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Guidelines For Picking Interesting Term Paper Topics In US History

It’s easy and perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed when you have been asked by your instructor to choose a term paper topic for your US History project. Despite there being hundreds of years and thousands of subjects to explore, many students feel as though everything interesting to say has already been said. However, this is simply not true. There’s plenty of great stuff to do research on, and most of it would make for an excellent term paper. One simply needs to know how to pick an interesting topic. Here are a few guidelines to help you along:

Choosing a broad topic in three steps

  1. If your instructor has allowed you to choose any topic from within the entire scope of US History, choose something that genuinely interests you, or something you want to learn more about. If you are stuck, think of an area from which you need questions answered.
  2. Narrow down your topic a little. For instance, if you choose the American Civil War you can narrow your topic to discuss policy or famous battles of the Civil War. You’re not yet developing a thesis yet but just zooming in the lens of your microscope, so to speak.
  3. The next step requires you to focus a little more. In keep with our example you would confine either policies or famous battles to a specific time period or a particular side in the war. You might live in one of the states in which the war took place, and can confine your research to within its boundaries.

Narrowing your topic in three steps

  1. Repeat the steps above a few times to give you two or three really good choices for consideration. If you feel strongly about one of your topics go ahead and focus on that one. You can set the others aside for another project.
  2. Now it’s time to get specific. Take your topic and think of something specific. If you are considering Civil War policies in South Carolina, you could narrow your topic to policies written by a specific politician in South Carolina.
  3. The last step is much like the prior step, only that now you bring in your lens to the furthest point. In keeping with our example, your topic may now read anti-war policies submitted by a specific politician in South Carolina, and what those policies meant toward ending the war.

And this is how you choose an interesting topic in US History. Follow these guidelines often (use them in other subjects) and you’ll picking great topics will become second nature.


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