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How to Create an Effective Thesis Statement in 5 Easy Steps

Creating a thesis statement can be a daunting task. It’s one of the most important sentences in your paper, and it needs to be done right. But don’t worry — with these five easy steps, you’ll be able to create an effective thesis statement in no time.

Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas

The first step is to brainstorm ideas for your paper. Think about what you want to say and write down any ideas that come to mind. This will help you narrow down your focus and make it easier to create your thesis statement.

Step 2: Research Your Topic

Once you have some ideas, it’s time to do some research on your topic. Look for sources that support your ideas and provide evidence for the points you want to make. This will help you refine your argument and make it more convincing.

Step 3: Formulate Your Argument

Now that you have done some research, it’s time to formulate your argument. Take the points you want to make and put them into one or two sentences that clearly state what your paper is about. This will be the basis of your thesis statement.

Step 4: Refine Your Thesis Statement

Once you have formulated your argument, it’s time to refine your thesis statement. Make sure that it is clear, concise, and specific. It should also be arguable so that readers can disagree with it if they choose.

Step 5: Test Your Thesis Statement

The last step is to test your thesis statement. Does it accurately reflect the points you want to make? Is it clear and concise? Does it make an arguable point? If not, go back and refine it until it meets all of these criteria.

Creating an effective thesis statement doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With these five easy steps, you can create a strong thesis statement in no time at all.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


what should a thesis statement be significant debatable and limited

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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.

Module: Academic Argument

Argumentative thesis statements, learning objective.

  • Recognize an arguable thesis

Below are some of the key features of an argumentative thesis statement.

An argumentative thesis is . . .

An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree about them.

Junk food is bad for your health is not a debatable thesis. Most people would agree that junk food is bad for your health.

Because junk food is bad for your health, the size of sodas offered at fast-food restaurants should be regulated by the federal government is a debatable thesis.  Reasonable people could agree or disagree with the statement.

An argumentative thesis takes a position, asserting the writer’s stance. Questions, vague statements, or quotations from others are not argumentative theses because they do not assert the writer’s viewpoint.

Federal immigration law is a tough issue about which many people disagree is not an arguable thesis because it does not assert a position.

Federal immigration enforcement law needs to be overhauled because it puts undue constraints on state and local police is an argumentative thesis because it asserts a position that immigration enforcement law needs to be changed.

An argumentative thesis must make a claim that is logical and possible. Claims that are outrageous or impossible are not argumentative theses.

City council members stink and should be thrown in jail is not an argumentative thesis. City council members’ ineffectiveness is not a reason to send them to jail.

City council members should be term limited to prevent one group or party from maintaining control indefinitely is an arguable thesis because term limits are possible, and shared political control is a reasonable goal.

Evidence Based

An argumentative thesis must be able to be supported by evidence. Claims that presuppose value systems, morals, or religious beliefs cannot be supported with evidence and therefore are not argumentative theses.

Individuals convicted of murder will go to hell when they die is not an argumentative thesis because its support rests on religious beliefs or values rather than evidence.

Rehabilitation programs for individuals serving life sentences should be funded because these programs reduce violence within prisons is an argumentative thesis because evidence such as case studies and statistics can be used to support it.

An argumentative thesis must be focused and narrow. A focused, narrow claim is clearer, more able to be supported with evidence, and more persuasive than a broad, general claim.

The federal government should overhaul the U.S. tax code is not an effective argumentative thesis because it is too general (What part of the government? Which tax codes? What sections of those tax codes?) and would require an overwhelming amount of evidence to be fully supported.

The U.S. House of Representative should vote to repeal the federal estate tax because the revenue generated by that tax is negligible is an effective argumentative thesis because it identifies a specific actor and action and can be fully supported with evidence about the amount of revenue the estate tax generates.

  • Argumentative Thesis Statements. Provided by : University of Mississippi. License : CC BY: Attribution

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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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Comments (5)

  • this is really helpful by rita on Nov 14, 2021
  • Yes, thank you. This is really helpful. It's been YEARS since I have encountered the term "thesis statement", and I needed a refresher on what it was before beginning my final presentation for a college course. This page answered all of my questions! by Brigitte on Dec 06, 2021
  • Thank You. This helped by Deborah Smith on Mar 23, 2022
  • Great explanation. This will definitely help my writing, by Jack on Dec 15, 2022
  • This a very helpful website for me. Thank you by Catie on Jan 09, 2023

UCLA History Department

Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement.

Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper.  It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant.  Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue.  Then, spend the rest of your paper–each body paragraph–fulfilling that promise.

Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction.  Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it.  View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper.  Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued.  If it does not, then revise it.  Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries.  Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.

A successful thesis statement:

  • makes an historical argument
  • takes a position that requires defending
  • is historically specific
  • is focused and precise
  • answers the question, “so what?”

How to write a thesis statement:

Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:

“Historians have debated the American Revolution’s effect on women.  Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women’s authority in the family.  Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics.  Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home.  Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women.”

Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.

While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt.  It needs to be more specific about how  the Revolution had a limited effect on women and  why it mattered that women remained in the home.

Revised Thesis:  The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office.  Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.

This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war).  However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home.  It needs to make an argument about some element of the war’s limited effect on women.  This thesis requires further revision.

Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family’s farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.

Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval.  Your thesis needs to be debatable:  it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue.  Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case.  Here is a revised version:

Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women.  With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses.  As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.

Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places.  In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what  attitudes toward women were in early America, and  how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.

This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper.  The terms “social,” “political,” and “economic” are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages.  The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women.  As “Republican Mothers,” women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands.  Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation’s politics than they had under British rule.

This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered.  How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics?  What were women able to do with these advantages?  Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.  Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.

Thesis Checklist

When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:

  • Does my thesis make an historical argument?
  • Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?
  • Is my thesis historically specific?
  • Is my thesis focused and precise?
  • Does my thesis answer the question, “so what?”

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How to Write a Thesis Statement: Tips & Examples

Expressing your point of view can be difficult. It can be even more complex when you try to formulate it correctly and concisely. There’s always so much to it. You need to be coherent, brief, informative, and billion other things simultaneously. And when it comes down to creating a thesis statement, all of those need to be in a single sentence. In this article, we’re going to equip you with some tips on how to accomplish this genuinely complicated task. We’ll also look at the main qualities of a good thesis statement and compare well-worded and poorly done samples.

  • On Teenage Pregnancy
  • On Police Brutality
  • On Social Media

🔗 References

🧐 what is the purpose of a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a sentence in the introduction that bears the main idea and the purpose of the underwritten text. The essay’s concept revolves around proving or refuting the thesis. Make sure that every sentence of this discussion contributes to the thesis somehow.

Which means:

You don’t want to discuss fashion if the idea of your text is to disprove some conspiracy theory. Unless we are talking fashion conspiracy, of course.

A good thesis statement is significant, debatable, and limited.

Although a thesis statement is crucial for most assignments, it’s not always necessary to have it. A narrative-style essay, for example, can do just fine without one. Not sure if you need to make a thesis statement for your paper? A good idea is to consult with your professor.

So, once again, a thesis statement should:

  • Reflect on the main idea of your essay
  • Create some space for discussion
  • Keep the further text organized

👌 3 Key Characteristics of a Good Thesis

👀 thesis statement examples: bad & better.

Here we will take a glance at some good and not-that-good examples of thesis statements on various topics. You can compare them and read the explanations.

Thesis Statement about Teenage Pregnancy

Vaccine thesis statement, thesis statement about poverty, police brutality thesis statement, thesis statement about social media.

Now you are properly equipped and educated on creating a good thesis statement. If you still have difficulties formulating a thesis, you might want to use our free thesis-generating tool or read an article that explains a thesis statement formula .

Make sure to let us know which part you found the most helpful, and good luck with your studies!

❓ Thesis Statement FAQ

How long is a thesis statement.

A thesis is a short and effective sentence. “Short” is from 40-50 words at best. It doesn’t always have to be single, though. You can divide your statement into two parts if you feel the idea is too complex. But don’t go with three. It’s not a thesis paragraph, after all.

What is a Working Thesis Statement?

A working thesis statement is a statement that embodies the main idea of your text, debates it, and gives a little reasoning for your point of view while being concise and clear. Remember? Significant, debatable, and limited.

Why Should a Thesis Statement be Significant, Debatable, and Limited?

Because these three are what make your statement work. If you manage to match all three criteria, you are guaranteed to end up with a compelling thesis that fulfills its purpose completely.

What is the Goal of a Thesis Statement?

Every thesis statement aims to give the overall idea of what’s waiting for the reader next. Second, it helps to organize your work and provide it with structure. It also serves as a hook that lures people in with the promises of the exaptational discussion below.

  • Thesis Statements – UNC Writing Center
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement
  • Developing a Thesis Statement
  • Creating a Thesis Statement
  • Thesis Statements: Definition and Examples | Indeed.com
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | Grammarly Blog

Contextual Analysis: Definition & Goals + Contextual Analysis in History

Ielts preparation tips & resources [how to study ielts by myself].

