UD History Style and Writing Guide
Important note on writing in Google Docs
- Google Docs allows you to use italics when writing. When you print from Google Docs, however, the italics disappear. Disappearing italics are a problem for history papers since you will use italics in your citations. In order to avoid this problem, save your Google Doc as a PDF and then print the PDF. Word and Pages do not have this issue.
- You can upload a Word or Pages document to Google Drive if you use Google Drive to save your material. You cannot easily convert a Pages document into a Google Doc, but you can use Google Drive to store the material.
- Title page
- Include an interesting, descriptive title.
- Include your name, class, and date.
- [NOTE] This information does not belong in a header.
- Font size and style: 12-point, Times New Roman
- Double space (which is NOT the same as one-and-a-half spacing).
- Eliminate any extra spacing between paragraphs.
- Indent the first line of each paragraph 1⁄2 inch from the left margin.
- [NOTE] See below for special spacing instructions for block quotations, footnotes/endnotes, and bibliography.
- Use left align text (with a jagged right edge).
- Avoid justified alignment (newspaper style).
- One-inch all around: right, left, top, and bottom
- Number your pages, even in a short paper.
- Page numbers need to go at the bottom center or bottom right of the page.
- Attach a signed “Statement of Academic Integrity” to the end of the final draft.
- [NOTE] See below for punctuation with direct quotations.
- Punctuation marks go outside parentheticals, except when the parenthetical is a complete sentence.
- [EXAMPLE] A history paper requires use of evidence (and analysis of that evidence).
- [EXAMPLE] A history paper requires use of evidence. (Evaluating that evidence before you write is important.)
- Know the difference between a colon and a semicolon.
- Use the Oxford (serial) comma, which is the final comma in a list of things.
- [EXAMPLE] Our party’s guest list included the clowns, Joseph Stalin, and Chairman Mao.
- Not using the Oxford comma changes the sentence’s meaning.
- [EXAMPLE] Our party’s guest list included the clowns, Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao.
- In the first example you have invited clowns along with Stalin and Mao. In the second example you have called Stalin and Mao clowns.
- Single space after all punctuation.
- Reduce the number of passive verbs (is, are, was, were) and substitute active verbs. As historians we want to see who did the doing and the passive voice obscures our ability to do that.
- [EXAMPLE] passive voice
- [EXAMPLE] active voice
- Use the past tense for verbs; avoid unnecessarily switching into the present tense. When writing about the past, write in the past tense, even when quoting from primary and secondary sources.
- [EXAMPLE] Frederick Douglass asserted to the audience in Rochester that “this Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine.”1
- [EXAMPLE] Historian Richard Griswold del Castillo argued: “The so-called Zoot Suit riots in Los Angeles in June of 1943 made Latin Americans more aware of the negative racial attitudes within the United States toward Mexicans.”2
- The past tense of the verb “to lead” is not “lead.” It’s “led.”
- That vs. which: If the sentence doesn't need the clause that the word in question is connecting, use which.
- [EXAMPLE] The history department that has two offices is located in Tillinghast. The history department, which has two offices, is located in Tillinghast.
- Eliminate run-on sentences that ram together one or more independent clauses.
- [EXAMPLE] The Indian Ocean supported a vast network of trade, it brought together a number of regions and cultures.
- A run-one sentence can be corrected in several ways:
- The Indian Ocean supported a vast network of trade, bringing together a number of regions and cultures.
- The Indian Ocean supported a vast network of trade, and it brought together a number of regions and cultures.
- two sentences separated by a period
- The Indian Ocean supported a vast network of trade. It brought together a number of regions and cultures.
- The Indian Ocean supported a vast network of trade; it brought together a number of regions and cultures.
- Aim for parallel construction by making sure the terms in a series are equivalent.
- Not parallel
- When the historians attempted to piece together the evidence they found, they faced several challenges, including bias, how to arrange the facts, and making sure that they had enough sources to confirm their findings.
- When the historians attempted to piece together the evidence they found, they faced several challenges, including how to identify bias, how to arrange the facts, and how to confirm their findings.
- Avoid putting lengthy clauses and phrases in parenthesis.
- Identify your antecedents: what does “this” or “it” stand for?
- For personal names use first and last names for initial mention, then use last name only for subsequent mentions.
- [EXAMPLE] Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist. Hamer grew up in Mississippi and fought for African Americans to gain voting rights.
- Use full names of agencies, organizations, legislation, and so on the first time you use them. Include the acronym in parentheses after the full name when first used. After that you can just use the acronym.
