Writing a Thesis Statement — Definition, Types, and Examples

Daniel Bal

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a single sentence that identifies the topic and purpose of a scholarly research paper or academic writing. A thesis statement directly or indirectly presents the main points of the paper. Information presented in the essay should tie directly back to the thesis.

Overall, a good thesis statement accomplishes the following:

Identifies the purpose of the essay

Expresses the writer's position/opinion

Lists the main supports (optional)

Briefly summarizes the writer's conclusion(s)

Establish if the essay is explanatory, argumentative, or analytical

What is a thesis statement?

People often confuse thesis statements with topic sentences , which start each body paragraph. Typically, the thesis statement is the final sentence in the introductory paragraph and acts as a “road map” for the rest of the paper.

Types of thesis statements

The three main types of thesis statements are explanatory, argumentative, and analytical.

Types of thesis statements

Explanatory thesis statements are used in expository essays that focus solely on informing the reader. Papers with this type of thesis do not contain the writer's opinion, nor do they try to persuade the reader.

The three main branches of science taught in public schools include biology, chemistry, and physics.

Argumentative thesis statements identify the writer's position or point of view on a given topic. Argumentative essays persuade the reader to agree with the writer's stance. If the reader cannot agree or disagree with the claim in the thesis, then it is not argumentative.

Public schools should place more emphasis on the arts because they encourage creativity, help improve academic development, and provide a beneficial emotional outlet.

Analytical thesis statements are used in papers that analyze how or why something does what it does. These thesis statements identify what the writer is analyzing, the parts of the analysis, and the order of those parts.

An analysis of course requirements in public schools suggests access to more electives can increase graduation rates.

Analytical thesis statements

How to write a thesis statement

When writing a thesis, the following guidelines apply:

Step 1: Determine the type of paper (explanatory, argumentative, or analytical).

Step 2: Identify the topic, position/claim, and supports of the essay.

Step 3: Determine if the supports should be included within the thesis. Although they are considered optional, they might be required depending on the audience and purpose of the essay.

Step 4: Compose a sentence that includes the topic, position, and supports (optional). While a thesis statement can be more than one sentence, it should not exceed two.

Step 5: Place the thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph(s). Placing it at the end of the introduction and before the supports allows the reader to focus on the paper’s main purpose.

Steps to write a thesis statement

Thesis statement examples

The following examples highlight each type of thesis statement.

Topic: Alternative Energy Sources

Explanatory Thesis: Alternative energy sources that can supplement the use of fossil fuels include solar, wind, and geothermal.

Argumentative Thesis: To combat reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels, the United States would benefit from focusing on alternative energy options.

Analytical Thesis: Analysis suggests that replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources could negatively impact the economy.

Topic: Social Media

Explanatory Thesis: Three of the first platforms that influenced the world of social media include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Argumentative Thesis: Social media negatively influences society as it increases opportunities for cyberbullying, limits face-to-face interactions, and creates unrealistic expectations.

Analytical Thesis: An analysis of the use of social media suggests itis irrevocably harming the development of teenagers.

Topic: Standardized Testing

Explanatory Thesis: Standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT play a limited role in influencing college acceptance.

Argumentative Thesis: Standardized testing should not be required because it increases anxiety, does not measure progress, and cannot predict future success.

Analytical Thesis: Analysis suggests that standardized testing in elementary and high school negatively impacts students' academic success.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

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.

Introduction

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.

Works consulted

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.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Make a Gift

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

define thesis statement briefly

define thesis statement briefly

  • Walden University
  • Faculty Portal

Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

Basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

Related Resources

Webinar

Didn't find what you need? Email us at [email protected] .

  • Previous Page: Introductions
  • Next Page: Conclusions
  • Office of Student Disability Services

Walden Resources

Departments.

  • Academic Residencies
  • Academic Skills
  • Career Planning and Development
  • Customer Care Team
  • Field Experience
  • Military Services
  • Student Success Advising
  • Writing Skills

Centers and Offices

  • Center for Social Change
  • Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services
  • Office of Degree Acceleration
  • Office of Research and Doctoral Services
  • Office of Student Affairs

Student Resources

  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Form & Style Review
  • Quick Answers
  • ScholarWorks
  • SKIL Courses and Workshops
  • Walden Bookstore
  • Walden Catalog & Student Handbook
  • Student Safety/Title IX
  • Legal & Consumer Information
  • Website Terms and Conditions
  • Cookie Policy
  • Accessibility
  • Accreditation
  • State Authorization
  • Net Price Calculator
  • Contact Walden

Walden University is a member of Adtalem Global Education, Inc. www.adtalem.com Walden University is certified to operate by SCHEV © 2024 Walden University LLC. All rights reserved.