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Chapter 5. Putting the Pieces Together with a Thesis Statement

5.1 apply prewriting models, learning objectives.

  • Use prewriting strategies to choose a topic and narrow the focus

If you think that a blank sheet of paper or a blinking cursor on the computer screen is a scary sight, you are not alone. Many writers, students, and employees find that beginning to write can be intimidating. When faced with a blank page, however, experienced writers remind themselves that writing, like other everyday activities, is a process. Every process, from writing to cooking to bike riding to learning to use a new cell phone will get significantly easier with practice.

Just as you need a recipe, ingredients, and proper tools to cook a delicious meal, you also need a plan, resources, and adequate time to create a good written composition. In other words, writing is a process that requires steps and strategies to accomplish your goals.

These are the five steps in the writing process:

  • Outlining the structure of ideas
  • Writing a rough draft

Effective writing can be simply described as good ideas that are expressed well and arranged in the proper order. This chapter will give you the chance to work on all these important aspects of writing. Although many more prewriting strategies exist, this chapter covers six: using experience and observations, freewriting, asking questions, brainstorming, mapping, and searching the Internet. Using the strategies in this chapter can help you overcome the fear of the blank page and confidently begin the writing process.

Prewriting is the stage of the writing process during which you transfer your abstract thoughts into more concrete ideas in ink on paper (or in type on a computer screen). Although prewriting techniques can be helpful in all stages of the writing process, the following four strategies are best used when initially deciding on a topic:

Using experience and observations


Asking questions

At this stage in the writing process, it is okay if you choose a general topic. Later you will learn more prewriting strategies that will narrow the focus of the topic.

Choosing a Topic

In addition to understanding that writing is a process, writers also understand that choosing a good general topic for an assignment is an essential step. Sometimes your instructor will give you an idea to begin an assignment, and other times your instructor will ask you to come up with a topic on your own. A good topic not only covers what an assignment will be about but also fits the assignment’s purpose and its audience.

In this chapter, you will follow a writer named Mariah as she prepares a piece of writing. You will also be planning one of your own. The first important step is for you to tell yourself why you are writing (to inform, to explain, or some other purpose) and for whom you are writing. Write your purpose and your audience on your own sheet of paper, and keep the paper close by as you read and complete exercises in this chapter.

My purpose: ____________________________________________

My audience: ____________________________________________

Using Experience and Observations

When selecting a topic, you may want to consider something that interests you or something based on your own life and personal experiences. Even everyday observations can lead to interesting topics. After writers think about their experiences and observations, they often take notes on paper to better develop their thoughts. These notes help writers discover what they have to say about their topic.

Have you seen an attention-grabbing story on your local news channel? Many current issues appear on television, in magazines, and on the Internet. These can all provide inspiration for your writing.

Reading plays a vital role in all the stages of the writing process, but it first figures in the development of ideas and topics. Different kinds of documents can help you choose a topic and also develop that topic. For example, a magazine advertising the latest research on the threat of global warming may catch your eye in the supermarket. The cover may interest you, and you may consider global warming as a topic. Or maybe a novel’s courtroom drama sparks your curiosity of a particular lawsuit or legal controversy.

After you choose a topic, critical reading is essential to the development of a topic. While reading almost any document, you evaluate the author’s point of view by thinking about the main idea and the support. When you judge the author’s argument, you discover more about not only the author’s opinion but also your own. If this step already seems daunting, remember that even the best writers need to use prewriting strategies to generate ideas.

The steps in the writing process may seem time consuming at first, but following these steps will save you time in the future. The more you plan in the beginning by reading and using prewriting strategies, the less time you may spend writing and editing later because your ideas will develop more swiftly.

Prewriting strategies depend on your critical reading skills. Reading prewriting exercises (and outlines and drafts later in the writing process) will further develop your topic and ideas. As you continue to follow the writing process, you will see how Mariah uses critical reading skills to assess her own prewriting exercises.

Freewriting  is an exercise in which you write freely about any topic for a set amount of time (usually three to five minutes). During the time limit, you may jot down any thoughts that come to mind. Try not to worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Instead, write as quickly as you can without stopping. If you get stuck, just copy the same word or phrase over and over until you come up with a new thought.

Writing often comes easier when you have a personal connection with the topic you have chosen. Remember, to generate ideas in your freewriting, you may also think about readings that you have enjoyed or that have challenged your thinking. Doing this may lead your thoughts in interesting directions.

Quickly recording your thoughts on paper will help you discover what you have to say about a topic. When writing quickly, try not to doubt or question your ideas. Allow yourself to write freely and unselfconsciously. Once you start writing with few limitations, you may find you have more to say than you first realized. Your flow of thoughts can lead you to discover even more ideas about the topic. Freewriting may even lead you to discover another topic that excites you even more.

Look at Mariah’s example. The instructor allowed the members of the class to choose their own topics, and Mariah thought about her experiences as a communications major. She used this freewriting exercise to help her generate more concrete ideas from her own experience.

Some prewriting strategies can be used together. For example, you could use experience and observations to come up with a topic related to your course studies. Then you could use freewriting to describe your topic in more detail and figure out what you have to say about it.

Self-practice Exercise 5.1

Take another look at the possible topics for yo ur expository essay assignment t hen freewrite about that topic. W rite without stopping for five minutes. After you finish, read over what you wrote. How well do you think you will be able to develop this topic?

Possible expository essay questions:

Narrative : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized narrative essay.

Your first day of post-secondary school

A moment of success or failure

An experience that helped you mature

Illustration : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized illustration essay.

The media and the framing of crime

Child obesity

The effect of violent video games on behaviour

Description : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized description essay.

How to reduce weight

How to remain relevant in your workplace

How to get a good night’s sleep

Classification : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized classification essay.

Ways of boring people

Methods of studying for a final exam

Extreme weather

Process analysis : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized process analysis essay.

How to complain effectively

How to apply the Heimlich manoeuvre or other lifesaving technique

How a particular accident occurred

Definition : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized definition essay.

Right to privacy

Compare and contrast : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized compare and contrast essay.

Two ways of losing weight: one healthy, one dangerous

Two ways to break a bad habit

An active and a passive student

Cause and effect : Choose one of the topics below and relate your ideas in a clearly organized cause and effect essay.

Plagiarism and cheating in school. Give its effects.

Bullying. Give its effects.

A personal, unreasonable fear or irritation. Give its causes.

Asking Questions

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? In everyday situations, you pose these kinds of questions to get information. Who will be my partner for the project? When is the next meeting? Why is my car making that odd noise?

You seek the answers to these questions to gain knowledge, to better understand your daily experiences, and to plan for the future. Asking these types of questions will also help you with the writing process. As you choose your topic, answering these questions can help you revisit the ideas you already have and generate new ways to think about your topic. You may also discover aspects of the topic that are unfamiliar to you and that you would like to learn more about. All these idea-gathering techniques will help you plan for future work on your assignment.

When Mariah reread her freewriting notes, she found she had rambled and her thoughts were disjointed. She realized that the topic that interested her most was the one she started with: the media. She then decided to explore that topic by asking herself questions about it. Her purpose was to refine media into a topic she felt comfortable writing about. To see how asking questions can help you choose a topic, take a look at the following chart in Figure 5.1 : Asking Questions that Mariah completed to record her questions and answers. She asked herself the questions that reporters and journalists use to gather information for their stories. The questions are often called the 5WH questions, after their initial letters.

Prewriting is very purpose driven; it does not follow a set of hard and fast rules. The purpose of prewriting is to find and explore ideas so that you will be prepared to write. A prewriting technique like asking questions can help you both find a topic and explore it. The key to effective prewriting is to use the techniques that work best for your thinking process. Freewriting may not seem to fit your thinking process, but keep an open mind. It may work better than you think. Perhaps brainstorming a list of topics might better fit your personal style. Mariah found freewriting and asking questions to be fruitful strategies to use. In your own prewriting, use the 5WH questions in any way that benefits your planning.

Self-practice Exercise 5.2

Using the prewriting you completed in   Self – Practice Exercise 5.1 , read each question and use your own paper to answer the 5WH questions. As with Mariah when she explored her writing topic for more detail, it is okay if you do not know all the answers. If you do not know an answer, use your own opinion to speculate, or guess. You may also use factual information from books or articles you previously read on your topic. Later in the chapter, you will read about additional ways (like searching the Internet) to answer your questions and explore your guesses .

5WH Questions


Now that you have completed some of the prewriting exercises, you may feel less anxious about starting a paper from scratch. With some ideas down on paper (or saved on a computer), writers are often more comfortable continuing the writing process. After identifying a good general topic, you, too, are ready to continue the process.

You may find that you need to adjust your topic as you move through the writing stages (and as you complete the exercises in this chapter). If the topic you have chosen is not working, you can repeat the prewriting activities until you find a better one.

