What this handout is about.
This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.
Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement:
- tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
- is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
- directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
- makes a claim that others might dispute.
- is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)
How do I create a thesis?
A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.
Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .
How do I know if my thesis is strong?
If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :
- Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
- Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
- Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.
Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:
Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.
You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.
- Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
- Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?
After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:
Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.
This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.
Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:
Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.
You begin to analyze your thesis:
- Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.
Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
- Do I answer the question? Yes!
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
- Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”
After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.
This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.
Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.
Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.
Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.
A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.
A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.
When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.
Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.
Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.
Descriptive thesis (not arguable)
While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.
This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.
Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)
Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.
This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.
Arguable thesis with analytical claim
While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.
This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.
Arguable thesis with normative claim
Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.
This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.
Questions to ask about your thesis
- Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?
- Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?
- Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?
- Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?
- Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.
Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.
Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?
- to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
- to better organize and develop your argument
- to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument
In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.
How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?
Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned
Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.
Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”
The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.
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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned
Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.
A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:
- take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
- deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
- express one main idea
- assert your conclusions about a subject
Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.
Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.
You start out with a thesis statement like this:
This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.
Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.
You change your thesis to look like this:
Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.
This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.
Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.
You revise your thesis statement to look like this:
More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.
This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.
Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:
Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.
This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.
Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:
Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.
Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.
How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..
Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:
There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.
This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.
Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.
This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.
2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.
Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:
My family is an extended family.
This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.
While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.
This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.
3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.
Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:
Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.
This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:
Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.
This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .
4. A strong thesis statement is specific.
A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:
World hunger has many causes and effects.
This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:
Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.
This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.
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Developing a Thesis Statement
Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.
Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement . . .
- Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
- Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
- Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
- Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
- Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.
Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.
Identify a topic
Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.
Consider what your assignment asks you to do
Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.
Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.
Sample assignment 1
Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.
Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis
This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).
Sample assignment 2
Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.
The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.
This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).
Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information
Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.
Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II
After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.
As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.
For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.
Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.
As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.
Derive a main point from topic
Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.
Look for patterns in your evidence
Compose a purpose statement.
Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.
- Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
- Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis
Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.
This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
- The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
- The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.
At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.
This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.
Derive purpose statement from topic
To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.
For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.
Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:
- This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
- I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.
At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.
As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.
Compose a draft thesis statement
If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.
Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.
Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.
Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.
If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.
Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?
Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”
Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.
Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.
Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.
- nature = peaceful
- war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
- need for time and space to mourn the dead
- war is inescapable (competes with 3?)
Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).
- although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
- _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
- phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.
What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement
Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.
As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.
You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.
Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.
Refine and polish the thesis statement
To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.
- Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
- Question each part of your draft thesis
- Clarify vague phrases and assertions
- Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis
Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.
Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.
- Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.
This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.
Complete the final thesis statement
The bottom line.
As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:
- Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
- As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
- Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
- Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.
In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.
Writing Process and Structure
This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.
Getting Started with Your Paper
Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses
Generating Ideas for
Creating an Argument
Thesis vs. Purpose Statements
Architecture of Arguments
Working with Sources
Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources
Using Literary Quotations
Citing Sources in Your Paper
Drafting Your Paper
Generating Ideas for Your Paper
Developing Strategic Transitions
Revising Your Paper
Revising an Argumentative Paper
Revision Strategies for Longer Projects
Finishing Your Paper
Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist
How to Proofread your Paper
Collaborative and Group Writing
How do i write a thesis statement.
This page is Part 1 of a two-part handout that continues with our Thesis Statement Checklist .
What is a Thesis Statement?
In an effort to make our handouts more accessible, we have begun converting our PDF handouts to web pages. Download this page as a PDF: See p. 1 of How Do I Write a Thesis Statement Return to Writing Studio Handouts
A thesis statement is a very specific argument that guides your paper. Generally, a thesis statement consists of two parts :
- A clearly identifiable topic or subject matter
- A succinct summary of what you have to say about that topic
For your reader, a thesis functions like the case a lawyer has to make to the judge and jury in a courtroom. An effective thesis statement explains to your reader the case you are going to make and how you are going to make it.
For you as the author, your thesis can also help you to stay focused as a writer and determine what information you do (and don’t) need to include in your analysis.
Traditionally, the thesis statement is found near the end of your introduction , though this may change depending on the assignment and context. Don’t be afraid to draft a thesis statement that is more than one sentence.
A Note on Writing Process
You do not need a perfect thesis statement before you draft the rest of the paper. In fact, you will likely need to modify your thesis once you have a complete draft to make sure that your draft and your thesis match one another. If your argument evolves in productive ways as you write, your thesis should, too.
Honing and tweaking a thesis statement during the revision process is ultimately more important than having it exact and precise during the drafting process.
Characteristics of a WEAK thesis statement
- Vague: Raises an interesting topic or question but doesn’t specify an argument
- Offers plot summary, statement of fact, or obvious truths instead of an argument
- Offers opinion or conjecture rather than an argument (cannot be proven with textual evidence)
- Is too broad or too complex for the length of the paper
- Uses meaningful-sounding words, but doesn’t actually say anything of substance
Disclaimer: This is not a complete list! You can probably think of many more characteristics of a weak thesis statement.
Characteristics of a STRONG thesis statement
- Answers a specific question
- Takes a distinct position on the topic
- Is debatable (a reasonable person could argue an alternative position)
- Appropriately focused for the page length of the assignment
- Allows your reader to anticipate the organization of your argument
Having trouble drafting a thesis? Try filling in the blanks in these template statements:
- In this paper, I argue that _____, because/by _____.
- While critics argue _____, I argue _____, because _____.
