history essay outline with the help of an example.

Example history essay outline

Thesis statement: Even though Roosevelt’s New Deal failed to end the Great Depression, it brought back the hope of economic recovery through a series of programs that directly impacted the U.S. economy.

I. Introduction

  1. Hook sentence
  2. Background information on the topic
  3. Thesis for history essay

II. Body Paragraph 1

  1. Topic sentence: Restoration of hope and public confidence
  2. Supporting evidence: Radio addresses, Social Security, and 100 days reforms brought hope
  3. Explanation of evidence
  4. How evidence is related to the thesis

III. Body Paragraph 2

  1. Topic sentence: Improved financial health
  2. Supporting evidence: Created FDIC to protect savings, Created Bank Holiday
  3. Explanation of evidence
  4. How evidence is related to the thesis

IV. Body Paragraph 3

  1. Topic sentence: Cut down unemployment
  2. Supporting evidence: CCC and WPA created construction employment
  3. Explanation of evidence
  4. How evidence is related to the thesis

V. Body Paragraph 4 (Alternative/contrary argument)

  1. Topic sentence: New Deal failed to end the economic depression
  2. Refutation: It did not end depression, but it reduced its worst effects
  3. Explanation of refutation


  1. Thesis restatement
  2. Restatement of major points
  3. Closing sentence: Legacy of the New Deal

Common Formatting Styles for History Essays

MLA and Chicago are the two most commonly used citation styles for history essays. Each of these two citation styles has its own rules. Find out more about both styles below:

1. MLA Style

MLA stands for Modern Language Association. The MLA style is the most preferred citation style by professors and instructors teaching humanities. The style uses a simple author-page in-text citation system, e.g. (Freud 221). If you have been asked to use this citation style, learn more about it from your university’s MLA style citation guide. Doing this will help you deliver a well-cited essay.

2. Chicago Format

In top universities, Chicago is often the most requested citation style for history essays. It has two format systems – the author-date system and the notes-bibliography system. Most of the time, when a history professor asks you to use Chicago citation style, they expect to see the latter (notes-bibliography system). If you have been asked to use this citation style, learn more about it from your university’s Chicago style citation guide. Doing this will help you deliver a well-cited essay.

Sources to Use when Writing History Essays

When writing a history essay, strictly use credible sources. Avoid unreliable sources like blogs and random websites. Most of them are misleading and using them tells your instructor/professor that you are not serious about doing honest academic work.

Most of the time, when you are asked to focus your essay on something, you will find all the information you need in your class readings. So before you start Googling or going through your university library for books, look through your class readings to find the necessary information.

Using your class readings as the key sources for your history essay will certainly impress your professor. It will also increase your likelihood of getting a good grade. If you cannot find the information you want in your class readings or the recommended readings, search for it in relevant textbooks/reference books, history journals, interpretive essays, reliable articles, and other reliable sources.

Steps to Writing a History Essay

Follow the steps below to write the best history essay.

1. Read the assignment prompt severally

Doing this is crucial. Because failure to do this can lead to your entire essay being off the mark. So read the assignment prompt severally to understand it clearly. Find the action verb in the prompt to know exactly what your lecturer wants you to do.

2. Think about possible responses

Before you start researching, think about what you already know about the topic and the possible responses. As you think about how you could go about answering the essay question, write all your ideas down. After doing this, identify your main points/ideas.

3. Commence research on the essay question

Start research by looking at your class readings for more information on the ideas you noted down in the previous step. If you don’t find the extra information you need in your class readings, do outside research. Look for the information in your university’s library system.

When searching your library system, use keywords from the points/ideas you identified in the previous step. And only consider the results that provide the most detailed information on the points. Read the information provided under each result and note down the results/sources that have information that answer your essay question fully.

4. Determine key sources and arguments

Once you have identified important results with the information you need, determine the ones which will be your key sources. Key sources will provide you with the bulk of evidence or support you will use to respond to your essay question.

Once you identify your key sources, write down what your key arguments will be. Write down the key points you will use to respond to the assignment prompt. Under each key point, highlight the evidence you will use to support it from your key sources.

5. Create a history essay outline

Create a comprehensive history essay outline once you have developed key arguments to respond to the essay question. Use the history essay example outline provided earlier in this post to create your own outline.

