The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

thesis statement definition essay

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

thesis statement definition essay

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How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
  • to better organize and develop your argument
  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
  • deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
  • express one main idea
  • assert your conclusions about a subject

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.

The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.

If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.

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Writing a paper: thesis statements, basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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Writing a Thesis Statement — Definition, Types, and Examples

Daniel Bal

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a single sentence that identifies the topic and purpose of a scholarly research paper or academic writing. A thesis statement directly or indirectly presents the main points of the paper. Information presented in the essay should tie directly back to the thesis.

Overall, a good thesis statement accomplishes the following:

Identifies the purpose of the essay

Expresses the writer's position/opinion

Lists the main supports (optional)

Briefly summarizes the writer's conclusion(s)

Establish if the essay is explanatory, argumentative, or analytical

What is a thesis statement?

People often confuse thesis statements with topic sentences , which start each body paragraph. Typically, the thesis statement is the final sentence in the introductory paragraph and acts as a “road map” for the rest of the paper.

Types of thesis statements

The three main types of thesis statements are explanatory, argumentative, and analytical.

Types of thesis statements

Explanatory thesis statements are used in expository essays that focus solely on informing the reader. Papers with this type of thesis do not contain the writer's opinion, nor do they try to persuade the reader.

The three main branches of science taught in public schools include biology, chemistry, and physics.

Argumentative thesis statements identify the writer's position or point of view on a given topic. Argumentative essays persuade the reader to agree with the writer's stance. If the reader cannot agree or disagree with the claim in the thesis, then it is not argumentative.

Public schools should place more emphasis on the arts because they encourage creativity, help improve academic development, and provide a beneficial emotional outlet.

Analytical thesis statements are used in papers that analyze how or why something does what it does. These thesis statements identify what the writer is analyzing, the parts of the analysis, and the order of those parts.

An analysis of course requirements in public schools suggests access to more electives can increase graduation rates.

Analytical thesis statements

How to write a thesis statement

When writing a thesis, the following guidelines apply:

Step 1: Determine the type of paper (explanatory, argumentative, or analytical).

Step 2: Identify the topic, position/claim, and supports of the essay.

Step 3: Determine if the supports should be included within the thesis. Although they are considered optional, they might be required depending on the audience and purpose of the essay.

Step 4: Compose a sentence that includes the topic, position, and supports (optional). While a thesis statement can be more than one sentence, it should not exceed two.

Step 5: Place the thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph(s). Placing it at the end of the introduction and before the supports allows the reader to focus on the paper’s main purpose.

Steps to write a thesis statement

Thesis statement examples

The following examples highlight each type of thesis statement.

Topic: Alternative Energy Sources

Explanatory Thesis: Alternative energy sources that can supplement the use of fossil fuels include solar, wind, and geothermal.

Argumentative Thesis: To combat reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels, the United States would benefit from focusing on alternative energy options.

Analytical Thesis: Analysis suggests that replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources could negatively impact the economy.

Topic: Social Media

Explanatory Thesis: Three of the first platforms that influenced the world of social media include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Argumentative Thesis: Social media negatively influences society as it increases opportunities for cyberbullying, limits face-to-face interactions, and creates unrealistic expectations.

Analytical Thesis: An analysis of the use of social media suggests itis irrevocably harming the development of teenagers.

Topic: Standardized Testing

Explanatory Thesis: Standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT play a limited role in influencing college acceptance.

Argumentative Thesis: Standardized testing should not be required because it increases anxiety, does not measure progress, and cannot predict future success.

Analytical Thesis: Analysis suggests that standardized testing in elementary and high school negatively impacts students' academic success.

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

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  • thesis statement

a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence.

Origin of thesis statement

Words nearby thesis statement.

  • short end of the stick, the
  • The show must go on
  • thesis play
  • Sketch Book, The
  • Skin of Our Teeth, The
  • sky's the limit, the
  • Snows of Kilimanjaro, The
  • The Social Contract

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

  • Effective Thesis Statements

What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”
  • A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay
  • A standard place for your thesis is at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • A thesis is an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel that others might dispute.
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus for your argument, one to which every part of your paper refers in the development of your position.
  • A thesis keeps the writer centered on the matter at hand and reduces the risk of intellectual wandering. Likewise, a thesis provides the reader with a “road map,” clearly laying out the intellectual route ahead.
  • A thesis statement avoids the first person (“I believe,” “In my opinion”).