- By looking at _____, I argue that _____, which is important because _____.
- The text, _____, defines _____ as _____, in order to argue _____.
Disclaimer: These are only models. They’ll be useful to help you to get started, but you’ll have to do quite a bit of tweaking before your thesis is ready for your paper.
For more on thesis statements, check out part 2: Our Thesis Statement Checklist .
Last revised: 07/15/2008 | Adapted for web delivery: 5/2021
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- What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples
What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples
Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.
A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.
Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .
You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
Table of contents
Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.
You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.
- A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
- A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
- In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
- In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.
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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:
- Your discipline
- Your theoretical approach
Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.
In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section , results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .
We’ve compiled a list of thesis examples to help you get started.
- Example thesis #1: “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
- Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.
- Example thesis #3: “An Introduction to Higher-Order Frames in Communication: How Controversial Organizations Maintain Legitimacy Over Time” by Kees Smeets
The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:
- Your full title
- Your full name
- Your department
- Your institution and degree program
- Your submission date.
Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.
Read more about title pages
The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.
Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces
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An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.
Read more about abstracts
A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.
Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.
Read more about tables of contents
While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.
Read more about lists of figures and tables
If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.
Read more about lists of abbreviations
Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.
Read more about glossaries
An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:
- Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
- Define the scope of your work
- Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
- State your research question(s)
- Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed
In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.
Read more about introductions
A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:
- Selecting relevant sources
- Determining the credibility of your sources
- Critically evaluating each of your sources
- Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps
A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:
- Addressing a gap in the literature
- Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
- Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
- Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
- Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate
Read more about literature reviews
Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.
Read more about theoretical frameworks
Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.
A methodology section should generally include:
- Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
- Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
- Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
- Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
- The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
- A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods
Read more about methodology sections
Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.
Your results section should:
- State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
- Explain how each result relates to the research question
- Determine whether the hypothesis was supported
Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.
Read more about results sections
Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.
For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.
Read more about discussion sections
Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.
Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.
Read more about conclusions
In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.
Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.
Create APA citations Create MLA citations
In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.
Read more about appendices
Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!
Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.
Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.
After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.
If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
- Survivorship bias
- Self-serving bias
- Availability heuristic
- Halo effect
- Hindsight bias
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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.
Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:
- Plan to attend graduate school soon
- Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
- Are considering a career in research
- Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience
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How to Write a Thesis Statement
Last Updated: November 2, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,184,032 times.
Whether you’re writing a short essay or a doctoral dissertation, your thesis statement can be one of the trickiest sentences to formulate. Fortunately, there are some basic rules you can follow to ensure your thesis statement is effective and interesting, including that it must be a debatab butt crack
Crafting Great Thesis Statements
- Thesis: "Computers allow fourth graders an early advantage in technological and scientific education."
- ' Thesis: "The river comes to symbolize both division and progress, as it separates our characters and country while still providing the best chance for Huck and Jim to get to know one another."
- Thesis: "Through careful sociological study, we've found that people naturally assume that "morally righteous" people look down on them as "inferior," causing anger and conflict where there generally is none."
- Ex. "This dynamic between different generations sparks much of the play’s tension, as age becomes a motive for the violence and unrest that rocks King Lear."
- Ex. "The explosion of 1800s philosophies like Positivism, Marxism, and Darwinism undermined and refuted Christianity to instead focus on the real, tangible world."
- Ex. "Without the steady hand and specific decisions of Barack Obama, America would never have recovered from the hole it entered in the early 2000s."
- "While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions."
- "The primary problem of the American steel industry is the lack of funds to renovate outdated plants and equipment."
- "Hemingway's stories helped create a new prose style by employing extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and strong Anglo-Saxon words."
- "After the third and fourth time you see him beat himself, one finally realizes that Huck Finn is literature's first full-blown sadomasochist."
- "The advent of internet technology has rendered copyright laws irrelevant -- everyone can and should get writing, movies, art, and music for free."
- "Though they have served admirably for the past two centuries, recent research shows that America needs to ditch the two-party system, and quickly."
- "By owning up to the impossible contradictions, embracing them and questioning them, Blake forges his own faith, and is stronger for it. Ultimately, the only way for his poems to have faith is to temporarily lose it."
- "According to its well-documented beliefs and philosophies, an existential society with no notion of either past or future cannot help but become stagnant."
- "By reading “Ode to a Nightingale” through a modern deconstructionist lens, we can see how Keats viewed poetry as shifting and subjective, not some rigid form."
- "The wrong people won the American Revolution." While striking and unique, who is "right" and who is "wrong" is exceptionally hard to prove, and very subjective.
- "The theory of genetic inheritance is the binding theory of every human interaction." Too complicated and overzealous. The scope of "every human interaction" is just too big
- "Paul Harding's novel Tinkers is ultimately a cry for help from a clearly depressed author." Unless you interviewed Harding extensively, or had a lot of real-life sources, you have no way of proving what is fact and what is fiction."
Getting it Right
- is an assertion, not a fact or observation. Facts are used within the paper to support your thesis.
- takes a stand, meaning it announces your position towards a particular topic.
- is the main idea and explains what you intend to discuss.
- answers a specific question and explains how you plan to support your argument.
- is debatable. Someone should be able to argue an alternate position, or conversely, support your claims.
- "Because of William the Conqueror's campaign into England, that nation developed the strength and culture it would need to eventually build the British Empire."
- "Hemingway significantly changed literature by normalizing simplistic writing and frank tone."
Finding the Perfect Thesis
- A clear topic or subject matter
- A brief summary of what you will say
- [Something] [does something] because [reason(s)].