What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.

Duke University

Your chancing factors

Extracurriculars.

define thesis statement briefly

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

define thesis statement briefly

What’s Covered:

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.

define thesis statement briefly

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

define thesis statement briefly

An Overview of the Writing Process

Thesis statements, what this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can discover or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

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 somewhere in your 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 get 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,” a basic or main idea, an argument that you think you can support with evidence but that may 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.
  • 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, “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 o.k. 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 19th-century America, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: Compare and contrast the reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War. You turn on the computer and type out the following:

The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.

This weak thesis restates the question without providing any additional information. You will expand on this new information in the body of the essay, but it is important that the reader know where you are heading. A reader of this weak thesis might think, “What reasons? How are they the same? How are they different?” Ask yourself these same questions and begin to compare Northern and Southern attitudes (perhaps you first think, “The South believed slavery was right, and the North thought slavery was wrong”). Now, push your comparison toward an interpretation—why did one side think slavery was right and the other side think it was wrong? You look again at the evidence, and you decide that you are going to argue that the North believed slavery was immoral while the South believed it upheld the Southern way of life. You write:

While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions.

Now you have a working thesis! Included in this working thesis is a reason for the war and some idea of how the two sides disagreed over this reason. As you write the essay, you will probably begin to characterize these differences more precisely, and your working thesis may start to seem too vague. Maybe you decide that both sides fought for moral reasons, and that they just focused on different moral issues. You end up revising the working thesis into a final thesis that really captures the argument in your paper:

While both Northerners and Southerners believed they fought against tyranny and oppression, Northerners focused on the oppression of slaves while Southerners defended their own right to self-government.

Compare this to the original weak thesis. This final thesis presents a way of interpreting evidence that illuminates the significance of the question. Keep in mind that this is one of many possible interpretations of the Civil War—it is not the one and only right answer to the question . There isn’t one right answer; there are only strong and weak thesis statements and strong and weak uses of evidence.

Let’s look at another example. 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.

Why is this thesis weak? Think about what the reader would expect from the essay that follows: you will most likely provide a general, appreciative summary of Twain’s novel. The question did not ask you to summarize; it asked you to analyze. Your professor is probably not interested in your opinion of the novel; instead, she wants you to think about why it’s such a great novel— what do Huck’s adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race relations, etc.? First, the question asks you to pick an aspect of the novel that you think is 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.

Here’s a working thesis with potential: you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation; however, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal. Your reader is intrigued, but is still thinking, “So what? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?” Perhaps you are not sure yet, either. That’s fine—begin to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions. Eventually you will be able to clarify for yourself, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. 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.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing the original version of 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 the latest publications on this topic. 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 .

Anson, Chris M. and Robert A. Schwegler. The Longman Handbook for Writers. 2nd ed. New York: Longman, 2000.

Hairston, Maxine and John J. Ruszkiewicz. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers. 4th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

Lunsford, Andrea and Robert Connors. The St. Martin’s Handbook. 3rd ed. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995.

Rosen, Leonard J. and Laurence Behrens. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook. 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1997.

  • Thesis Statements. Provided by : The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Located at : http://writingcenter.unc.edu/ . License : CC BY-NC-ND: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

define thesis statement briefly

Get science-backed answers as you write with Paperpal's Research feature

What is a Thesis Statement and How to Write It (with Examples) 

What is a Thesis Statement and How to Write It (with Examples)

A thesis statement is basically a sentence or two that summarizes the central theme of your research. In research papers and essays, it is typically placed at the end of the introduction section, which provides broad knowledge about the investigation/study. To put it simply, the thesis statement can be thought of as the main message of any film, which is communicated through the plot and characters. Similar to how a director has a vision, the author(s) in this case has an opinion on the subject that they wish to portray in their research report.  

