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Proper Writing Guidelines. Essays, DBQ’s and beyond Ap hISTORY. “Do Now”. Brainstorm what you know about writing a formal history essay. What is unique about writing a History essay as opposed to an English essay? What is similar ?. Approaching a history essay. 1) Dissect the Question

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proper writing guidelines

Proper Writing Guidelines

Essays, DBQ’s and beyond


do now
“Do Now”

Brainstorm what you know about writing a formal history essay.

What is unique about writing a History essay as opposed to an English essay? What is similar ?

approaching a history essay
Approaching a history essay
  • 1) Dissect the Question
    • What exactly is the question asking?
    • Look for words such as: analyze, compare, contrast, asses, explain, validate or refute
  • Example: “Assess the extent to which advances in technology changed the social, cultural and economic landscape of the US in the years 1920-1930”
step 2
Step 2
  • Formulate a thesis
    • Develop an argument
    • Answer the entire question
    • Lay out the path for your essay
    • “Road map”
    • Be able to prove your point with facts
step 3
Step 3
  • Plan your evidence/facts/support
    • Research, read…do some more research and a little more reading!!
    • Find information to support your argument..without historical evidence your argument is worthless (sorry!)
    • Pre-writing stages: outline, etc.
step 4
Step 4
  • Write your essay
    • Show your command for your topic
    • Present your thesis and use it to guide your essay
    • Incorporate BOTH outside information as well as your own background knowledge of the time period you are writing about
simple outline for history paper
Simple outline for history paper
  • I. Introduction
    • Thesis
  • II. First supporting paragraph
  • III. Second supporting paragraph
  • IV. Third supporting paragraph
  • V. Conclusion
what is mla format
What is MLA format?
  • MLA stands for “Modern Language Association” and is a style of formatting a paper used in different disciplines (English, History, etc)
  • MLA regulates how to format the document, do in-text citations and a works cited
    • What is a works cited??
      • A list of all the sources used in the paper
paper requirements
Paper Requirements
  • Papers in MLA must follow the following format:
    • 1 inch page margins
    • Double spaced
    • 12 Times New Roman font
    • Must have a Works Cited
what are in text citations
What are in-text citations?
  • Referencing a source directly in your paper. Can be a direct quote, paraphrase or summary but MUST be referenced.
  • An example:
      • Wordsworth stated that Romantic poetry was marked by a "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (263). _Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263).
      • Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).
works cited page
Works Cited Page

Works cited goes at the end of the paper on a separate sheet and corresponds to the sources you used in your paper.

Title the page Works Cited and center it

Double space

Indent second lines and beyond to create hanging indent

book source
Book Source

Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of Publication.


Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Penguin, 1987. Print.

for more information
For More Information

It’s a really great source!!

what is a dbq
What is a DBQ?
  • DBQ stands for “Document Based Questions”
  • What does that mean?
    • Writing task in which you analyze evidence to reach an informed position and then presents it in a persuasive, logical and accurate essay
    • Analyze documents to write a response to a given question
    • You will be given an essay assignment/question in which you are given a window of time to respond to the question based on:
      • The documents provided
      • Your background knowledge of the time period
steps to writing a dbq
Steps to writing a DBQ
  • Step 1: Read the question carefully. Know exactly what is being asked of you. Look for directive words (evaluate, assess, establish, analyze, etc)
  • Step 2: Make a list of everything you ALREADY know on the topic/time period at hand that you think is relevant to the question.
  • Step 3: Read and analyze the documents.
    • Look at the author and time period
    • Identify the point of view or main idea
    • Respond to any prompts with the documents
dbq continued
DBQ continued

Step 4: Reread the question and consider the connection between the documents and the question.

Step 5: Plan/organize your response so that you can prove your thesis.

Step 6: Write an introduction. Your thesis is in this paragraph

Step 5: Write your body paragraphs. They should follow the order of your thesis. Be detailed, analyze thoroughly and incorporate your documents.

Step 6: Write a conclusion


Writing a DBQ is not that different from writing a standard history essay.

You want to show your command for developing a thesis based on what is being asked of you and your ability to analyze and incorporate documents to prove your point.

the documents
The documents

Documents will be mainly primary and some secondary sources

What’s the difference???