- Because [reason(s)], [something] [does something].
- Although [opposing evidence], [reasons] show [Something] [does something].
- The last example includes a counter-argument, which complicates the thesis but strengthens the argument. In fact, you should always be aware of all counter-arguments against your thesis. Doing so will refine your thesis, and also force you to consider arguments you have to refute in your paper.
- There are two schools of thought on thesis timing. Some people say you should not write the paper without a thesis in mind and written down, even if you have to alter it slightly by the end. The other school of thought says that you probably won't know where you're going until you get there, so don't write the thesis until you know what it should be. Do whatever seems best to you.
- Never frame your thesis as a question . The job of a thesis is to answer a question, not ask one.
- A thesis is not a list. If you're trying to answer a specific question, too many variables will send your paper off-focus. Keep it concise and brief.
- Never mention a new topic that you do not intend to discuss in the paper.
- Do not write in the first person. Using sentences such as, "I will show...," is generally frowned upon by scholars.
- Do not be combative. The point of your paper is to convince someone of your position, not turn them off, and the best way to achieve that is to make them want to listen to you. Express an open-minded tone, finding common ground between different views.
Sample Thesis and List of Things to Include
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- An effective thesis statement controls the entire argument. It determines what you cannot say. If a paragraph does not support your thesis, either omit it or change your thesis. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
- Think of your thesis as a case a lawyer has to defend. A thesis statement should explain to your readers the case you wish to make and how you will accomplish that. You can also think of your thesis as a contract. Introducing new ideas the reader is not prepared for may be alienating. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
- ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/planning-and-organizing/thesis-statements
- ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/writing-a-thesis
About This Article
To write an effective thesis statement, choose a statement that answers a general question about your topic. Check that your thesis is arguable, not factual, and make sure you can back it up your with evidence. For example, your thesis statement could be something like "Computers allow fourth graders an early advantage in technological and scientific education." To learn about writing thesis statements for different types of essays or how to incorporate them into your essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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A strong component of academic writing that all writers must understand is the difference between subject, topic, and thesis. Knowing the difference between these three terms will help you create a strong argument for your paper. This handout is designed to help inform you about these three distinct introductory elements, and it will also help you transition from deciding on a subject you are writing about, to the essay’s topic, and finally to your overall thesis.
The subject of your paper is a broad idea that stands alone. At this point, there is no detailed information associated with it or any kind of argumentation. It serves, in essence, as a launching pad for you to form an idea, or argument, which will eventually become the purpose of your paper.
The topic of your paper is an evolved, narrower version of your subject. Here is where you add a detailed, more conclusive area of focus for your paper so that you can eradicate vagueness.
Example: Women in late 1990s television
The thesis acts as the final idea on which the entirety of your paper will focus. It is the central message that ties the whole paper together into one definitive purpose that prepares readers for what you are arguing.
Example : Although people may argue that television in the late 1990s helped portray women in a more honest and intrepid light, programs including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed , and Sex and the City failed to illustrate the depth and truth of womanhood, choosing to focus heavily on clichéd romantic entanglements, unbecoming pathetic quarrels, and thin temptresses adorned with fashionable costumes and bare midriffs.
Subject to Topic
The following are some suggestions to help you shift from a broad subject area to a narrow, focused topic.
Seek out narrow topics
Topic: Women in history
Note: In this case, the topic is too large to create a complex thesis statement worthy of a paper. The broader the topic, the more difficulty you will have narrowing your argument enough to affect readers.
Topic: Famous women aviators of WWII
Note: Here the topic as narrowed down the subject by focusing on women belonging to a specific profession in a particular historical period. It is thorough enough to discover a thesis statement.
Choose arguable topics
Subject: Toni Morrison
Note: This idea does not allow for speculation or disagreement, which gives it an underdeveloped quality.
Topic: Literary merits of the novel Tar Baby
Note: This idea allows for speculation or disagreement, which gives it a strong, developed quality.
Choose topics within your comfort zone
Topic: OE Northumbrian dialects
Note: Unless you have studied OE Northumbrian dialects at length, it perhaps poses too high of a research challenge to pursue.
Subject: College Freshmen
Topic: The Freshman Fifteen
Note: This topic is narrow enough and familiar enough to most college students to purse as a topic.
Rules for Thesis Statements
- Needs to correspond to the assignment’s expectations
- Usually, but not always, one sentence
- Typically appears that the end of the introduction
- More often than not, it is explicitly stated
- Establishes an argument
- Establishes the criteria for scrutiny of the topic (previews the structure of the paper)
- Write for an audience. Your paper should be catchy enough to retain readers’ attention.
Determine a "Research Question"
Determining a research question is a crucial aspect of your writing. In order to stay focused on the assignment, you must form a clear and concise argument. Choose one major idea you want to concentrate on, and expand from there.
When your instructor assigns a paper, try and find some angle that makes you inspired to fulfill the assignment to the best of your abilities. For example, if your history professor assigns you to write about a historical figure who changed the world for the better, write about an individual whose work you can relate to. If you are interested in the supernatural, you could write about Joan of Arc, who became a crusader because of the visions she claimed to have had from God.
Next, ask yourself a series of questions to help form your research question. Try to avoid questions you can answer with “yes” or “no” because these will not allow you to explore your topic as thoroughly or as easily as questions that begin with “who,” “what,” “why,” or “how.”
- When did Joan rise to prominence?
- Did she develop a strong following that her enemies felt threatened by?
- How did her gender play a part in her tragic demise?