In this article, we will provide a thorough overview on thesis statements, addressing the most frequently asked questions, including how authors arrive at and create a thesis statement that effectively summarizes your research. To make it simpler, we’ve broken this information up into subheadings that focus on different aspects of writing the thesis statement.

Table of Contents

  • What is a thesis statement? 
  • What should a thesis statement include (with examples)? 
  • How to write a thesis statement in four steps? 
  • How to generate a thesis statement? 
  • Types of thesis statements? 
  • Key takeaways 
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement, in essence, is a sentence that summarizes the main concept the author(s) wishes to investigate in their research. A thesis statement is often a “question/hypothesis” the author(s) wants to address, using a certain methodology or approach to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims and findings. However, it isn’t necessarily the topic sentence (first sentence) in a research paper introduction, which could be a general statement.  

Returning to our movie analogy, a thesis statement is comparable to the particular viewpoint a director wants to convey to his audience. A thesis statement tells the reader the fundamental idea of the study and the possible course it will take to support that idea. A well-structured thesis statement enables the reader to understand the study and the intended approach, so both its placement and clarity matter here. An appropriately placed thesis statement, usually at the end of an introductory paragraph, ensures the reader will not lose interest. A thesis statement plays another crucial role, it summarizes the main idea behind the study so that readers will understand the question the author is trying to answer. It gives the reader some background information and a sense of the topic’s wider context while also hinting at the work or experimental approach that will come next. To summarize, thesis statements are generally that one key phrase you skim over to rapidly understand the thesis of a study.  

What should a thesis statement include (with examples)?

Now that we have understood the concept, the next step is learning how to write a good thesis statement. A strong thesis statement should let the reader understand how well-versed you are, as an author, in the subject matter of the study and your position on the topic at hand. The elements listed below should be considered while crafting a statement for your thesis or paper to increase its credibility and impact.  

  • The author should take a position that a sizable portion of the readership may disagree with. The subject should not be a well-known, well-defined issue with just unanimity of view. This form of thesis statement is typically viewed as weak because it implies that there is nothing substantial to investigate and demonstrate. To pique readers’ interest, the thesis statement should be debatable in some way, and the findings should advance the body of knowledge. 
  • A review of pertinent literature on the subject is a must in order for the author to establish an informed opinion about the questions they wish to pose and the stance they would want to take during their study, this is the basis to develop a strong thesis statement. The authors of the study should be able to support their statements with relevant research, strengthening their stance by citing literature.  
  • The thesis statement should highlight just one main idea, with each claim made by the authors in the paper demonstrating the accuracy of the statement. Avoid multiple themes running throughout the article as this could confuse readers and undermine the author’s perspective on the subject. It can also be a sign of the authors’ ambiguity. 
  • The main objective of a thesis statement is to briefly describe the study’s conclusion while posing a specific inquiry that clarifies the author’s stance or perspective on the subject. Therefore, it is crucial to clearly establish your viewpoint in the statement. 

Based on the considerations above, you may wonder how to write a thesis statement for different types of academic essays. Expository and argumentative essays, the most common types of essays, both call for a statement that takes a stand on the issue and uses powerful language. These kinds of thesis statements need to be precise and contain enough background material to give a comprehensive picture of the subject. However, in persuasive essays, which typically integrate an emotive perspective and personal experiences, the opinions are presented as facts that need supporting evidence. The sole difference between argumentative and expository essays and persuasive essays is that the former require the use of strong viewpoints, while the latter does not. Last but not least, the thesis statement for a compare-and-contrast essay addresses two themes rather than just one. Authors can choose to concentrate more on examining similarities or differences depending on the nature of the study; the only caveat is that both topics must receive equal attention to prevent biases. 

How to write a thesis statement in four steps?

Coming up with a research question might be challenging in situations when the research topic is not decided or it’s a new field of study. You may want to delve deeper into a widely researched subject, continue with your current research, or pursue a topic you are passionate about. If you don’t have a thesis statement yet, here are four easy stages to get you started. 

