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A thesis statement is usually at the end of an introductory paragraph. The sentences that precede the sentence will introduce it, and the sentences that follow will support and explain it. Just as a topic sentence introduces and organizes a paragraph, a thesis statement helps readers recognize what is to follow.
For example, consider the following thesis statement:
The Battle of Vicksburg changed the course of the Civil War, leading to the success of the Union.
This statement defines the subject, limits it (one battle, not the entire Civil War), and sets up a cause and effect pattern for the essay that follows.
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Frequently asked questions
Where does the thesis statement go in an essay.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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.
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.
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.
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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What is a thesis statement? I need some examples, too.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement clearly identifies the topic being discussed, includes the points discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience. Your thesis statement belongs at the end of your first paragraph, also known as your introduction. Use it to generate interest in your topic and encourage your audience to continue reading.
You can read chapter four of Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers an eBook in our online collection, click the title to open: "How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?" .
Another option is to think of a thesis statement as one complete sentence that expresses your position .
- Narrows the topic down to a specific focus of an investigation.
- Establishes a direction for the entire paper.
- Points forward to the conclusion.
- Always stated in your introduction. (Usually at the end of the first paragraph).
- Always take a stand and justify further discussion.
A thesis statement is not a statement of fact.
Your readers—especially your instructors—want to read writing that engages them. Consequently, you must write thesis statements that are arguable, not factual. Statements of fact seem easy to write about because, well, they are easy to prove. After all, they’re facts. The problem is that you cannot write engaging papers around statements of fact. Such theses prevent you from demonstrating critical thinking and analytical skills, which you want to show your instructor. If you were to write a paper around the next two statements, your writing would probably be quite dull because you would be restating facts that the general public already knows.
Thesis Statements always take a stand and justify further discussion.
In order to make your writing interesting, you should develop a thesis statement that is arguable. Sometimes you will be writing to persuade others to see things your way and other times you will simply be giving your strong opinion and laying out your case for it.
Take a look at the following examples:
Statement of fact:
Small cars get better fuel mileage than 4x4 pickup trucks.
Arguable thesis statement:
The government should ban 4x4 pickup trucks except for work-related use.
Foul language is common in movies.
The amount of foul language in movies is disproportionate to the amount of foul language in real life.
State ment of fact:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease.
Arguable thesis statement/opening paragraph:
Researchers think the incidence of celiac disease is increasing in the USA not only because of an increase in the ability and awareness to diagnose it, but also because of changes in the agricultural system. In particular, they are looking at the increased use of pesticides, insecticides, and genetically modified wheat as culprits. Some of these theories are more likely to be valid than others.
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Writing an essay can be difficult. Sometimes it can be hard to organize an essay and consistently stay on topic. However, ensuring that the essay has a strong thesis and thesis statement can help keep the paper concise, orderly, and easily understandable. Fig. 1 - A strong thesis statement sets a paper's tone.A thesis statement helps you to choose a side.A…
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Writing an essay can be difficult. Sometimes it can be hard to organize an essay and consistently stay on topic. However, ensuring that the essay has a strong thesis and thesis statement can help keep the paper concise, orderly, and easily understandable.
Thesis Statement Definition
A thesis statement helps you to choose a side.
A thesis statemen t is a sentence — or two — that summarizes the central claims of an essay.
A thesis statement should be short and to the point but can cite specific evidence that the essay will expound upon later. Thesis statements are usually found in the first paragraph of the essay, the introduction, and often create the “roadmap” for the rest of the essay for both the writer and the reader.
Importance of a Thesis Statement
Writing a thesis statement is essentially the same as declaring one's thoughts and desires at the beginning of a conversation– it outlines what will be discussed and introduces what the speaker thinks. Though the thesis statement might seem like a small part of the essay, it's extremely important.
