Have a language expert improve your writing
Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.
- Knowledge Base
- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
- Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.
A faster, more affordable way to improve your paper
Scribbr’s new AI Proofreader checks your document and corrects spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes with near-human accuracy and the efficiency of AI!
Proofread my paper
The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.
You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
- Ad hominem fallacy
- Post hoc fallacy
- Appeal to authority fallacy
- False cause fallacy
- Sunk cost fallacy
- Choosing Essay Topic
- Write a College Essay
- Write a Diversity Essay
- College Essay Format & Structure
- Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay
- Grammar Checker
- Paraphrasing Tool
- Text Summarizer
- AI Detector
- Plagiarism Checker
- Citation Generator
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
McCombes, S. (2023, August 15). How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 3, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/thesis-statement/
Is this article helpful?
Other students also liked, how to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples, how to write topic sentences | 4 steps, examples & purpose, academic paragraph structure | step-by-step guide & examples, what is your plagiarism score.
How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
The important sentence expresses your central assertion or argument
arabianEye / Getty Images
- Writing Research Papers
- Writing Essays
- English Grammar
- M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
- B.A., History, Armstrong State University
A thesis statement provides the foundation for your entire research paper or essay. This statement is the central assertion that you want to express in your essay. A successful thesis statement is one that is made up of one or two sentences clearly laying out your central idea and expressing an informed, reasoned answer to your research question.
Usually, the thesis statement will appear at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. There are a few different types, and the content of your thesis statement will depend upon the type of paper you’re writing.
Key Takeaways: Writing a Thesis Statement
- A thesis statement gives your reader a preview of your paper's content by laying out your central idea and expressing an informed, reasoned answer to your research question.
- Thesis statements will vary depending on the type of paper you are writing, such as an expository essay, argument paper, or analytical essay.
- Before creating a thesis statement, determine whether you are defending a stance, giving an overview of an event, object, or process, or analyzing your subject
Expository Essay Thesis Statement Examples
An expository essay "exposes" the reader to a new topic; it informs the reader with details, descriptions, or explanations of a subject. If you are writing an expository essay , your thesis statement should explain to the reader what she will learn in your essay. For example:
- The United States spends more money on its military budget than all the industrialized nations combined.
- Gun-related homicides and suicides are increasing after years of decline.
- Hate crimes have increased three years in a row, according to the FBI.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increases the risk of stroke and arterial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
These statements provide a statement of fact about the topic (not just opinion) but leave the door open for you to elaborate with plenty of details. In an expository essay, you don't need to develop an argument or prove anything; you only need to understand your topic and present it in a logical manner. A good thesis statement in an expository essay always leaves the reader wanting more details.
Types of Thesis Statements
Before creating a thesis statement, it's important to ask a few basic questions, which will help you determine the kind of essay or paper you plan to create:
- Are you defending a stance in a controversial essay ?
- Are you simply giving an overview or describing an event, object, or process?
- Are you conducting an analysis of an event, object, or process?
In every thesis statement , you will give the reader a preview of your paper's content, but the message will differ a little depending on the essay type .
Argument Thesis Statement Examples
If you have been instructed to take a stance on one side of a controversial issue, you will need to write an argument essay . Your thesis statement should express the stance you are taking and may give the reader a preview or a hint of your evidence. The thesis of an argument essay could look something like the following:
- Self-driving cars are too dangerous and should be banned from the roadways.
- The exploration of outer space is a waste of money; instead, funds should go toward solving issues on Earth, such as poverty, hunger, global warming, and traffic congestion.
- The U.S. must crack down on illegal immigration.
- Street cameras and street-view maps have led to a total loss of privacy in the United States and elsewhere.
These thesis statements are effective because they offer opinions that can be supported by evidence. If you are writing an argument essay, you can craft your own thesis around the structure of the statements above.
Analytical Essay Thesis Statement Examples
In an analytical essay assignment, you will be expected to break down a topic, process, or object in order to observe and analyze your subject piece by piece. Examples of a thesis statement for an analytical essay include:
- The criminal justice reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate in late 2018 (" The First Step Act ") aims to reduce prison sentences that disproportionately fall on nonwhite criminal defendants.
- The rise in populism and nationalism in the U.S. and European democracies has coincided with the decline of moderate and centrist parties that have dominated since WWII.
- Later-start school days increase student success for a variety of reasons.
Because the role of the thesis statement is to state the central message of your entire paper, it is important to revisit (and maybe rewrite) your thesis statement after the paper is written. In fact, it is quite normal for your message to change as you construct your paper.
- How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
- What Is Expository Writing?