More Prewriting Techniques: Narrowing the Focus

The prewriting techniques of freewriting and asking questions helped Mariah think more about her topic. The following additional prewriting strategies would help her (and you) narrow the focus of the topic:


Idea mapping

Searching the Internet

Narrowing the focus means breaking up the topic into subtopics, or more specific points. Generating a lot of subtopics helps in selecting the ones that fit the assignment and appeal to the writer and the audience.

After rereading her syllabus, Mariah realized her general topic, mass media, was too broad for her class’s short paper requirement. Three pages would not be enough to cover all the concerns in mass media today. Mariah also realized that although her readers are other communications majors who are interested in the topic, they may want to read a paper about a particular issue in mass media.

Brainstorming  is similar to list making. You can make a list on your own or in a group with your classmates. Start with a blank sheet of paper (or a blank computer document) and write your general topic across the top. Underneath your topic, make a list of more specific ideas. Think of your general topic as a broad category and the list items as things that fit into that category. Often you will find that one item can lead to the next, creating a flow of ideas that can help you narrow your focus to a more specific paper topic.

The following is Mariah’s brainstorming list:

From this list, Mariah could narrow her focus to a particular technology under the broad category of mass media.

Writing at Work

Imagine you have to write an email to your current boss explaining your prior work experience, but you do not know where to start. Before you begin the email, you can use the brainstorming technique to generate a list of employers, duties, and responsibilities that fall under the general topic of work experience.

Idea Mapping

Idea mapping  allows you to visualize your ideas on paper using circles, lines, and arrows. This technique is also known as clustering because ideas are broken down and clustered, or grouped together. Many writers like this method because the shapes show how the ideas relate or connect, and writers can find a focused topic from the connections mapped. Using idea mapping, you might discover interesting connections between topics that you had not thought of before.

To create an idea map, start with your general topic in a circle in the centre of a blank sheet of paper. Then write specific ideas around it and use lines or arrows to connect them together. Add and cluster as many ideas as you can think of.

Mariah tried idea mapping in addition to brainstorming. Figure 5.2 : Idea Map shows what she created.

Figure 5.2  Idea Map

Notice Mariah’s largest circle contains her general topic: mass media. Then, the general topic branches into two subtopics written in two smaller circles: television and radio. The subtopic television branches into even more specific topics: cable and DVDs. From there, Mariah drew more circles and wrote more specific ideas: high definition and digital recording from cable and Blu-ray from DVDs. The radio topic led Mariah to draw connections between music, downloads versus CDs, and, finally, piracy.

From this idea map, Mariah saw she could consider narrowing the focus of her mass media topic to the more specific topic of music piracy.

Using search engines on the Internet is a good way to see what kinds of websites are available on your topic. Writers use search engines not only to understand more about the topic’s specific issues but also to get better acquainted with their audience.

Look back at the chart you completed in  Self Practice Exercise 5.2 . Did you guess at any of the answers? Searching the Internet may help you find answers to your questions and confirm your guesses. Be choosy about the websites you use. Make sure they are reliable sources for the kind of information you seek.

When you search the Internet, type some key words from your broad topic or words from your narrowed focus into your browser’s search engine (many good general and specialized search engines are available for you to try). Then look over the results for relevant and interesting articles.

Results from an Internet search show writers the following information:

Who is talking about the topic

How the topic is being discussed

What specific points are currently being discussed about the topic

If the search engine results are not what you are looking for, revise your key words and search again. Some search engines also offer suggestions for related searches that may give you better results.

Mariah typed the words music piracy from her idea map into the search engine Google (see Figure 5.3 Useful Search Engine Results ).

Figure 5 .3  Useful Search Engine Results

Note: Not all the results online search engines return will be useful or reliable. Carefully consider the reliability of an online source before selecting a topic based on it. Remember that factual information can be verified in other sources, both online and in print. If you have doubts about any information you find, either do not use it or identify it as potentially unreliable.

The results from Mariah’s search included websites from university publications, personal blogs, online news sources, and a lot of legal cases sponsored by the recording industry. Reading legal jargon made Mariah uncomfortable with the results, so she decided to look further. Reviewing her map, she realized that she was more interested in consumer aspects of mass media, so she refocused her search to media technology and the sometimes confusing array of expensive products that fill electronics stores. Now, Mariah considers a topic on the products that have fed the mass media boom in everyday lives.

Self-practice Exercise 5.3

In   Self – Practice Exercise 5.2 , you chose a possible topic and explored it by answering questions about it using the 5WH questions. However, this topic may still be too broad. Here, in   this exercise , choose and complete one of the prewriting strategies to narrow the focus. Use brainstorming, idea mapping, or searching the Internet.

Collaboration : P lease share with a classmate and compare your answers. Share what you found and what interests you about the possible topic(s).

Prewriting strategies are a vital first step in the writing process. First they help you first choose a broad topic, and then they help you narrow the focus of the topic to a more specific idea. Use Checklist 5.1: Topic Checklist to help you with this step.

Checklist 5.1  Developing a Good Topic

Using this checklist can help you decide if your narrowed topic is a good topic for your assignment.

Am I interested in this topic?

Would my audience be interested?

Do I have prior knowledge or experience with this topic? If so, would I be comfortable exploring this topic and sharing my experiences?

Do I want to learn more about this topic?

Is this topic specific?

Does it fit the length of the assignment?

An effective topic ensures that you are ready for the next step. With your narrowed focus in mind, answer the bulleted questions in the checklist for developing a good topic. If you can answer “yes” to all the questions, write your topic on the line below. If you answer “no” to any of the questions, think about another topic or adjust the one you have and try the prewriting strategies again.

My narrowed topic: ____________________________________________

Key Takeaways

  • All writers rely on steps and strategies to begin the writing process.
  • The steps in the writing process are prewriting, outlining, writing a rough draft, revising, and editing.
  • Prewriting is the transfer of ideas from abstract thoughts into words, phrases, and sentences on paper.
  • A good topic interests the writer, appeals to the audience, and fits the purpose of the assignment.
  • Writers often choose a general topic first and then narrow the focus to a more specific topic.

5.2 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

  • Develop a strong, clear thesis statement with the proper elements
  • Revise your thesis statement

Have you ever known someone who was not very good at telling stories? You probably had trouble following the train of thought as the storyteller jumped from point to point, either being too brief in places that needed further explanation or providing too many details on a meaningless element. Maybe the person told the end of the story first, then moved to the beginning and later added details to the middle. The ideas were probably scattered, and the story did not flow very well. When the story was over, you probably had many questions.

Just as a personal anecdote can be a disorganized mess, an essay can fall into the same trap of being out of order and confusing. That is why writers need a thesis statement  to provide a specific focus for their essay and to organize what they are about to discuss in the body.

Just like a topic sentence summarizes a single paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes an entire essay. It tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point. It is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

Elements of a Thesis Statement

For every essay you write, you must focus on a central idea. This idea stems from a topic you have chosen or been assigned or from a question your teacher has asked. It is not enough merely to discuss a general topic or simply answer a question with a yes or no. You have to form a specific opinion, and then articulate that into a  controlling idea —the main idea upon which you build your thesis.

Remember that a thesis is not the topic itself, but rather your interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic your instructor gives you, you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful, and confident.

A thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of your introduction. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

A Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement contains the following qualities:

Specificity: A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic. For example, health care is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of that topic, such as options for individuals without health care coverage.

Precision: A strong thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and to remain focused on the topic. If the specific topic is options for individuals without health care coverage, then your precise thesis statement must make an exact claim about it, such as that limited options exist for those who are uninsured by their employers. You must further pinpoint what you are going to discuss regarding these limited effects, such as whom they affect and what the cause is.

Arguability: A thesis statement must present a relevant and specific argument. A factual statement often is not considered arguable. Be sure your thesis statement contains a point of view that can be supported with evidence.

Demonstrability: For any claim you make in your thesis, you must be able to provide reasons and examples for your opinion. You can rely on personal observations in order to do this, or you can consult outside sources to demonstrate that what you assert is valid. A worthy argument is backed by examples and details.

Forcefulness/Assertiveness: A thesis statement that is forceful shows readers that you are, in fact, making an argument. The tone is assertive and takes a stance that others might oppose.

Confidence: In addition to using force in your thesis statement, you must also use confidence in your claim. Phrases such as I feel or I believe actually weaken the readers’ sense of your confidence because these phrases imply that you are the only person who feels the way you do. In other words, your stance has insufficient backing. Taking an authoritative stance on the matter persuades your readers to have faith in your argument and open their minds to what you have to say.

Even in a personal essay that allows the use of first person, your thesis should not contain phrases such as in my opinion or I believe. These statements reduce your credibility and weaken your argument. Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude.

Self-practice Exercise 5.4

On a sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following topics. Remember to make each statement specific, precise, demonstrable, forceful and confident.

Texting while driving

The legal drinking age in different provinces of Canada

Steroid use among professional athletes

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

Each of the following thesis statements meets several of the qualities discussed above: specificity, precision, arguability, demonstrability, forcefulness/assertiveness, and confidence.

The societal and personal struggles of Floyd in the play Where the Blood Mixes, by Kevin Loring, symbolize the challenge of First Nations people of Canada who lived through segregation and placement into residential schools.

Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.

Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet spoils the outcome for the audience and weakens the plot.

J. D. Salinger’s character in Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, is a confused rebel who voices his disgust with phonies, yet in an effort to protect himself, he acts like a phony on many occasions.

Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.

Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.

In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.

You can find thesis statements in many places, such as in the news; in the opinions of friends, co-workers or teachers; and even in songs you hear on the radio. Become aware of thesis statements in everyday life by paying attention to people’s opinions and their reasons for those opinions. Pay attention to your own everyday thesis statements as well, as these can become material for future essays.

Now that you have read about the contents of a good thesis statement and have seen examples, take a look four pitfalls to avoid when composing your own thesis.

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay. Weak thesis statement: My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side. Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across the country are trying to legislate their puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end. Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad. Weak thesis statement :  The life of Pierre Trudeau was long and accomplished.

Self-practice Exercise 5.5

Read the following thesis statements. On a piece of paper, identify each as weak or strong. For those that are weak, list the reasons why. Then revise the weak statements so that they conform to the requirements of a strong thesis.

The subject of this paper is my experience with ferrets as pets.

The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil.

Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who lived in Baltimore during the 19th century.

In this essay, I will give you a lot of reasons why marijuana should not be legalized in British Columbia.

Because many children’s toys have potential safety hazards that could lead to injury, it is clear that not all children’s toys are safe.

My experience with young children has taught me that I want to be a disciplinary parent because I believe that a child without discipline can be a parent’s worst nightmare.

Collaboration : P lease share with a classmate and compare your answers.

Often in your career, you will need to ask your boss for something through an email. Just as a thesis statement organizes an essay, it can also organize your email request. While your email will be shorter than an essay, using a thesis statement in your first paragraph quickly lets your boss know what you are asking for, why it is necessary, and what the benefits are. In short body paragraphs, you can provide the essential information needed to expand upon your request.

Writing a Thesis Statement

One legitimate question readers always ask about a piece of writing is “What is the big idea?” (You may even ask this question when you are the reader, critically reading an assignment or another document.) Every nonfiction writing task—from the short essay to the 10-page term paper to the lengthy senior thesis—needs a big idea, or a controlling idea, as the “spine” for the work. The controlling idea is the main idea that you want to present and develop.

For a longer piece of writing, the main idea should be broader than the main idea for a shorter piece of writing. Be sure to frame a main idea that is appropriate for the length of the assignment. Ask yourself how many pages it will take to explain and explore the main idea in detail? Be reasonable with your estimate. Then expand or trim it to fit the required length.

The big idea, or controlling idea, you want to present in an essay is expressed in your thesis statement. Remember that a thesis statement is often one sentence long, and it states your point of view. The thesis statement is not the topic of the piece of writing but rather what you have to say about that topic and what is important to tell readers.

Look at Table 5.1: Topics and Thesis Statements  for a comparison of topics and thesis statements.

Table 5.1  Topics and Thesis Statements: A Comparison

The first thesis statement you write will be a preliminary thesis statement , or a working thesis statement . You will need it when you begin to outline your assignment as a way to organize it. As you continue to develop the arrangement, you can limit your working thesis statement if it is too broad or expand it if it proves too narrow for what you want to say.

Self-practice exercise 5.6

Using the topic you selected in   Self – Practice Exercise 5.3 , develop a working thesis statement that states your controlling idea for the piece of writing you are doing. On a sheet of paper, write your working thesis statement.

You will make several attempts before you devise a working thesis statement that you think is effective. Each draft of the thesis statement will bring you closer to the wording that expresses your meaning exactly.

Revising a Thesis Statement

Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Remember, you begin with a working thesis statement, an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

The best way to revise your thesis statement is to ask questions about it and then examine the answers to those questions. By challenging your own ideas and forming definite reasons for those ideas, you grow closer to a more precise point of view, which you can then incorporate into your thesis statement.

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

Pinpoint and replace all nonspecific words, such as people, everything, society, or life, with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Working thesis: Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis: Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use and be appreciated for their talents.

The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing the general words like people and work hard, the writer can better focus his or her research and gain more direction in his or her writing.

Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis: The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income, instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

Joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke. The writer should ask questions similar to the 5WH questions. By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs gives information about the subject, such as a condition or relationship (is, appear, smell, sound), but they do not show any action. The most common linking verb is any forms of the verb to be, a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Working thesis: British Columbian schoolteachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis: The legislature of British Columbia cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are. Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Reading the original thesis statement above, readers might wonder why teachers are not paid enough, but the statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask him- or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue. For example, the writer could ask:

Who is not paying the teachers enough?

What is considered “enough”?

What is the problem?

What are the results

4. Omit any general claims that are hard to support.

Working thesis: Today’s teenage girls are too sexualized.

Revised thesis: Teenage girls who are captivated by the sexual images on MTV are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sensuality, a feeling that harms their self-esteem and behaviour.

It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. Many girls have strict parents, dress appropriately, and do not engage in sexual activity while in middle school and high school. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:

Which teenage girls?

What constitutes “too” sexualized?

Why are they behaving that way?

Where does this behaviour show up?

What are the repercussions?

Self-practice exercise  5.7

In Section 5.1 , you determined your purpose for writing and your audience. You then completed a freewriting exercise on one of the topics presented to you. Using that topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions. After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

Now, on a sheet of paper, write your working thesis statement. Identify any weaknesses in this sentence and revise the statement to reflect the elements of a strong thesis statement. Make sure it is specific, precise, arguable, demonstrable, forceful, and confident.

Collaboration: P lease share with a classmate and compare your answers.

In your career you may have to write a project proposal that focuses on a particular problem in your company, such as reinforcing the tardiness policy. The proposal would aim to fix the problem; using a thesis statement would clearly state the boundaries of the problem and the goals of the project. After writing the proposal, you may find that the thesis needs revising to reflect exactly what is expressed in the body. The techniques from this chapter would apply to revising that thesis.

  • Proper essays require a thesis statement to provide a specific focus and suggest how the essay will be organized.
  • A thesis statement is your interpretation of the subject, not the topic itself.
  • A strong thesis is specific, precise, forceful, confident, and is able to be demonstrated.
  • A strong thesis challenges readers with a point of view that can be debated and supported with evidence.
  • A weak thesis is simply a declaration of your topic or contains an obvious fact that cannot be argued.
  • Depending on your topic, it may or may not be appropriate to use first person point of view.
  • Revise your thesis by ensuring all words are specific, all ideas are exact, and all verbs express action.

5.3 Outlining

  • Identify the steps in constructing an outline
  • Construct a topic outline and a sentence outline

Your prewriting activities and readings have helped you gather information for your assignment. The more you sort through the pieces of information you found, the more you will begin to see the connections between them. Patterns and gaps may begin to stand out. But only when you start to organize your ideas will you be able to translate your raw insights into a form that will communicate meaning to your audience.

Longer papers require more reading and planning than shorter papers do. Most writers discover that the more they know about a topic, the more they can write about it with intelligence and interest.

Organizing Ideas

When you write, you need to organize your ideas in an order that makes sense. The writing you complete in all your courses exposes how analytically and critically your mind works. In some courses, the only direct contact you may have with your instructor is through the assignments you write for the course. You can make a good impression by spending time ordering your ideas.

Order refers to your choice of what to present first, second, third, and so on in your writing. The order you pick closely relates to your purpose for writing that particular assignment. For example, when telling a story, it may be important to first describe the background for the action. Or you may need to first describe a 3-D movie projector or a television studio to help readers visualize the setting and scene. You may want to group your supporting ideas effectively to convince readers that your point of view on an issue is well reasoned and worthy of belief.

In longer pieces of writing, you may organize different parts in different ways so that your purpose stands out clearly and all parts of the essay work together to consistently develop your main point.

Methods of Organizing Writing

The three common methods of organizing writing are chronological order, spatial order, and order of importance, which you learned about in Chapter 4: What Are You Writing, to Whom, and How? You need to keep these methods of organization in mind as you plan how to arrange the information you have gathered in an outline. An outline is a written plan that serves as a skeleton for the paragraphs you write. Later, when you draft paragraphs in the next stage of the writing process, you will add support to create “flesh” and “muscle” for your assignment.

When you write, your goal is not only to complete an assignment but also to write for a specific purpose—perhaps to inform, to explain, to persuade, or a combination of these purposes. Your purpose for writing should always be in the back of your mind, because it will help you decide which pieces of information belong together and how you will order them. In other words, choose the order that will most effectively fit your purpose and support your main point.

Table 5.2: Order versus Purpose  shows the connection between order and purpose.

Table 5 . 2  Order versus Purpose

Writing an Outline

For an essay question on a test or a brief oral presentation in class, all you may need to prepare is a short, informal outline in which you jot down key ideas in the order you will present them. This kind of outline reminds you to stay focused in a stressful situation and to include all the good ideas that help you explain or prove your point. For a longer assignment, like an essay or a research paper, many instructors will require you to submit a formal outline before writing a major paper as a way of making sure you are on the right track and are working in an organized manner. The expectation is you will build your paper based on the framework created by the outline.

