The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a sentence in a paper or essay (in the opening paragraph) that introduces the main topic to the reader. As one of the first things your reader sees, your thesis statement is one of the most important sentences in your entire paper—but also one of the hardest to write!
In this article, we explain how to write a thesis statement in the best way possible. We look at what to include and the steps to take for writing your own, along with plenty of thesis statement examples to guide you.
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What is a thesis statement?
The goal of a thesis statement is to let your reader know what your paper or essay is about. It helps your reader understand the greater context and scope of your topic, plus it lets your readers know what to expect from the rest of the work.
A secondary benefit of a thesis statement is that it makes it easier to search for papers on a particular topic, especially in the realm of academic writing like research papers and thesis papers (which are sometimes known as dissertations when written for doctoral degrees). For example, if you’re writing a paper of your own, you’ll want to look up other papers to use as evidence and sources . You can simply scan the thesis statements of several papers to see which match your topic and could be worthwhile sources to cite.
How to write a thesis statement: Basics
Before we get into details, here are the basic steps for how to write a thesis statement:
- Develop the best topic to cover in your paper
- Phrase your topic as a question-and-answer
- Add some polish
We ’ ll describe each of those steps in more detail below, but we wanted to share a quick guide. Also, we ’ ll provide some thesis statement examples and talk about how to write a thesis statement for different kinds of essays: persuasive, compare-and-contrast, expository, and argumentative essays.
The thesis statement is located at the beginning of a paper, in the opening paragraph, making it an essential way to start an essay . A thesis statement isn’t necessarily the first sentence in an essay; typically you’ll want to hook the reader in an engaging way in the opening sentence before inserting your central idea or argument later in the first paragraph. A thesis statement is often confused with a topic sentence , the first sentence in a paragraph, because they both introduce the central idea of what follows. You can think of thesis statements as the topic sentence of your entire paper.
What to include in a thesis statement (with examples)
Thesis statements are a necessary part of paper and essay writing , but different formats have different rules and best practices. Below, we break down how to write a thesis statement for the most common types of papers.
How to write a thesis statement for expository and argumentative essays
Expository and argumentative essays are some of the most common types of academic papers. Because they don’t have a formal abstract like research papers, they rely on their thesis statements to provide an overview of what’s discussed.
Thesis statements for argumentative and expository essays should use strong and decisive language; don’t be wishy-washy or uncertain. You want to take a stand right in the opening so that your readers understand what your paper is trying to show.
Moreover, thesis statements for these essays should be specific, with some minor details to hint at the rest of the paper. It’s not enough to merely make your point; you also want to provide some basic evidence or background context to paint a full picture.
If your paper dives into different subtopics or categories, try to fit them into the thesis statement if you can. You don’t have to get into details here, but it’s nice to mention the different sections at the top so that the reader knows what to expect.
Thesis statement examples
Despite the taboo, insects make an excellent food source and could stem humanity’s looming food shortage, based on both their protein output and the sustainability of farming them.
The backlash to rock ’n’ roll music in the ’50s by religious groups and traditionalists actually boosted the genre’s popularity instead of diminishing it as intended.
How to write a thesis statement for persuasive essays
Similar to argumentative essays, persuasive essays follow many of the same guidelines for their thesis statements: decisive language, specific details, and mentions of subtopics.
However, the main difference is that, while the thesis statements for argumentative and expository essays state facts, the thesis statements for persuasive essays state clear opinions . Still, the format is the same, and the opinions are often treated like facts, including conclusive language and citing evidence to support your claims.
Furthermore, unlike with other essays, it’s appropriate to make emotional connections in a thesis statement in persuasive essays. This can actually be a clever strategy to start your essay off on a more personal, impactful note.
Advertising should not be allowed in public schools because it’s a distraction from studies and may lead to misguided priorities among the school board, to say nothing of the materialist culture it promotes.
Exotic pets provide the same love and companionship as conventional pets, so the laws regulating which animals can and cannot be kept as pets should be more relaxed.
How to write a thesis statement for compare-and-contrast essays
Thesis statements for compare-and-contrast essays are tricky because you have at least two topics to touch on instead of just one. The same general guidelines apply (decisive language, details, etc.), but you need to give equal attention to both your topics—otherwise, your essay will seem biased from the start.
As always, your thesis statement should reflect what’s written in the rest of your essay. If your essay spends more time comparing than contrasting, your thesis statement should focus more on similarities than differences.
It sometimes helps to give specific examples as well, but keep them simple and brief. Save the finer details for the body of your essay.
Sean Connery and Daniel Craig are the two most popular actors to portray James Bond, but both have their own distinct and at times contradictory interpretations of the character.
How to write a thesis statement in 3 steps
Now that you know what you’re aiming for, it’s time to sit down and write your own thesis statement. To keep you on track, here are three easy steps to guide you.
1 Brainstorm the best topic for your essay
You can’t write a thesis statement until you know what your paper is about, so your first step is choosing a topic.
If the topic is already assigned, great ! That’s all for this step. If not, consider the tips below for choosing the topic that’s best for you:
- Pick a topic that you’re passionate about. Even if you don’t know much about it, it’ll be easier to learn about it while writing if you’re genuinely interested.
- Narrow down your topic to something specific; otherwise, your paper will be too broad and perhaps too long. Just make sure it’s not too specific, or you won’t have enough to write about. Try to find a happy medium.
- Check beforehand that there are enough strong, credible sources to use for research. You don’t want to run out of referential material halfway through.
Once you’ve chosen a topic—and the angle or stance you want to take—then it’s time to put the idea for your thesis sentence into words.
2 Phrase your topic as a question and then answer it
It’s not always easy to fit your entire thesis into just one sentence, let alone one that’s written clearly and eloquently. Here’s a quick technique to help you get started.
First, phrase your topic as a question. For example, if you want to write about Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy, ask yourself, “What influences did Gandhi have on society after his death?”
If you already know the answer, write it down—that’s a good start for your thesis statement. If you don’t know the answer, do some preliminary research to find out; you can certainly use what you discover as evidence and sources in your essay’s body paragraphs .
3 Add some polish
Chances are, your first attempt at a thesis statement won’t be perfect. To get it to its best, try revising , editing , and adding what’s missing.