- What does Joan’s execution say about female leaders of the 15th century?
Once you have developed a series of questions, consider which questions allow you to form an argument that is not too broad that you cannot write a sufficient paper, but not too narrow that it prevents you from crafting an interesting and compelling piece of writing. Decide which question represents this criteria, then you can start researching. In this case, from the above examples, you may select “How did Joan’s gender play a part in her tragic demise?” This question will allow you to develop a complex thesis with argumentative points to pose to readers. Below is a way to develop a thesis statement from the simply worded question that was just brainstormed.
The answer to your research question can become the core of your thesis statement.
How did Joan of Arc’s gender play a part in her tragic demise?
Joan of Arc’s gender played a significant role in her tragic demise because of the laws and social customs concerning women during France’s 15th century, which included social ideals that perceived women as secular citizens; political standards that favored men to hold positions of power over women; as well as religious ideals that perceived Joan’s alleged clairvoyant gifts as a natural trait of witchcraft, a crime of heresy also associated with women.
Note: Beginning writers are taught to write theses that list and outline the main points of the paper. As college students, professors might expect more descriptive theses. Doing this will illustrate two points: 1) Readers will be able to isolate your argument, which will keep them more inclined to focus on your points and whether or not they agree with you. They may find themselves questioning their own thoughts about your case. 2) A descriptive thesis serves as a way to show your understanding of the topic by providing a substantial claim.
Troubleshooting your Thesis Statement
The following are some suggestions to help you scrutinize your working draft of your thesis statement to develop it through further revisions.
Specify your details
Example: In today’s society, beauty advertisements are not mere pictures that promote vanity in the public, but instead, they inspire people to make changes so that they can lead better lifestyles.
- Uses cliché phrases like “In today’s society.”
- What kind of beauty advertisements are you referring to? All of them? Or specific kinds?
Note: Who is this targeting? Women? Men? Adolescents? Being more specific with the targeted audience is going to strengthen your paper.
Example: Makeup, clothing, and dieting advertisements endorse American ideals of female beauty and show the public that women should possess full ownership of their bodies and fight the stigma of physical and sexual repression which has been placed upon them.
- Identifies specific forms of beauty advertisements for the sake of clearly expressing a strong argument.
- Uses descriptive language.
Note: By signifying that women’s beauty is the main topic being argued in the paper, this author clearly identifies their main, targeted audience.
Make arguable claims
Example: Social media is not conducive to people’s personal growth because of the distractions, self-doubt, and social anxiety it can cause to its users.
- “Social media” and “personal growth” both encompass a large span of topics and so they leave the reader confused about the particular focus of this paper.
Note: The thesis is too broad to form a well-constructed argument. It lacks details and specificity about the paper’s points.
Example: Although Facebook allows people to network personally and professionally, the procrastination and distraction from one’s demanding responsibilities can lead people to invest more time in narcissistic trivialities, resulting in severe cases of anxiety and low self-esteem.
- It alludes to some kind of counterargument in the opening dependent clause.
- The thesis specifies several points that makes a thesis credible. The argument connects all the points (distractions, self-doubt, and social anxiety) together into one linear train of thought, relating the ideas to one another.
Note: The thesis is more focused. It concentrates on the idea that social media plays up on a person’s self-worth.
Preview the paper’s structure
Example: College is a crucial stage in one’s life that will help them become more sophisticated individuals upon entering the harsh world as an adult.
Note: Not only does this statement lack specificity and excitement, but it fails to present an idea of what the paper will look like, and how the argument is set up. As readers, we know this writer believes college is an imperative part of one’s life, but we have no idea how they are going to go about arguing that claim.
Example: College is a crucial stage in a young adult’s life because it is the time in which they begin to transition from childhood to adulthood, learn to live away from their parents, budget their own finances, and take responsibility for their successes and failures, which will force them to make more responsible decisions about their lives.
Note: The thesis points to different aspects of college life that help students ease into adulthood, which shows the reader the points the writer will explore throughout the body of the paper.
- transition from childhood to adulthood
- learn to live away from their parents
- budget their own finances
- take responsibility for their successes and failures
When you are asked to write a paper in college, there may not be as many detailed descriptions telling you what subject or argument to write about. Remember, the best way to pick your subject is to write about something that interests you. That way, the assignment will be more promising and passionate for you and may help you feel more in control of your writing.
As you venture closer to crafting your thesis, make sure your subject is narrowed down to a specific enough topic so that you can stay focused on the task. If your topic is specific enough, you will be able to create an argument that is concentrated enough for you to provide sufficient argumentative points and commentary.
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What is a thesis statement.
Thesis statements will let the reader know what will be discussed in your paper. A thesis statement is a sentence or two that states your perception or interpretation on the topic. In other words, they are the claim/argument about your topic that could be disputed. Thesis statements can also summarize the evidence you have gathered about your topic for papers that offer explanation.
How Do I Write a Thesis Statement?
When researching your topic, think about the different relationships you might find between the sources such as similarities, differences, themes, and audience. The evidence you collect from your research will back up your claim in the thesis. Make sure your thesis answers questions like “so what?”, to make a connection, as well as “how?” and “why?” to offer clarity. Let phrases like “in order to” and “because of” guide your statement.
Here are some examples of good thesis statements and what makes them strong:
Explanatory Thesis Statement
Cats are known to be exceptional predators because of their ability to see in the dark, remain silent in quiet environments, and control their body movements to adapt to speed and height.