A simple equation for what a thesis might look like this:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis Specific Topic+ Attitude/Angle/Argument=Thesis

Steps To Write Effective Thesis Statement

  • Choose a prompt or, if appropriate, select a topic: television violence and children
  • What are the effects of television violence on children?
  • Violence on television increases aggressive behavior in children.
  • Avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”.
  • Lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis).
  • While poor parenting and easy access to weapons may act as contributory factors, in fact when children are exposed to television violence they become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, are more fearful of the world around them, and are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

The Components of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Even if you have a terrific insight concerning a topic, it won’t be worth much unless you can logically and persuasively support it in the body of your essay. A thesis is the evolutionary result of a thinking process, not a miraculous creation. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment .
  • Substantial – Your thesis should be a claim for which it is easy to answer every reader’s question: “So what?”
  • Supportable – A thesis must be a claim that you can prove with the evidence at hand (e.g., evidence from your texts or from your research). Your claim should not be outlandish, nor should it be mere personal opinion or preference (e.g., “Frederick Douglass is my favorite historical figure.”) It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • Precise – It is focused and specific. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing everything. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • Arguable – It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.
  • Relevant – If you are responding to an assignment, the thesis should answer the question your teacher has posed. In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc.
  • Aware of Counters – It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the reader with too much information.

Questions To Review Your Thesis

  • “Do I answer the question?” This might seem obvious, but it’s worth asking. No matter how intriguing or dazzling, a thesis that doesn’t answer the question is not a good thesis!
  • “Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?” If not, then you probably do not have a strong argument. Theses that are too vague often have this problem. If your thesis contains vague words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what makes something “successful”?
  • Would anyone possible care about this thesis? So What? Does your thesis present a position or an interpretation worth pursuing? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • “Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?” Just as a thesis that doesn’t answer the question ultimately fails, so does a thesis that isn’t properly supported with evidence and reasoning.
  • Does my thesis statement adequately address the direction words of the prompt: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, etc.?

Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one . Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph . This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length , no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement . It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support . It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

Progressively Complex Thesis Statements

  • Effective Thesis Statements. Provided by : Writing Guide Wikispaces. Located at : https://writingguide.wikispaces.com/Effective+Thesis+Statements . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice

What is a Thesis Statement?

Introduction.

Writing the thesis statement is one of the most important things when it is about thesis writing. But what is a thesis statement? How to write a thesis statement? What is the thesis statement example? If you are stumbling with your thesis writing, you are at the right place.

Today's article explains the concept of a thesis statement. A thesis statement is basically a one-sentence statement that puts the main idea of a thesis in a nutshell while explaining the purpose of the research. Ultimately, a thesis statement is the foundation of your dissertation essay upon which you construct the building of a thesis.

However, if this foundation is not strong enough, the building will be shaky. It's tricky to write a perfect thesis statement if you are a newbie. That's why researching properly before writing a thesis statement is recommended. Let's understand this concept.

Starting with the definition, a thesis statement is a single sentence that describes how the writer is going to interpret the subject matter under discussion. In a single sentence, it explains what a reader should expect from the succeeding discussion. The rest of the write-up gives arguments, opinions, supporting ideas, and logic for the thesis statement.

The importance of a thesis statement can be analyzed from the fact that it carries a certain number of marks in academic writing. Not only failing to mention it but also writing a weak thesis statement leads to the deduction of marks. To avoid any kind of risk, we must learn how to write it and make it concise, clear, and eye-catching. It may be difficult to write because summing a whole essay into a single statement is not an easy task. But as a proverb says.

How to Write a Thesis statement?

Now the question pops up, Which steps do we need to take to make a thesis statement strong? A study conducted by Research prospect states that out of 5, every 3 students lack proficiency in writing skills, which is a great number. Trying not to be among those three, let's learn how to write a thesis statement in 5 easy steps. First, we need to know that a good thesis statement is simple, concise, and adherent to the rest of the paper.

Step 1: Select the essay style:

This is the most important step as the type of thesis statement pursued varies surely with the type of essay you choose. Depending on the content, there are two types of essays. So, here are two further questions! What is a thesis statement from the perspective of an expository style essay, and how do write a thesis statement for expository essays? And what is thesis statement from the perspective of a persuasive style essay, and how to write a thesis statement for a persuasive essay?