Remember the core traits for thesis statements we mentioned above: decisive language, a happy medium of specific but not too specific details, and mention of subtopics. If you’re struggling to contain everything in a single sentence, feel free to move the secondary information to the following sentence. The thesis statement itself should only have what’s most necessary.
If you’re in doubt, read your thesis statement to a friend and ask them what they think your paper is about. If they answer correctly, your thesis statement does its job.
Next comes the hard part—writing the rest! While the bulk of the writing lies ahead, at least you’ve nailed down your central idea. To plot out your supporting argument, follow our advice on essay structure and let your ideas flow.
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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The Thesis Sentence
The thesis sentence is arguably the most important sentence in an academic paper. Without a good, clear thesis that presents an intriguing arguable point, a paper risks becoming unfocused, aimless, not worth the reader's time.
The Challenge of the Thesis Sentence
Because the thesis sentence is the most important sentence of a paper, it is also the most difficult to write. Readers expect a great deal of a thesis sentence: they want it to powerfully and clearly indicate what the writer is going to say, why she is going to say it, and even how it is that she is going to go about getting it said. In other words, the job of the thesis sentence is to organize, predict, control, and define the paper's argument.
In many cases, a thesis sentence will not only present the paper's argument, it will also point to and direct the course that the argument is going to take. In other words, it may also include an "essay map" - i.e., phrases or clauses that map out for the reader (and the writer) the argument that is to come. In some cases, then, the thesis sentence not only promises an argument, it promises the structure of that argument as well.
The promises that a thesis sentence makes to a reader are important ones and must be kept. It's helpful sometimes to explain the thesis as a kind of contract between reader and writer: if this contract is broken, the reader will feel frustrated and betrayed. Accordingly, the writer must be very careful in the development of the thesis.
Working on the Thesis Sentence
Chances are if you've had trouble following or deciphering the argument of a paper, there's a problem with the thesis. If a tutor's first response to a paper is that he doesn't know what the paper is about, then the thesis sentence is either absent from the paper, or it's hiding. The first thing you might wish to do is to ask the writer what his thesis is. He may point to a particular sentence that he thinks is his thesis, giving you a very good place to start.
Let's say that you've read a paper in which you've encountered this thesis:
Although heterosexuality has long been regarded as the only natural expression of sexuality, this view has been recently and strongly challenged by the gay rights movement.
What's wrong with this sentence? Many things, the most troublesome of which is that it argues nothing. Who is going to deny that the heteronormative view has been challenged by the gay rights movement? At this point, you need to ask the writer some questions. In what specific ways has the gay rights movement challenged heterosexuality? Do these ways seem reasonable to the writer? Why or why not? What argument does he intend to make about this topic? Why does he want to make it? To whom does he want to make it?
After giving the writer some time to think about and talk about these questions, you'll probably want to bring up another problem that is certain to arise out of a thesis like this one: the matter of structure. Any paper that follows a thesis like this one is likely to ramble. How can the reader figure out what all the supporting paragraphs are doing when the argument itself is so ill-defined? You'll want to show the writer that a strong thesis suggests - even helps to create - strong topic sentences. (More on this when we consider matters of structure, below).
But before we move on to other matters, let's consider the problem of this thesis from another angle: its style. We can see without difficulty that the sentence presents us with at least two stylistic problems: 1) this thesis, which should be the most powerful sentence of the paper, employs the passive voice, and 2) the introductory clause functions as a dangling modifier (who regards heterosexuality as the only natural way to express sexuality?).
Both stylistic problems point to something at work in the sentence: the writer obliterates the actors - heterosexuals and homosexuals alike - by using the dangling modifier and the passive voice. Why does he do that? Is he avoiding naming the actors in these sentences because he's not comfortable with the positions they take? Is he unable to declare himself because he feels paralyzed by the sense that he must write a paper that is politically correct? Or does he obliterate the actors with the passive voice because he himself wishes to remain passive on this topic?
These are questions to pose to the writer, though they must be posed gently. In fact, you might gently pose these questions via a discussion of style. For instance, you might also suggest that the writer rewrite the sentence in the active voice:
Although our society has long regarded heterosexuality as the only natural expression of sexuality, members of the gay rights movement have challenged this view strongly.
This active construction helps us to see clearly what's missing:
Although our society has long regarded heterosexuality as the only natural expression of sexuality, members of the gay rights movement have challenged this view strongly, arguing XYZ.
This more active construction also makes it clear that merely enumerating the points the author wants to make is not the same thing as creating an argument. The writer should now be able to see that he needs to go one step further - he needs to reveal his own position on the gay rights movement. The rest of the paper will develop this position.
In short, there are many ways to begin work on a writer's thesis sentences. Almost all of them will lead you to other matters important to the paper's success: its structure, its language, its style. Try to make any conversation you have about thesis sentences point to other problems with the writing. Not only is this strategy efficient, but it also encourages a writer to see how important a thesis is to the overall success of his essay.
Talking Your Way to a Workable Thesis
For the sake of making (we hope) a somewhat humorous illustration of the matter at hand, we offer the following scenario, which shows how tutor and tutee can talk their way to a workable thesis - and, indeed, to a good essay. So sit back, and enjoy this "break" in your training.
Imagine (though it is indeed quite a stretch) that a freshman composition teacher has the audacity to assign a paper on cats (the animals, not the play). The students may write any kind of paper they like - narration, description, compare/contrast, etc. - as long as their essays contain a thesis (that is, that they argue some point) concerning cats. A writer comes to you for help in developing her thesis. You read the assignment, and then you tell the writer that she first must choose the kind of paper she would like to do. She decides to do a narrative because she thinks she has more freedom in the narrative form. Then you ask her what she has to say about cats. "I don't like them," is her reply.
"OK," you say, "that's a start. Why don't you like them?" The writer has lots of reasons: they smell, they're aloof, they shed, they keep you up nights when they're in heat, they're very middle class, they steal food off of the table, they don't get along with dogs (the writer loves dogs), and on, and on. After brainstorming for a while, you tell the writer to choose a few points on which she'd like to focus - preferably those points that she feels strongly about or those which seem unusual. She picks three: cats smell, they steal food, and they are middle class. She offers her thesis: "I don't like cats because they are smelly, thieving, and middle class."
"O.K.," you say, "It's not a very sophisticated thesis but we can use it for now. After all, it defines your stance, it controls your subject, it organizes your argument, and it predicts your strategy - all the things that a thesis ought to do. Now let's consider how to develop the thesis, point by point."