  • Start with a working thesis statement : Writing the statement is not so straightforward; you won’t magically write the final thesis statement at once. It is preferable to choose an initial working thesis after reviewing relevant literature on the topic. Once you have chosen a subject that interests you, attempt to think of a specific query that has not been raised or that would be fascinating to contribute to the body of literature. For example, if you are writing an article or paper about ChatGPT, you could want to look into how ChatGPT affects learning among students. You can even get more specific, like, “How does ChatGPT harm learning and education?” 
  • Outline your answer (your positioning on the subject): Based on your review of past research, you would form an opinion about the subject—in this example, the effect of ChatGPT on students’ learning—and then you write down your tentative answer to this question. If your initial response is that ChatGPT use has a detrimental impact on education and learning, this would serve as the foundation for your research. Your study would include research and findings to support this assertion and persuade the reader to accept your hypothesis. 
  • Provide evidence to support your claim : The goal of your study should be to back your hypothesis with enough evidence, relevant facts and literature, to support your claim and explain why you selected that particular response (in this case, why you believe that ChatGPT has a negative impact on learning and education). The focus should be on discussing both the benefits and drawbacks of using ChatGPT and demonstrating why the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. An argumentative thesis statement example on the same topic would be that, despite ChatGPT’s enormous potential as a virtual learning tool for students, it has a detrimental effect on their creativity and critical thinking skills and encourages problematic behaviors like cheating and plagiarism.  
  • Polish your thesis statement: After outlining your initial statement, improve it by keeping these three elements in mind.  
  • Does it make it clear what position you hold on the subject? 
  • Does it effectively connect the various facets of the study topic together?  
  • Does it summarize the key points of your narrative?  

The thesis statement will also gain from your comments on the approach you will employ to validate your claim. For example, the aforementioned thesis statement may be clarified as “Although ChatGPT has enormous potential to serve as a virtual tutor for students and assistant to instructors, its disadvantages, such as plagiarism and the creation of false information, currently outweigh the advantages.” This particular illustration offers a thoughtful discussion of the subject, enabling the author to make their case more persuasively. 

How to generate a thesis statement?

No matter how complicated, any thesis or paper may be explained in one or two sentences. Just identify the question your research aims to answer, then write a statement based on your anticipated response. An effective thesis statement will have the following characteristics: 

  • It should have a take on the subject (which is contentious/adds to existing knowledge) 
  • It should express a main topic (other themes should only be included if they connect to the main theme) 
  • It should declare your conclusion about the issue 
  • It should be based on an objective, broad outlook on the subject. 

To understand how to write a thesis statement from scratch, let’s use an example where you may want to learn about how mental and physical health are related.  

Since the subject is still broad, you should first conduct a brainstorming session to acquire further thoughts. After reading literature, you determine that you are curious to learn how yoga enhances mental health. To develop a compelling thesis statement, you must further narrow this topic by posing precise questions that you can answer through your research. You can ask, “How does yoga affect mental health. What is the possible mean”? This topic makes it plain to the reader what the study is about but it is necessary for you to adopt a position on the issue. Upon further deliberation, the premise can be rephrased as “Yoga, a low impact form of exercise, positively impacts people’s mental health by lowering stress hormones and elevating healthy brain chemicals.” This clearly states your position on the topic. Finally, you may further develop this into a clear, precise thesis statement that asks, “Does practicing yoga induce feel-good hormones and lower the stress hormone, cortisol, that positively affects people’s mental health?” to turn it into a study.  

Types of thesis statements?

The three primary categories of thesis statements are analytical, expository, and argumentative. You choose one over the other depending on the subject matter of your research or essay. In argumentative thesis statements, the author takes a clear stand and strives to persuade the reader of their claims, for example, “Animal agriculture is the biggest driver of climate change.” It is specific, concise, and also contentious. On the other hand, the purpose of an expository thesis statement is to interpret, assess, and discuss various facets of a subject. Here you shortlist the key points of your interpretation, and state the conclusion based on the interpretation you drew from the study. An analytical thesis statement aims to discuss, glean information on the subject, and explain the facts of the topic. Here, the goal is to critically analyze and summarize the points you will cover in the study.  

Key takeaways

  • A good thesis statement summarizes the central idea of your thesis or research paper.  
  • It serves as a compass to show the reader what the research will contend and why.  
  • Before creating a thesis statement, keep in mind that the statement should be specific, coherent, and controversial. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

A thesis statement can be defined as a sentence that describes the main idea of the research or thesis to inform the reader of the argument the research will pursue and the reason the author adopts a specific stance on the subject. Essentially, it expresses the author’s judgment or opinion based on a review of the literature or personal research experience. 