Imagine you're in the middle of a conversation with a friend when another person arrives and jumps into the middle of a discussion, not knowing what is actually being talked about. At that point, you have to explain the topic and the conversation's point. It's both tiring, and repetitive. Similarly, that's what it's like when an essay does not have a strong thesis statement.
A strong thesis statement introduces the paper's main ideas and helps readers relate to the author's feelings or central argument. Simultaneously, the thesis statement is an anchor for the entire paper and connects all the ideas expressed in the essay. Without it, the author would have to continually explain what they were writing about and why their ideas are significant.
Is a thesis statement and thesis different?
A thesis is a theory or statement – put forth as a premise – that an author is trying to prove.
A thesis statement is one or two sentences that summarize the main point of an essay, research paper, or other written piece.
Often, a thesis statement explains a thesis.
Different Types of Thesis Statements
There are several types of thesis statements: analytical, argumentative, and explanatory.
Looking at and knowing, each of these thesis statement types in depth can help a writer write a fantastic thesis statement that perfectly fits their specific essay.
Expository Thesis Statements
Like all thesis statements, an expository thesis statement sets out to explain the main points of an essay. However, this type of thesis statement is not usually meant to support any specific claim, rather it presents various concepts and how they will be discussed in the essay. Expository thesis statements do not necessarily need to be arguable but should make a strong point.
An expository thesis statement provides readers with a detailed description of what the essay will be about by providing loose examples of what will be mentioned in the essay.
It provides an exact roadmap for what significant concepts will be presented in the essay, and in which order they will be presented. Unlike many other thesis statements, expository thesis statements are mostly fact-based, as no stand or opinion is interjected into the statement. Take, for example, the statement below:
The life of a typical high school student involves going to class, interacting with teachers and friends, completing homework, and taking part in a multitude of various extracurricular activities.
The above expository thesis explains what the life of a typical high school student consists of by listing characteristics that can be expounded upon later. This statement does not take any significant stand but instead sheds light on a subject. Like all thesis statements, be prepared to follow up on each of the components mentioned in the thesis statement later in the essay. Such information should be evidence that reinforces an expository thesis statement.
Argumentative Thesis Statements
An argumentative thesis statement is exactly as it sounds — a statement that presents an argument .
An argumentative thesis statement is most often used in argumentative essays to clearly make a claim and take a stand that the author then presents evidence for in the body of the essay.
Unlike an expository thesis statement, argumentative thesis statements allow room for the author to take a particular stance on the issue. However, because argumentative thesis statements typically require some personal input, the evidence presented in the essays must usually be supported by a lot of reliable research. Any arguments made in the essay inevitably relate back to the argumentative thesis statement because it is essentially what is trying to be proved. Consider the example below:
There is a definite correlation between the geography of Swinging London, the hierarchical class structure in Britain, and renewed consumerism, all of which ultimately excluded lower-class individuals and barred them from being part of this cultural phenomenon.
From the above argumentative thesis statement, one can deduce that the body of the essay will assert that there is a correlation between the geography of the social movement "Swinging London," class, and consumerism and that this correlation caused the exclusion of lower-class individuals from this movement.
Based on this thesis statement, the reader of the essay can expect the author to write several paragraphs on Swinging London as a cultural phenomenon, followed by how class and consumerism are related to the social movement. These explanations would then most likely transition into the essay's main argument : that lower-class individuals were excluded from the movement. This would be supported by specific arguments and followed by a conclusion.
Analytical Thesis Statements
Analytical thesis statements stand to analyze a specific topic or problem.
As one might guess, the goal of an analytical thesis statement is to present the issue at hand and then discuss ways that may solve any concerns surrounding the topic.
These types of thesis statements are used in analysis papers, often in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. These fields typically necessitate the most data analysis or problem-solving. When writing an analytical thesis statement, it is still necessary to be mindful of the order in which the topic and possible solutions and analyses are presented. This means that an analytical statement should be precise, organized, and thorough, giving readers a brief overview of what's to come in the essay.