You begin to ask questions about cats and their smell. "What do they smell like?" you say. The writer thinks awhile, and then says, "They smell like dirty gym shorts, like old hamburgers, like my eighth-grade math teacher's breath." The writer laughs, particularly fond of the final simile. Then she adds, "My boyfriend has a cat. A Tom. When he moved into his first apartment, that cat sprayed all over the place, you know, marking his territory. The place stunk so bad that I couldn't even go there for a week. Can you imagine? Your boyfriend gets his first apartment, and you can't even go in the place for a week?"
The writer has sparked your imagination; you think that she can spark her teacher's imagination as well. "Why don't you do your narrative about your boyfriend's cat? You could tell the story - or you could make up a story - about going over there for dinner, hoping for a romantic evening, and being put off by the cat." The writer likes this idea and goes off to write her draft. She returns with the following story about her boyfriend and his cat.
She was hoping for a romantic dinner; he was making her favorite meal. She could smell the T-bone and the apple pie before she even got to his door. But when she opened the door, her appetite was obliterated: the smell of cat spray smelled worse than her eighth-grade math teacher's breath. Of course, because she remained hopeful for a romantic evening, she put on her best face, tried not to grimace, and gave her boyfriend the flowers she'd picked up on the way. They chat; everything is going fine; he goes to the kitchen to check on dinner; she hears his shriek. The cat has stolen all of the food! Upon searching, they find the cat under the sofa, not only with their dinner, but with the writer's wallet, her favorite picture of her mom torn in half, her new leather jacket now full of cat hairs. This cat not only stinks, he's a thief as well. Still, the evening need not be a total waste. They order pizza, have some wine. She and her man talk; their moods improve, and she decides that it might be a nice time to kiss. She pulls the old yawn trick to get her arm around him, and just as she's ready to kiss him the cat jumps into his lap. "Oh, Pookie, Pookie, Pookie," her boyfriend says, giving himself over to the purring cat. "Damn lap cat," the writer says to herself, and leaves it at that. She has written a paper illustrating that cats are smelly, thieving, and middle class. She has fulfilled her thesis.
Now, you like this paper. It's got a great voice, and it's got humor. You feel, however, that the writer should refine the thesis. It has served the writer well in helping her to organize, control, predict, and define her essay; however, she needs now to consider how to choose words and a tone which will hook the reader and reel him in. You explain to the writer that her thesis can be humorous, that she can feel free to be extreme, because a funny, exaggerated thesis would suit this funny, exaggerated paper.
After some doodling and some dialogue, the writer comes up with the following thesis: "All cats should be exterminated because they are the stinking, kleptomaniacal darlings of the bourgeoisie." You laugh; you like it. Moreover, the thesis has given the writer an ending for her essay: she exterminates the cat in her boyfriend's microwave, convinces him to get a goldfish instead, and the two of them live happily ever after. The writer is happy. The tutor is happy. The paper works.
While you will likely not encounter a "cat" assignment at Dartmouth, this sort of experience with writing a thesis is a common one. Even when papers are more sophisticated than this one - even when the subject is Hitler's rise to power, or Freud's treatment of taboo - writers will often write a working thesis, one that guides them through the writing process. Then they will return to the thesis, sometimes several times before their paper is finished, revising it to better fit their paper's increasingly refined argument and tone.
Polishing the Thesis Sentence
Look at the sentence's structure. Is the main idea of the paper placed appropriately in the main clause? If there are parallel points made in the paper, does the thesis sentence signal this to the reader via some parallel structure? If the paper makes an interesting but necessary aside, is that aside predicted - perhaps in a parenthetical element? Remember: the structure of the thesis sentence also signals much to the reader about the structure of the argument. Be sure that the thesis reflects, reliably, what the paper itself is going to say.
As to the style of the sentence: hold the thesis sentence to the highest stylistic standards. Help a writer to make sure that it is as clear and concise as it can be, and that its language and phrasing reflect confidence, eloquence, and grace.
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Developing Strong Thesis Statements
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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.
The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable
An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.
Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:
This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.
Example of a debatable thesis statement:
This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.
Another example of a debatable thesis statement:
In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.
The thesis needs to be narrow
Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.
Example of a thesis that is too broad:
There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.
Example of a narrow or focused thesis:
In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.
We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:
Narrowed debatable thesis 1:
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.
Narrowed debatable thesis 2:
This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.
Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.
Types of claims
Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.
Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:
Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:
Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:
Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:
Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.
- Hours and Locations
A thesis statement is:.
- The statement of the author’s position on a topic or subject.
- Clear, concise, and goes beyond fact or observation to become an idea that needs to be supported (arguable).
- Often a statement of tension, where the author refutes or complicates an existing assumption or claim (counterargument).
- Often answers WHY or HOW questions related to the topic at hand.
A thesis statement is NOT:
- A statement of fact or observation (no matter how astute the observation).
- A statement of personal conviction or opinion.
- A generalization or overly broad claim.
For the writer, the thesis statement:
- Helps the writer determine the essay’s real focus. What are you trying to say with the evidence presented? A thesis provides a theory to be tested by evidence.
- Serves as a planning tool. The component parts of the thesis often correspond with the essay’s topic sentences.
For the reader, the thesis statement:
- Serves as a “map” to guide the reader through the paper. In the same way the thesis helps you organize your paper, the thesis helps organize the reader’s thinking. Once a solid thesis is presented, the reader will understand that all of the evidence presented is in service of proving the thesis.
- Creates a reason to keep reading. The reader will want to discover the support behind the thesis.
If you are having trouble writing a thesis...
...ask yourself a genuine, difficult question about the topic (usually a “how” or “why” question), and state your response, even if you are not sure why you want to give that answer. Your response may very well be a workable thesis, and the pursuit of proving that answer may reveal to you more about your sources of evidence.
...think of a strong statement or observation you have made about the subject beginning with the words “In this essay, I will...” Then ask yourself why this observation is important, or “So What?” 1 Answer the question with “I believe this is because...” In the draft stage you might phrase a working thesis as the following:
In this essay, I plan to explain how Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contrasts his river and shore scenes. I believe Twain is telling us that in order to find America’s true democratic ideals one must leave “civilized” society (the shore) and go back to nature (the river).
Then revise out the “I” statements. A revised version of this thesis might look like this:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Mark Twain’s Adventure’s of Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.