While Focusing on the title of the topic, we need to answer the question in the title while writing the thesis statement. If it’s not a question, we shall assume the question in our minds. While keeping that question in mind, the answer to the question must support our argument in the rest of the paper (in the case of an argumentative essay).

This type of essay demands an argument of the writer, his personal opinion and support for a particular point of view. The thesis statement for such an essay must either give the opinion of the writer or clearly define which side of the argument the writer supports and the reason for it.

The next part of your thesis statement will give a logical reason for "why" or "how" you support a certain side of the argument.

It usually occurs at the concluding line of the introductory paragraph but can also be located at the beginning of an introductory paragraph or even middle. 

In order to stay on track and avoid shifting your focus from the core idea of the essay, keep visiting your thesis statement while writing the essay.

A thesis statement is usually 1 or 2 sentences long. Too many lengthy statements are avoided to avoid the reader getting frustrated.

Finally, evaluate the thesis statement of this article. It's an expository one as it provides factual information and not the writer’s personal opinion or argument. It starts with the first basic step i.e answering the question of the title. Then gives a logical answer for "how".

The next part of the statement includes the summary of the rest of the information. Observing practically, it can be evaluated that the article contains no information other than the one, mentioned in the article.

Make a Thesis Statement via Mind-mapping

Mind maps are a visual articulation of your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. It helps you to contextualize your vision and draw inspiration from it to guide your direction of writing and craft the language and terminologies that will best express your vein of thought.

Mind mapping can work wonderfully to guide you in choosing an appropriate thesis statement for your essay. Mind-maps help develop an understanding of the text that you are trying to write. A visual map of ideas whether hand-drawn or done through computer software is a fun way of putting together all your ideas and assertions in one easy-to-read format.

This mapping of ideas will orient you towards the central theme or element of the essay that is crucial for you to highlight. This central idea is what needs to be communicated to the reader and therefore will determine the content and form of your thesis statement.

Here, you can choose EdrawMind to create your mind maps. 

A thesis statement is an important part of writing that must be written while following the rules. It is an eye-catching part for the reader and the impression for the rest of the work depends on this as it occurs at the starting point. Substituting the statement with the proverb, "First impression is the last impression", a writer must stick to the thesis statement in whole writing.

Related Articles

Thesis Statement

Definition of thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a statement that occurs at the end of the introduction , after the background information on the topic. The thesis statement is connected with the background information through a transition , which could be a full sentence , or a simple transition word, such as therefore, because, but etc.

The thesis statement is called the “heart of the essay .” The idea of an essay without a thesis statement is akin to a body without its heart. It also is called the “central point” or the “core” of an essay. It is comprised of evidences that the writer uses to elaborate on his topic further. Each of these evidences is then elaborated and discussed in the body paragraphs .

If there are three body paragraphs, the thesis statement must have three evidences, and should it have more than three body paragraphs, may be additional evidences. In argumentative essays, three evidences support the topic, while the fourth evidence is against it. The same is the case of persuasive essays. This applies to five-paragraph essays, but in case of a longer essay, the thesis statement could make use of more than one sentence.

There is a slight controversy over the placement of a thesis statement. Some writers and professors argue that it could be placed in the first paragraph at the end, while others feel that, in longer essays, it is not possible to give background information in just one paragraph. As background information takes two or three paragraphs, the thesis statement is kept slightly larger, having two or three sentences, and is placed at the end of the second or third paragraph. However, in a five-paragraph essay, the thesis statement is always placed at the end of the introduction, after the background information.

Qualities of a Good Thesis Statement

  • It must have evidences.
  • It should be interesting.
  • It should be limited.
  • It should be manageable.
  • It should be researchable.

Difference Between a Thesis Statement and Topic

Sometimes students confuse a thesis statement with a topic, mistaking the thesis statement as the very topic of the essay they are going to read. However, it must be kept in mind that a thesis statement is not a topic, but a brief explanation of the topic in a way that sets the direction of the essay. It predicts the path the essay will take, and tells readers how the essay is going to be organized, and what each part contains.

The topic, however, is a general idea of the essay. It is a specific topic, which has been organized by the thesis statement. The thesis statement in turn elaborates evidences to support to the topic.

Examples of Good and Bad Thesis Statements

  • Bad Thesis Statement – “Social media is proving a good marketing tool.”
  • Good Thesis Statement – “Social media is proving to be, not only a better marketing tool, but also a source of advertisement for short and medium enterprises intending to expand their consumer base.”