Sylvia Plath's poems, characterized by consistent stanza structures and carefully chosen repetitions , demonstrate that she is controlled and detail-oriented . Her writing is emotional and bold, riddled with unsettling Nazi imagery, intimate extended metaphors, and apostrophe — all striking tributes to her pain .
Based on this thesis statement, we can expect the author to expound upon how the rhetorical devices mentioned in the thesis statement are used in Sylvia Plath's poetry, most likely in that order. This specific thesis statement tells readers exactly what to expect in this analysis.
Elements That Make a Great Thesis Statement
Great thesis statements have the following characteristics:
Let's examine each attribute of these in-depth to see why they matter by again examining the previous analytical thesis statement on Sylvia Plath.
As previously discussed in this article, a thesis statement must be focused on a specific topic or aspect of a broader theme. It is hard to write an efficient essay and make a strong claim if the writer is focused on more than one subject. When creating a thesis statement, it's best to focus on one specific aspect of a larger topic. Not only does this make writing the essay easier, but it also makes researching the topic easier, as it narrows down exactly what is to be explained and justified in the essay.
The analytical thesis statement on Plath is specific because it focuses solely on Plath's use of rhetorical devices, as highlighted below.
Sylvia Plath's poems, characterized by consistent stanza structures and carefully chosen repetitions , demonstrate that she is controlled and detail-oriented. Her writing is emotional and bold, riddled with unsettling Nazi imagery, intimate extended metaphors, and apostrophe — all striking tributes to her pain.
A strong thesis statement should be concise. A writer only has one to two sentences to present the topic, explain the argument , and make a claim/take a stance. That's a lot to get done in two sentences! Consequently, word choice is extremely important. Don't use confusing words or jargon that you might require an explanation for–that's what the body of the essay is for! Always remember that a writer mustn't fit everything into the thesis all at once. It's just meant to be an introduction, so keep your thesis statements short and clear!
The analytical thesis statement on Plath is concise because it explains in plain language what the essay will be explaining by making a clear claim and including relevant examples . No confusing jargon is used, and the word choice is exact.
Ability to be Argued
A thesis statement must present a specific claim that can be fully explored or argued. That means that while thesis statements can be based on previous knowledge or facts, a thesis statement itself cannot be factual. For instance, "junk food is bad for your health" is not an arguable thesis statement, as most people believe that junk food can negatively impact one's health.
The analytical thesis statement on Plath is easily arguable . Perhaps one might disagree with this thesis statement and argue that Plath's writing style is too emotional and messy to be "controlled and detail-oriented."
Sylvia Plath's poems, characterized by consistent stanza structures and carefully chosen repetitions, demonstrate that she is controlled and detail-oriented . Her writing is emotional and bold, riddled with unsettling Nazi imagery, intimate extended metaphors, and apostrophe — all striking tributes to her pain.
Ability to be Demonstrated
A thesis statement is a claim or theory, but what's a theory without evidence? Evidence is necessary so that your thesis statement is strong. Without reliable demonstrated evidence, a thesis statement is just a thought or an opinion , with no real ability to claim or pronounce anything true. Remember, your thesis statement is demonstrated in the body of your essay, not the thesis.
The analytical thesis statement on Plath is easily demonstrable. For instance, in the body of the essay, the author could expound upon Plath's Nazi imagery by writing:
Plath describes herself as "bright as a Nazi lampshade," an allusion to the cruel skinning of Jews to make lampshades ("Daddy," Line 5).
This would clearly demonstrate the concept mentioned in the thesis statement.
A thesis statement must be confident and believable. Though the body paragraphs are what will convince readers of a thesis statement, the thesis statement itself must first entice readers. Using phrases like "I believe" or "I think" actually weakens readers' confidence in the writer , as it suggests that any evidence to be presented in the essay is opinion-based and lacks substance.