Writing in the Disciplines
Keep in mind that thesis statements vary depending on the purpose of the assignment (or type of essay), and also by discipline. Here are a few notes on the thesis statements and the purpose of writing in a few different disciplines. 2
English: “A thesis is an interpretive argument about a text or an aspect of a text. An interpretive argument is defined as one that makes a reasonable but contestable claim about a text; in other words, it is an opinion about a text that can be supported with textual evidence."
Sciences (Biology): “A well-written scientific paper explains the scientist’s motivation for doing an experiment, the experimental design and execution, and the meaning of the results... The last sentences of the introduction should be a statement of objectives and a statement of hypotheses.”
Business: “When you write in business courses, you will usually write for a specific audience. Your goal will be to communicate in a straight-forward manner and with a clear purpose." 3
History: “In historical writing, a thesis explains the words or deeds of people in the past. It shows cause and effect; it answers the question why?... A thesis must change a reader’s mind to be of value. If it presents only facts or an obvious finding, it will merely confirm what the reader already believes.”
1. This strategy comes from Writing Analytically by Jill Stephen and David Rosenwasser.
2. The following statements on writing in the disciplines have been borrowed from the Writing Guides found at the Writing Across the Curriculum website at http://wac.gmu.edu/guides/GMU%20guides.html .
3. From A Writer’s Reference, 6th Edition, with Writing in the Disciplines, by Diana Hacker.
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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What Makes a Thesis Statement Spectacular? — 5 things to know
Table of Contents
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that states the primary idea of an essay or a research paper . In this statement, the authors declare their beliefs or what they intend to argue in their research study. The statement is clear and concise, with only one or two sentences.
Thesis Statement — An Essential in Thesis Writing
A thesis statement distills the research paper idea into one or two sentences. This summary organizes your paper and develops the research argument or opinion. The statement is important because it lets the reader know what the research paper will talk about and how the author is approaching the issue. Moreover, the statement also serves as a map for the paper and helps the authors to track and organize their thoughts more efficiently.
A thesis statement can keep the writer from getting lost in a convoluted and directionless argument. Finally, it will also ensure that the research paper remains relevant and focused on the objective.
Where to Include the Thesis Statement?
The thesis statement is typically placed at the end of the introduction section of your essay or research paper. It usually consists of a single sentence of the writer’s opinion on the topic and provides a specific guide to the readers throughout the paper.
6 Steps to Write an Impactful Thesis Statement
Step 1 – analyze the literature.
Identify the knowledge gaps in the relevant research paper. Analyze the deeper implications of the author’s research argument. Was the research objective mentioned in the thesis statement reversed later in the discussion or conclusion? Does the author contradict themselves? Is there a major knowledge gap in creating a relevant research objective? Has the author understood and validated the fundamental theories correctly? Does the author support an argument without having supporting literature to cite? Answering these or related questions will help authors develop a working thesis and give their thesis an easy direction and structure.
Step 2 – Start with a Question
While developing a working thesis, early in the writing process, you might already have a research question to address. Strong research questions guide the design of studies and define and identify specific objectives. These objectives will assist the author in framing the thesis statement.
Step 3 – Develop the Answer
After initial research, the author could formulate a tentative answer to the research question. At this stage, the answer could be simple enough to guide the research and the writing process. After writing the initial answer, the author could elaborate further on why this is the chosen answer. After reading more about the research topic, the author could write and refine the answers to address the research question.
Step 4 – Write the First Draft of the Thesis Statement
After ideating the working thesis statement, make sure to write it down. It is disheartening to create a great idea for a thesis and then forget it when you lose concentration. The first draft will help you think clearly and logically. It will provide you with an option to align your thesis statement with the defined research objectives.
Step 5 – Anticipate Counter Arguments Against the Statement
After developing a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This list of arguments will help you refute the thesis later. Remember that every argument has a counterargument, and if yours does not have one, what you state is not an argument — it may be a fact or opinion, but not an argument.
Step 6 – Refine the Statement
Anticipating counterarguments will help you refine your statement further. A strong thesis statement should address —
- Why does your research hold this stand?
- What will readers learn from the essay?
- Are the key points of your argumentative or narrative?
- Does the final thesis statement summarize your overall argument or the entire topic you aim to explain in the research paper?
5 Tips to Create a Compelling Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a crucial part of any academic paper. Clearly stating the main idea of your research helps you focus on the objectives of your paper. Refer to the following tips while drafting your statement:
1. Keep it Concise
The statement should be short and precise. It should contain no more than a couple of sentences.
2. Make it Specific
The statement should be focused on a specific topic or argument. Covering too many topics will only make your paper weaker.
3. Express an Opinion
The statement should have an opinion on an issue or controversy. This will make your paper arguable and interesting to read.
4. Be Assertive
The statement should be stated assertively and not hesitantly or apologetically. Remember, you are making an argument — you need to sound convincing!
5. Support with Evidence
The thesis should be supported with evidence from your paper. Make sure you include specific examples from your research to reinforce your objectives.
Thesis Statement Examples *
Example 1 – alcohol consumption.
High levels of alcohol consumption have harmful effects on your health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.
This thesis statement states specific reasons why alcohol consumption is detrimental. It is not required to mention every single detriment in your thesis.
Example 2 – Benefits of the Internet
The internet serves as a means of expediently connecting people across the globe, fostering new friendships and an exchange of ideas that would not have occurred before its inception.
While the internet offers a host of benefits, this thesis statement is about choosing the ability that fosters new friendships and exchange ideas. Also, the research needs to prove how connecting people across the globe could not have happened before the internet’s inception — which is a focused research statement.
*The following thesis statements are not fully researched and are merely examples shown to understand how to write a thesis statement. Also, you should avoid using these statements for your own research paper purposes.
A gripping thesis statement is developed by understanding it from the reader’s point of view. Be aware of not developing topics that only interest you and have less reader attraction. A harsh yet necessary question to ask oneself is — Why should readers read my paper? Is this paper worth reading? Would I read this paper if I weren’t its author?
A thesis statement hypes your research paper. It makes the readers excited about what specific information is coming their way. This helps them learn new facts and possibly embrace new opinions.
Writing a thesis statement (although two sentences) could be a daunting task. Hope this blog helps you write a compelling one! Do consider using the steps to create your thesis statement and tell us about it in the comment section below.
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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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How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples
What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.