When creating outlines, writers generally go through three stages: a scratch outline , an informal or topic outline , and a formal or sentence outline. The scratch outline is basically generated by taking what you have come up with in your freewriting process and organizing the information into a structure that is easy for you to understand and follow (for example, a mind map or hierarchical outline). An informal outline goes a step further and adds topic sentences, a thesis, and some preliminary information you have found through research. A formal outline is a detailed guide that shows how all your supporting ideas relate to each other. It helps you distinguish between ideas that are of equal importance and ones that are of lesser importance. If your instructor asks you to submit an outline for approval, you will want to hand in one that is more formal and structured. The more information you provide for your instructor, the better he or she will be able to see the direction in which you plan to go for your discussion and give you better feedback.

Instructors may also require you to submit an outline with your final draft to check the direction and logic of the assignment. If you are required to submit an outline with the final draft of a paper, remember to revise it to reflect any changes you made while writing the paper.

There are two types of formal outlines: the topic outline and the sentence outline . You format both types of formal outlines in the same way.

Place your introduction and thesis statement at the beginning, under Roman numeral I.

Use Roman numerals (II, III, IV, V, etc.) to identify main points that develop the thesis statement.

Use capital letters (A, B, C, D, etc.) to divide your main points into parts.

Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) if you need to subdivide any As, Bs, or Cs into smaller parts.

End with the final Roman numeral expressing your idea for your conclusion.

Here is what the skeleton of a traditional formal outline looks like. The indention helps clarify how the ideas are related.

1) Introduction

Thesis statement

2) Main point 1 → becomes the topic sentence of body paragraph 1

3) Main point 2 → becomes the topic sentence of body paragraph 2 [same use of subpoints as with Main point 1]

  • Supporting detail

4) Main point 3 → becomes the topic sentence of body paragraph 3[same use of subpoints as with Main points 1&2]

5) Conclusion

In an outline, any supporting detail can be developed with subpoints. For simplicity, the model shows subpoints only under the first main point.

Formal outlines are often quite rigid in their organization. As many instructors will specify, you cannot subdivide one point if it is only one part. For example, for every Roman numeral I, there needs to be an A. For every A, there must be a B. For every Arabic numeral 1, there must be a 2. See for yourself on the sample outlines that follow.

Constructing Informal or Topic Outlines An informal topic outline is the same as a sentence outline except you use words or phrases instead of complete sentences. Words and phrases keep the outline short and easier to comprehend. All the headings, however, must be written in parallel structure.

Here is the informal topic outline that Mariah constructed for the essay she is developing. Her purpose is to inform, and her audience is a general audience of her fellow college students. Notice how Mariah begins with her thesis statement. She then arranges her main points and supporting details in outline form using short phrases in parallel grammatical structure.

Checklist 5. 2  Writing an Effective Topic Outline

This checklist can help you write an effective topic outline for your assignment. It will also help you discover where you may need to do additional reading or prewriting.

Do I have a controlling idea that guides the development of the entire piece of writing?

Do I have three or more main points that I want to make in this piece of writing? Does each main point connect to my controlling idea?

Is my outline in the best order—chronological order, spatial order, or order of importance—for me to present my main points? Will this order help me get my main point across?

Do I have supporting details that will help me inform, explain, or prove my main points?

Do I need to add more support? If so, where?

Do I need to make any adjustments in my working thesis statement before I consider it the final version?

Word processing programs generally have an automatic numbering feature that can be used to prepare outlines. This feature automatically sets indents and lets you use the tab key to arrange information just as you would in an outline. Although in business this style might be acceptable, in college or university your instructor might have different requirements. Teach yourself how to customize the levels of outline numbering in your word processing program to fit your instructor’s preferences.

Self-practice Exercise 5.8

Using the working thesis statement you wrote in   Self – Practice Exercise 5 . 3 and the reading you did in   Section 5.1: Apply Prewriting Models , construct a topic outline for your essay. Be sure to observe correct outline form, including correct indentions and the use of Roman and Arabic numerals and capital letters.

Collaboration: P lease share with a classmate and compare your outline. Point out areas of interest from your classmate’s outline and what you would like to learn more about.

Self-practice Exercise 5.9

Refer to the previous exercise and select three of your most compelling reasons to support the thesis statement. Remember that the points you choose must be specific and relevant to the thesis. The statements you choose will be your primary support points, and you will later incorporate them into the topic sentences for the body paragraphs.

Constructing Formal or Sentence Outlines

A sentence outline is the same as a topic outline except you use complete sentences instead of words or phrases. Complete sentences create clarity and can advance you one step closer to a draft in the writing process.

Here is the formal sentence outline that Mariah constructed for the essay she is developing.

The information compiled under each Roman numeral will become a paragraph in your final paper. Mariah’s outline follows the standard five-paragraph essay arrangement, but longer essays will require more paragraphs and thus more Roman numerals. If you think that a paragraph might become too long, add an additional paragraph to your outline, renumbering the main points appropriately.

As you are building on your previously created outlines, avoid saving over the previous version; instead, save the revised outline under a new file name. This way you will still have a copy of the original and any earlier versions in case you want to look back at them.

PowerPoint presentations, used both in schools and in the workplace, are organized in a way very similar to formal outlines. PowerPoint presentations often contain information in the form of talking points that the presenter develops with more details and examples than are contained on the PowerPoint slide.

Self-practice Exercise 5.10

Expand the topic outline you prepared in Self – Practice Exercise 5.7   to make it a sentence o ut line. In this outline, be sure to include multiple supporting points for your main topic even if your topic outline does not contain them. Be sure to observe correct outline form, including correct indentions and the use of Roman and Arabic numerals and capital letters.

  • Writers must put their ideas in order so the assignment makes sense. The most common orders are chronological order, spatial order, and order of importance.
  • After gathering and evaluating the information you found for your essay, the next step is to write a working, or preliminary, thesis statement.
  • The working thesis statement expresses the main idea you want to develop in the entire piece of writing. It can be modified as you continue the writing process.
  • Effective writers prepare a formal outline to organize their main ideas and supporting details in the order they will be presented.
  • A topic outline uses words and phrases to express the ideas.
  • A sentence outline uses complete sentences to express the ideas.
  • The writer’s thesis statement begins the outline, and the outline ends with suggestions for the concluding paragraph.

5.4 Organizing Your Writing

  • Understand how and why organizational techniques help writers and readers stay focussed
  • Assess how and when to use chronological order to organize an essay
  • Recognize how and when to use order of importance to organize an essay
  • Determine how and when to use spatial order to organize an essay

The method of organization you choose for your essay is just as important as its content. Without a clear organizational pattern, your reader could become confused and lose interest. The way you structure your essay helps your readers draw connections between the body and the thesis, and the structure also keeps you focused as you plan and write the essay. Choosing your organizational pattern before you outline ensures that each body paragraph works to support and develop your thesis.

This section covers three ways to organize body paragraphs:

Chronological order

Order of importance

Spatial order

When you begin to draft your essay, your ideas may seem to flow from your mind in a seemingly random manner. Your readers, who bring to the table different backgrounds, viewpoints, and ideas, need you to clearly organize these ideas in order to help process and accept them.

A solid organizational pattern gives your ideas a path that you can follow as you develop your draft. Knowing how you will organize your paragraphs allows you to better express and analyze your thoughts. Planning the structure of your essay before you choose supporting evidence helps you conduct more effective and targeted research.

Chronological Order

In  Chapter 4: What Are You Writing, to Whom, and How? , you learned that chronological arrangement has the following purposes:

To explain the history of an event or a topic

To tell a story or relate an experience

To explain how to do or to make something

To explain the steps in a process.

Chronological order is mostly used in  expository writing , which is a form of writing that narrates, describes, informs, or explains a process. When using chronological order, arrange the events in the order that they actually happened, or will happen if you are giving instructions. This method requires you to use words such as first, second, then, after that, later, and finally. These transitional words guide you and your reader through the paper as you expand your thesis.

For example, if you are writing an essay about the history of the airline industry, you would begin with its conception and detail the essential timeline events up until present day. You would follow the chain of events using words such as first, then, next, and so on.

At some point in your career you may have to file a complaint with your human resources department. Using chronological order is a useful tool in describing the events that led up to your filing the grievance. You would logically lay out the events in the order that they occurred using the key transitional words. The more logical your complaint, the more likely you will be well received and helped.

Keep in mind that chronological order is most appropriate for the following purposes:

Writing essays containing heavy research

Writing essays with the aim of listing, explaining, or narrating

Writing essays that analyze literary works such as poems, plays, or books

When using chronological order, your introduction should indicate the information you will cover and in what order, and establish the relevance of the information. Your body paragraphs should then provide clear divisions or steps in chronology. You can divide your paragraphs by time (such as decades, wars, or other historical events) or by the same structure of the work you are examining (such as a line-by-line explication of a poem).