By strongly stating your thesis without the aforementioned phrases, readers are more likely to read the rest of the essay, feeling confident in any arguments that support the thesis statement.
Consider the Sylvia Plath thesis statement below:
Sylvia Plath's poems, characterized by consistent stanza structures and carefully chosen repetitions, demonstrate that she is controlled and detail-oriented. Her writing is emotional and bold, riddled with unsettling Nazi imagery, intimate extended metaphors, and apostrophe — all striking tributes to her pain.
Now, read it again, but this time with the words "I think" and "I believe" in it.
I think Sylvia Plath's poems, characterized by consistent stanza structures and carefully chosen repetitions, demonstrate that she is controlled and detail-oriented. I believe her writing is emotional and bold, riddled with unsettling Nazi imagery, intimate extended metaphors, and apostrophe — all striking tributes to her pain.
Which do you find to be a more compelling and confident thesis statement?
Examples of Strong Thesis Statements
Let's take a look at some strong thesis statements.
By fusing these paradoxes with his own perceptions of death and life, and utilizing key literary devices such as allusions, exclamation, repetition, alliteration, enjambment, and rhetorical questioning, John Keats creates palpable tensions that not only resonate with his readers but also convey the confusion and strain he feels in relation to his melancholy tranquility.
Why is this a strong thesis statement? This thesis statement focuses solely on what rhetorical devices John Keats uses to create tension in his writing. It lists the evidence in the essay in plain, understandable language.
Europe's influence has spanned oceans and is recognized because of its extensive involvement in imperial colonization and exploration, its hand in warfare, and its developments regarding social and economic reform, all of which have contributed to the creation of modern western civilization.
Why is this a strong thesis statement? The argument in this statement is concise ( Europe's influence has contributed to the creation of modern western civilization ). The argument lists exactly what the evidence will be in the essay that supports this claim (i.e. warfare, social and economic development, and imperial colonization all impacted western civilization).
Mina Harker née Murray in Dracula embodies the submissive woman, as seen through her understated relationship with Jonathan Harker, her desire to be "useful" to her husband, and her choice to be a school teacher at a time when women were able to branch out into other professions.
Why is this a strong thesis statement? This thesis statement is straightforward and simply written. The argument is that Mina Harker embodies the submissive woman and then gives clear, demonstrable examples of why this is so. One can easily deduce these points will be addressed later in the essay.
As a play, Hamlet highlights free will and alludes to the significant social and political changes occurring at the time in which it was written.
Why is this a strong thesis statement? This statement is shorter than the previous thesis statements, but it's still just as good! Why? It presents a clear, focused argument! A writer does not always have to include examples in their thesis statement, but they do need to make sure their statement is specific, concise, arguable, demonstrable, and confident!
Thesis - Key Takeaways
- A thesis is a theory or statement–put forth as a premise–that an author is trying to prove.
- Without a thesis statement, the author would have to continually explain what they were writing about and why their ideas are significant.
- There are three main types of thesis statements: expository, argumentative, and analytical.
- Thesis statements should be: specific, concise, arguable, demonstrable, and exude confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions about Thesis
--> what is a thesis.
A thesis is a theory or statement–put forth as a premise–that an author is trying to prove.
--> What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is one or two sentences that summarize the main point of an essay, research paper, or other written piece.
--> What is an example of a thesis statement?
An example of a thesis statement could be, “As a play, Hamlet highlights free will and alludes to the significant social and political changes occurring at the time in which it was written.”
--> How do I write a thesis statement?
The best way to write a strong thesis statement is to keep the statement specific, concise, arguable, and demonstrable, while also appearing confident.
--> What is the importance of a thesis statement?
A thesis statement is important because a strong thesis statement introduces the paper's main ideas in an orderly manner and helps relate the author's feelings or central argument to readers. Without it, the author would have to continually explain what they were writing about and why their ideas are significant.
Final Thesis Quiz
Thesis quiz - teste dein wissen.