When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.
You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus.
Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.
Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point.
The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.
Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.
Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing
When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:
- Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
- Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
- Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.
Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make
Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:
- What impact did reality TV have on American society?
- How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
- Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?
If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that.
If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:
“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”
Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point
Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:
“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”
Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves.
Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing
Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.
When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.
If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.
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- How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose
How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose
Published on July 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 5, 2023.
Every paragraph in your paper needs a topic sentence . The topic sentence expresses what the paragraph is about. It should include two key things:
- The topic of the paragraph
- The central point of the paragraph.
After the topic sentence, you expand on the point zwith evidence and examples.
To build a well-structured argument, you can also use your topic sentences to transition smoothly between paragraphs and show the connections between your points.
Table of contents
Writing strong topic sentences, topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs, topic sentences that introduce more than one paragraph, where does the topic sentence go, frequently asked questions about topic sentences.
Topic sentences aren’t the first or the last thing you write—you’ll develop them throughout the writing process. To make sure every topic sentence and paragraph serves your argument, follow these steps.
Step 1: Write a thesis statement
The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement . The thesis statement sums up the purpose and argument of the whole paper.
Thesis statement example
Food is an increasingly urgent environmental issue, and to reduce humans’ impact on the planet, it is necessary to change global patterns of food production and consumption.
Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences
Next, you should make an outline of your essay’s structure , planning what you want to say in each paragraph and what evidence you’ll use.
At this stage, you can draft a topic sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in each paragraph. The topic sentences should be more specific than the thesis statement, but always clearly related to it.
Topic sentence example
Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has a significant environmental impact .
Step 3: Expand with evidence
The rest of the paragraph should flow logically from the topic sentence, expanding on the point with evidence, examples, or argumentation. This helps keep your paragraphs focused: everything you write should relate to the central idea expressed in the topic sentence.
In our example, you might mention specific research studies and statistics that support your point about the overall impact of the meat industry.
Step 4: Refine your topic sentences
Topic sentences usually start out as simple statements. But it’s important to revise them as you write, making sure they match the content of each paragraph.
A good topic sentence is specific enough to give a clear sense of what to expect from the paragraph, but general enough that it doesn’t give everything away. You can think of it like a signpost: it should tell the reader which direction your argument is going in.
To make your writing stronger and ensure the connections between your paragraphs are clear and logical, you can also use topic sentences to create smooth transitions. To improve sentence flow even more, you can also utilize the paraphrase tool .
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As you write each topic sentence, ask yourself: how does this point relate to what you wrote in the preceding paragraph? It’s often helpful to use transition words in your topic sentences to show the connections between your ideas.
Emphasize and expand
If the paragraph goes into more detail or gives another example to make the same point, the topic sentence can use words that imply emphasis or similarity (for example, furthermore , indeed , in fact , also ).
Indeed , cattle farming alone is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.
Summarize and anticipate
If the paragraph turns to a different aspect of the same subject, the topic sentence can briefly sum up the previous paragraph and anticipate the new information that will appear in this one.
While beef clearly has the most dramatic footprint, other animal products also have serious impacts in terms of emissions, water and land use.
Compare and contrast
If the paragraph makes a comparison or introduces contrasting information, the topic sentence can use words that highlight difference or conflict (for example, in contrast , however , yet , on the other hand ).
However , the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.
You can also imply contrast or complicate your argument by formulating the topic sentence as a question.
Is veganism the only solution, or are there more sustainable ways of producing meat and dairy?
Sometimes you can use a topic sentence to introduce several paragraphs at once.
All of the examples above address the environmental impact of meat-eating versus veganism. Together, they make up one coherent part of a larger argument, so the first paragraph could use a topic sentence to introduce the whole section.
In countries with high levels of meat consumption, a move towards plant-based diets is the most obvious route to making food more sustainable. Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has significant environmental impacts.
The topic sentence usually goes at the very start of a paragraph, but sometimes it can come later to indicate a change of direction in the paragraph’s argument.
Given this evidence of the meat industry’s impact on the planet, veganism seems like the only environmentally responsible option for consumers. However, the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.
In this example, the first sentence summarizes the main point that has been made so far. Then the topic sentence indicates that this paragraph will address evidence that complicates or contradicts that point.
In more advanced or creative forms of academic writing , you can play with the placement of topic sentences to build suspense and give your arguments more force. But if in doubt, to keep your research paper clear and focused, the easiest method is to place the topic sentence at the start of the paragraph.
View topic sentences in an example essay
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A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.
In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.
The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .
However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.
Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :
- Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
- However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
- It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.
Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.
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9.2 Writing Body Paragraphs
- Select primary support related to your thesis.
- Support your topic sentences.
If your thesis gives the reader a roadmap to your essay, then body paragraphs should closely follow that map. The reader should be able to predict what follows your introductory paragraph by simply reading the thesis statement.
The body paragraphs present the evidence you have gathered to confirm your thesis. Before you begin to support your thesis in the body, you must find information from a variety of sources that support and give credit to what you are trying to prove.
Select Primary Support for Your Thesis
Without primary support, your argument is not likely to be convincing. Primary support can be described as the major points you choose to expand on your thesis. It is the most important information you select to argue for your point of view. Each point you choose will be incorporated into the topic sentence for each body paragraph you write. Your primary supporting points are further supported by supporting details within the paragraphs.
Remember that a worthy argument is backed by examples. In order to construct a valid argument, good writers conduct lots of background research and take careful notes. They also talk to people knowledgeable about a topic in order to understand its implications before writing about it.
Identify the Characteristics of Good Primary Support
In order to fulfill the requirements of good primary support, the information you choose must meet the following standards:
- Be specific. The main points you make about your thesis and the examples you use to expand on those points need to be specific. Use specific examples to provide the evidence and to build upon your general ideas. These types of examples give your reader something narrow to focus on, and if used properly, they leave little doubt about your claim. General examples, while they convey the necessary information, are not nearly as compelling or useful in writing because they are too obvious and typical.
- Be relevant to the thesis. Primary support is considered strong when it relates directly to the thesis. Primary support should show, explain, or prove your main argument without delving into irrelevant details. When faced with lots of information that could be used to prove your thesis, you may think you need to include it all in your body paragraphs. But effective writers resist the temptation to lose focus. Choose your examples wisely by making sure they directly connect to your thesis.