Self-practice Exercise 5.11

On a sheet of paper, write a paragraph that describes a process you are familiar with and can do well. Assume that your reader is unfamiliar with the procedure. Remember to use the chronological key words, such as   first ,   second , then , and   finally .

Order of Importance

Recall from  Chapter 4: What Are You Writing, to Whom, and How? that order of importance is best used for the following purposes:

Persuading and convincing

Ranking items by their importance, benefit, or significance

Illustrating a situation, problem, or solution

Most essays move from the least to the most important point, and the paragraphs are arranged in an effort to build the essay’s strength. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to begin with your most important supporting point, such as in an essay that contains a thesis that is highly debatable. When writing a persuasive essay, it is best to begin with the most important point because it immediately captivates your readers and compels them to continue reading.

For example, if you were supporting your thesis that homework is detrimental to the education of high school students, you would want to present your most convincing argument first, and then move on to the less important points for your case.

Some key transitional words you should use with this method of organization are most importantly, almost as importantly, just as importantly, and finally.

During your career, you may be required to work on a team that devises a strategy for a specific goal of your company, such as increasing profits. When planning your strategy you should organize your steps in order of importance. This demonstrates the ability to prioritize and plan. Using the order of importance technique also shows that you can create a resolution with logical steps for accomplishing a common goal.

Self-practice Exercise 5.12

On a sheet of paper, write a paragraph that discusses a passion of yours. Your passion could be music, a particular sport, filmmaking, and so on. Your paragraph should be built on the reasons why you feel so strongly. Briefly discuss your reasons in the order of least to greatest importance.

Spatial Order

As stated in  Chapter 4: What Are You Writing, to Whom, and How? , spatial order is best used for the following purposes:

Helping readers visualize something as you want them to see it

Evoking a scene using the senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound)

Writing a descriptive essay

Spatial order means that you explain or describe objects as they are arranged around you in your space, for example in a bedroom. As the writer, you create a picture for your reader, whose perspective is the viewpoint from which you describe what is around you.

The view must move in an orderly, logical progression, giving the reader clear directional signals to follow from place to place. The key to using this method is to choose a specific starting point and then guide the reader to follow your eye as it moves in an orderly trajectory from your starting point.

Pay attention to the following student’s description of her bedroom and how she guides the reader through the viewing process, foot by foot.

The paragraph incorporates two objectives you have learned in this chapter: using an implied topic sentence and applying spatial order. Often in a descriptive essay, the two work together.

The following are possible transitional words and phrases to include when using spatial order:

Self-practice Exercise  5.13

On a sheet of paper, write a paragraph using spatial order that describes your commute to work, school, or another location you visit often.

Self-practice Exercise 5.14

Look back at your outline from Self – Practice Exercise 5.9. Please share your formal sentence outline with a classmate and together evaluate whether you have organized your points chronologically, by order of importance, or spatially . D iscuss if you have organized your paragraphs in the most appropriate and logical way.

In the next chapter, you will build on this formal sentence outline to create a draft and develop your ideas further. Do not worry; you are not expected to have a completed paper at this point. You will be expanding on your sentences to form paragraphs and complete, well-developed ideas.

  • The way you organize your body paragraphs ensures you and your readers stay focused on and draw connections to your thesis statement.
  • A strong organizational pattern allows you to articulate, analyze, and clarify your thoughts.
  • Planning the organizational structure for your essay before you begin to search for supporting evidence helps you conduct more effective and directed research.
  • Chronological order is most commonly used in expository writing. It is useful for explaining the history of your subject, for telling a story, or for explaining a process.
  • Order of importance is most appropriate in a persuasion paper as well as for essays in which you rank things, people, or events by their significance.
  • Spatial order describes things as they are arranged in space and is best for helping readers visualize something as you want them to see it; it creates a dominant impression.

Supplemental Exercises

On a separate sheet of paper, choose one of the examples of a proper thesis statement from this chapter (one that interests you) and form three supporting points for that statement. After you have formed your three points, write a topic sentence for each body paragraph. Make sure that your topic sentences can be backed up with examples and details.

Group activity. Choose one of the topics from Self-Practice Exercise 5.4 and form a yes/no question about that topic. Then, take a survey of the people in your class to find out how they feel about the subject. Using the majority vote, ask those people to write on slips of paper the reasons for their opinion. Using the data you collect, form a thesis statement based on your classmates’ perspectives on the topic and their reasons.

On a separate sheet of a paper, write an introduction for an essay based on the thesis statement from the group activity using the techniques for introductory paragraphs that you learned in this chapter.

Start a journal in which you record “spoken” thesis statements. Start listening closely to the opinions expressed by your teachers, classmates, friends, and family members. Ask them to provide at least three reasons for their opinion and record them in the journal. Use this as material for future essays.

Open a magazine and read a lengthy article. See if you can pinpoint the thesis statement as well as the topic sentence for each paragraph and its supporting details.

Journal entry #5

Write two to three paragraphs responding to the following.

Think back to times when you had to write a paper and perhaps struggled to get started. What did you learn this week that you will apply in future assignments to get the ideas flowing?

Reflect on all of the content you have learned so far. What did you find challenging but are now more confident with? What, if anything, still confuses you or you know you need to practice more? How have your study skills, time management, and overall writing improved over the past month?

Remember as mentioned in the Assessment Descriptions in your syllabus:

You will be expected to respond to the questions by reflecting on and discussing your experiences with the week’s material.

When writing your journals, you should focus on freewriting—writing without (overly) considering formal writing structures—but remember that it will be read by the instructor, who needs to be able to understand your ideas.

Your instructor will be able to see if you have completed this entry by the end of the week but will not read all of the journals until next week.

Writing for Success - 1st Canadian Edition by Tara Horkoff; an author removed at the request of the original publisher; and Horkoff, Tara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to Write a Thesis Statement: A Quick Guide to Effective Writing

what should a thesis statement be significant debatable and limited

One intriguing aspect of a thesis statement is its ability to serve as the compass for an entire piece of writing. Despite its concise nature, a well-crafted thesis statement encapsulates the essence of the entire work, providing a roadmap for both the writer and the reader.

In this article, we will give a definition of a main argument, share expert thesis statement tips, and provide concise examples. Remember that at any point, you can ask us, ‘ Write my thesis ,’ and we will have all your writing troubles covered. 

What Is a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement definition is a concise declaration that encapsulates the central point or argument of an academic paper or essay. Positioned typically towards the end of the introductory paragraph, it serves as a roadmap for the reader, offering a preview of the key points and the overall direction of the paper. 

A well-crafted statement succinctly conveys the writer's stance on a particular topic and sets the tone for the entire piece of writing. It acts as a focal point around which the supporting arguments and evidence revolve, providing clarity and direction to both the writer and the reader.

A strong thesis statement goes beyond merely summarizing the main idea; it presents a clear, specific, and arguable claim. It has to be a concise, declarative sentence or two that articulates the main point, claim, or central idea of an academic paper or essay.

Characteristic Features:

  • Clearly presents the main idea of the paper.
  • Targets a particular aspect or angle of the topic.
  • Makes a definitive statement rather than posing a question.
  • Briefly summarizes the essence of the argument.
  • Guides the reader on what to expect in the paper.
  • Presents a stance or position on the topic.
  • Offers a roadmap by hinting at the supporting arguments.
  • Maintains an academic and objective tone.
  • Typically found near the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • May evolve as the writer delves deeper into research and analysis.
  • Is integral for a strong and effective academic paper.

Many students find writing a strong central argument difficult. So, if you’re wondering, ‘Where to pay someone to write my paper ?’, we suggest using your expert help right now.

Thesis Statement Essential Tips 

Positioned at the beginning of a paper, within the opening paragraph, the thesis statement stands as a vital means to initiate an essay. While not necessarily the inaugural sentence, it is customary to captivate the reader with an engaging hook at the outset, deferring the introduction of the central idea or argument to a later point in the first paragraph. 

thesis statement

Frequently misconstrued with a topic sentence, the first sentence in a paragraph, a thesis shares the role of introducing the central idea that unfolds in the subsequent discourse. In essence, envision thesis statements as the overarching topic sentence that encapsulates the essence of your entire paper. Here are ten key features of brainstorming a great thesis: 

1. Clarity is Key: Ensure that your thesis statement is clear and concise, presenting your main point in a straightforward manner.

2. Specificity Matters: Be specific in your thesis, addressing a particular aspect of the topic to provide a focused and targeted argument.

3. Make a Definitive Statement: Formulate your thesis as a declarative statement rather than a question to assert a clear position.

4. Be Concise: Keep your thesis statement brief, capturing the essence of your argument without unnecessary elaboration.

5. Provide a Roadmap: Offer a glimpse of the main points or arguments that will be explored in your paper, giving the reader a preview of what to expect.

6. Take a Stance: Clearly express your stance on the topic, making it evident whether you are supporting, refuting, or analyzing a particular idea.

7. Maintain an Objective Tone: Keep your language formal and objective, avoiding emotional or biased expressions in your thesis statement.