- This is an example of an explanatory thesis statement. We can infer that the topic of this paper would be something along the lines of “Why do cats make good predators?”. The body and evidence from a paper with this thesis statement would explain why cats make exceptional predators based on the facts listed.
Argumentative Thesis Statement
Students should be allowed to bring laptops to class in order to increase their productivity and efficiency levels when completing assignments.
- This is an example of an argumentative thesis statement. This thesis presents a claim and provides evidence as to why the audience should believe the claim. A paper with this thesis statement would describe why students should be allowed to bring laptops to class, while using these points as a guideline.
Analytical Thesis Statement
An analysis of Don DeLillo’s White Noise reveals a modern America’s obsession with death while being overwhelmed by a capitalist society.
- This is an example of an analytical thesis statement. An analysis of the topic leads to the claim. A paper with this thesis statement would explain an analysis of White Noise and evidence of a modern America’s obsession with death within the book.
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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Parts of a Paper / How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.
Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.
What is a “thesis statement” anyway.
- 2 categories of thesis statements: informative and persuasive
- 2 styles of thesis statements
- Formula for a strong argumentative thesis
- The qualities of a solid thesis statement (video)
You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.
Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument . In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.
2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive
Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.
For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis (rather than argumentative). You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach.
To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.
This thesis showed the reader the topic (a type of sandwich) and the direction the essay will take (describing how the sandwich is made).
Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.
In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion (the best type of sandwich), which means I have chosen a stance. Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.
2 Styles of Thesis Statements
Just as there are two different types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), there are two basic styles you can use.
The first style uses a list of two or more points . This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments.
C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.
In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons. This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay.
In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.
Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.
In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.
Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis
One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point:
___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.
Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:
___________________ is true because of _____________________.
Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.
The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement
When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.
Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.
Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.
Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.
Example of weak thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.
Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.
Example of a stronger thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.
This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.
Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.
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How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
Creating the core of your essay
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
In composition and academic writing , a thesis statement (or controlling idea) is a sentence in an essay, report, research paper, or speech that identifies the main idea and/or central purpose of the text. In rhetoric, a claim is similar to a thesis.
For students especially, crafting a thesis statement can be a challenge, but it's important to know how to write one because a thesis statement is the heart of any essay you write. Here are some tips and examples to follow.
Purpose of the Thesis Statement
The thesis statement serves as the organizing principle of the text and appears in the introductory paragraph . It is not a mere statement of fact. Rather, it is an idea, a claim, or an interpretation, one that others may dispute. Your job as a writer is to persuade the reader—through the careful use of examples and thoughtful analysis—that your argument is a valid one.
A thesis statement is, essentially, the idea that the rest of your paper will support. Perhaps it is an opinion that you have marshaled logical arguments in favor of. Perhaps it is a synthesis of ideas and research that you have distilled into one point, and the rest of your paper will unpack it and present factual examples to show how you arrived at this idea. The one thing a thesis statement should not be? An obvious or indisputable fact. If your thesis is simple and obvious, there is little for you to argue, since no one will need your assembled evidence to buy into your statement.
Developing Your Argument
Your thesis is the most important part of your writing. Before you begin writing, you'll want to follow these tips for developing a good thesis statement:
- Read and compare your sources : What are the main points they make? Do your sources conflict with one another? Don't just summarize your sources' claims; look for the motivation behind their motives.
- Draft your thesis : Good ideas are rarely born fully formed. They need to be refined. By committing your thesis to paper, you'll be able to refine it as you research and draft your essay.
- Consider the other side : Just like a court case, every argument has two sides. You'll be able to refine your thesis by considering the counterclaims and refuting them in your essay, or even acknowledging them in a clause in your thesis.
Be Clear and Concise
An effective thesis should answer the reader question, "So what?" It should not be more than a sentence or two. Don't be vague, or your reader won't care. Specificity is also important. Rather than make a broad, blanket statement, try a complex sentence that includes a clause giving more context , acknowledging a contrast, or offering examples of the general points you're going to make.
Incorrect : British indifference caused the American Revolution .
Correct : By treating their U.S. colonies as little more than a source of revenue and limiting colonists' political rights, British indifference contributed to the start of the American Revolution .
In the first version, the statement is very general. It offers an argument, but no idea of how the writer is going to get us there or what specific forms that "indifference" took. It's also rather simplistic, arguing that there was a singular cause of the American Revolution. The second version shows us a road map of what to expect in the essay: an argument that will use specific historical examples to prove how British indifference was important to (but not the sole cause of) the American Revolution. Specificity and scope are crucial to forming a strong thesis statement, which in turn helps you write a stronger paper!
Make a Statement
Although you do want to grab your reader's attention, asking a question is not the same as making a thesis statement. Your job is to persuade by presenting a clear, concise concept that explains both how and why.
Incorrect : Have you ever wondered why Thomas Edison gets all the credit for the light bulb?
Correct : His savvy self-promotion and ruthless business tactics cemented Thomas Edison's legacy, not the invention of the lightbulb itself.
Asking a question is not a total no-go, but it doesn't belong in the thesis statement. Remember, in most formal essay, a thesis statement will be the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. You might use a question as the attention-grabbing first or second sentence instead.
Don't Be Confrontational
Although you are trying to prove a point, you are not trying to force your will on the reader.
Incorrect : The stock market crash of 1929 wiped out many small investors who were financially inept and deserved to lose their money.
Correct : While a number of economic factors caused the stock market crash of 1929, the losses were made worse by uninformed first-time investors who made poor financial decisions.