- [EXAMPLE] Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)
- Capitalize place names, proper names, days, months, holidays, and titles. (President, Director, Professor, etc.) if they are specific to a person.
- [EXAMPLE] I went to the lecture with Professor John Smith.
- [EXAMPLE] I went to the lecture with the professor.
- Eliminate contractions (e.g., isn’t, can’t, won’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t).
- Avoid “I” and “you” (first and second-person narrative voice).
- Words and phrases to avoid:
- Always, never, impossible, everyone believed (too extreme and easy to disprove)
- Throughout history (ditto)
- From the dawn of civilization (ditto)
- There is, there are, there was, there were (weak verbs)
- This shows that (redundant)
- In conclusion (ditto)
- A lot of (too informal)
- Talked about (ditto)
- Impactful (ugly)
- Impact as a verb
- Lifestyle (misuse)
- Based off of (use “based on” instead)
- This shows that
- A lot of
- Talked about
- Stressed about
- A want of
- Also avoid informal words and phrases, such as “big deal,” “stuff,” “things,” “kids,” and “okay.”
- Secondary sources should mostly be paraphrased rather than directly quoted.
- Do not repeat the text word for word; use your own words.
- Stick to the essential points.
- Summarize a paragraph’s contents rather than rewriting each sentence of it.
- Changing a word or two is still plagiarism.
- Paraphrasing without citing your source is plagiarism.
[NOTE] See citations (footnotes/endnotes) for further information.
- Put the punctuation inside the quotation marks.
- Quotation marks must be placed after periods and commas.
- [EXAMPLE] Sue said it was a “terribly hot day.”
- [EXAMPLE] “It was dangerous being outside,” she said.
- Quotation marks should appear after question marks, if the direct quotation is a question. Quotation marks should appear before question marks, if the sentence is a question.
- [EXAMPLE] Mark asked, “Do you want to go to the park?”
- [EXAMPLE] Is it possible that Sheila replied, “That’s okay with me”?
- Footnote superscripts must be placed after the quotation marks.
- [EXAMPLE] According to Professor Heejin, “The Inca Empire was not as successful as the Aztec Empire.”1
- Footnote superscripts should appear at the end of a sentence, whether or not the direct quotation ends there.
- [EXAMPLE] “The Inca Empire was not as successful as the Aztec Empire,” according to Professor Heejin.2
- Always include a speaker tag when quoting a source, even if the source is a secondary source. Direct quotations should not stand alone. They must be integrated into paragraphs in one of three ways:
- By using a speaker tag followed or preceded by a comma
- [EXAMPLE] According the historian Peter Clarke, “All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population.”3
- [EXAMPLE] “All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population,” according to the historian Peter Clarke.4
- By using a colon
- [EXAMPLE] The historian Peter Clarke thought the improved standard of living was a remarkable accomplishment: “All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population.”5
- By incorporating part of the quotation into your own sentence
- [EXAMPLE] The historian Peter Clarke claimed that the improved standard of living occurred “despite a vast increase in population.”6
The resulting sentence must make grammatical sense. Do not, for example, write a sentence like this: The historian Peter Clarke, “All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population,” thought the improved standard of living was a remarkable achievement.7
- When quoting a complete sentence, begin the direct quotation with a capital letter. When quoting part of a sentence or when introducing it with the word that, do not begin the direct quotation with a capital letter. See examples above.
- You must use block quotation format if the direct quotation covers three or more lines of typed text. Use block quotations sparingly.
- Indent one inch on each side, measured from the left and right margins.
- Double space before and after the block quotation.
- Single space within the block quotation.
- Eliminate quotation marks.
- Include a footnote.
[EXAMPLE] According to the historian Peter Clarke, who spent many years poring over local and national records:
All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population. The population of England and Wales had bounded ahead throughout the nineteenth century. At the first census in 1801 it had approached 9 million and it subsequently grew by well over 1 per cent per annum until it reached 26 million in 1881.8
Not surprisingly, then, he considers the sustained improvement in the standard of living a remarkable achievement.
- If you decide to use only portions of a direct quotation, indicate that you have removed parts of it by inserting the ellipsis (…).
- [EXAMPLE] According to the historian Peter Clarke, “All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population. The population…grew by well over 1 per cent per annum until it reached 26 million in 1881.”9
- Use the ellipsis plus a period if it’s the end of the sentence.