8. Position in the Introduction: According to essay format rules, you must place your thesis statement near the end of the introductory paragraph to provide context for the upcoming discussion.

9. Allow for Evolution: Understand that your thesis may evolve as you delve deeper into research and analysis, adapting to newfound insights.

10. Revise and Refine: Regularly review and refine your thesis statement as you progress with your writing, ensuring its alignment with the evolving content of your paper.

How to Write a Thesis Statement Step by Step

As we’ve already covered the basic thesis statement tips in the previous section, let’s guide you further to a step-by-step guide to writing a thesis. Also, if you’re interested in ‘how to write my personal statement ,’ we’ve got another helpful guide for you. Check it out!

thesis statement

Step 1: Topic Brainstorm

Brainstorming a great essay topic is a critical step in the writing process as it lays the foundation for a compelling and engaging piece of writing. Firstly, a well-chosen topic captures the writer's interest and enthusiasm, fostering a genuine investment in the exploration and analysis of the subject matter. This intrinsic motivation often translates into a more passionate and coherent narrative, enhancing the overall quality of the essay. 

Secondly, a carefully brainstormed essay topic ensures relevance and resonance with the intended audience. A topic that aligns with the readers' interests or addresses pertinent issues not only sustains their attention but also contributes to the essay's impact and effectiveness in conveying a meaningful message or argument. Here are some tips related to topic brainstorming in connection with writing a strong thesis statement:

  • Begin by choosing a broad topic that aligns with the assignment or your area of interest.
  • Gather basic information about your chosen topic through preliminary research.
  • During your research, identify key themes, concepts, or arguments related to your topic. 
  • Formulate questions related to your topic. What aspects intrigue you? What do you want to explore or analyze further?
  • Engage in free writing or mind mapping to generate ideas.
  • Review your generated ideas and prioritize the ones that resonate most with your interests and the assignment requirements.
  • Based on your prioritized ideas, formulate a working thesis statement.
  • Based on feedback and further refinement, finalize your thesis statement.

Using this analytical essay example , you can discover how a thesis is used in an academic paper.

Step 2: Start with a Question

As you’ll see in the thesis statement examples below, using a question involves posing a thought-provoking inquiry that your essay seeks to answer or address. The answer to the question becomes the central argument or perspective presented in your thesis. 

Select a question that stimulates curiosity and aligns with the focus of your essay. Reflect on possible answers or responses to your question. These potential answers will guide the development of your thesis statement. Develop a tentative thesis statement that responds to the question. Refine your thesis to make it more specific and tailored to the main points you plan to explore in your essay. 

Strong Thesis Statement Examples:

Original Question 1: How does technology impact educational outcomes?

Tentative Thesis 1: "The integration of technology in education presents both opportunities and challenges, influencing student learning outcomes through enhanced accessibility to information and the need for critical digital literacy skills."

Original Question 2: What role does cultural diversity play in shaping societal norms?

Tentative Thesis 2: "Cultural diversity serves as a dynamic force in shaping societal norms, fostering a rich tapestry of perspectives that both challenge and enrich the collective values of a community."

By using questions to frame thesis statements, you set up an inquiry-driven approach, prompting a nuanced exploration of your chosen topic.

Step 3: Write Down the Initial Answer

Let's take the examples provided above and outline how to write an answer to each question, developing a strong thesis statement in the process.

Question 1: How does technology impact educational outcomes?

Answer/Thesis Statement 1: "The integration of technology in education significantly shapes educational outcomes by providing students with increased access to information. However, this positive impact is accompanied by challenges, necessitating the cultivation of critical digital literacy skills to navigate the complexities of the digital learning environment."

Question 2: What role does cultural diversity play in shaping societal norms?

Answer/Thesis Statement 2: "Cultural diversity plays a pivotal role in shaping societal norms, acting as a dynamic force that introduces varied perspectives and challenges existing norms. This enriching influence fosters a collective environment where cultural differences contribute to a more nuanced understanding of societal values and behaviors."

In crafting these answers, the thesis statements respond directly to the questions posed. They articulate a clear position on the respective topics and provide a roadmap for the subsequent discussion in the essay. Each thesis statement also hints at the complexities within the chosen subjects, setting the stage for a nuanced exploration in the body of the essay.

Step 4: Revise Your Answer in the Process 

Reviewing a thesis statement during the writing process is vital to ensure that it accurately reflects the evolving content of the essay and maintains clarity and focus. Here are specific examples illustrating the importance of reviewing the thesis as the writing progresses:

Alignment with Content:

  • Example: As the essay delves into the challenges posed by technology in education, the initial thesis might not fully encompass these complexities. Through ongoing review, the writer realizes the need to adjust the thesis to align with the content, ensuring a cohesive narrative that includes both positive and challenging aspects.

Focus and Relevance:

  • Example: Initially, the thesis might state, "Cultural diversity impacts societal norms." During the writing process, the essay explores how cultural diversity challenges existing norms. A review prompts a more focused and relevant thesis: "Cultural diversity plays a pivotal role in shaping societal norms, acting as a dynamic force that introduces varied perspectives and challenges existing norms."

Reader Engagement:

  • Example: The initial thesis might lack an engaging element. A review during the writing process allows for the incorporation of a captivating hook: "In a world shaped by technology, the integration of digital tools in education transforms the learning landscape, presenting both opportunities and challenges that demand critical digital literacy skills."

Adaptation to Feedback:

  • Example: If peer feedback suggests a need for more specificity in the thesis about how technology impacts education, a review during the writing process allows for incorporation of this feedback. The writer might adjust the thesis to better address specific aspects like online collaboration or information overload.

Writers of our custom essay service suggest that by regularly reviewing the thesis during the writing process, it becomes a dynamic and responsive element of the composition. 

Step 5: Final Revision

This is the final step in learning how to write a thesis statement like a pro. Here are specific examples illustrating the importance of reviewing the thesis after writing is complete:

Verification of Clarity and Precision:

  • Example: After completing the essay on the impact of technology on education, a review might reveal that the thesis could be clearer. The initial thesis might have been, "Technology impacts education positively and negatively," but upon review, it can be refined to, "The integration of technology in education significantly shapes outcomes by providing increased access to information, but challenges arise, requiring critical digital literacy skills."

Alignment with Final Content:

  • Example: The completed essay on cultural diversity and societal norms may have introduced new insights. A review ensures that the thesis aligns with the final content, prompting adjustments if needed. The refined thesis might address specific aspects uncovered in the essay, such as, "Cultural diversity plays a pivotal role in shaping societal norms, fostering a nuanced understanding that both challenges and enriches collective values."

Ensuring Focus and Relevance:

  • Example: In the essay exploring the positive and negative impacts of technology in education, a review may reveal that the thesis could be more focused. The final thesis might be refined to emphasize specific aspects highlighted in the essay, such as, "While technology enhances educational access, challenges like information overload underscore the need for critical digital literacy skills."

Enhancing Reader Engagement:

  • Example: Post-writing, the writer realizes that the thesis lacks an engaging element. A review prompts the addition of a captivating hook to the thesis: "In our technology-driven world, the integration of digital tools in education transforms the learning landscape, presenting both opportunities and challenges that demand critical digital literacy skills."

Incorporating Feedback:

  • Example: If feedback from peers suggests a need for more clarity regarding the cultural diversity essay's impact on societal norms, a post-writing review allows for refinement. The final thesis might address specific feedback by stating, "Cultural diversity plays a pivotal role in challenging and enriching societal norms, fostering a nuanced understanding of collective values."

Reviewing the thesis after completing the writing process ensures that it accurately reflects the nuanced insights developed throughout the essay. It serves as a final check to guarantee that the thesis remains a powerful and cohesive representation of the essay's main argument, offering readers a clear and engaging roadmap to the writer's perspective.

Types of Thesis Statements

Writing a thesis statement can take various forms based on the purpose and nature of the essay or research paper. Here are common types of thesis statements:

1. Analytical: Breaks down an issue or idea into its components, providing an in-depth analysis of the topic. Example: "Through an examination of historical records and cultural artifacts, this essay analyzes the impact of the Industrial Revolution on societal structures."

2. Explanatory: Explains a concept, phenomenon, or idea to the reader. Example: "In this paper, I will explain the key principles of quantum physics and their implications for our understanding of the universe."

3. Argumentative or Persuasive: Takes a stance on an issue and seeks to persuade the reader to adopt a particular perspective. Example: "The government should implement stricter regulations on carbon emissions to address the imminent threat of climate change."

4. Comparative: Highlights the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. Example: "By examining the economic, social, and cultural aspects, this essay compares the effects of globalization in Western and Eastern societies."

5. Narrative: Presents the main point of a narrative or story. Example: "In this personal narrative, I will recount the transformative journey of overcoming adversity and discovering resilience."

6. Cause and Effect: Explores the cause-and-effect relationship between variables or events. Example: "The rise of social media has significantly influenced political discourse, shaping public opinions and electoral outcomes."

7. Debatable: Introduces an arguable claim that invites discussion and analysis. Example: "While some argue that technology isolates individuals, this essay contends that it fosters new forms of social connection and communication."