It's really an extension of correct academic writing voice . While you might informally argue that some of the investors of the 1920s "deserved" to lose their money, that's not the kind of argument that belongs in formal essay writing. Instead, a well-written essay will make a similar point, but focus more on cause and effect, rather that impolite or blunt emotions.
- An Introduction to Academic Writing
- How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
- The Introductory Paragraph: Start Your Paper Off Right
- How To Write an Essay
- Tips for Writing an Art History Paper
- The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay
- Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay
- Thesis: Definition and Examples in Composition
- What Is Expository Writing?
- How to Write a Persuasive Essay
- Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
- Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay
- How to Write a Response Paper
- The Five Steps of Writing an Essay
- What an Essay Is and How to Write One
- How to Write a Research Paper That Earns an A
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Developing a Thesis
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This handout covers major topics relating to writing about fiction. This covers prewriting, close reading, thesis development, drafting, and common pitfalls to avoid.
Once you've read the story or novel closely, look back over your notes for patterns of questions or ideas that interest you. Have most of your questions been about the characters, how they develop or change?
For example: If you are reading Conrad's The Secret Agent , do you seem to be most interested in what the author has to say about society? Choose a pattern of ideas and express it in the form of a question and an answer such as the following: Question: What does Conrad seem to be suggesting about early twentieth-century London society in his novel The Secret Agent ? Answer: Conrad suggests that all classes of society are corrupt. Pitfalls: Choosing too many ideas. Choosing an idea without any support.
Once you have some general points to focus on, write your possible ideas and answer the questions that they suggest.
For example: Question: How does Conrad develop the idea that all classes of society are corrupt? Answer: He uses images of beasts and cannibalism whether he's describing socialites, policemen or secret agents.
To write your thesis statement, all you have to do is turn the question and answer around. You've already given the answer, now just put it in a sentence (or a couple of sentences) so that the thesis of your paper is clear.
For example: In his novel, The Secret Agent , Conrad uses beast and cannibal imagery to describe the characters and their relationships to each other. This pattern of images suggests that Conrad saw corruption in every level of early twentieth-century London society.
Now that you're familiar with the story or novel and have developed a thesis statement, you're ready to choose the evidence you'll use to support your thesis. There are a lot of good ways to do this, but all of them depend on a strong thesis for their direction.
For example: Here's a student's thesis about Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent . In his novel, The Secret Agent , Conrad uses beast and cannibal imagery to describe the characters and their relationships to each other. This pattern of images suggests that Conrad saw corruption in every level of early twentieth-century London society. This thesis focuses on the idea of social corruption and the device of imagery. To support this thesis, you would need to find images of beasts and cannibalism within the text.
How to Write a Thesis Statement: Quick and Easy Guide 2023
Defining What is a Thesis Statement
Have you ever avoided writing a research paper because you believed it would be worthless and not make much academic contribution? We get it! Some people lack the courage and confidence to sit down with paper and a pen (or, more often, a laptop) and allow their viewpoint to flow through pages on any subject. If this has ever happened to you, trust us when we say that your research and creative abilities will be unquestionable after using our solution.
Are you secretly double-checking if you indeed clicked on the article on a thesis statement? Don't bother! The solution we mentioned above actually lies in crafting a perfect thesis statement that will work wonders for your research paper. Never undervalue the impact of a strong thesis statement articulating your position and providing direction for your writing. It is a cornerstone of your academic essay, providing readers with your main idea and the rationale for your study, ultimately motivating them to read the remaining pages in one go.
So, what is a thesis statement aside from praising its power? A thesis statement, presented in the introduction section of a paper, is a brief overview of the subject matter that includes your stance on the issue. Just like a navigating tool, thesis statements set a clear direction in which your upcoming paragraphs will flow and where the main body will defend your claim and arguments. After familiarizing yourself with the thesis statement definition, let's now examine the characteristics of a strong thesis statement prepared by our custom essay service
Qualities of a Good Thesis Statement
A solid thesis must be specific and defined. Moreover, it should:
- Clearly and promptly state the primary topic and supporting elements of your article;
- Serve as a blueprint so that your audience may freely comprehend your thoughts;
- Offer readers delight at the end of the work when they learn you have kept your promise by supporting or elaborating on your key topic.
- Expand through combining reasoning, observing, and reporting;
- Limit your study by giving you one single core topic that interests you;
- Focus your writing on a single, well-developed, or credible assertion;
- Arrange your thoughts so that you are aware of the central themes your article should address
- Clarify your writing by staying on course to achieve your intended goal.
How to Write a Thesis Statement: Getting it Right
Students frequently take a long time to draft their initial thoughts without knowing what a thesis statement should contain. A well-organized structure can help you finish your academic writing project quickly. So, let's break down the essential steps for writing a thesis statement with our admission essay writing service .
- Brainstorm ideas: Having a range of writing topics is usually preferable. In this manner, you will only pick a subject that appeals to you the most and can interest your audience. To generate a list of outstanding ideas and pick a topic based on them, collaborate with your friends, family, or instructors.
- Narrow and focus: We must emphasize that broad and general information has no place in a well-written work. The purpose of writing is to establish a special point about a subject. So, make sure the thesis reflects it.
- Understand the essay format , goal, and target audience: In most cases, the instructor assigns them, but even if you get to pick them, you must realize that they will have a significant impact on your thesis statement. When writing a persuasive essay, your goal will be to convince a certain audience of anything. While writing a descriptive essay, your goal is to explain something to a certain audience. Your thesis must incorporate at least one of each of these.