- An Introduction to Academic Writing
- Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
- Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay
- How To Write an Essay
- Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay
- How to Write a Response Paper
- The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay
- Understanding What an Expository Essay Is
- The Introductory Paragraph: Start Your Paper Off Right
- Tips for Writing an Art History Paper
- The Five Steps of Writing an Essay
- How to Write a Persuasive Essay
- What an Essay Is and How to Write One
- Development in Composition: Building an Essay
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
Welcome to the Purdue OWL
This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.
Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.
This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.
Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement
1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
- An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
- An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
- An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.
2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
Thesis Statement Examples
Example of an analytical thesis statement:
The paper that follows should:
- Explain the analysis of the college admission process
- Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors
Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:
- Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers
Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
- Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college
- Affiliate Program
- UNITED STATES
- 台灣 (TAIWAN)
- TÜRKIYE (TURKEY)
- Academic Editing Services
- - Research Paper
- - Journal Manuscript
- - Dissertation
- - College & University Assignments
- Admissions Editing Services
- - Application Essay
- - Personal Statement
- - Recommendation Letter
- - Cover Letter
- - CV/Resume
- Business Editing Services
- - Business Documents
- - Report & Brochure
- - Website & Blog
- Writer Editing Services
- - Script & Screenplay
- Our Editors
- Client Reviews
- Editing & Proofreading Prices
- Wordvice Points
- Partner Discount
- Plagiarism Checker
- APA Citation Generator
- MLA Citation Generator
- Chicago Citation Generator
- Vancouver Citation Generator
- - APA Style
- - MLA Style
- - Chicago Style
- - Vancouver Style
- Writing & Editing Guide
- Academic Resources
- Admissions Resources
How to Write a Thesis Statement–Examples
What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement summarizes the main idea of a paper or an essay. Similar to the statement of the problem in research, it prepares the reader for what is to come and ties together the evidence and examples that are presented and the arguments and claims that are made later.
A good thesis statement can provoke thought, arouse interest, and is always followed up by exactly what it promises—if the focus or direction of your essay changes over time, you should go back to your statement and adapt it as well so that it clearly reflects what you are explaining or discussing.
Where does the thesis statement go in my paper?
Your thesis statement should be placed near the end of your introduction—after you have given the reader some background and before you delve into the specific evidence or arguments that support your statement.
Can you give me a thesis statement template?
Depending on the type of essay you are writing, your thesis statement will look different. The important thing is that your statement is specific and clearly states the main idea you want to get across. In the following, we will discuss different types of statements, show you a simple 4-step process for writing an effective thesis statement, and finish off with some not-so-good and good thesis statement examples.
Table of Contents:
- Types of Thesis Statements
- How to Write a Thesis Statement Step by Step
- Not-So-Good and Good Thesis Statements
Types of Thesis Statements
Depending on whether your paper is analytical, expository, or argumentative, your statement has a slightly different purpose.
Analytical thesis statements
An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its components, evaluates the pieces, and presents an evaluation of this breakdown to the reader. Such papers can analyze art, music, literature, current or historical events, political ideas, or scientific research. An analytical thesis statement is therefore often the result of such an analysis of, for example, some literary work (“Heathcliff is meant to be seen as a hero rather than a horrible person”) or a process (“the main challenge recruiters face is the balance between selecting the best candidates and hiring them before they are snatched up by competitors”), or even the latest research (“starving yourself will increase your lifespan, according to science”). In the rest of the paper, you then need to explain how you did the analysis that led you to the stated result and how you arrived at your conclusion, by presenting data and evidence.
Expository thesis statements
An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience, such as a historical development, a current phenomenon, or the effect of political intervention. A typical explanatory thesis statement is therefore often a “topic statement” rather than a claim or actual thesis. An expository essay could, for example, explain “where human rights came from and how they changed the world,” or “how students make career choices.” The rest of the paper then needs to present the reader with all the relevant information on the topic, covering all sides and aspects rather than one specific viewpoint.
Argumentative thesis statements
An argumentative paper makes a clear and potentially very subjective claim and follows up with a justification based on evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the author’s claim is true. A thesis statement for such a paper could be that “every student should be required to take a gap year after high school to gain some life experience”, or that “vaccines should be mandatory”. Argumentative thesis statements can be bold, assertive, and one-sided—you have the rest of the paper to convince the reader that you have good reasons to think that way and that maybe they should think like that, too.
How to Write a Thesis Statement Step-by-Step
If you are not quite sure how you get from a topic to a thesis statement, then follow this simple process—but make sure you know what type of essay you are supposed to write and adapt the steps to the kind of statement you need.