8. Definitional: Provides a clear definition or explanation of a term or concept. Example: "In this paper, the term 'cultural relativism' will be defined and examined in the context of anthropological studies."

9. Problem-Solution: Identifies a problem and proposes a solution. Example: "This essay addresses the issue of food insecurity in urban areas and proposes community gardens as a viable solution to improve access to fresh produce."

10. Descriptive: Paints a vivid picture or description of a particular scene, concept, or phenomenon. Example: "The sunsets over the serene coastline create a breathtaking spectacle, capturing the essence of tranquility and natural beauty."

Now, you know how to write a thesis statement, but do you know how to write a thesis, which is an entire academic paper? If you feel troubled by this question, consider using our thesis writing service , which will sort all the troubles out.   

Good Thesis Statement ExamThesis Statement Examples

"By analyzing the symbolism and narrative techniques in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm,' this essay explores the allegorical representation of political power and corruption."

"This paper explains the psychological mechanisms behind the phenomenon of false memories, delving into the cognitive processes that contribute to their formation."

"The widespread adoption of renewable energy sources is imperative for mitigating climate change, and governments should prioritize policies and investments to transition from fossil fuels."

"Examining the economic policies of the Great Depression and the 2008 financial crisis reveals striking parallels in government responses and their impacts on global economies."

"In this personal narrative, I recount the transformative journey of solo backpacking across Europe, exploring self-discovery and cultural immersion."

"The ubiquity of smartphones has led to a decline in face-to-face social interactions, contributing to a rise in feelings of isolation and loneliness among young adults.”

"While some argue that artificial intelligence poses a threat to employment, this essay contends that AI technologies can enhance productivity and create new job opportunities."

"In the context of bioethics, 'gene editing' refers to the deliberate modification of an organism's genetic material, raising ethical concerns about the potential for unintended consequences."

"This essay addresses the growing issue of plastic pollution in oceans and proposes comprehensive recycling initiatives and public awareness campaigns as effective solutions."

"The historic city of Kyoto, with its ancient temples, traditional tea houses, and serene gardens, embodies the cultural richness and timeless beauty of Japanese heritage."

In-Text Examples

Download PDF examples of essays with a thesis statement. The statements are highlighted.

Cricket, in the South of Asia between 1880-2005, played a political role in not only easing tensions and restrictions of caste members, but allowing Pakistan and India to release some political tensions from a religious aspect.
In Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, the setting is the hot and colorful West Indies in the post-colonial days. In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre the setting is murky gray England: the heart of the empire and Mr. Rochester’s home. Thornfield in Wide Sargasso Sea is depicted as dark and ancient, while Antoinette’s surroundings in Jane Eyre are often green and dream-like. The contrasting climates and settings in the two novels showcase how different Antoinette’s concept of home is from Jane’s, yet they also add parallel qualities to the two novels

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do i start a thesis statement.

To start a thesis statement, begin by identifying the key topic or issue you intend to address in your essay. Clearly state your main point or perspective on the topic, ensuring it is specific and arguable. A well-crafted thesis should provide a roadmap for your readers, giving them a clear idea of what to expect in your essay. It's often beneficial to avoid vague or broad statements and instead focus on a specific aspect or argument related to your topic. Lastly, refine and revise your thesis as needed throughout the writing process to ensure it remains aligned with the evolving content of your essay. If you find yourself in lack of time to finish a composition, use our essays help to wrap up the task faster.

How Long Should a Strong Thesis Statement Be?

One of the best thesis statement tips is to keep it concise and to the point, consisting of one or two sentences. While there is no strict rule for the exact length, it's crucial to keep it clear, focused, and specific. A well-crafted thesis should effectively communicate the main point or argument of your essay without unnecessary elaboration. If your thesis statement becomes overly complex or extends beyond a couple of sentences, it might indicate a need for refinement to maintain clarity and precision. Remember that a thesis serves as a roadmap for your readers, guiding them through the main points of your essay, and brevity is generally appreciated to keep the statement impactful and easily digestible.

Can a Thesis Statement Be a Question?

Yes, a strong thesis statement can be framed as a question. When using a question as a thesis statement, it typically serves to introduce an inquiry or prompt critical thinking. However, it's important to note that the question should still articulate a clear stance or perspective. Whether posed as a statement or a question, a thesis should provide a clear position that guides the reader through the writer's main argument or perspective. Sometimes, you have to rewrite a thesis many times; the same goes for your entire article in some cases. That’s why you can use a rewrite essay service to ace such a task.

A carefully constructed thesis is the cornerstone of an effective essay, providing a roadmap for both the writer and the reader. Through this article, we've explored the significance of precision, clarity, and adaptability in thesis writing. 

A well-crafted thesis not only encapsulates the main argument but also propels the essay forward, ensuring coherence and engagement. As writers, we must recognize that the knowledge of how to write a thesis statement empowers us to convey our ideas effectively, fostering a deeper connection with our audience. So, let us recognize the pivotal role played by a well-crafted thesis in shaping the success of our written assignments.

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Thesis Statements

This page discusses thesis statements: what they are, how they are used, and how to write/improve thesis statements. 

What is a Thesis Statement? 

A thesis statement is usually a sentence (or two) that neatly and concisely summarizes the main argument or point that you’re making in an essay. It is a statement of your position on a subject or topic . It should also serve as a sort of “roadmap” for your essay, telling the reader where they will go when they read your paper and how they will get there. 

A good Thesis Statement is:

  • Argumentative 

Every good thesis statement has two parts: the WHAT and the WHY/HOW. 

The WHAT part of the thesis statement should state your argument or position and be debatable, e.g. “Olympic ice dancing is not really a sport.” This is certainly debatable; someone could argue that it is, in fact, a sport. This statement also serves as the main idea of the essay. Just from reading this, your reader knows that what is to come in the essay will present arguments showing that ice dancing isn’t really a sport. 

This part also gives the reader a reason to keep reading, to discover the reasons you say that ice dancing isn’t really a sport. The WHY/HOW part of the thesis statement gives your reasoning behind your argument. This is often the most difficult and important part of developing a thesis statement. Most of the time, this part of the thesis comes second (though there is no reason it can’t come first), usually after a word like “because.” 

EXAMPLE: Olympic ice dancing is not really a sport because judges score it, skaters do not compete directly against each other, and there is no ball or puck involved. 

After reading this, your reader has a very good idea of what to expect in your essay. They expect that you will argue against ice dancing being a sport for three very specific reasons. They can also anticipate how your essay will be structured. Chances are, you will begin by looking at the judging system, move to discussing the lack of direct competition, and close with the fact that ice dancing doesn’t involve a ball or puck. (This also will help you, as a writer, organize your thoughts within the essay.) 

Four Ways Thesis Statements Go Wrong 

  • Your thesis is too general – Most of the time, you’ll have a limited number of pages to make your argument. Therefore, your argument must be specific and narrow enough to be made in the space that you have. A good thesis statement is specific because it is reflective of a well-development argument. BAD: Baseball is a great game. (Why? Is it the greatest? Compared to what?) BETTER: Baseball is superior to other professional sports because of its unique demands for strategy and execution . 
  • Your thesis is too broad – Sometimes we try to do too much with an argument. For example, the thesis statement Abortion is wrong will probably need a book-length paper to convincingly argue this well. The narrower you can make your argument, the better. BAD: World War II changed the way America thought about war. (Woah. Good argument. But you’ll probably need a PhD and a 1,200-page book to make it.) BETTER: The preparations for D-Day changed the way America’s military leadership thought about its World War II strategy.  
  • Your thesis is a fact – You can’t argue a fact, and a good thesis statement is both argumentative and debatable. You can argue about facts though. BAD: The University of North Carolina won the 2009 NCAA basketball championship. (Yup. No argument here. And no need to write a paper arguing it, either.) BETTER: The 2009 championship team of UNC was the best college basketball team of its decade.  
  • Your thesis isn’t an argument – A good thesis is always debatable; that is, someone could honestly and in good faith disagree with you for good reasons. An opinion isn’t a fact. To paraphrase The Dude, it’s just, like, your opinion, man. BAD: I don’t really like Van Halen, or 80s rock in general.  BETTER: Van Halen represents everything that is wrong with rock and roll in the 80s.   EVEN BETTER: Van Halen’s baroque guitar solos, fluffy lyrics, and over-the-top hedonism represent the reasons 80s rock is vastly inferior to the Grunge movement that succeeded it in the early 90s.


  1. How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement

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  2. How long should a thesis statement be?

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  3. What should a thesis be significant debatable limited?

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  4. 🌱 Debatable thesis. Why Should a Thesis Statement Be Significant, Debatable, and Limited?. 2022

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  5. 🌱 Debatable thesis. Why Should a Thesis Statement Be Significant, Debatable, and Limited?. 2022

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  6. Can a Thesis Statement be a Question, Many Sentences or Quote

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  1. How to Create an Effective Thesis Statement in 5 Easy Steps

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  3. What Is a Good Thesis Statement?

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