Any academic essay or research piece must have a thesis statement since it directs the research and attracts the reader’s attention to the main idea of the subject under discussion. In addition to confining the author to a specific subject, so they don’t veer off topic, it also enables the reader to understand the topic at hand and what to expect.

To create an impactful thesis statement, simply follow these four easy steps. Start by creating a working statement by posing the question that your research or thesis will attempt to answer. Then, outline your initial response and choose your position on the matter. Next, try to substantiate your claim with facts or other relevant information. Finally, hone your final thesis statement by crafting a cogent narrative using knowledge gained in the previous step. 

Ideally the thesis statement should be placed at the end of an introduction of the paper or essay. Keep in mind that it is different from the topic sentence, which is more general.  

We hope this in-depth guide has allayed your concerns and empowered you to start working craft a strong statement for your essay or paper. Good luck with drafting your next thesis statement! 

Paperpal is an AI writing assistant that help academics write better, faster with real-time suggestions for in-depth language and grammar correction. Trained on millions of research manuscripts enhanced by professional academic editors, Paperpal delivers human precision at machine speed.   

Try it for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime , which unlocks unlimited access to premium features like academic translation, paraphrasing, contextual synonyms, consistency checks, submission readiness and more. It’s like always having a professional academic editor by your side! Go beyond limitations and experience the future of academic writing. Get Paperpal Prime now at just US$19 a month !    

Related Reads:

  • Scientific Writing Style Guides Explained
  • How to Write a Research Paper Introduction (with Examples)
  • 5 Reasons for Rejection After Peer Review
  • Ethical Research Practices For Research with Human Subjects

Academic Paraphrasing: Why Paperpal’s Rewrite Should be Your First Choice! 

How to write a good humanities research paper, you may also like, academic editing: how to self-edit academic text with..., measuring academic success: definition & strategies for excellence, phd qualifying exam: tips for success , ai in education: it’s time to change the..., quillbot review: features, pricing, and free alternatives, what is an academic paper types and elements , 9 steps to publish a research paper, what are the different types of research papers, how to make translating academic papers less challenging, self-plagiarism in research: what it is and how....

Jump to navigation

Home

  • Undergraduate Admissions
  • Transfer Admissions
  • Graduate Admissions
  • Honors and Scholars Admissions
  • International Admissions
  • Law Admissions
  • Office of Financial Aid
  • Orientation
  • Pre-College Programs
  • Scholarships
  • Tuition & Fees
  • Academic Calendar
  • Academic Colleges
  • Degree Programs
  • Online Programs
  • Class Schedule
  • Workforce Development
  • Sponsored Programs and Research Services
  • Technology Transfer
  • Faculty Expertise Database
  • Research Centers
  • College of Graduate Studies
  • Institutional Research and Analysis
  • At a Glance
  • Concerned Vikes
  • Free Speech on Campus
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Messages & Updates
  • In the News
  • Board of Trustees
  • Senior Leadership Team
  • Services Near CSU

CSU Photo Banner

Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University

Search this site

Thesis statement.

Definition:

The thesis is usually considered the most important sentence of your essay because it outlines the central purpose of your essay in one place. A good thesis will link the subject of an essay with a controlling idea. Consider, for example, the following thesis:

People in the past spent a great deal of effort protecting themselves from witches. Subject: people feared witches Controlling Idea: people spent a great deal of effort protecting themselves

In a short essay, a thesis statement appears at, or near, the end of the introductory paragraph of the paper so that readers know the topic of the essay before they see the writer's statement of the central purpose of the essay. This way the first paragraph helps the reader understand why the writer is writing.

A thesis should be narrow in focus in order to allow the fullest exploration of its issues as possible, and it should reflect the type of paper that follows, whether it be persuasive or informative. Narrowing the focus of the thesis may require posing questions about it to yourself before committing to a final version.

What follows is a method for writing thesis statements that many writers have found useful (we found it in Chapter 3 of The Allyn & Bacon Handbook ).

1. Decide what you are writing about:

A clear, concise thesis statement does more than outline the subject in question; it makes the reader aware of the writer's stand on the subject in question, connecting a subject with a controlling idea.

