STYLE GUIDE FOR HISTORY PAPERS
â€¢ Type your paper in a normal-sized font (Times New Roman 12, Courier New 10).
â€¢ Double-space your text (except for indented quotations).
â€¢ Do not skip lines between paragraphs.
â€¢ Set your margins at one inch all around (left and right, top and bottom).
â€¢ Staple your paper in the upper left corner (please do not use plastic covers).
â€¢ Number your pages (centered at the bottom of each page, or the in the top right corner).
â€¢ Proofread your paper to correct spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors.
â€¢ Make sure all your verb tenses agree. Basic past tense is usually the way to go.
Your paper should have a title page on which you center your title vertically on the page. In a block on the
right, list your name, the course name and number, instructorâ€™s name, and date of submission. Do not
number the title page. Begin page numbering on the first page of text.
All papers must include a bibliography listing all the sources you used to write the paper. The bibliography
is a separate page and it gets a page number. See page 3 for examples of how to list sources in a
You must provide a citation (reference note) every time you do one of the following three things:
â€¢ Use a direct quotation
â€¢ Paraphrase the words or ideas of another writer (i.e. put something in your own words).
â€¢ Assert as fact any information that is not widely-known
Most students realize that they must cite direct quotations, but some do not know that they must also cite
paraphrases. Anything you derive from the ideas of another writer must be cited. You must also use
common sense to cite information that is not â€œwidely-known.â€ For example, you do not have to cite the fact
that Trenton is the capital of New Jersey. If you wanted to mention the unemployment rate in Trenton in
2003, you must say where you got that information.
Failure to provide a note in these circumstances constitutes plagiarism, a grave academic offense. It is
extremely important that you document your work, both to give proper credit to other writers, and to provide
a map for your reader to re-trace your research. Plagiarism is a form of cheating that can result in your
dismissal from the University, so make sure that you cite anything you take from another source! See page 2
Your citation should appear as a footnote at the bottom of the page in which you refer to your source.
Exception: for Western Civ. papers only, in-text citation MLA style (authorâ€™s last name, page) is acceptable.
A direct quotation is set in double quotation marks (â€œlike thisâ€) unless it is longer than four lines. In this case
single-space and indent the entire quotation (.5 inches on either side), and do not use quotation marks. Single
quotation marks (â€˜like theseâ€™) are only used for quotes within quotes.
For more information
For tips on style and writing, see Kate L. Turabianâ€™s short guide, A Manual for Writers (6th edition).
Examples of how sources should appear in your footnotes
A book with one author
1. Eric Foner, Reconstruction: Americaâ€™s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper &
Row, 1988), 67.
Information to include in the basic format:
1. Author(s), Full Title (Place(s) of publication: Publisher, year of publication), page.
A book with two authors
1. Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-
1800 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 128.
An essay or article in a book
1. Robert B. Westbrook, â€œFighting for the American Family: Private Interests and Political
Obligation in World War II,â€ The Power of Culture: Critical Essays in American History, eds. Richard
Wightman Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears (Chicago, Illinois and London: The University of Chicago Press,
1. Author, â€œTitle of Piece,â€ Title of Book, ed. Editorâ€™s Name (Place(s) of Publication: Publisher, year
of publication), page.
An article in a journal
1. Russell F. Weigley, â€œThe American Military and the Principle of Civilian Control from McClellan
to Powell,â€ The Journal of Military History 57 (October 1993): 27-58.
1. Author, â€œTitle of Piece,â€ Name of Journal and volume number (date of issue): page.
An online item
1. Gregory Palast, â€œFloridaâ€™s Flawed â€˜Voter-Cleansingâ€™ Program,â€ Salon.com, December 4, 2000,
1. Author, â€œTitle of the Piece,â€ Name of the Site [if different from the URL], date piece written,
Consecutive references to a source
A citation that is exactly the same as the one immediately preceding it (except for the page number), may be
shortened to â€œIbid.â€ For example, if you made three consecutive references to Eric Fonerâ€™s book, two from
page 14 and one from page 20, they would appear like this:
1. Eric Foner, Reconstruction: Americaâ€™s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (New York: Harper &
Row, 1988), 14.
