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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $41.99

192 pp.
7 figures, 5.5" x 8.25"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Writing History

A Guide for Canadian Students, Fifth Edition

William Kelleher Storey and Mairi Cowan

An invaluable writing guide that ensures Canadian students master the best current practices in historical research and writing

Thoroughly revised and updated, the fifth Canadian edition of Writing History continues to provide history students with the most current and important information available on researching and writing history assignments, including article reviews, journal responses, proposals, document analysis, and historical research papers.

Readership : Writing History is suitable for any university- or college-level history course (ancient or modern).


  • *Note: reviews are for the fourth Canadian edition

    "[A]n intelligent, thoroughly thought-out, and very useful guide."
    --Mark G. Spencer, Brock University

  • "Very readable. . . . The text itself is an example of good writing style, with clarity of argument, plenty of clear examples, and good advice."
    --Gary K. Waite, University of New Brunswick

Preface to the Fifth Canadian Edition
1. Getting Started
Explore Your Interests
Move from a Historical Interest to a Research Topic
Work with Bibliographies
Spend Time in an Academic Library
Use Reference Sources for Background Information
Conduct a General Search on the Internet
Critically Assess Sources on the Internet
Approach Your Topic from a Particular Angle
Browse for More Sources
Form a Hypothesis
Craft a Proposal
Write an Annotated Bibliography
Talk to People about Your Topic
If You Have to Abandon a Topic, Do It Early
2. Interpreting Source Materials
Distinguish Primary Sources from Secondary Sources
Conduct Interviews Systematically
Consider Visual and Material Sources
Refine Your Hypothesis
Be Sensitive to Points of View in Your Sources
Select the Most Important Source Materials
Take Notes by Being Selective
3. Writing History Faithfully
Collect and Report Your Sources Carefully
Treat the Ideas of Others with Care and Respect
Know the Difference Between Paraphrases and Summaries
Learn How and When to Quote
Use Ellipses and Brackets, but Do Justice to Your Sources
Place Quotation Marks Properly
Don't Plagiarize
Cite Accurately
4. Using Sources to Make Inferences
Be True to Recognized Facts
Transform Facts into Evidence
Investigate Your Facts
Check the Internal Consistency of Primary Sources
Check Primary Sources against Each Other
Compare Primary Sources with Secondary Sources
Combine Sources to Make Inferences
Move from Inferences to Arguments
Make Reasonable Inferences from Your Sources
Make Inferences That Are Warranted
Avoid Anachronisms
5. Organizing a First Draft
Craft a Thesis Statement
Create a Draft Outline
Start to Write a First Draft
Catch Your Reader's Attention, but Do It Gently
State Your Intellectual Interests Early
Review the Historical Literature
Build Your Essay with Good Paragraphs
Define Your Key Terms Early
Set an Appropriate Tone
Treat Other Writers with Consideration
Account for Counterarguments
Lead Your Readers to an Interesting Conclusion
6. Structuring Your Paper with Good Narrative Techniques
Build a Narrative That Tells a Story
Write a Narrative to Support an Argument
Combine Chronology with Causation
Get a Sense of Change and Continuity
Select the Key Participants in Your Story
Find Your Voice as a Narrator
Choose Your Beginning and End
Supply a Meaningful Title
7. Writing Sentences
Choose Verbs That Are Precise
Make Passive Sentences Active
Write (Mostly) in the Past Tense
Put Your Thoughts in an Intelligible Order
Begin a Sentence on Common Ground and Gradually Build a New Point
Place the Emphasis at the End
Construct Parallel Forms
Vary the Form and Length of Sentences
Break the Rules If You Must
8. Choosing Precise Words
Be Concise
Write in Language That Your Audience Can Easily Understand
Avoid Both Pretentious and Colloquial Language
Avoid Euphemisms
Choose Figurative Language Carefully
Eschew Clichés
Don't Use Unfamiliar Foreign Words
Be Aware of Changes to Usage
Check for These Common Diction Problems
9. Revising and Editing
Get Some Perspective
Revise Your Draft
Evaluate Your Arguments and Narratives
Evaluate Your Sentences and Word Choices
Proofread the Final Draft
Check the Formatting
Submit Your Paper
Appendix A: Different Kinds of History Assignments
Appendix B: Citation Guide
Appendix C: Suggested Resources for Research and Writing in History

Kobo E-Book ISBN 9780199033744

William Kelleher Storey is a professor in the Department of History at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. His principle research interests are the environmental and technological aspects of imperialism. Professor Storey has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and he has also won the Millsaps Distinguished Professor Award and the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher Award.

Mairi Cowan is an associate professor, teaching stream, in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where she currently serves as the program director of history. She is a historian of the late medieval and early modern world, with a particular interest in the social and religious histories of Scotland and New France. As a teaching-stream professor, she also conducts research on how best to teach and learn history, and has recently begun a new project that investigates the effectiveness of different kinds of feedback on students' work.

Making Sense - Margot Northey
The Information-Literate Historian - Jenny L. Presnell

Special Features

  • Wide representation of Canadian and non-Canadian references, resources, and examples across time periods, places, and approaches ensure the text is relevant to students in this country.
  • Step-by-step instructions on every step of the writing process - from choosing a research topic and approach to finding and assessing sources, incorporating source material, and writing the paper - give students clear, concise advice on how to write successfully in history.
  • A student-friendly writing style makes the text clear, accessible, and engaging for aspiring historians.
  • Up-to-date coverage of online and electronic resources, including links and resources related to legal and archival documents, music and art, and a more comprehensive selection of databases.
  • An appendix on various history assignments such as research proposals, annotated bibliographies, book or article reviews, primary source analyses, oral presentations, and more, offers students a practical, authoritative guide to preparing history coursework.
  • Practical pedagogical tools throughout, including bolded key terms, boxed writing examples, review boxes, end-of-chapter flowcharts, and an end-of-text glossary.
New to this Edition
  • A more diverse range of examples beyond modern Canadian history is useful for a variety of history courses and broadens students' understanding of writing in the discipline.
  • Newly added flowcharts at the end of most chapters outline important steps in the research and writing process, offering students a helpful visual reference.
  • New and additional coverage of working with sources provides advice on evaluating primary sources, comparing primary and secondary sources, choosing good editions, conducting interviews, and working with sources in translated and edited volumes.
  • Significantly revised and reorganized throughout to offer more practical advice on using electronic resources correctly (Ch.1), organizing and constructing a first draft (Ch. 5), varying word uses over time and from place to place (Ch.8), and revising and editing for clarity and consistency (Ch. 9).
  • Up-to-date CMS documentation guidelines ensure students are using the most current resource available.