- Conduct research: You must do in-depth research using reliable, current sources. Always use academic databases to gain access to the materials you'll need for your study.
- Support your answer with reasoning: Select related evidence to bolster your main point. Throughout your research paper, ensure all of your arguments are supported by examples relevant to your thesis.
- Check how it aligns: Most often, authors will select to draft their body paragraphs before coming up with their thesis statement. A writer can set out to show one thing yet wind up changing their original thesis. Because of this, it's crucial to review your essay and make sure your thesis is consistent with the points you've made. When revising the main argument, make any necessary changes if you have evidence contradicting the initial claim.
Good Thesis Statement Examples
Now that you know the major steps of how to write a thesis statement, you should also remember that a thesis statement can take various forms, depending on the author's objectives. We created good thesis statement examples to give you a more precise illustration. This is a list of the most prevalent types of thesis statements:
Argumentative Thesis Statement
A strong, argumentative thesis statement example should take a stance about an issue. It should explain the basics of your argument and help your reader to know what to expect in your essay. An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Let's take a look at an example:
'The federal government must limit the number of sodas distributed at fast-food places since junk food harms overall well-being.'
Analytical Thesis Statement
A good analytical essay example demands going further and looking at the bigger picture. The following are key terms and phrases to remember when creating an analytical thesis statement: What is being claimed, how is it justified, and what does it imply? What are the ramifications, or why is it meaningful?
Example: 'The effects of the ongoing racism problem are visible in the world's sociocultural and commercial aspects. This issue is mostly being fueled by socio-ethnic prejudice within a population. '
Expository Thesis Statement
An expository essay introduces the reader to a new subject and educates them on it by providing facts, illustrations, or justifications. Your thesis statement should describe to the audience what she will discover in your essay if you are creating an expository essay.
Example: 'The possibility of stroke and rapid heart rate is increased by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).'
Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement
Several strategies can be used in compare and contrast essays. Some call for you to concentrate mostly on contrasts or similarities. Yet, for some, you need to pay attention to both.
Example: 'Although authoritarian and permissive parenting appears to be fundamentally contradictory, they share one important trait: both parents allow their kids to take responsibility for their actions.'
Cause and Effect Thesis Statement
Cause and effect essays examine how an event or scenario came about and what occurs due to that circumstance. You must give the cause of an event or occurrence in a cause-and-effect thesis statement.
Example: 'While several causes have led to the increase in homelessness, one of the most significant is the inadequate social support services.'
Elements of a Thesis Statement
An essay’s thesis consists of the following elements:
- The main idea of your paper expressed in a simple sentence.
- The reason(s) why you support and choose this idea.
- A counterargument to your claim. This is a valid piece of information which can, in turn, support your position. Use it only in case you have one.
Thesis Statement Examples & Templates
For many students, the best way to learn is to see some realistic examples. So here we will see how a thesis statement depends on the aim of the paper:
Make a claim about a chosen topic/question and try to justify this main argument by using reasons and credible evidence. Decide which type of thesis you plan to use. The main argument could be an opinion, analysis, or proposal. The writer should offer something some people can disagree with. Persuade the audience of your truth throughout the paper.
Example:The Brexit referendum result was caused by working-class frustration with the political elite and by austere policies that have eroded public services and fragmented communities; the referendum offered an alternative to the status quo.
You do not have to introduce a strong argument, you rather need to analyze, interpret, and evaluate different aspects of the same topic. It should introduce the key points of your analysis.
Example:An assessment of a barn owl’s flight technique depicts a couple of flight patterns: the ones connected with hunting prey and those related to courtship.
The main aim of an expository thesis statement is to explain and discuss the facts of a topic.
Example:Gerbils are believed to be a perfect pet for kids as they are low-maintenance and cheap.
In a compare and contrast thesis statement your goal should be to compare, review, and juxtapose the two points.
Example:While Judaism and Christianity are Abrahamic religions sprung from the same cultural hearth, they are different by their implementation of traditions, their realizations of religious cannons, and their perceptions of Jesus Christ.
In a cause and effect thesis statement you need to explain the reason for some event or happening.
Example:The primary reason why high school bullying takes place is the fact that modern teens watch violent videos and play violent video games.
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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FAQs on Thesis Statements
If you're looking for additional information on writing thesis statements, our rewrite essay service compiled a list of frequently asked questions that will give you thorough answers and help you strengthen your statement.
How Do I Start a Thesis Statement?
When unsure how to start a thesis statement, remember that an original thesis should be developed early in the writing process. Once you have selected your essay topic, you must choose what you will argue for in support. A concise thesis statement will give your essay a framework and focus.
You may provide a rough solution to this issue after conducting some preliminary studies. At this point, it can be straightforward and should guide the writing and research processes.
How Long Should a Thesis Statement Be?
Regardless of its many elements, a thesis statement must only be one sentence long. Rule-breaking is not as crucial as writing clearly. Still, the thesis may extend to two sentences in some circumstances, although it should always be stated briefly rather than generally addressed in a paragraph. Depending on the kind of paper, several thesis statements may be used.
When asking 'how long should a thesis statement be' from the length perspective, there isn't a universally applicable solution to this question. However, limiting your thesis statement to between 20 and 50 words is advisable.
Can a Thesis Statement Be a Question?
If you're still wondering - 'can a thesis statement be a question?', the answer is no since it would not be seen as appropriate in scholarly work. A question can't be proven, unlike a declaration or assertion, and your complete claim is meant to respond to a query. Its original goal would be completely defeated if expressed as an inquiry.