What is a thesis statement?
What is a thesis?
A thesis is a theory or statement that an author is trying to prove.
What are the three types of thesis statements?
Expository, argumentative, and analytical thesis statements.
What are some characteristics that make a strong thesis statement?
Specificity, being concise, being arguable, being demonstrable, sounding confident.
What is an expository thesis statement?
An expository thesis statement is 1-2 sentences that present various concepts and how they will be discussed in an essay. They are mostly fact-based.
What is an argumentative thesis statement?
An argumentative thesis statement is a statement that presents an argument and clearly makes a claim/takes a stand that the author later presents evidence for in the body of the essay.
What is an analytical thesis statement?
An analytical thesis statement is a statement that presents the topic at hand and then discusses ways in which any concerns surrounding the topic may be solved.
Why are thesis statements important?
A strong thesis statement introduces the paper's main ideas in an orderly manner and helps relate the author's feelings or central argument to readers. Without it, the paper might feel aimless or redundant.
Where do you typically find a thesis statement?
In the introduction of a paper, oftentimes in the last couple lines of the paragraph.
How long should the average thesis statement be?
A thesis statement should be:
No more than a couple sentences
A thesis can present detailed evidence.
A thesis can allude to evidence.
The first paragraph of your essay is the introduction.
A thesis is like a:
A thesis statement does not summarize your main point.
A thesis is a thesis statement.
A thesis can be longer than a thesis statement.
It provides readers with a detailed description of the essay by providing examples.
Expository thesis statement
It makes a claim or takes a stance.
Argumentative thesis statement
It discusses an issue, its problems, and its solutions.
Analytical thesis statement
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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.
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.
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.
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How to Write an Effective Thesis Statement
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Jonathan Wlodarski is pursuing a Ph.D. in English and teaches introductory-level English courses.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is typically one sentence that appears in the first paragraph of an essay that captures the essay's purpose. Think of the thesis statement as a one-sentence summary that tells the reader exactly what an essay says.
Rather than writing your essay like a puzzle, keeping the reader in suspense about what conclusion you'll reach by the end, use the thesis statement like a treasure map to give the reader a sense of your essay's direction. Tell them the conclusion up front, so they know where your piece is headed.
Once you've done your research and found your sources, craft a thesis statement that clearly indicates the direction your essay will take. As you write, think about how each paragraph connects to your thesis. If you're struggling to understand how a particular idea relates directly to the thesis statement, it may be a sign that you've diverged from the purpose of the essay.
THESIS STATEMENT DEFINITION
A thesis statement is a one-sentence declaration of intention — a summation of the main idea your essay will explain at length. An effective thesis statement will make a unique claim or seek to answer an important question.
Tips for Writing a Good Thesis Statement
Essays should be based on a specific argument. Check your thesis statement to see if the central idea of your writing is too vague. If you argue for something overly general — for example, an argument that all pop music is bad — your essay will try to conquer too many ideas and be unfocused.
Refine your argument to be more specific. Perhaps you'll say that pop music suffers from repetitive chord progressions or that pop songs have unimaginative lyrics. These narrower claims allow you to easily marshall evidence in support of your thesis.
Make a Clear Argument
Often, you need to write a paper within a very limited set of parameters — usually a few thousand words at most. Within a prescribed framework, you won't have space on the page to fully address multiple arguments.
If a reader can't ascertain the direction your essay will take from reading the thesis statement alone, then revise it to ensure your main point is stated plainly. If you're struggling to make your argument clear, try formulating your thesis statement using this template: "In this paper, I argue that __________."
Because some writing instructors forbid or disapprove of the first-person point of view in academic essays, you may have to change your thesis statement later; however, using this template reminds you what your argument should be, which is a helpful early drafting technique.
Take a Strong Stance
When writing your essay's thesis statement, ask whether it is a statement that can be argued with. For example, if your thesis statement is, "Computers are a popular technology in today's society," your essay might not be advancing a position so much as stating an objectively true fact.