2. Think about all the elements your paper will deal with:

A thesis generally consists of a subject that contains within itself a number of smaller facts; the topic sentence of each paragraph that makes up the body of the paper should refer (in some clear way) back to the ideas contained within the thesis statement in order to keep the paper from digressing.

3. Think about the purpose and tone of your paper:

A thesis statement should contain the main point of the paper and suggest to the reader a direction that the paper will take in exploring, proving, or disproving that main point.

4. State your main point in a sentence or two:

A good writer can assert the main idea of a short, coherent essay briefly. Instead of rambling, be as straightforward as possible.

5. Revise your thesis as you develop your paper:

A final version of a thesis statement will only be available after a draft of the paper it is a part of has been completed. The focus of the paper may change and evolve over the period it is written in; necessarily, the thesis statement should be revised to reflect the alterations in the paper.

Few writers finish a paper writing about the exact topic they begin with. While you write a paper, your main point may change. As you're finishing, make sure your thesis statement has changed along with the subject and controlling ideas of your paper.

Questions, comments, and other sundry things may be sent to [email protected]

[Top of Page]

©2024 Cleveland State University | 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-2214 | (216) 687-2000. Cleveland State University is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Affirmative Action | Diversity | Employment  | Tobacco Free  | Non-Discrimination Statement  | Web Privacy Statement  | Accreditations

define thesis statement briefly

The Plagiarism Checker Online For Your Academic Work

Start Plagiarism Check

Editing & Proofreading for Your Research Paper

Get it proofread now

Online Printing & Binding with Free Express Delivery

Configure binding now

  • Academic essay overview
  • The writing process
  • Structuring academic essays
  • Types of academic essays
  • Academic writing overview
  • Sentence structure
  • Academic writing process
  • Improving your academic writing
  • Titles and headings
  • APA style overview
  • APA citation & referencing
  • APA structure & sections
  • Citation & referencing
  • Structure and sections
  • APA examples overview
  • Commonly used citations
  • Other examples
  • British English vs. American English
  • Chicago style overview
  • Chicago citation & referencing
  • Chicago structure & sections
  • Chicago style examples
  • Citing sources overview
  • Citation format
  • Citation examples
  • College essay overview
  • Application
  • How to write a college essay
  • Types of college essays
  • Commonly confused words
  • Definitions
  • Dissertation overview
  • Dissertation structure & sections
  • Dissertation writing process
  • Graduate school overview
  • Application & admission
  • Study abroad
  • Master degree
  • Harvard referencing overview
  • Language rules overview
  • Grammatical rules & structures
  • Parts of speech
  • Punctuation
  • Methodology overview
  • Analyzing data
  • Experiments
  • Observations
  • Inductive vs. Deductive
  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • Types of validity
  • Types of reliability
  • Sampling methods
  • Theories & Concepts
  • Types of research studies
  • Types of variables
  • MLA style overview
  • MLA examples
  • MLA citation & referencing
  • MLA structure & sections
  • Plagiarism overview
  • Plagiarism checker
  • Types of plagiarism
  • Printing production overview
  • Research bias overview
  • Types of research bias
  • Example sections
  • Types of research papers
  • Research process overview
  • Problem statement
  • Research proposal
  • Research topic
  • Statistics overview
  • Levels of measurment
  • Frequency distribution
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Measures of variability
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Parameters & test statistics
  • Types of distributions
  • Correlation
  • Effect size
  • Hypothesis testing assumptions
  • Types of ANOVAs
  • Types of chi-square
  • Statistical data
  • Statistical models
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Tips overview
  • Academic writing tips
  • Dissertation tips
  • Sources tips
  • Working with sources overview
  • Evaluating sources
  • Finding sources
  • Including sources
  • Types of sources

Your Step to Success

Plagiarism Check within 10min

Printing & Binding with 3D Live Preview

How To Write A Thesis Statement – Examples & Definition

How do you like this article cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Thesis-Statement-1

Inhaltsverzeichnis

  • 1 Definition Thesis Statement
  • 3 Step-by-Step
  • 5 Placement of the Thesis Statement
  • 6 In Summary

Definition Thesis Statement

A thesis statement captures the main idea of a paper in one or two sentences . Your thesis statement points the reader to your interpretation of the subject under discussion and is important to the research question .