On the other hand, you can ask questions within topic sentences as they are the core concept of a body paragraph, giving your reader a feel of the issue and piquing their interest. Yet, you must ensure that the next sentence continues to address it.
Now you know what's a thesis statement, yet you might still be struggling to construct a good statement. Don't worry; a strong thesis statement template is never simple to write. Nevertheless, you can say " write my personal statement " or " write my thesis " and get quality essay with little effort.
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University of Notre Dame
Department of English
College of Arts and Letters
- Home ›
- Undergraduate ›
- Requirements ›
English Honors Concentration
In the English honors concentration, select majors create programs tailored to their own particular interests and needs. A faculty mentor guides each of these students through this intensive experience. The principal feature of the honors program is a year-long research process culminating in the completion of an honors thesis.
If you have questions about the honors program contact the director of undergraduate studies.
Invitation to Apply
By the end of fall of their junior year, students are invited to apply after being identified in one of two ways:
- 3.78 or above GPA in three or more English classes. At least two of the classes must be at the 30xxx level or above.
- Faculty nomination with a minimum GPA of 3.6
Statement of Purpose
Invited students declare their interest in the honors concentration by completing a statement of purpose, a 250–300 word statement describing what the student hopes to focus on during his or her time in the honors concentration. Deadline for applications: February 28, 2023 .
Students take a minimum of 11 English courses at the 30xxx-level or above, which include the following:
- All of the course requirements for the major.
- One optional advanced course, related to the thesis, from another department (requires the approval of the director of the honors concentration).
- During the junior year, the student identifies an area of interest and selects an advisor.
- In the fall of the senior year the student takes ENGL 53001: Honors Colloquium, in which they conduct research, write a proposal, and begin writing the thesis.
- In the spring of the senior year, the student enrolls in English 52998: Honors Thesis and completes the thesis.
Fall: Honors Colloquium
In the fall semester, students enroll in the Honors Colloquium (ENGL 53001) and complete a series of assignments through which they begin the process of writing the thesis. Students work primarily with the instructor of the colloquium but consult with their individual thesis advisors about developing a specific research topic, research resources specific to the area of their thesis, and the writing of the thesis itself. Students complete the following:
- Research bibliography of primary and secondary sources
- Sample notes from sources
- Thesis proposal
- Annotated bibliography
- Review of the critical literature
- Report on historical, philosophical, aesthetic or other related contexts
- Thesis outline
- Draft section of thesis
- Oral report on the thesis project
Spring: Honors Thesis
In the spring semester, students register for Honors Thesis (ENGL 52999) and work intensively with their thesis director, who assigns the final grade for the completed thesis. All theses should employ MLA style. The thesis should include the following:
- Table of contents
- Abstract (250–350 words)
- An essay of 6,000–9,000 words including notes but not the works cited. Ordinarily, the thesis essay addresses a literary topic or question, situates its analysis in relation to the existing criticism, and formulates an independently conceived argument about this topic or question. The model is the scholarly article.
- Works cited
- Complete draft of essay to advisor. Friday, April 21, 2023.
- Complete and final version in polished form (MLA formatting) with bibliography due both to the advisor and the department (email to undergraduate studies coordinator, L isa Holderman ). Abstract of 200–250 words due as well. Wednesday, May 3, 2023 .*
- English honors concentration thesis presentations: Friday, May 5, 2023 , 10 a.m.–12 p.m. *Note: Informal lunch reception follows immediately.
*For a student to graduate with honors, the essay must receive the advisor’s approval, be at least 20 pages in length, and earn a grade of B or higher.
Creative Writing Honors Concentration
Creative writing honors concentrators complete all the requirements of the English major and the creative writing concentration and write a creative thesis their senior year under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The creative thesis may take the form of stories, a novella, a poetry collection, an essay collection, or a hybrid project of your own devising as approved by the director of creative writing.
Interested students should apply in the spring of their junior year.
Please include with your application a 250-word project proposal, a list of creative writing courses taken, and a list of preferred faculty advisors. Please note: we cannot ensure first choice of faculty advisors. Deadline for applications: February 28, 2023 .
Apply here .
Students who wish to join the creative writing honors concentration and write a creative thesis must:
- Have an English department GPA of 3.78 or above (3.6 at the discretion of the director of creative writing) and have completed 3 English courses, 2 at the 30xxx or above level
- Complete all the requirements for the English major.
- Complete all the requirements in the concentration in creative writing.
- Write and submit a creative thesis according to the deadlines below under the supervision of a faculty advisor.
- Meet all thesis requirements and deadlines .
- Creative writing honors concentrators are required to take a Creative Writing Honors Colloquium in the fall of their senior year. Honors Colloquium may be counted towards the student's four required creative writing courses.
- Creative writing honors concentrators may count one 20xxx-level creative writing course towards the honors concentration.
Students accepted into the creative writing honors concentration will be assigned a faculty advisor. They will meet with their advisor and write their theses throughout their senior year. The thesis will consist of an abstract, a 10–15 page critical essay, and a creative project. The project must entail 40 pages of prose or 20 pages of poetry or the equivalent under the discretion of the director of creative writing.
- Complete draft due to advisor. Friday, April 21, 2023. Advisor can adjust at their discretion.
- Complete and final version due to the department Wednesday, May 3, 2022 (email to undergraduate studies coordinator L isa Holderman ).
- English Creative Writing honors concentration thesis presentations: Friday, May 5, 2023 , 10 a.m.–12 p.m. *Note: Informal lunch reception follows immediately.