3. Ibid., 20.
If you return to cite Foner again after referring to one or more other sources, use a shortened form:
8. Foner, Reconstruction, 162.
Examples of how sources should appear in your bibliography
You include the same basic information in a bibliography entry as you do in your first citation of a source in
your footnotes. However, instead of indenting the entries, you â€œhangâ€ them, and use periods instead of
commas to separate some of the elements. Note: Unlike footnotes, bibliographical entries are arranged
alphabetically. Therefore, you list the first author of an entry â€œlast name, first.â€
A book with one author
Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: Americaâ€™s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Harper & Row,
Authorâ€™s last name, First name. Full Title. Place(s) of Publication: Publisher, year of publication.
A book with two authors
Elkins, Stanley, and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Author Last, First, and Author First Last. Full Title. Place(s) of Publication: Publisher, year of publication.
An essay or article in a book
Westbrook, Robert B. â€œFighting for the American Family: Private Interests and Political Obligation in
World War II.â€ The Power of Culture: Critical Essays in American History. Edited by Richard
Wightman Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears. Chicago, Illinois and London: The University of Chicago
Author. â€œTitle of Piece.â€ Title of Book. Edited by Editorâ€™s Name. Place(s) of publication: Publisher, year of
An article in a periodical
Weigley, Russell F. â€œThe American Military and the Principle of Civilian Control from McClellan to
Powell.â€ The Journal of Military History 57 (October 1993): 27-58.
Author. â€œTitle of Piece.â€ Name of Journal and volume number (date of issue): page range.
An online item
Palast, Gregory. â€œFloridaâ€™s Flawed â€˜Voter-Cleansingâ€™ Program.â€ Salon.com, December 4, 2000.
Author. â€œTitle of the Piece.â€ Name of the Site [if different from the URL], date piece written. URL.
It is likely that at some point you will have to cite material that does not fit one of the above examples. You
can consult The Chicago Manual of Style (15th Edition) or Kate L. Turabianâ€™s shorter guide A Manual for
Writers (6th Edition) to find examples of complicated citations. Even then, you may sometimes find that your
source seems not to fit any correct format. In these cases, just remember to 1) credit your source, 2) give
your reader a way to re-trace your steps, and 3) be as consistent as possible.
The language you use in your paper should be formal (do not use contractions or slang), but it does not have
to be stilted. Write as directly as possible; do not use the first person or the passive voice. First-person
qualifiers such as â€œin my opinionâ€ or â€œI thinkâ€ water down your arguments. Remember that your reader
already knows it is your opinion, because your name is on the cover.
Weak 1st person writing: In my opinion, Roosevelt did the best he could.
Strong writing: Roosevelt took the only course available to him.
Use of the passive voice also makes your writing seem wishy-washy, because writers often employ it to
disguise areas of ignorance. For example:
Passive: Roosevelt was criticized for his policy.
Active: House Republicans criticized Rooseveltâ€™s policy.
The passive sentence makes it look as though the writer does not know who did the criticizing. Most word
processing programs can check for passive voice. It often comes up when you use the verb to be (is, was,
The organization of your paper will vary according to the assignment and your instructorâ€™s requirements.
Here are a few hints that should be helpful in most cases.
Think of your paper topic as a question you are trying to answer about some aspect of history. The answer
you provide with your paper is your argument. You are offering an answer to your topic question, and
saying why it is that the answer you have found is more persuasive than any other. Your reader should
know, after reading the first paragraph, the argument your paper is going to make (again, avoid first person
writing. Do not actually write out â€œmy argument will beâ€¦â€).
In the body of your paper, you explain and justify the thesis you have posed. Each sentence in each
paragraph should advance that argument. Bring your evidence to bear. Consider possible objections to your
thesis; your paper will be stronger for it. You may view yourself as a lawyer trying to prove a case, or better
yet, a judge weighing the merits of different arguments and coming to the best possible conclusion.
Whatever you do, do not be a court stenographer, writing down what you have read without analyzing how it
fits into your argument.