First , you will have to select a topic . This might have been done for you already if you are writing an essay as part of a class. If not, then make sure you don’t start too general—narrow the subject down to a specific aspect that you can cover in an essay.
Second , ask yourself a question about your topic, one that you are personally interested in or one that you think your readers might find relevant or interesting. Here, you have to consider whether you are going to explain something to the reader (expository essay) or if you want to put out your own, potentially controversial, opinion and then argue for it in the rest of your (argumentative) essay.
Third , answer the question you raised for yourself, based on the material you have already sifted through and are planning to present to the reader or the opinion you have already formed on the topic. If your opinion changes while working on your essay, which happens quite often, then make sure you come back to this process and adapt your statement.
Fourth and last, reword the answer to your question into a concise statement . You want the reader to know exactly what is coming, and you also want to make it sound as interesting as possible so that they decide to keep reading.
Let’s look at this example process to give you a better idea of how to get from your topic to your statement. Note that this is the development of a thesis statement for an argumentative essay .
- Choose a specific topic: Covid-19 vaccines
Narrow it down to a specific aspect: opposition to Covid-19 vaccines
- Ask a question: Should vaccination against Covid-19 be mandatory?
- Answer the question for yourself, by sorting through the available evidence/arguments:
Yes: vaccination protects other, more vulnerable people; vaccination reduces the spread of the disease; herd immunity will allow societies to go back to normal…
No: vaccines can have side-effects in some people; the vaccines have been developed too fast and there might be unknown risks; the government should stay out of personal decisions on people’s health…
- Form your opinion and reword it into your thesis statement that represents a very short summary of the key points you base your claim on:
While there is some hesitancy around vaccinations against Covid-19, most of the presented arguments revolve around unfounded fears and the individual freedom to make one’s own decisions. Since that freedom is offset by the benefits of mass vaccination, governments should make vaccines mandatory to help societies get back to normal.
This is a good argumentative thesis statement example because it does not just present a fact that everybody knows and agrees on, but a claim that is debatable and needs to be backed up by data and arguments, which you will do in the rest of your essay. You can introduce whatever evidence and arguments you deem necessary in the following—but make sure that all your points lead back to your core claim and support your opinion. This example also answers the question “how long should a thesis statement be?” One or two sentences are generally enough. If your statement is longer, make sure you are not using vague, empty expressions or more words than necessary .
Good and Bad Thesis Statement Examples
Not-so-good thesis statement : Everyone should get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Problem: The statement does not specify why that might be relevant or why people might not want to do it—this is too vague to spark anyone’s interest.
Good : Since the risks of the currently available Covid-19 vaccines are minimal and societal interests outweigh individual freedom, governments should make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory.
Not-so-good thesis statement : Binge drinking is bad for your health.
Problem: This is a very broad statement that everyone can agree on and nobody needs to read an article on. You need to specify why anyone would not think that way.
Good : Binge drinking has become a trend among college students. While some argue that it might be better for your health than regular consumption of low amounts of alcohol, science says otherwise.
Not-so-good thesis statement : Learning an instrument can develop a child’s cognitive abilities.
Problem: This is a very weak statement—”can” develop doesn’t tell us whether that is what happens in every child, what kind of effects of music education on cognition we can expect, and whether that has or should have any practical implications.
Good thesis statement : Music education has many surprising benefits on children’s overall development, including effects on language acquisition, coordination, problem-solving, and even social skills.
You could now present all the evidence on the specific effects of music education on children’s specific abilities in the rest of your (expository) essay. You could also turn this into an argumentative essay, by adding your own opinion to your statement:
Good thesis statement : Considering the many surprising benefits that music education has on children’s overall development, every child should be given the opportunity to learn an instrument as part of their public school education.
Not-so-good thesis statement : Outer space exploration is a waste of money.
Problem: While this is a clear statement of your personal opinion that people could potentially disagree with (which is good for an argumentative thesis statement), it lacks context and does not really tell the reader what to expect from your essay.
Good thesis statement : Instead of wasting money on exploring outer space, people like Elon Musk should use their wealth to solve poverty, hunger, global warming, and other issues we are facing on this earth.
Get Professional Thesis Editing Services
Now that you know how to write the perfect thesis statement for your essay, you might be interested in our free grammar checker , the Wordvice AI Proofreader. And after drafting your academic papers, be sure to get proofreading that includes manuscript editing , thesis editing , or dissertation editing services before submitting your work to journals for publication.
We have many more articles for you on all aspects of academic writing , tips and tricks on how to avoid common grammar mistakes , and resources on how to strengthen your writing style in general.