From the Hamilton College History Department:

Top Ten Reasons for Negative Comments on History Papers

10. You engage in cheap, anachronistic moralizing.

9. You are sloppy with the chronology.

8. You quote excessively or improperly.

7. You have written a careless “one-draft wonder.”

6. You are vague or have empty, unsupported generalizations.

5. You write too much in the passive voice.

4. You use inappropriate sources.

3. You use evidence uncritically.

2. You are wordy.

1. You have no clear thesis and little analysis.

Top Ten Signs that you may be Writing a Weak History Paper

10. You’re overjoyed to find that you can fill the required pages by widening all margins.

9. You haven’t mentioned any facts or cited any sources for several paragraphs.

8. You find yourself using the phrase “throughout history mankind has…”

7. You just pasted in another 100 words of quotations.

6. You haven’t a clue about the content of your next paragraph.

5. You’re constantly clicking on The Britannica, Webster’s, and Bartlett’s.

4. Your writing tutor sneaks another look at her watch as she reminds you for the third time to clarify your thesis.

3. Your main historical actors are this, it, they, the people, and society, and they are all involved with factors, aspects, impacts, and issues.

2. You just realize that you don’t understand the assignment, but it’s 3:00 A.M, the paper is due at 9:00, and you don’t dare call your professor.

1. You’re relieved that the paper counts for only 20 percent of the course grade.