For example, if the topic is Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn , the thesis statement offers a way to understand and interpret this novel by focusing on specific aspects. Moreover, a thesis statement tells the reader what your paper is about and how you will build up your argument.

What is a thesis statement and why is it important?

The thesis statement outlines the thesis topic in 1-2 sentences. The reader should know immediately after reading the thesis statement what the paper is about and the stance that the author holds regarding this topic. The thesis statement leads to the body paragraphs and it sets up the reader for the rest of the paper.

Are there thesis statement examples?

Yes! You can find many thesis statement examples online. These examples will show you how a thesis statement is typically structured and the link that it holds with the thesis topic and research question. Thesis statement examples should inspire you only- it’s important to come up with your own thesis topic and thesis statement.

Where does the thesis statement go in a paper?

The thesis statement should be placed towards the end of the introduction for optimal thesis formatting . The beginning of the introduction supplies the reader with the background information they’ll need to understand your thesis statement. Whereas the sentences following the thesis statement lead into the body of your paper.

How do you write a strong thesis statement?

A strong thesis statement should be clear, consise and very specific. It will set the tone for the paper and your position regarding the topic needs to be clear to the reader. Always start with a research question before turning it into a declaration that is supported by evidence that you found during the research phase. Having some trouble with the wording of your thesis? Check out some useful transition words to get the inspiration flowing.

What are the steps in writing a thesis statement?

First, you need to have decided on your thesis topic. Then, you need to create a research question. The research question will be the basis of your thesis statement. To transform your research question into a thesis statement, you first turn the research question into a declaration that is supported by evidence you found whilst researching. Once you’ve done this, you have your working thesis statement!

Step-by-Step

Brainstorming and collecting information online or in scientific literature can serve as a good first step to writing a thesis statement. This will help you come up with a working thesis and ideas on how to structure a good argument. You cannot jump to formulating the thesis statement right after reading the essay assignment.

Thinking about specific aspects of the topic that you can use to build up your argument might take a while, but it is worth spending some time to come up with a well-written thesis statement.

How to write a thesis statement step by step:

Thesis-Statement-Step-by-Step

Here are some examples of thesis statements (cf. JBirdwellBranson, https://www.servicescape.com/blog/25-thesis-statement-examples-that-will-make-writing-a-breeze, Last accessed 28 th  Mar 2019) to give you a better idea of how to formulate your own thesis statement.

Please note that the following sample thesis statements are intended as examples only, as they have not been fully researched. It is important that you come up with your own thesis statement based on your own research question. Only by giving your own thesis statement enough thought will you be able to argue convincingly.

Examples of good and bad thesis statements

A good thesis statement is specific , clear , original , and includes a comment on how you are positioning yourself with respect to the issue at hand. You must consistently avoid vague wording. Moreover, you should avoid stating the obvious, like “The point I want to make in my paper…”.

The following checklist will help you meet the afore-mentioned requirements for writing a good thesis statement.

Placement of the Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is an integral part of the first paragraph/the introduction of your essay, as it sets the scene of what is to come. After a brief introduction, the thesis statement reflects your point of view and summarizes the argument. Formulating the statement clearly and putting some thought into it ensures that your essay has a clear structure and focus – a common thread.

In course assignments, you are asked to convince the reader with your argument. This is just another form of persuasion (just as you might have to persuade your parents to let you use their car, or ask a friend to lend you money). Consequently, your thesis statement should give good reasons for readers to approve your line of argument.

Recommended: Harvard Referencing

  • A thesis statement summarizes the main argument of an essay in one or two sentences.
  • A thesis statement is part of the introductio n/the first paragraph of an essay.
  • In order to come up with a thesis statement, you have to brainstorm and research your topic first to find valid arguments to support the claim you want to make in your essay. The thesis statement can be revised during the writing process.
  • A thesis statement must be clear, specific, original, and should reflect your stance about the topic at hand. Generic words or formulas must be avoided.

Ashford University: “Thesis Generator”, in: Ashford University, https://awc.ashford.edu/writing-tools-thesis-generator.html , Last accessed 27th Mar 2019.

Center for Writing Studies: “Writing Tips: Thesis Statements”, in: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/thesis/ , Last accessed 27th Mar 2019.