Make sure your outline has a good thesis and that it captures the key points you noted in the step above. A comprehensive essay outline will make the essay writing process easier.

6. Write the first draft

After creating your history essay outline, the next thing you need to do is to write your first draft. Simply follow your essay outline to write the first draft. Write everything that comes to mind while following your outline as a rough guide.

Once you write your first draft, include in-text citations in your essay and a references page at the end. Doing these two things will make sure your first draft is complete.

7. Proofread and revise

After completing your first draft, proofread it and edit it severally to the level where it has no grammar errors, no punctuation errors, no style errors, no vague statements, and its flow is excellent. It is only then that it will be ready for submission.

8. Submit your history essay

Ensure that you submit your essay in the correct format – PDF or word document.

Tips to Write a Great History Essay

Follow the tips below to make sure the essay you write following the steps above is an outstanding essay.

  1. Have a good start. Make sure your introduction to history essay doesn’t beat around the bush. It should be brief, interesting, and informative.
  2. Make sure your thesis statement is clear and concise. Your thesis statement must be clear and concise so that what you are trying to prove is clear to the reader.
  3. Explain or analyze your main points. Simply rewriting or summarizing points is not good enough in a college-level essay. You need to explain your points or analyze them if you want your professor to give you a good grade.
  4. Be precise. You should be precise throughout your essay if you don’t want to lose marks. If you are not and you make empty generalizations and vague statements, you will lose marks.
  5. Use scholarly sources. You should only use scholarly sources in your work. Using scholarly sources correctly will get you in the good books of your professor and ensure you get good marks.
  6. Avoid cheap moralizing. Doing this could lead you off course in your history essay. It could also lead to inaccuracies.
  7. Proofread and edit it. Unless you are some sort of genius, your first draft is not going to be perfect. You need to read it and edit it a couple of times to ensure it is perfect.

150 History Essay Topics to Consider

Now that you know how to write a history essay check out good history essay topics below for inspiration on what to write about.

Art history essay topics

  1. The features that make Celtic Roman Art Unique
  2. The depiction of war in Ancient Art
  3. Techniques and materials used by the Romans in Mosaics
  4. The link between ancient sculptures and science
  5. Francisco Goya and his black paintings
  6. The unique styles of art deco
  7. Rembrandt and the Leiden collection
  8. The development of landscape in Van Gogh’s art
  9. The representation of women in ancient art
  10. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper

Ancient history essay topics

  1. The successes of the Bronze Age
  2. Philosophy in ancient Greece
  3. Science in the Byzantine Empire
  4. Major African civilizations
  5. Aztecs and their history
  6. Roman mythology; the key figures
  7. Agriculture in ancient Egypt
  8. The Roman conquests and their impact on modern wars
  9. Religion in the Ottoman Empire
  10. Government in Greek city-states of the ancient world

War history essay topics

  1. Airpower in World War I
  2. The Treaty of Versailles and its impact
  3. The use of propaganda in World War I
  4. The chemical weapons of the First World War
  5. The largest alliances of the First World War
  6. World War I and the Russian Revolution
  7. Child soldiers and the Second World War
  8. German propaganda during the Second World War
  9. The occupation of Manchurian China
  10. The massacre in Nanking

US history essay topics

  1. The effects of European exploration in North America
  2. The establishment of 13 British Colonies in North America
  3. The leading causes of the American Civil War
  4. Evangelization in colonial America
  5. Origins of slavery in the United States
  6. Causes of the French Indian War
  7. Early industrialization in the United States
  8. The Interwar Period in the United States
  9. The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan
  10. The history of the Civil Rights Movement

Black history essay topics

  1. Race and identity in the United States
  2. The origins of the US Civil Rights Movement
  3. The role played by African Americans in the revolutionary war
  4. The contributions of Tuskegee Airmen
  5. African Americans' innovations during the Industrial Revolution
  6. The Emancipation Proclamation and its immediate effects
  7. African Americans during the First and Second World Wars
  8. The history of music in the African American community
  9. African American contributions in the Reconstruction Era
  10. History of art in the Black Community