Examples of Thesis Statements in Literature

Example #1:  dream on (by mark krikorian in national review online ).

“The core principal behind this amnesty proposal is that it is amid at those who have grown up here and are, psychologically and emotionally, Americans.”

This is the first sentence of the second paragraph. The second sentence further elaborates this thesis. It is placed in the second paragraph because the first paragraph introduces the controversial DREAM Act. As the writer is going to argue against the bill, he has stated his argument as to why he is going to oppose it. This is a very compact thesis statement with various implicit counter arguments.

Example #2: Editorial (by The Washington Post)

“There is no doubt that the attacks profoundly affected our country’s policy, politics, economics, society and even collective psychology. Moreover, in addition to sharing the immediate experience of September 9/11, Americans have dealt with its consequences in the years since.”

This is the best thesis statement with clear evidences in it. It is not as complicated as other thesis statements usually are.

Example #3: I Have a Dream (by Martin Luther King)

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds’.”

This is one of the best examples of long thesis statements. It highlights what Martin Luther King is going to speak about. It comes after three paragraphs of background information.

Function of Thesis Statement

A good thesis statement is the heart of an essay. It gives a gist of the thoughts a writer expresses in his essay. It determines the shape of the essay, predicts its content, and foreshadows its events. It narrates the whole story in just one sentence, provided the essay is a short one. Without a thesis statement, an essay is just a written piece, not an organized and well-connected essay

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How to Write Compelling Hooks For Essays (Essay Hook Examples Included)

Feb 15, 2024 | 0 comments

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Feb 15, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

Are you struggling to grab your reader’s attention from the very first sentence of your essay? Whether you’re writing a college essay or a personal piece, the importance of compelling hooks for essays cannot be overstated. The hook is the first sentence or two of your essay that sets the stage for the rest of your writing and entices the reader to continue reading. It is the key to making your essay memorable and engaging. This article will explore the different essay hooks and provide examples to help you begin your essay with a bang. From a captivating anecdotal hook to a descriptive hook that paints a vivid picture, we’ve got you covered. So, if you’re struggling to write an essay hook that will make readers eager to read your essay, keep reading to discover how to craft the best hook for any essay topic.

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  • Best 10 Persuasive Essay Examples for Students
  • 170+ Compelling Essay Hook Examples that Grab Readers’ Attention
  • Argumentative vs Persuasive Essays: Differences & Examples

Different Types of Essay Hooks 

When you start your essay, grabbing readers’ attention is crucial. You need a great hook to keep them engaged from the get-go. You can use several hooks, each serving a specific purpose in drawing in your audience.

  • Anecdote : An anecdote hook involves sharing a brief personal story or experience related to your topic. Its purpose is to create a connection between the reader and the subject matter of your essay. For example, if you’re writing a personal narrative about overcoming obstacles, you might start with a description hook like,
“Once upon a time, I found myself standing at the base of a towering mountain, unsure if I had the strength to climb it.”
  • Question : A question hook involves posing a thought-provoking question to your readers about your essay topic. The purpose is to stimulate curiosity and encourage readers to think about the subject. For instance, if your essay is about the impact of technology on society, you might start with a question hook like,
“Have you ever wondered how much our reliance on smartphones has changed the way we interact with one another?”
  • Quotation : A quotation hook involves incorporating a relevant and impactful quote from a notable figure or source related to your essay’s theme. The purpose is to add authority and depth to your introduction while enticing readers with words of wisdom. For example, if you’re writing about the importance of perseverance, you could start with a quotation hook like,
“In the words of Winston Churchill, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.'”
  • Statistical Data : A statistical data hook involves presenting compelling statistics or facts about your topic. The purpose is to provide concrete evidence and establish credibility while capturing readers’ attention with surprising or alarming data. For instance, if your essay is about climate change, you might start with a statistical data hook like,
“Did you know that the average global temperature has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century?”
  • Definition : A definition hook involves offering a clear and concise definition of a key term or concept central to your essay. The purpose is to provide clarity and context while inviting readers to explore the topic further. For example, if you’re writing about the concept of love, you could start with a definition hook like,
“Love, often defined as an intense feeling of affection and attachment towards someone or something, is a complex and multifaceted emotion that has puzzled philosophers and poets for centuries.”

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Where do you find ideas for great hook writing?

When considering how to write a hook for an essay, choosing one that aligns with your topic and audience is essential. Your hook sets the tone for the rest of your essay and determines whether readers will be engaged from the start.