- Be detailed. Remember that your thesis, while specific, should not be very detailed. The body paragraphs are where you develop the discussion that a thorough essay requires. Using detailed support shows readers that you have considered all the facts and chosen only the most precise details to enhance your point of view.
Prewrite to Identify Primary Supporting Points for a Thesis Statement
Recall that when you prewrite you essentially make a list of examples or reasons why you support your stance. Stemming from each point, you further provide details to support those reasons. After prewriting, you are then able to look back at the information and choose the most compelling pieces you will use in your body paragraphs.
Choose one of the following working thesis statements. On a separate sheet of paper, write for at least five minutes using one of the prewriting techniques you learned in Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .
- Unleashed dogs on city streets are a dangerous nuisance.
- Students cheat for many different reasons.
- Drug use among teens and young adults is a problem.
- The most important change that should occur at my college or university is ____________________________________________.
Select the Most Effective Primary Supporting Points for a Thesis Statement
After you have prewritten about your working thesis statement, you may have generated a lot of information, which may be edited out later. Remember that your primary support must be relevant to your thesis. Remind yourself of your main argument, and delete any ideas that do not directly relate to it. Omitting unrelated ideas ensures that you will use only the most convincing information in your body paragraphs. Choose at least three of only the most compelling points. These will serve as the topic sentences for your body paragraphs.
Refer to the previous exercise and select three of your most compelling reasons to support the thesis statement. Remember that the points you choose must be specific and relevant to the thesis. The statements you choose will be your primary support points, and you will later incorporate them into the topic sentences for the body paragraphs.
Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
When you support your thesis, you are revealing evidence. Evidence includes anything that can help support your stance. The following are the kinds of evidence you will encounter as you conduct your research:
- Facts. Facts are the best kind of evidence to use because they often cannot be disputed. They can support your stance by providing background information on or a solid foundation for your point of view. However, some facts may still need explanation. For example, the sentence “The most populated state in the United States is California” is a pure fact, but it may require some explanation to make it relevant to your specific argument.
- Judgments. Judgments are conclusions drawn from the given facts. Judgments are more credible than opinions because they are founded upon careful reasoning and examination of a topic.
- Testimony. Testimony consists of direct quotations from either an eyewitness or an expert witness. An eyewitness is someone who has direct experience with a subject; he adds authenticity to an argument based on facts. An expert witness is a person who has extensive experience with a topic. This person studies the facts and provides commentary based on either facts or judgments, or both. An expert witness adds authority and credibility to an argument.
- Personal observation. Personal observation is similar to testimony, but personal observation consists of your testimony. It reflects what you know to be true because you have experiences and have formed either opinions or judgments about them. For instance, if you are one of five children and your thesis states that being part of a large family is beneficial to a child’s social development, you could use your own experience to support your thesis.
Writing at Work
In any job where you devise a plan, you will need to support the steps that you lay out. This is an area in which you would incorporate primary support into your writing. Choosing only the most specific and relevant information to expand upon the steps will ensure that your plan appears well-thought-out and precise.
You can consult a vast pool of resources to gather support for your stance. Citing relevant information from reliable sources ensures that your reader will take you seriously and consider your assertions. Use any of the following sources for your essay: newspapers or news organization websites, magazines, encyclopedias, and scholarly journals, which are periodicals that address topics in a specialized field.
Choose Supporting Topic Sentences
Each body paragraph contains a topic sentence that states one aspect of your thesis and then expands upon it. Like the thesis statement, each topic sentence should be specific and supported by concrete details, facts, or explanations.
Each body paragraph should comprise the following elements.
topic sentence + supporting details (examples, reasons, or arguments)
As you read in Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , topic sentences indicate the location and main points of the basic arguments of your essay. These sentences are vital to writing your body paragraphs because they always refer back to and support your thesis statement. Topic sentences are linked to the ideas you have introduced in your thesis, thus reminding readers what your essay is about. A paragraph without a clearly identified topic sentence may be unclear and scattered, just like an essay without a thesis statement.
Unless your teacher instructs otherwise, you should include at least three body paragraphs in your essay. A five-paragraph essay, including the introduction and conclusion, is commonly the standard for exams and essay assignments.
Consider the following the thesis statement:
Author J.D. Salinger relied primarily on his personal life and belief system as the foundation for the themes in the majority of his works.
The following topic sentence is a primary support point for the thesis. The topic sentence states exactly what the controlling idea of the paragraph is. Later, you will see the writer immediately provide support for the sentence.
Salinger, a World War II veteran, suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, a disorder that influenced themes in many of his works.
In Note 9.19 “Exercise 2” , you chose three of your most convincing points to support the thesis statement you selected from the list. Take each point and incorporate it into a topic sentence for each body paragraph.
Supporting point 1: ____________________________________________
Topic sentence: ____________________________________________
Supporting point 2: ____________________________________________
Supporting point 3: ____________________________________________
Draft Supporting Detail Sentences for Each Primary Support Sentence
After deciding which primary support points you will use as your topic sentences, you must add details to clarify and demonstrate each of those points. These supporting details provide examples, facts, or evidence that support the topic sentence.
The writer drafts possible supporting detail sentences for each primary support sentence based on the thesis statement:
Thesis statement: Unleashed dogs on city streets are a dangerous nuisance.
Supporting point 1: Dogs can scare cyclists and pedestrians.
- Cyclists are forced to zigzag on the road.
- School children panic and turn wildly on their bikes.
- People who are walking at night freeze in fear.
Supporting point 2:
Loose dogs are traffic hazards.
- Dogs in the street make people swerve their cars.
- To avoid dogs, drivers run into other cars or pedestrians.
- Children coaxing dogs across busy streets create danger.
Supporting point 3: Unleashed dogs damage gardens.
- They step on flowers and vegetables.
- They destroy hedges by urinating on them.
- They mess up lawns by digging holes.
The following paragraph contains supporting detail sentences for the primary support sentence (the topic sentence), which is underlined.
Salinger, a World War II veteran, suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder, a disorder that influenced the themes in many of his works. He did not hide his mental anguish over the horrors of war and once told his daughter, “You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose, no matter how long you live.” His short story “A Perfect Day for a Bananafish” details a day in the life of a WWII veteran who was recently released from an army hospital for psychiatric problems. The man acts questionably with a little girl he meets on the beach before he returns to his hotel room and commits suicide. Another short story, “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor,” is narrated by a traumatized soldier who sparks an unusual relationship with a young girl he meets before he departs to partake in D-Day. Finally, in Salinger’s only novel, The Catcher in the Rye , he continues with the theme of posttraumatic stress, though not directly related to war. From a rest home for the mentally ill, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield narrates the story of his nervous breakdown following the death of his younger brother.
