Skip to Main Content

History Subject Guide

Resources for historical research.

Tips for Choosing a Topic

  • Make sure you understand the assignment. Ask questions if you are unsure.
  • Choose a topic that interests you.
  • Brainstorm. On a sheet of paper, write down every idea that comes to mind. Even ideas that seem ridiculous can spark a great paper topic.
  • Once you have selected a topic, write a summary of it in three or four sentences or explain it to a friend or classmate. If it takes you less than three sentences, then your topic may be too narrow. If it takes you more than three or four sentences, your topic may be too broad.       

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis is the central idea/argument of a piece of writing with the entire work developing and supporting the idea.  Though sometimes unstated, a thesis should always govern a paper.  It usually appears as a thesis sentence somewhere in the paper, primarily in the opening paragraph.

What is a strong thesis statement?

1.  A strong thesis sentence should be specific covering only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
2.  A strong thesis sentence will make a claim.  This does not mean that you have to reduce an idea to an "either/or" position and then take a stand. Rather, you need to develop an interesting perspective that you can support and defend. This perspective must be more than an observation.  It should inspire other points of view from your reader.
3.  A strong thesis sentence will control your paper’s argument.  This sentence determines what you are required to say in a paper. It also determines what you cannot say. Every paragraph in your paper exists in order to support your thesis.  If it seems like your paper is supporting something other than your thesis, you need to change your thesis or edit your paper.
4.  A strong thesis sentence will provide structure for your paper.  It will show how you will present your position.  For instance, your thesis may say, “American fearfulness expresses itself in three curious ways: A, B, and C."  Your paper should then make those arguments in that order.  If you start discussing point C first, your reader may be confused.

Building a Thesis Statement