  • Consider your topic and audience : Before selecting a hook, consider your essay’s subject matter and who will read it. What kind of hook would resonate with your audience and draw them in? For example, if you’re writing a research paper on environmental issues for a class of environmentally-conscious students, a statistical data hook highlighting the impact of climate change might be effective.
  • Align the hook with your essay’s purpose : Your hook should reflect your essay’s main idea or purpose. If you’re writing a persuasive essay arguing for stricter gun control laws, your hook could be a rhetorical question that prompts readers to consider the consequences of lax firearm regulations.
  • Mind mapping : Mind mapping involves visually organizing your thoughts and ideas related to your essay topic. This method can help you identify potential hooks by visually connecting concepts and themes.
  • Freewriting : Freewriting involves writing continuously for a set period without worrying about grammar or structure. This technique lets you explore different hook ideas by letting your thoughts flow freely onto the page.
  • Researching involves gathering information and examples related to your topic from various sources. This process can inspire unique hooks to use in your essay by providing you with valuable insights and data to incorporate into your introduction.

Crafting an Engaging Anecdote Hook 

An anecdote hook is a type of hook in an essay that involves sharing a brief personal story or experience related to your topic. It’s an effective way to start your essay as it captivates readers’ attention and creates an immediate connection between them and the subject matter. It’s effective as a hook because it draws readers in with a relatable and engaging story, making them emotionally invested in the rest of your essay.

Key elements to include in an anecdote :

  • Setting : Describe the time and place where the anecdote takes place. This helps paint a vivid picture for readers and sets the scene for the story.
  • Characters : Introduce the people involved in the anecdote, including yourself, if you’re part of the story. Providing details about the characters helps readers connect with them on a personal level.
  • Conflict or problem : Highlight the main challenge or obstacle faced by the characters in the anecdote. This creates tension and keeps readers engaged as they follow along to see how the conflict unfolds.
  • Resolution or lesson : Conclude the anecdote by revealing how the conflict was resolved or the lesson learned from the experience. This brings closure to the story and ties it back to the main theme of your essay.

Example of an anecdote hook :

“Once upon a time, during my first year of college, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the transition from high school. The pressure to excel academically, make new friends, and navigate newfound independence weighed heavily on my shoulders. One particular incident stands out in my memory: the day I had to give my first presentation in front of my entire class. As I stood trembling in front of the projector, I realized that conquering my fear of public speaking would be key to my success in college.”

Captivating Readers with a Thought-Provoking Question, Hook

A question hook is a hook in an essay that involves posing a thought-provoking question to your readers. It’s an effective way to start your essay as it encourages readers to engage with the topic actively and prompts them to think critically about the subject matter.

Benefits of using a question as a hook : Using a question as a hook has several benefits. Firstly, it stimulates curiosity and encourages readers to think about the topic from different perspectives. Secondly, it creates an immediate connection between the reader and the essay by inviting them to reflect on their experiences or beliefs. Finally, it sets the stage for the rest of the essay by compellingly presenting the main theme or argument.

Strategies for creating compelling questions :

  • Highlighting a common misconception : One strategy for creating a compelling question hook is highlighting a common misconception or widely held belief related to your topic. This challenges readers’ assumptions and prompts them to reconsider their views. For example, suppose you’re writing an essay about the benefits of vegetarianism. In that case, you might start with a question like, “Have you ever wondered if eating meat is necessary for a balanced diet?”
  • Controversial or thought-provoking topics : Another strategy is to choose a controversial or thought-provoking topic and pose a question that encourages readers to consider different viewpoints. This sparks debate and encourages readers to evaluate the issues at hand critically. For instance, if you’re writing an essay about marijuana legalization, you could start with a question like, “Is it time to rethink our approach to marijuana legalization in light of its potential medical benefits?”

Example of a question hook :

“What if I told you that the key to happiness lies not in material wealth or social status, but in embracing simplicity and gratitude? Imagine a world where success is measured not by the size of your bank account, but by the depth of your relationships and the richness of your experiences. Would you be willing to challenge the status quo and redefine your definition of success?”

Grabbing Attention with a Powerful Quotation Hook

Using a quotation as a hook in your essay can capture readers’ attention immediately. Choosing a relevant and impactful quote that sets the tone for your essay and draws readers in is crucial.