Using the three topic sentences you composed for the thesis statement in Note 9.18 “Exercise 1” , draft at least three supporting details for each point.
Thesis statement: ____________________________________________
Primary supporting point 1: ____________________________________________
Supporting details: ____________________________________________
Primary supporting point 2: ____________________________________________
Primary supporting point 3: ____________________________________________
You have the option of writing your topic sentences in one of three ways. You can state it at the beginning of the body paragraph, or at the end of the paragraph, or you do not have to write it at all. This is called an implied topic sentence. An implied topic sentence lets readers form the main idea for themselves. For beginning writers, it is best to not use implied topic sentences because it makes it harder to focus your writing. Your instructor may also want to clearly identify the sentences that support your thesis. For more information on the placement of thesis statements and implied topic statements, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .
Print out the first draft of your essay and use a highlighter to mark your topic sentences in the body paragraphs. Make sure they are clearly stated and accurately present your paragraphs, as well as accurately reflect your thesis. If your topic sentence contains information that does not exist in the rest of the paragraph, rewrite it to more accurately match the rest of the paragraph.
- Your body paragraphs should closely follow the path set forth by your thesis statement.
- Strong body paragraphs contain evidence that supports your thesis.
- Primary support comprises the most important points you use to support your thesis.
- Strong primary support is specific, detailed, and relevant to the thesis.
- Prewriting helps you determine your most compelling primary support.
- Evidence includes facts, judgments, testimony, and personal observation.
- Reliable sources may include newspapers, magazines, academic journals, books, encyclopedias, and firsthand testimony.
- A topic sentence presents one point of your thesis statement while the information in the rest of the paragraph supports that point.
- A body paragraph comprises a topic sentence plus supporting details.
Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
What is a thesis statement.
Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper. It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant. Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue. Then, spend the rest of your paper–each body paragraph–fulfilling that promise.
Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction. Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it. View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper. Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued. If it does not, then revise it. Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries. Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.
A successful thesis statement:
- makes an historical argument
- takes a position that requires defending
- is historically specific
- is focused and precise
- answers the question, “so what?”
How to write a thesis statement:
Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:
“Historians have debated the American Revolution’s effect on women. Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women’s authority in the family. Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics. Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home. Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women.”
Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.
While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt. It needs to be more specific about how the Revolution had a limited effect on women and why it mattered that women remained in the home.
Revised Thesis: The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office. Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.
This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war). However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home. It needs to make an argument about some element of the war’s limited effect on women. This thesis requires further revision.
Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family’s farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.
Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval. Your thesis needs to be debatable: it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue. Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case. Here is a revised version:
Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women. With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses. As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.
Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places. In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what attitudes toward women were in early America, and how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.
Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.
This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper. The terms “social,” “political,” and “economic” are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages. The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.
Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women. As “Republican Mothers,” women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands. Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation’s politics than they had under British rule.
This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered. How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics? What were women able to do with these advantages? Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.
Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity. Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.
When revising your thesis, check it against the following guidelines:
- Does my thesis make an historical argument?
- Does my thesis take a position that requires defending?
- Is my thesis historically specific?
- Is my thesis focused and precise?
- Does my thesis answer the question, “so what?”
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Parts of a thesis sentence.
A thesis sentence has to contain two parts:
- Topic – what the essay is about.
- Angle – your idea about the topic. This second part, your idea/insight/claim/argument about a topic, is the important characteristic in creating a thesis sentence for a college essay. The angle makes a promise to your reader about your insight into, claim, or logical argument about the topic. Your angle in your thesis sentence indicates and controls what the rest of the essay will be about.
Note above that I’ve called the angle a number of different things: idea, insight, claim, argument. Even though you may have slightly different angles when you’re writing for different purposes, all of these variations of the angle have one really important thing in common: they all offer your own viewpoint on your topic. Your own viewpoint, backed up by examples and evidence, is the important thing in a college essay.
One mistake that a lot of beginning college writers make is to focus on the topic as opposed to the angle in a thesis sentence. Beginning writers often think it’s enough to describe a management theory or a historical event or a psychological philosophy to show knowledge gained. However, if a writing assignment is to write an essay or “paper,” the likely expectation is that you’ll offer your own argument or angle to show how you’ve evaluated and applied knowledge gained, e.g., Although management theory Y supports the worker’s own initiative much more fully than management theory X, contingency theory is most often applied in the contemporary workplace, because of a number of characteristics of 21st century businesses.
Note that the sample thesis you just read has a third part, what’s often called a “because clause,” or some indication of reasons why you are making the claim you’re making in the angle. You may decide to use a “because clause” in certain cases and not in others; decide if your thesis would be clearer to both you as a writer and to your reading audience with the inclusion of these additional reasons in your thesis.
As you start to develop a working thesis sentence for an essay, take time to review and analyze that working thesis to make sure that all of the parts are feasible:
- Is there an actual thesis sentence with a topic and an angle? Relying only on an essay topic, or relying only on an essay title, is not enough.
- Does the angle offer a debatable insight (again, not just a topic and not just a statement of fact)?
- Is the angle supportable with examples and evidence?
- Is the angle appropriate for the scope of the essay (e.g., angle is not too broad or too narrow)?
- If there are reasons included in a “because clause,” are those reasons clear, direct, and related to the claim in the angle?
The following video is lengthy, but contains some useful information about writing the different parts of a thesis.
- Parts of a Thesis Sentence. Authored by : Susan Oaks. Provided by : Empire State College, SUNY OER Services. Project : College Writing. License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial
- video Academic Writing Tutorial: Writing Effective Thesis Statements. Authored by : David Wright. Provided by : StudioLab@ CTL, Furman University, Ultimate YouTube Resource. Located at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIaUowHUNsg&t=19s . License : Other . License Terms : Standard YouTube License
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Definition of Thesis
a statement that is discussed and debated
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The student’s experiments helped her formulate a thesis to share with her professor and classmates. 🔊
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How to Write a Thesis Sentence
How to write a good thesis? This question occurs to almost every student, who is struggling to write a great academic paper. Thesis statements perform several functions: they demonstrate the goal you’re pursuing in the process of writing, justify the provability of your point and highlight the controversy, that lies underneath your writing. Good thesis sentences establish the topic of the paper in a way that minimizes the confusion among the audience and intrigue them so that they want to read the paper till the very end. Now you know what to do. If you want to know how to do this – check out our tips.
