Writing Style Tips & Requirements

Before you write, consult your instructor's style guidelines to ensure that you will meet them. These are general best practices for writing history (and, for the most part, writing in general). 


  • Use academic language. If upon rereading something you have written you find that it is unclear or ambiguous, rewrite for clarity. Apply your grammar knowledge.
  • Do not use any personal pronouns (no I, you, we, etc.)
  • Do not construct an imaginary world for your reader in addition to the history (e.g., "Imagine if...")
    • No narrative (e.g., "Image that you are a.... and such and such happens..." etc.).
  • Do not use contractions.
  • Do not waste time trying to be clever with your intro. Do not use a joke or a quote or an allusion unless it relates directly to your thesis. Just go right into the work and your argument.
  • PROOFREAD. The time you spend will be worth the points you save. You aren't that busy.
    • Punctuation goes INSIDE the quotation marks when you're handling quotes, unless the quote has its own significant punctuation (e.g., an exclamation point). If you're unsure, either end the sentence with the quote's punctuation, or structure the sentence so that the quote is integrated and the punctuation is at the end of further analysis or description.
  • Read the directions and do what is expected. This is the easiest part of preparation, but you'd be shocked how few students bother to determine what is asked of them.

Paper Format

You will be asked to complete everything from presentations to papers to speeches and videos. Any requirements given to you by your instructor supersede anything in this manual.

For formal writing assignments (e.g., essays, research papers, and precis), use the following guidelines when instructed to. Alternatively, you can use the Chicago Templates in the Resource Appendix. Your instructor may have already given you a template or a file to use on Google Docs or on Microsoft Word.

Use the Chicago/Turabian format described on Purdue Owl for formal writing assignments. You can easily create a template yourself in a few minutes by setting margins, line spacing, paragraph spacing, and font.

Specifics for Soldotna High School (unless overridden by your instructor):

  • Margins: 1" on all sides
  • Font: 12 point Times New Roman
  • Double spaced
  • Title page for papers over five pages
  • Page numbers starting on page of body text (not the title page)
  • Use footnotes to cite information following Chicago citation format
    • Use your word processor's tool for adding footnotes, do not do them manually
  • Attach a Bibliography on its own page at the end of your assignment
    • Sources must be listed alphabetically

To reiterate, and this really can't be said enough: your instructor's requirements and directions supersede any formatting advice you'll find online. If they want it in Comic Sans on purple cardstock, that's what you're doing.