Once you have made your arguments, it is appropriate to close the paper with your conclusions. Do not use
your concluding remarks merely to â€œsum upâ€ what you have already written; thatâ€™s repetitious. You do not
have to sum up a well-written paper, because you have made your points clearly the first time. Instead, use
your conclusion to speculate on the larger implications of your argument. Here is a chance to ask yourself, if
my argument is true, what else might be true? You can use your conclusion to answer the â€œso what?â€
question by placing the problem you have examined in larger contexts.
Example of a page from a history paper
The image of the American soldier in Vietnam is an unhappy one. It is replete with
disaffection, criminality, loss of confidence in the government and its war aims, and treatment of
Vietnamese civilians ranging from casual abuse to murder. In postwar recriminations over the
American publicâ€™s uneven support for the war, it is sometimes forgotten that by 1970, the antiwar counterculture had taken root in the service itself. Although actual anti-war demonstrations
by troops took place mostly stateside, the Army in Vietnam experienced passive resistance from
infantrymen who shirked missions and faked patrols. In 1970 and 1971, there were ten open
mutinies, some as high as the company level. The Army admitted to over 500 instances of
troops attempting to assassinate their officers (86 successfully), and analysts suspected units
under-reported these attacks.1
Political scientist (and Vietnam veteran) Stephen D. Wesbrook argued that the poor
performance of the Armyâ€™s political indoctrination program contributed to these failures of
Perhaps fewer television sets and a little bit of explanation as to why we were
fighting would have lessened the tremendous psychological impact of the war. . . .
It might also have saved a few aggressive officers later in the war from being
assassinated by men who thought that these leaders might get them killed for what
was perceived to be no purpose.2
To Wesbrook, neither the political materials nor the morale-boosting ones truly armed the
soldiers with the education they needed to make sense of why they were in Vietnam.
1. David Cortright, Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press and
Doubleday, 1975), 35-39, 44; James William Gibson, The Perfect War: The War We Couldnâ€™t Lose and How We
Did (New York: Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, 1986), 230.
2. Stephen D. Wesbrook, Political Training in the United States Army: A Reconsideration, Mershon Center
Position Papers in the Policy Sciences no. 3 (Columbus, Ohio: The Mershon Center of the Ohio State University,
From the Guggenheim Library website (available from the Universityâ€™s homepage, www.monmouth.edu),
you can access a variety of aids useful for historical research. In the left-hand column of the main library
page, you can select the GOALS Library Catalog to explore the libraryâ€™s holdings by author, title, subject,
or keyword. You can select Interlibrary Loan for an online request form to obtain a book Monmouth does
not have. By selecting â€œHistoryâ€ under Electronic Resources, you can search a number of resources,
including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and databases devoted to academic journals, such as JSTOR. Here
are the libraryâ€™s history links under Electronic Resources:
AHSearch (Arts & Humanities Search). Indexes over 1,300 arts and humanities journals; indexes & abstracts
articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, reviews, and more.
EBSCOhost Databases Fourteen databases on a wide variety of subject areas from EBSCO Publishing.
Recommend Academic Search Premier for finding scholarly articles.
Encyclopedia Britannica Online The famous encyclopedia in an online format. Continuously updated.
JSTOR Full text database of many scholarly history and humanities journals, all the way to volume 1.
Excludes most current years.
LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe Full text access to many legal and news resources, including court
decisions, federal and state law and many major newspapers. Includes New York Times back to 1980.
New York Times (Proquest) Searchable, full text electronic access to the New York Times, all the way to
volume 1 (1851).
Oxford English Dictionary Complete A-Z sequence of the 2nd edition. Good for tracing historical word
usage and etymology, including year of introduction.
Project Muse: Scholarly Journals Online Full text database of many scholarly journals in history,
political science and literature.
WilsonWEB Databases Recommend Omnifile, Humanities, Biographies Plus and Social Science
for history research. Can limit search to scholarly articles only.
The Guggenheim Library also has several primary source collections, including: Presidential Papers,
Congressional Records, Government Documents (e.g. Foreign Relations of the United States),
letters/correspondence, autobiographies/memoirs, biographies, personal narratives, diaries, journals,
interviews, archives, inventories, calendars, wartime papers, oral histories, official papers, newspapers,
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