Thesis Sentence: How to Write It Right
What is a thesis sentence? We’ve partially answered this question above. Metaphorically speaking, research paper thesis is a flag, you’re carrying throughout all of your paper. It is the center of your project, that has to be proved, explained or contrasted. Obviously, thesis sentences are crucial for a positive outcome of an academic paper. The good news is that achieving this result is easy if you follow 4 simple principles.
- Writing a thesis sentence begins with categorizing it according to the objective of your paper. Expository thesis, for instance, aims at explaining the issue to the reader. Analytical thesis breaks the issue down into constituents. Argumentative thesis makes a claim, you want to prove in your project. Read your assignment clearly, decide which one you need to write and move to the next principle.
- Good thesis sentence appeals directly and solely to the subject of your paper. Don’t hesitate to throw away every spare detail, which seems irrelevant to the topic. Asking yourself “how to start a thesis sentence”, think of the core of your paper. Once you’ve got the answer, move to writing your thesis sentence.
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- 28 November 2023
A 27,000-year-old pyramid? Controversy hits an extraordinary archaeological claim
- Dyani Lewis
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Gunung Padang is “an amazing, important and cool site”, but whether it is the world’s oldest stone structure is contested. Credit: Ali Trisno Pranoto/Getty
A headline-grabbing paper 1 claiming that a structure in Indonesia is the oldest pyramid in the world has raised the eyebrows of some archaeologists — and has now prompted an investigation by the journal that published it, Nature has learnt.
The paper, published in the journal Archaeological Prospection on 20 October, garnered headlines around the world. Its central claim is that a pyramid lying beneath the prehistoric site of Gunung Padang in West Java, Indonesia, might have been constructed as far back as 27,000 years ago.
That would make it much older than the first colossal Egyptian pyramid, the 4,600-year-old Pyramid of Djoser. It would also mean that it pre-dates the oldest known megalithic site, Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, which was built by stone-masons around 11,000 years ago. And it would completely rewrite what is known about human civilization in the area. “The pyramid has become a symbol of advanced civilization,” says paper co-author Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) in Bandung, Indonesia. “It’s not easy to build pyramids. You need high masonry skills,” he says.
It’s exactly such claims that have left many fellow researchers cold. Lutfi Yondri, an archaeologist at BRIN, says his work has shown that people in the region inhabited caves between 12,000 and 6,000 years ago, long after the pyramid was supposedly built, and no excavations from this period have revealed evidence of sophisticated stonemasonry.
“I’m surprised [the paper] was published as is,” says Flint Dibble, an archaeologist at Cardiff University, UK. Although the paper presents “legitimate data”, he says, its conclusions about the site and its age are not justified.
Gunung Padang comprises five stepped stone terraces, with retaining walls and connecting staircases, that sit atop an extinct volcano. Between 2011 and 2014, Natawidjaja and colleagues investigated the site using several ground-penetrating techniques to determine what lies beneath the terraces.
They identified four layers, which they conclude represent separate phases of construction. The innermost layer is a hardened lava core, which has been “meticulously sculpted”, according to the paper.
Subsequent layers of rocks “arranged like bricks” were built over the top of the oldest layer. The layers were carbon-dated, using soil lodged between rocks obtained from a core drilled out of the hill. The first stage of construction, according to the paper, occurred between 27,000 and 16,000 years ago. Further additions were made between 8,000 and 7,500 years ago, and the final layer, which includes the visible stepped terraces, was put in place between 4,000 and 3,100 years ago.
Dibble says there is no clear evidence that the buried layers were built by humans and were not the result of natural weathering and the movement of rocks over time. “Material rolling down a hill is going to, on average, orient itself,” he says. But Natawidjaja says that the column-shaped stones were too large and orderly to have simply rolled there: “The neatly arranged, shaped and massive nature of these rocks, some weighing up to 300 kilograms, dismisses the likelihood of transportation over significant distances.”
The authors also report finding a dagger-shaped stone. “This object’s regular geometry and distinct composition, and its materials unrelated to the surrounding rocks, signify its man-made origin,” says Natawidjaja. But Dibble says it’s unlikely that the rock was shaped by humans. There’s no evidence of “working or anything to indicate that it’s man-made”, he says.
The Gunung Padang site featured in the 2022 Netflix documentary Ancient Apocalypse , hosted by British author Graham Hancock, who promotes an idea that an advanced global civilization was wiped out 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The authors acknowledge Hancock for proofreading their paper.
Natawidjaja says that because Gunung Padang was constructed before the end of the last ice age, it shows that people from that time were capable of building complex structures, and “this makes it a very interesting monument”.
But Bill Farley, an archaeologist at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, says the paper has not provided evidence that an advanced civilization existed during the last ice age. The 27,000-year-old soil samples from Gunung Padang, although accurately dated, do not carry hallmarks of human activity, such as charcoal or bone fragments, he says. Archaeological records show that the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to complex societies occupying large settlements occurred after the commencement of the Holocene 11,700 years ago. The oldest known city is the 9,000-year-old site of Çatalhöyük in what is now Turkey 2 .
Archaeological Prospection and its publisher, Wiley, have since launched an investigation into the paper. Eileen Ernenwein, an archaeological geophysicist at Tennessee State University in Johnson City, who is co-editor of the journal said in an e-mail to Nature : “The editors, including me, and Wiley ethics team are currently investigating this paper in accordance with Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines.” She declined to elaborate on the nature of the concerns raised.
Farley says that people should celebrate Gunung Padang for what it is — “an amazing, important and cool site” — rather than because it can be written into any particular narrative about the development of human civilization.
Natawidjaja says that he hopes the controversy does not cause animosity in the community. “We are really open to any researchers around the world who would like to come to Indonesia and do some research programme on Gunung Padang,” he says. “We know very little about our human history.”
Nature 624 , 15-16 (2023)
Natawidjaja, D. H. et al. Archaeol. Prospect . https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1912 (2023).
Article Google Scholar
Orton, D. et al. Antiquity 92 , 620–639 (2018).
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