Whether it’s for a non-fiction book or a column piece, writing about history is complicated. If you don’t have a background in the subject you are writing about, there is a good chance that you will end up adding inaccurate and controversial information.
Beyond that, you also need to make sure the text is readable and engaging. With the work that’s involved, writing about history can be exhausting. Using the right techniques and methods can make the process a fulfilling one. Follow these tips and create a written piece that informs, educates, and influences.
- Look at the complexity of the subject matter
If you have a specific topic in mind, you will need to look at it from all angles. Major historical events are structured in layers of smaller underlying events, so you should read as much as possible about the topic. Don’t look at one source and use it as the only basis of your writing. Instead, look at other materials and find out if there’s anything else you need to know. From there, you can either confirm or refute widely accepted claims before putting these down on your draft.
- Choose your sources carefully
When looking for source materials, you will need to know if the author, organization, or website is credible. You don’t want to rely on what’s posted on social media for information. You should look towards research journals like the Journal of Global History and Past and Present. News sites like Reuters and Agence France Presse also contain archived articles you can cite. When it comes to writing about a highly specific subject matter, you can look for dedicated websites. If you are writing about jester history in the Tudor Period, you can find numerous online resources that touch on this topic.
- Use the right citation tools
If you are writing an academic paper, you need to include citation tools. These allow you to annotate digital materials like PDFs and web pages. They can also make it easier for you to create in-text citations, prepare a bibliography, and add footnotes based on your preferred citation style. Tools like Zotero, Mendeley, and Paperpile can simplify the process of adding citations so you can spend more time and effort on readings.
- Consider your audience and the type of paper you are writing
Gathering the information you need for your historical paper is only a part of the process. You should also focus on structuring the content based on your audience. If it’s an academic essay, use a more formal tone and include words and sentence structures that anyone at your level can understand. In case it’s an article aimed toward a more general audience, you can use casual, clear, and precise language. You may need to explain a certain piece of information further by providing examples.
Writing about history can be daunting to many people, but it shouldn’t keep you from trying. With these tips, you can create a piece of text that can help your audience develop a love for history or add new information about a historical event or personality.