  • Importance of using relevant and impactful quotes : Incorporating a relevant and impactful quote at the beginning of your essay can immediately engage readers and pique their interest in your topic. A well-chosen quote can provide insight, add authority, or evoke emotion, setting the stage for the rest of your essay.
  • How to choose the right quote for your essay : When selecting a quote for your essay hook, consider its relevance to your topic and its ability to resonate with your audience. Look for quotes from reputable sources or well-known figures in the field that add credibility to your argument. Additionally, choose a quote that aligns with the tone and theme of your essay to create coherence and continuity.

Tips for integrating quotations effectively :

Once you’ve chosen a quote for your hook, it’s essential to integrate it seamlessly into your essay. 

  • Provide context for the quote by briefly explaining its significance or relevance to your topic.
  • Avoid quoting lengthy passages verbatim; select the most impactful phrases or sentences supporting your argument.
  • Use the appropriate citation format to attribute the quote to its source properly.

Example of a quotation hook :

“In the words of Maya Angelou, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ This profound statement by the renowned author and poet captures the essence of human connection and empathy. As we delve into the complexities of relationships in this essay, Angelou’s words serve as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of kindness and compassion.”

Persuading with Statistical Data Hook

Using statistical data as a hook in your essay can be a powerful way to persuade readers and establish the credibility of your argument. It’s essential to use credible and persuasive statistics that are relevant to your topic and up-to-date.

  • Significance of using credible and persuasive statistics : Incorporating statistical data into your essay adds credibility to your argument by providing empirical evidence to support your claims. Readers are likelier to be persuaded by facts and figures than by mere opinions or anecdotes. By presenting data from reputable sources, you demonstrate to your audience that your argument is based on reliable information.
  • Finding relevant and up-to-date statistics : When searching for statistics to use as a hook in your essay, it’s crucial to ensure that they are relevant to your topic and reflect the current state of affairs. Look for data from reputable sources such as government agencies, academic journals, or research institutes. Pay attention to the publication date to ensure the statistics are up-to-date and accurately represent the current situation.
  • Incorporating statistics seamlessly into your essay : Once you’ve found relevant and up-to-date statistics, it’s essential to incorporate them seamlessly. Provide context for the statistics by explaining their significance and relevance to your argument. Avoid overwhelming readers with too many statistics; select the most compelling data points directly supporting your thesis. Use clear and concise language to present the statistics and ensure they flow smoothly within the text.

Example of a statistical data hook :

“According to a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization, approximately 1 in 3 adults worldwide are overweight or obese. This alarming statistic highlights the global prevalence of obesity and underscores the urgent need for action. As we delve into the health consequences of obesity in this essay, it is clear that this issue is not only a personal concern but also a public health crisis that demands immediate attention.”

Defining the Topic with a Definition Hook

Using a definition as a hook in your essay can effectively introduce the main concept or theme you’ll discuss. It sets the stage for your argument and helps readers understand the context of your writing.

Benefits of using a definition as a hook : Utilizing a definition hook offers several advantages. Firstly, it provides clarity and establishes a common understanding of the topic for your readers. Secondly, it captures attention by presenting a concise and focused definition that intrigues readers and makes them eager to learn more. Finally, it creates a framework for your essay, guiding readers through the main ideas and arguments you’ll be presenting.

Different types of definitions to consider :

  • Dictionary definition : This type of definition involves using the definition of a word or concept as found in a dictionary. It provides a straightforward and universally accepted interpretation of the topic.
  • Personal or unique definition : A personal definition involves offering your interpretation or understanding of the topic based on your experiences or perspective. This can add depth and authenticity to your hook, making it more engaging for readers.
  • Metaphorical or symbolic definition : A metaphorical or symbolic definition involves using imagery or figurative language to define the topic creatively and evocatively. This definition can evoke emotion and intrigue readers, encouraging them to explore the deeper meaning behind the topic.

Example of a definition hook :

“In the world of entrepreneurship, success is often defined not by the size of one’s bank account, but by the ability to overcome obstacles and pursue one’s passion with unwavering determination. For many entrepreneurs, success is not just a destination but a journey marked by resilience, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.”

Writing a Hook for Different Types of Essays

Writing a hook for an argumentative essay, a research paper, or a personal statement requires careful consideration of the specific goals and audience of each type of writing. Each type of essay demands a different approach to crafting an engaging hook that effectively captures readers’ attention and sets the tone for the rest of the piece.

