Writing about documents

When writing about my documents, i try to include: what is the document? role of autho/document, describe document, how it supports my argument. it usually ends up being like 6 sentences which is wayyy to much but i dont know what to reduce! PLEASE HELP!!!

Describing the document can take many forms. You could list the title, you could describe the author, or you could describe the contents of the document. Each of these can be one sentence and you only need to do one. What you never want to do is quote, ever under any circumstances.

If you’re doing HIPP for a document, you only have to do HIPP once (as in H OR I OR P OR P. Not all of them). I usually do 2-3 sentences with first sentence with introducing the doc with a parenthetical citation “(Doc 1)” and then second sentence being my HIPP analysis.

Allllllllrighty then, let’s breathe together. inhaleexhale. Now then: When dealing with a document, describe what it’s talking about, pick ONE PART of HAPP/HIPP to talk about, tie that bad boy into your argument, and roll. That’ll be 4-6 sentences, yeah, but it’ll work. You’ve got this!

So. . . Some students like to summarize the document as it relates to the prompt and then say “therefore” or “this shows” and then ANSWER the PROMPT using the document. I stress that USING the document can be done in 2-3 sentences per document. You want to also HIPP (source) two docs and that might take 2 more sentences. I feel you are doing too much.


The format that I personally use for my document analysis is:

Doc x states that [brief summary of document here]. [Historical context or intended audience or perspective or purpose here]. [This demonstrates that… [statement that connects back to main argument] because…

And then go to the next doc! Each part only takes one to two sentences—you don’t have to cover everything, only what helps you move your argument along.

I hope this helps!

When I describe I usually describe the contents of the document and what the author is saying. for example i might say: Document 5 is a Javanese aristocrat expressing his aggravation to the Dutch controlling the islands of present-day Indonesia, where he lives. Although many people were also aggravated with the actions of the Dutch controlling them, since he is not a government official, by expressing his aggravations he is only speaking of the aggravations of himself and others, but not doing much about it. In the document, he says that the Javanese do not find it pleasant for the Dutch to treat them as they do, by speaking broken Malay, their native language, when the Dutch know that the Javanese understand the Dutch language. The Dutch make the Javanese feel ridiculous by demanding them to “kiss their feet.” This shows that many indigenous people were aggravated by the state expansion towards their state, but it also does not show much action being done to prevent this state expansion.

Oh hey!

ACE is a structure I come back to a lot because it’s simple and logical.
Cite (Evidence)

If your thesis is your overarching argument, then think of a paragraph as starting with your topic or “baby thesis.” Then, aim to use 2-3 docs in each body paragraph (ideally). I’ll leave OE & Sourcing out, for now.

  • Your doc summary/paraphrase/embedded evidence is the “C” or cited evidence for your “A,” which is your answer; follow up with the rest of a complex sentence or a third sentence for your “E,” or explanation. Just like you would for an SAQ portion!

So for instance: Let’s say I’m responding to the DBQ prompt about indigenous responses to expansion. Let’s say my thesis is Some indigenous groups responded by negotiating. However, others resisted violently, or followed through with a mixture of negotiation and violence.

One doc-based body paragraph, presumably, would be about negotiation (A).

  • “C” would be Cited Evidence. Evidence from a doc might be 3-5 word quote or a solid paraphrase (or ideally, a mixture of both) followed by or preceded by a citation naming the doc. Syntax variety is helpful (you might start a sentence with “According to Doc 3, a painting of the Battle of Adowa…” or write “The painting of the Battle of Adowa…” (Doc 3).
  • “E” would be Explanation. You’d note how or why that evidence highlights negotiation (ideally not using negotiation as your sole word 18,000 times - but using variety).
  • After that, including sourcing info or OE.

Hope that’s helpful!

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