How to Write Your First Writing about History

What Do You Read Carefully and Write About?. 1

Requirements for Citation for Written Papers. 1

Tips for Reading. 2

If You Want to Know Why We Use These Shortened Citations. 2

If You Quote (and You Do Not Have to) - Brain Trick for Quoting and Avoiding Quotation Humiliation. 2


What Do You Read Carefully and Write About?

What do you read?

In the primaries for Chapter 1, the Requerimiento of 1510

In the textbook, 27-30

Tip for reading this very important document (stays on this webpage)

What do you write about?

Watch your assumptions. Use the primaries and your textbook to answer 3 questions:

1. What are the two choices the Spanish say the Native Americans have?

2. Why do they believe they have a right to require one of the two choices?

3. In the years covered in Chapter 1 in pages 27-30, what were the actual results of Spanish rule on Native Americans?


Tips for Reading, Figuring Things Out, and Writing (Goes to another webpage; click Back to return.)

Do you provide a heading?

No, you do not add a heading. You begin writing with the 1st question.

You also do not type your name on your paper. On the back of your paper that you bring to class on the date in the Course Schedule, you print your name as it is on the roster, your class days (such as Tuesday-Thursday) and your class time.


See below for how you cite the primary and the textbook.


330 words maximum – With the format below, it will be less than 1 page. Do not go over 1 printed page.


Use the preformatted file that includes the questions.

Do not change any of the settings:

  • Double-spaced.
  • 11 point Calibri font.
  • Margins -1” on the left and .5” on the right

General requirements?

Type in a word processor and run spell and grammar checking. Print it and proof it.
(To proof = to compare side by side paper and source to be sure page numbers and facts and names and quotations and everything is correct.)

Where do you submit it?

In Blackboard, in the Turnitin Assignment below this link.

What is the rubric used to grade this and all writing?

Click here for more on the rubric and how to use it to plan your work and when your work is graded.


Requirements for Citation for Written Papers

If you want to know why we use these shortened citations, click here (goes to the bottom of the page)

What You Want to Cite

Example of How You Would Cite

If the fact is from the required primary

If your fact is from page 1 of the Requerimiento, then immediately after your fact you’d write: (Requerimiento, p. 1)

If the fact is from the required textbook, the Essentials edition

If your fact is from page 30 of the textbook, then immediately after your fact you’d write: (Essentials, p. 30)


Tips for Reading

Reminder: Before the Requerimiento of 1510, there was the Treaty of Tordesillas (AKA Line of Demarcation). To avoid conflicts between two Catholic kingdoms, the pope had—to simplify—divided the world between Spain and Portugal. The line cut through Brazil. Spain received the west (except for Brazil); Portugal, the east.

Read the Requerimiento of 1510 first just to notice the time period. Then read this primary aloud as though you were the Spanish leader facing the Native Americans. Then think about how it would feel to hear this document read to you. Don’t get suckered. What are their assumptions about why they have a right to do this? How does all this actually turn out?

Use a) the primary itself, b) the Chapter 1 of the Essentials text that covers what actually turns out, and c) dictionary definitions that I provide to help you avoid fantasies and assumptions about words.

One other thing might help you realize about 1510: notice the past covered in this quick reference I provide in the resources for Chapter 1: Why you need to recognize prior eras. You cannot understand the primary for Chapter 1—nor the period at all—unless you realize how different these people are from today. For example, they are fine (no guilt at all) about enslaving people. If you were a slave, you would get no pay but instead work for enough to survive another day and to avoid the owner’s violence against you.

If You Want to Know Why We Use These Shortened Citations

The reasons are:

1.       All of your written assignments are brief. If you used traditional MLA citation which is written inline (within your lines of text), you would use up your word count much faster.

2.       History’s standard, the Chicago Manual of Style, provides rigorous citation, but not inline. Instead, it uses endnotes or footnotes to provide citation.

In other words, citation is there but it is not in the way of communication of the history. The citation is not written within your lines of text because of how historians write about history.

·         They are helping people understand the past.

·         That is your job as well. Why? When you try to help someone understand history, you start to understand it yourself. If you want to understand something, try to teach it.

3.       In this class, you may place your citation in either endnotes or inline, but we make that citation as unobtrusive as possible by making it very brief.

If You Quote (and You Do Not Have to) - Brain Trick for Quoting and Avoiding Quotation Humiliation

Click here for additional tips.

The rules for showing what you have taken out (…) of the author’s words or put in ([ ]) are complex and for most of us they are not worth learning.


This brain trick lets you be accurate but avoid learning those rules:

  1. Choose 3 to 6 words to quote and change nothing (not an ing or an ed, not a comma, nothing) between the first and the last word.

  2. Put abefore the first word and a after the last word.

  3. Place those words with the “ ”within your sentence.


  1. If something sounds awkward about your sentences, then change your own words—the only words you have a right to change.


  1. Look at all of the words in the source. Be sure the meaning of the source remains in your quotation.





Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2017


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History – Dr. Bibus

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