Writing a hook for an argumentative essay :

When crafting a hook for an argumentative essay, your goal is to immediately grab readers’ attention and introduce the main argument or controversy you’ll be addressing. One effective approach is to start with a compelling statistic or fact highlighting the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For example, if you’re writing an argumentative essay on the importance of vaccinations, you might begin with a startling statistic about the rise of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years.

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Writing a hook for a research paper :

In a research paper, your hook should draw readers into the topic you’ll be exploring and make them eager to learn more about your findings. Consider starting with a thought-provoking question or a surprising anecdote related to your research question. Alternatively, you could begin with a quotation from a notable expert in the field or a compelling statement that underscores the relevance of your research topic. For instance, if your research paper is about the impact of social media on mental health, you might start with a quote from a psychologist discussing the rise of anxiety and depression among young people due to excessive social media use.

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Writing a hook for a personal statement :

Your hook should capture your personality, experiences, and aspirations in a personal statement while grabbing the reader’s attention. Consider starting with a vivid anecdote or a memorable quote that reflects your values or interests. Alternatively, you could begin with a rhetorical question that prompts readers to reflect on their experiences or beliefs. For example, suppose you’re writing a personal statement for a college application. In that case, you might start with a brief anecdote about a formative experience that sparked your passion for your chosen field of study.

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What is a Hook in an Essay?

A hook in an essay is a sentence or set of sentences at the beginning of the essay that grabs the reader’s attention and encourages them to continue reading. It is meant to engage the reader and make them interested in the topic of your essay.

What are the Different Types of Hooks in Essay Writing?

There are several types of hooks that you can use in your essay. Some common types include:

  • A question hook: A hook that poses a thought-provoking question to the reader.
  • A quote hook: A hook that begins with a relevant quote from a credible source.
  • An anecdote hook: A hook that tells a short and interesting story related to your essay topic.
  • A statistic hook: A hook that presents a surprising fact or statistic.

Can you Provide Some Examples of Hooks for Essays?

Certainly! Here are a few examples of hooks that you can use in your essays:

  • “Once upon a time, in a faraway land…” (Narrative Hook)
  • “Did you know that 75% of people are afraid of heights?” (Statistic Hook)
  • “In the words of Albert Einstein, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.'” (Quote Hook)
  • “When I was ten years old, I experienced the thrill of riding a roller coaster for the first time.” (Anecdote Hook)

How Should I Structure My Essay with a Hook?

When using a hook in your essay, it is important to structure your essay in a way that follows a logical flow. Here is a suggested essay structure:

  • Introduction: Start with a hook to grab the reader’s attention and provide background information.
  • Thesis Statement: State your main argument or point of view in a strong and clear statement.
  • Body Paragraphs: Develop your main ideas and provide evidence to support them.
  • Conclusion: Summarize your main points and leave the reader with a final thought or reflection.

Why is Writing an Effective Hook Important for an Essay?

An effective hook is important for an essay because it sets the tone for the rest of the essay and captures the reader’s interest. A strong hook can make your essay stand out and make it more memorable to the reader.

sarah Bentley

With a passion for helping students navigate their educational journey, I strive to create informative and relatable blog content. Whether it’s tackling exam stress, offering career guidance, or sharing effective study techniques

  • 170+ Compelling Essay Hook Examples that Grab Readers' Attention

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  1. How To Write A Thesis Statement (with Useful Steps and Tips) • 7ESL

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  2. 25 Thesis Statement Examples (2024)

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  3. Mastering the Thesis Statement: Examples and Tips for Academic Success

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  4. Mastering the Thesis Statement: Examples and Tips for Academic Success

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  5. How to Write an Effective Thesis Statement

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  6. What Is The Thesis Statement? Examples of Thesis Statements

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  1. What is Extended Essay? (Thesis Statement)

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay. It usually comes near the end of your introduction. Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you're writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across.

  2. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a sentence in a paper or essay (in the opening paragraph) that introduces the main topic to the reader. As one of the first things your reader sees, your thesis statement is one of the most important sentences in your entire paper—but also one of the hardest to write!

  3. Thesis Statements

    A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. makes a claim that others might dispute.

  4. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper.

  5. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay, and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay. A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to ...

  6. How to write a thesis statement + Examples

    A good thesis statement needs to do the following: Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences. Answer your project's main research question. Clearly state your position in relation to the topic. Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

  7. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    What is a Thesis Statement? Almost all of us—even if we don't do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement. Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  8. Creating a Thesis Statement, Thesis Statement Tips

    Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement. 1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing: An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.; An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.; An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies ...

