DBQ Writing Outline

How to Construct a DBQ Essay

Paragraph 1: Introduction

·         Introduce  the question you will write about

·         Define key terms (if not commonly known)

·         Provide some historical background (time, place, major groups involved)

·         Thesis Statement- give your thesis & TWO-THREE  major arguments/categories you will discuss in support of your thesis (SPRITE-G) - Social, Political, Religious, Intellectual, Technological, Economic, Geographic


Paragraph 2:  Background information paragraph

Write a description of the events leading up to the episode or period in question.


Paragraph 3, 4, 5: supporting arguments & evidence

Give your first supporting argument/category of analysis (connect to overall thesis)

Refer to documents as evidence to support your argument- Describe the relevant info. in the document and state how it supports your thesis

Include outside information from what you have learned in class, and connect to thesis

Sum up the paragraph and re-connect to your overall thesis.


Paragraph 6: Concession

Briefly present arguments that might support a view different than your own

Point out why your argument is nevertheless the more compelling one.


Paragraph 7: Conclusion

Restate the issue/question

Restate your thesis

Repeat supporting arguments

Connect the issue to later historical events, or describe this episode as part of a larger historical trend.



1. Keep it simple. Do not use "flowery language", or overly complex sentences. Do, though, use a
    few big words (relevant words)…do use them correctly! Don’t use many words when one or two
    will do.

2. Write about the past in the past tense.

3. However, write in the active voice, it is livelier and more interesting to read. Active voice is when
    the subject acts through the verb (Columbus discovered America, Napoleon made the decision to
    invade Russia).

4. Write clearly and neatly. At least, do your very best! Readers are prejudiced against sloppiness!

5. Misspellings may be inevitable, nevertheless, a student should learn to spell terms associated
    with each unit of study as well as other frequently occurring terms, such as "affected" and
    "occurred", words like "which", "their/there".

6. Things to avoid in writing historical essays:

    a. Lengthy quotations. In fact, try to avoid using any quotations in your essays.

    b. Rhetorical questions and rhetoric in general. The essay is not to get on a soapbox and
        espouse personal opinions not relevant to the question.

    c. Do not use personal pronouns ("they" said, e.g.) or vague references.

    d. Writing in the first person, such as "I think", "in my opinion" should be avoided.