Primary=directly from the time period

Secondary=not from the time period; analyzes time period after the fact

Can be writings, letters, songs, images, etc.

how do you analyze the documents
How do you analyze the documents?

First examine the document for information (dates, authors, where)

What is the POV (point of view) of the document? (male, female, upper class, lower class, etc)

Is there any bias in this document?

What outside information can you connect to the document?

citing the document
Citing the document

In the essay you simply put (Doc. B)

let s go through an example together
Let’s go through an example together…
  • Here is an example of a possible primary source:
    • “A house divided against itself cannot stand…I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other…” Abraham Lincoln, speech, 1858
analyze the primary source
Analyze the primary source
  • Look for clues about the document: date, author, where and when
  • What can you tell about this document?
    • Lincoln in 1858
  • Next: what outside information do we have?
    • Lincoln was running for Republican nomination for president
    • Lincoln is concerned about the preservation of the Union
  • Can we make any inferences about the document?
    • Important to looming Civil War and issue of slavery
    • Lincoln almost ‘foreshadows’ the Civil War
soooo let s practice
Soooo…Let’s Practice!!

Time to analyze some documents and get started on writing DBQ’s!

what is a dbq1

What is a DBQ?

  • DBQ stands for document based question.
  • A DBQ is an essay that you will create using the documents in the DBQ and your own knowledge.
  • The documents in a DBQ might be a picture, newspaper article, photograph, political cartoon, charts, writings from history etc.
  • The documents are usually Primary source documents which let you to get closer to the topic by letting you examine history like a historian.
  • Your job will be to examine who or what the document is about, when and where it takes place and how the information that is being presented can be used to create an essay that answers your task.
how do i analyze the documents

How Do I Analyze the Documents?

  • Who is Speaking?

2. What is the Date?

3. What is the Explicit (clearly defined) Meaning?

4. What is the Implicit (implied or what it might mean) Meaning?

5. Is it a Primary or Secondary source of information?

how do i write a dbq

How do I Write a DBQ?

1. Read the directions page. Understand the historical context and the task.

2. Analyze and answer the scaffolded questions for each of the documents

3. Create a box outline of the documents deciding which document will be used for each of the tasks. Example:

Describe how New Yorkers worked for women’s rights.

1, 3, 5

Describe how others worked for women’s rights.

2, 3, 4, 6

creating your introduction

Creating Your Introduction

In order to create an introduction to your essay you must include three basic pieces to the introduction.

1. You must explain who or what you are writing about and when or where it took place. This information comes from the historical context and your own knowledge.

2. You must create a thesis statement; an opinion about the task you are writing about.









how do i develop a thesis

How Do I Develop a Thesis?

All document-based essays must have a thesis. A thesis is a statement of opinion about a topic. It is what you will write about and prove in your essay. You must have a thesis in your introduction to the essay.

To create a thesis you must use the task (or tasks) and tell the reader of the essay what you will be proving.

Rewording the task is often an easy way to create a thesis statement because the task is what you are being asked to prove when you write the DBQ.

support your thesis with evidence in the body paragraphs

Support Your Thesis With Evidence in the Body Paragraphs!

You have to prove your thesis by using evidence from the documents and relevant (connected to the topic) outside information.

Outside information is any information about the topic of your essay that is not contained in the documents.

creating your essay body paragraphs

Creating Your Essay: Body Paragraphs

Each of the body paragraphs is made up of three parts.

1. A topic sentence which is based on the task that the paragraph will cover.

2. Three pieces of evidence about the task that the paragraph covers. One of the pieces of evidence should be outside information.

3. A transition sentence at the end that leads to the task that the next paragraph will discuss.









creating your essay the conclusion

Creating Your Essay: The Conclusion

The conclusion :

1. Restate the main idea or thesis that you created and used in your introduction.

2. Summarize and restate the main ideas from your body paragraphs.









in conclusion

In conclusion,

1. Read the directions page. Understand the historical context and the task.

2. Analyze and answer the scaffolded questions for each of the documents

3. Create a box outline of the documents deciding which document will be used for each of the tasks.

4. Determine how many paragraphs are needed in the essay.

5. Create an introduction that contains a thesis statement.

6. Include at least one body paragraph for each of the tasks.

7. Create a conclusion that restates the main idea of the thesis and summarizes the main ideas of the body paragraphs.