  9. What Is a Thesis Statement? Definition and Examples.

    A thesis statement is a declaration of one or two sentences that gives the topic and purpose of an essay or speech. More specifically, it provides information to the audience about what the author/speaker intends to prove or declare, with specific discussion points.

  10. What is a thesis statement?

    A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay. Everything else you write should relate to this key idea. Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay What doesn't go in an essay conclusion? What goes in an essay conclusion? How long is an essay conclusion? What is an essay? What is a hook?

  11. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

    The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper.

  12. Writing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a single sentence that identifies the topic and purpose of a scholarly research paper or academic writing. A thesis statement directly or indirectly presents the main points of the paper. Information presented in the essay should tie directly back to the thesis. Overall, a good thesis statement accomplishes the following:

  13. Thesis Statement

    The purpose of a thesis statement is to showcase the main idea and or the main argument of an essay. Without it, the reader doesn't have a foundation for understanding the arguments, examples, and ...

  14. Strong Thesis Statements

    The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable. An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. ... Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or ...

  15. THESIS STATEMENT Definition & Usage Examples

    thesis statement [ thee-sis steyt-m uhnt ] show ipa noun a short statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, etc., and is developed, supported, and explained in the text by means of examples and evidence. Recommended videos Powered by AnyClip AnyClip Product Demo 2022

  16. Mastering the Thesis Statement: Examples and Tips for Academic ...

    What Is A Thesis Statement? Definition and Purpose. In the most simple terms, a thesis statement is a short statement that provides insight into what the essay is going to be about. ... An expository essay thesis statement highlights a specific issue or fact that the writer will explain or analyze throughout the essay. This type of thesis ...

  17. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    statement about a topic and move to a narrow statement about that topic. Broad ... • Avoid beginning with a dictionary definition of a term or concept you will be writing about. If the concept is complicated or unfamiliar to your readers, you ... out what you want to argue—your essay's thesis—your task in writing the essay will be

  18. Effective Thesis Statements

    In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc. Aware of Counters - It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments. The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the ...

  19. PDF What is the Thesis Statement? Definition

    Definition: The thesis statement is a one or two sentence encapsulation of your paper's main point, main idea, or main message. Your paper's thesis statement will be addressed and defended in the body paragraphs and the conclusion. Where should I place my thesis statement?

  20. What is a Thesis Statement?

    Introduction Writing the thesis statement is one of the most important things when it is about thesis writing. But what is a thesis statement? How to write a thesis statement? What is the thesis statement example? If you are stumbling with your thesis writing, you are at the right place. Today's article explains the concept of a thesis statement.

  21. Examples and Definition Thesis Statement

    A good thesis statement is the heart of an essay. It gives a gist of the thoughts a writer expresses in his essay. It determines the shape of the essay, predicts its content, and foreshadows its events. It narrates the whole story in just one sentence, provided the essay is a short one. Without a thesis statement, an essay is just a written ...

  22. Definition Essay

    Definition is a rhetorical style that uses various techniques to impress upon the reader the meaning of a term, idea, or concept. Definition may be used for an entire essay but is often used as a rhetorical style within an essay that may mix rhetorical styles.

  23. How to Write a Definition Essay: Outline, Examples

    Get tips on writing a solid essay, avoiding common mistakes, and crafting a strong thesis statement. Find inspiration and ideas through definition essay example. So what is a definition essay? As the name suggests, a definition essay is an essay that explains in detail a certain term or concept.

  24. How to Write an AP Lang Synthesis Essay: Tips & Steps

    Step 6. Revise and edit. First, review your text for coherence, clarity, and accuracy. Second, check your AP Lang argument essay example for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Third, make revisions as needed to strengthen your argument and improve the overall quality of your work.

  25. Definition Essay Thesis Statement Examples

    Examples of thesis statement for an Definition essay. As any definition essay deals with defining a certain term, idea or concept it goes without saying that it thesis statement should contain the essence, the most important part and meaning of the whole definition presented to the reader. Basically, it is the thesis statement that reveals the ...

  26. Writing Captivating Hooks For Essays

    Using a definition as a hook in your essay can effectively introduce the main concept or theme you'll discuss. It sets the stage for your argument and helps readers understand the context of your writing. ... Thesis Statement: State your main argument or point of view in a strong and clear statement. Body Paragraphs: Develop your main ideas ...