Most essays will require you to take a stance, not make an observation, so craft a thesis statement that actually puts forward a unique perspective.
Question Your Assumptions
As you formulate the thesis statement of your essay, ask yourself what assumptions your argument is based on. In other words, what must your readers assume to be true before they can even begin to accept your argument?
Be particularly aware of your intended audience. For example, does your argument rely on a religious or moral code to prove that it is inherently right? If you are writing a paper for a class in Christian ministry, a dogmatic argument might be appropriate; for a sociology paper, however, such arguments don't hold water.
Think about the ways in which your argument may not hold up for people who don't subscribe to your viewpoints, then revise or re-approach your thesis statement so that your argument doesn't depend on those assumptions.
Don't Hide Your Thesis
Keep in mind that your thesis statement should come near the beginning of your essay. Conventional wisdom dictates that it should appear by the end of the first paragraph, though the exact positioning may vary, depending on how much introduction your specific essay requires. In any case, it should generally come at the end of your introduction to the material — the final statement your reader sees at the beginning, before moving into the body of your argument.
To some extent, it's also important not to overthink your thesis statement. Don't dress up a thesis statement with fancy language, and don't be too clever in how you set the stage for your argument; both of these strategies sometimes disguise a weak central thesis. Whoever your professor is, they will appreciate you getting to the point in a clear, concise manner.
Types of Thesis Statements
Argumentative essays ask students to make the case for a particular perspective, or to persuade the reader to agree with the writer's point of view by the time they reach the essay's conclusion. In these essays, a thesis statement should be a clear picture of the argument you will make over the course of your essay.
In an American history class, you are asked to argue about the dominant cause of the War of 1812. Your thesis statement might look like, “The War of 1812 was a direct result of British arms sales to native tribes in the American West.”
In an ethics class, you are asked to argue about the moral obligation to help people in need. Your thesis statement might read, “By virtue of a social contract, we do have a moral obligation to help one another.”
In analytical essays, writers must communicate their interpretation of a given source or set of sources. In these essays, a thesis statement will explain the conclusion that your analysis has led you to. It may also be helpful to forecast your analysis by explaining which specific points you'll be examining. A helpful formula to get started with this kind of thesis statement is: "In this essay, I argue __________ by examining ____, ____, and ____."
In an English class, you've been asked to write an essay that analyzes how a persuasive article about climate change was constructed. Your thesis statement might say, “In this paper, I argue that Johnson relies too heavily on personal anecdotes and interviews, rather than scientific data, to establish the threat of climate change.”
In a psychology class, your assignment is an essay that analyzes the connection between depression and childhood trauma based on several studies you've researched. Your thesis statement might read, “Based on the data from these three studies, it's clear that there is a direct link between childhood trauma and clinical depression emerging in adults.”
Expository essays ask writers to provide an informational breakdown of a topic, educating readers using specific details. It may be hard to understand how a thesis statement is of use in an expository essay because expository writing often does not advance an argument. Even so, a controlling statement near the beginning of the essay that summarizes your point is useful. By communicating clearly what the intention of your writing is, you can ensure that each new piece of information supports the central idea you are building.
A helpful formula for guiding your expository essay is: "In this essay, I will teach my reader __________." As you work toward this goal, you can revisit this sentence later and rework it into an effective thesis statement.
In a biochemistry class, you've been asked to write an essay explaining the impact of bisphenol A on the human body. Your thesis statement might say, “This essay will make clear the correlation between bisphenol A exposure and hypertension.”
In a gender studies class, you must write an essay that explains third-wave feminism. Your thesis statement might read, “Third-wave feminism built upon the work of earlier generations of feminists to advocate for an expanded view of what being a woman means.”