- [EXAMPLE] According to the historian Peter Clarke, “All this was achieved despite a vast increase in population. The population...grew by well over 1 percent per annum….”10
- If you insert your own words into the direct quotation for clarification, use brackets [ ] to show any changes to the original text. You must also use brackets if you capitalize a letter or change it to lowercase.
- [EXAMPLE] According to the historian Peter Clarke, “All this [the improved standard of living] was achieved despite a vast increase in population.”11
- [EXAMPLE] The historian Peter Clarke claimed that “[a]ll this was achieved despite a vast increase in population.”12
- [EXAMPLE] According to James Bowen, “[Elizabeth I] was known for her religiously motivated policies against Spain.”13
- Use single quotation marks to identify a quotation within a quotation.
- [EXAMPLE] Esther Hernandez claimed that “Prime Minister Churchill knew what sacrifices the nation would be forced to make when he said, ‘This victory is crucial.’”14
- [EXAMPLE] Esther Hernandez called for “a reexamination of primary sources because the ‘standard interpretation of Britain’s role in World War II,’ as Sarah Maze put it, no longer applies.”15
- Be sure to identify the speaker and/or source of the direct quotation in your written text.
- Be sure to include in the written text your interpretation of a direct quotation. Do not assume that your reader knows what it means or what you intend it to prove. Explain it all to the reader. Avoid the phrase “This shows that…” when interpreting direct quotations.
- Do not use an excessive number of direct quotations. Remember that the reader wants to see your words and learn about your ideas, not someone else’s.
- Avoid ending a body paragraph with a direct quotation. The reader expects to see your analysis of that quotation, plus you need to wrap up the paragraph effectively in a proper concluding sentence.
- Quoting without citing your source is plagiarism.
[NOTE] Also see direct quotations.
[NOTE] The school subscribes to NoodleTools. You can use this program to generate citations and build your bibliography. It is still important that you understand the elements of a citation and bibliography. You may wish to explore more about citations and bibliographies by reading the Chicago Manual of Style.
- In NoodleTools, choose the Chicago Manual of Style format and advanced (for 11th and 12th graders) or junior level (for 9th and 10th graders).
- Footnotes appear at the bottom of each page; endnotes appear after the last paragraph of the paper.
- Footnotes/endnotes should be single-spaced, 10-point font, Times New Roman.
- [NOTE] In Google Docs, the footnote font defaults to Arial. You will need to change it.
- Footnotes/endnotes must begin with a superscript. To insert:
- References > Insert Footnote and References > Insert Endnote
- Google Docs
- Insert > Footnote
- [NOTE] Endnotes are not available in Google Docs.
- Insert > Footnote (can change this to Document Endnotes)
- Use Arabic and not Roman numerals for superscripts.
- Do not stack up superscripts at the end of a sentence ( ....”3 4 5). Instead, use one superscript and then cite multiple sources in the footnote/endnote using a semicolon between each source.3
- [EXAMPLE] 3 Paul Thomas Chamberlin, The Cold War’s Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace (New York: Harper Collins, 2018), 181; George Packer, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century (New York: Knopf, 2019), 264.
- Make sure the superscript in the footnote/endnote is numbered consecutively and correctly corresponds to the one in the text.
- Leave no spaces between the superscript and the body text, but leave one space between the superscript and the citation in the footnote or endnote.
- You must cite all direct quotations, paraphrases, images, statistics, and controversial facts. As a general rule, cite any information that someone else has collected through his or her or their own research.
- All the information you need to create a footnote can be found on the title and copyright pages of the book you need to cite. Your first citation of a source must be a full citation; citations that follow should be shortened.
1 Paul Thomas Chamberlin, The Cold War’s Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace (New York: Harper Collins, 2018), 127-28.
2 Chamberlin, The Cold War’s Killing Fields, 92.
3 Charles M. Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 150.
4 Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom, 195.
- Use 12-point font, Times New Roman.
- Place on separate page (after the endnote page or after the last footnoted page).
- Bibliographic format and footnote/endnote formats are not the same. However, both formats use the same information found on the title and copyright pages.
- Bibliographies should be alphabetical by author’s last name (or title of the source if author’s name is not given).
- Use a 1/2" indent for hanging indents.
Chamberlin, Paul Thomas. The Cold War’s Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace. New York: Harper Collins, 2018.
Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
- Entries should be single-spaced within the work and double-spaced between works.
- NoodleTools allows you to export a correctly formatted bibliography directly to Word or Google Docs (turn off your pop-up blocker). See note about italics in Google Docs.
- You must also include in your bibliography any work that you consulted and used for background information for your paper, but that you may not have quoted or paraphrased.