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Art History: Writing & Citing

Selecting a Topic

Selecting a topic can be challenging. Here are a few tips to consider when getting started.

  • Your topic should be interesting. You will be working with your topic for some time. You should enjoy your topic! If you don't you will have a miserable time conducting research and writing your paper.

  • Pick a topic with available research material. Finding sources is hard enough. Don't put your self  in a difficult situation byt selecting a topic that doesn't have any resources available. 

  • Once you have your topic, you will need to narrow it town. Try focusing on a geographic area, culture, time frame, discipline or population. 

  • Develop a research question. Having a research question will help you stay focused on acquiring the sources you actually need. When evaluating sources ask yourself, "does this source answer my research question?" If it answers your question then it might be useful. If it doesn’t, then you don’t need it and it is probably off topic.

Writing Your Paper

Crafting a Traditional Academic Paper

All academic papers include the following components:

  • Title
  • Abstract - Short summary of the entire paper
  • Introduction - Purpose, thesis statement and overview of the paper
  • Background, History, Literature Review, or Methodology (Pick one) -  In this section include information readers need to understand the discussion or review the work has already been done on your topic.
  • Argument, Critique, or Discussion (Body) - the body is the bulk of the paper. This is where you share your research and contributions to the study (summarize, analyze, explain and evaluate your sources).
  • Conclusion – Summary of the whole paper (what point did you prove, the answer to your research question, reinforce your claim) limitations and next steps.
  • Works Cited or References – Include a list of sources used in your paper.

Citing your Sources

Title: Self-Portrait

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

Date: September 1889

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 65 x 54 cm

Location: Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Original Work of Art

Artist’s last name, first name. Title of artwork. Year. Medium. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork, city where institution/private collection is located.

Van Gogh, Vincent. Self-Portrait. 1889. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

Artwork in a Printed Source

Artist’s last name, first name. Title of artwork. Year. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork. Title of print source. Author/editor’s first name last name. Publication city: Publisher, year. Page/plate number. Medium of reproduction.

Van Gogh, Vincent. Self-Portrait. 1889. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History. 15th ed. Ed. Fred S. Kleiner. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 2015. 958. Print.

Artwork from the Web

Artist’s last name, first name. Title of artwork. Year. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork. Title of database or website. Publisher/sponsor of database or website. Date of access.

Van Gogh, Vincent. Self-Portrait. 1889. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 14 September 2017.

Artwork with a URL

Artist’s last name, first name. Title of artwork. Year. Name of institution/private collection housing artwork. Title of database or website. Publisher/sponsor of database or website. Medium consulted. Date of access. <URL>.

Van Gogh, Vincent. Self-Portrait. 1889. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Van Gogh Gallery. Web. 14 September 2017.  http://www.vangoghgallery.com/misc/selfportrait.html.