Especially in composition and creative writing classes, you might be asked to write essays that draw upon your personal experiences. Prompts for personal essays might include writing about your experiences with race or your development as a writer, and these essays are often centered on a moment of realization or revelation. You can distill these themes into a thesis statement for your personal essay. While there may be no central argument in a thesis like this, there is always an organizing principle, such as change, destiny, growth, or irony.
In a creative writing class, you have to write an essay about how the place you grew up shaped you. Your thesis statement might look like, “Growing up on the farm taught me how to be more patient.”
In a composition class, you have to write an essay about the first time you realized how your gender was part of your identity. Your essay's thesis statement might read, “Because I was yelled at for playing with dolls as a kid, I understood that I didn't fit the narrow constraints of masculinity as my family defined it.”
Some Final Thoughts
Crafting an effective thesis statement is a useful exercise not just in college, but in your everyday life. It teaches you to examine ideas, organize them into a central theme or argument, and to persuasively mobilize evidence in support of this argument — a skill useful in many careers and personal endeavors.
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Strategies for writing a compelling thesis statement.
How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph for an Essay
How to write an essay introduction.
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Picking and Choosing Quotations
Placement of Thesis Statements
- By Catherine Harvey in Uncategorized
You now know what a thesis statement is and how important it will be in relation to college writing. The next question is where to place it in relation to your paper.
The thesis statement should usually appear at the beginning of a college paper. Potentially, it could be the first sentence of your paper but that does not excite your audience or catch the reader’s attention of what your paper will be about. It is advised to place your thesis statement near the end of the first paragraph.
The first paragraph acts as a funnel opening to the content of the paper which draws the audience into the discussion. Your argument of the paper is then focused by the thesis statement before the main content of the essay begins.
Everything that then follows in your paper should have something that fits under the umbrella of your thesis statement.
However, if you are writing a relatively short paper, you could put the thesis statement as the first sentence. If this is the case, then the rest of the first paragraph will discuss what you’re going to argue for the rest of the paper. Once you reach the second paragraph, you’re already into the first part of the paper and your introduction is complete.
Before putting the thesis statement at the very start of your paper, it is important to recognise that this will not work as well when you begin to write papers that are longer and more complex.
To sum up where you should place your thesis statement; remember that the optimal home for your thesis statement is at the end of the introduction paragraph. This makes a natural bridge from the introduction through to the body of your paper. It also provides an opportunity for your introduction to develop into a distinct, thorough thesis statement that will effectively portray the argument of your paper.
Relationship of Structure to Thesis Statements
A good writer incorporates structure into their paper. As you have most likely learned in High School, there are three components to a paper. The introduction, body and conclusion. The thesis statement and where you put it is a vital component of the structure of your paper. It is like a blurb at the back of a book. It gives you the main summary of the book, without all the details that the book will reveal over time.
It is important that you give careful thought to the arrangement of your ideas and the paragraphs that contain them.
College students that take the time to structure their papers correctly will find that their papers are capable of creatively introducing the topic of the paper, present the content in a clear and logical manner and conclude by reinforcing the main argument and providing a sense of closure.
Why thesis statements are important and relevant to the structure of a paper:
- The author can refer back to it to narrow down points.
- Reader will not get confused by multiple points in correspondence to the paper’s objective.
- Focuses the paper on the author’s main points of the paper.
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When you are asked to write an essay that creates an argument, your reader will probably expect a clear statement of your position. Typically, this summary statement comes in the first paragraph of the essay, though there is no rigid rule about position. Here are some characteristics of good thesis statements, with samples of good and poor ones. Note that the better examples substitute specific argumentative points for sweeping general statements; they indicate a theoretical basis and promise substantial support. (See Some Myths About Thesis Statements, below, for a discussion of times not to use a thesis statement. See also the file General Advice on Essay Writing .)
1. It makes a definite and limited assertion that needs to be explained and supported by further discussion:
2. it shows the emphasis and indicates the methodology of your argument:, 3. it shows awareness of difficulties and disagreements:, some 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.