Chinese history essay topics

  1. Nanking massacre and its effects
  2. History of the modern Chinese State
  3. Sino-Japanese Wars and outcomes
  4. Diplomacy between China and the World
  5. Chinese immigrants in the USA
  6. Marxism in China and the effects
  7. The origins of the Communist Party of China
  8. The growth of the Chinese population and its implications
  9. The economic miracle of China
  10. China-Africa relations from

Latin American history essay topics

  1. The legacy of the treaty of Tordesillas
  2. The conquest of the Inca Empire
  3. The conquest of the Aztec Empire
  4. Racial discrimination and marginalization in the New World
  5. The end of Spanish rule in the Americas
  6. The fight for independence in Cuba
  7. The end of Portuguese rule in Brazil
  8. The modern history of Brazil
  9. The Falklands War and its implications
  10. The Mexican Revolution (1911-1920)

Global history essay topics

  1. The natives of the Americas
  2. The Incas of Peru
  3. The Mau Mau of Kenya
  4. Ancient medicine in Europe
  5. Ancient war in China
  6. The history of the Egyptian pyramids
  7. The French Revolution and its legacy
  8. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire
  9. The Imperial British East India Company and its legacy
  10. The leading causes of World War I

Civilization history essay topics

  1. The role of the Nile in Egyptian Civilization
  2. The origins of Greek civilization
  3. Irrigation in the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia
  4. The Babylonian civilization
  5. Religion in ancient Egypt
  6. The impact of Alexander the Great on Western civilization
  7. Yellow River and Yangtze Civilization
  8. Early Japanese and Korean civilizations
  9. The mysteries of ancient civilizations
  10. Politics in Greek civilizations

Texas history essay topics

  1. Texas before 1519
  2. The first Europeans in Texas
  3. History of Mexican Texas
  4. History of Spanish Texas
  5. The Annexation of Texas
  6. The Texan Revolution
  7. Slavery in Texas
  8. Texas during the American Revolution
  9. Texas during the Great Depression
  10. Oil in Texas and its impact

Scientific history essay topics

  1. Scientific innovations in ancient Greece
  2. Science in ancient India
  3. Scientific innovations of ancient Egypt
  4. Science in old Africa
  5. The origins of modern science
  6. William Occam’s experimental science
  7. Galileo’s science versus the church
  8. The theory of evolution by natural selection
  9. The space race and Armstrong on the moon
  10. The human genome project and its impact

Computer history essay topics

  1. The history of the first computer program
  2. Charles Babbage and the analytical engine
  3. Vannevar Bush’s contribution to modern computing
  4. The Turing machine and modern computing
  5. The origin of the HP Company
  6. The first digital computer; ENIAC
  7. Kilby and the invention of the first computer chip
  8. Differences between the first computer and the modern computer
  9. The origin of the floppy disc
  10. The origin of the personal computer

Immigration history essay topics

  1. Early European immigration into the United States
  2. Early Chinese immigration into the United States
  3. US migration reforms
  4. Impact of early immigration into the US economy
  5. Immigration laws in the US over the last century
  6. Illegal immigration and its impact
  7. History of Southeast Asia immigration to the United States
  8. How global poverty has contributed to immigration
  9. History of undocumented workers I the US
  10. America: The nation of immigrants

Civil war history essay topics

  1. Gettysburg and the American civil war
  2. The civil war in Yemen and its devastating impact on Yemenis
  3. Causes of the Syrian civil war and the current status of the war
  4. How Lincoln ended the American civil war
  5. The most important battles in the American civil war
  6. The most important battles in the Spanish civil war
  7. Reconstruction after the civil war
  8. The abolition of slavery and the civil war
  9. The causes of the Chinese Civil War
  10. The English Civil War; causes and outcomes

World war history essay topics

  1. Factors that led to the US entering the First World War
  2. The history and use of chemical weapons during the First World War
  3. The major alliances during the Second World War
  4. How the World War II led to the emergence of the US as a superpower
  5. Relations between the US and Japan before the World War II
  6. The direct causes of World War I
  7. The impact of the US Marshall Plan for Reconstruction
  8. Anti-Semitism and the holocaust during the World War II
  9. Factors that led to the rise of the Nazi party in German politics
  10. Consequences of World War I
  11. Dodd-Frank Act and the Conflict Minerals

Final thoughts

You now know how to write a good history essay. So, if you have a pending history essay to write, you have no excuse to write it and get a very good grade on it.

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