JBirdwellBranson: “25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze”, in: ServiceScape, https://www.servicescape.com/blog/25-thesis-statement-examples-that-will-make-writing-a-breeze , Last accessed 28th Mar 2019.

Purdue Online Writing Lab: “Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements”, in: Purdue University, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html , Last accessed 27th Mar 2019.

The Writing Center: “Thesis Statement”, in: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/ , Last accessed 27th Mar 2019.

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential, while others help us to improve this website and your experience.

  • External Media

Individual Privacy Preferences

Cookie Details Privacy Policy Imprint

Here you will find an overview of all cookies used. You can give your consent to whole categories or display further information and select certain cookies.

Accept all Save

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the proper function of the website.

Show Cookie Information Hide Cookie Information

Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.

Content from video platforms and social media platforms is blocked by default. If External Media cookies are accepted, access to those contents no longer requires manual consent.

Privacy Policy Imprint

Thesis and Purpose Statements

Use the guidelines below to learn the differences between thesis and purpose statements.

In the first stages of writing, thesis or purpose statements are usually rough or ill-formed and are useful primarily as planning tools.

A thesis statement or purpose statement will emerge as you think and write about a topic. The statement can be restricted or clarified and eventually worked into an introduction.

As you revise your paper, try to phrase your thesis or purpose statement in a precise way so that it matches the content and organization of your paper.

Thesis statements

A thesis statement is a sentence that makes an assertion about a topic and predicts how the topic will be developed. It does not simply announce a topic: it says something about the topic.

Good: X has made a significant impact on the teenage population due to its . . . Bad: In this paper, I will discuss X.

A thesis statement makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of the paper. It summarizes the conclusions that the writer has reached about the topic.

A thesis statement is generally located near the end of the introduction. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or an entire paragraph.

A thesis statement is focused and specific enough to be proven within the boundaries of the paper. Key words (nouns and verbs) should be specific, accurate, and indicative of the range of research, thrust of the argument or analysis, and the organization of supporting information.

Purpose statements

A purpose statement announces the purpose, scope, and direction of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect in a paper and what the specific focus will be.

Common beginnings include:

“This paper examines . . .,” “The aim of this paper is to . . .,” and “The purpose of this essay is to . . .”

A purpose statement makes a promise to the reader about the development of the argument but does not preview the particular conclusions that the writer has drawn.

A purpose statement usually appears toward the end of the introduction. The purpose statement may be expressed in several sentences or even an entire paragraph.

A purpose statement is specific enough to satisfy the requirements of the assignment. Purpose statements are common in research papers in some academic disciplines, while in other disciplines they are considered too blunt or direct. If you are unsure about using a purpose statement, ask your instructor.

This paper will examine the ecological destruction of the Sahel preceding the drought and the causes of this disintegration of the land. The focus will be on the economic, political, and social relationships which brought about the environmental problems in the Sahel.

Sample purpose and thesis statements

The following example combines a purpose statement and a thesis statement (bold).

The goal of this paper is to examine the effects of Chile’s agrarian reform on the lives of rural peasants. The nature of the topic dictates the use of both a chronological and a comparative analysis of peasant lives at various points during the reform period. . . The Chilean reform example provides evidence that land distribution is an essential component of both the improvement of peasant conditions and the development of a democratic society. More extensive and enduring reforms would likely have allowed Chile the opportunity to further expand these horizons.

For more tips about writing thesis statements, take a look at our new handout on Developing a Thesis Statement.

define thesis statement briefly

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Developing a Thesis Statement

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

Please log in to save materials. Log in

  • Thesis Statement

Thesis Statements: How to Identify and Write Them

Thesis Statements: How to Identify and Write Them

Students read about and watch videos about how to identify and write thesis statements. 

Then, students complete two exercises where they identify and write thesis statements. 

*Conditions of Use: While the content on each page is licensed under an  Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike  license, some pages contain content and/or references with other types of licenses or copyrights. Please look at the bottom of each page to view this information. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of these readings and exercises, students will be able to: 

  • define the term thesis statement
  • read about two recommended thesis statement models 
  • practice identifying thesis statements in other texts
  • write your own effective thesis statements

detective

Attributions:

  • The banner image is licensed under  Adobe Stock .
  • The untitled image of a detective by Peggy_Marco is licensed under Pixabay . 

What is a thesis statement?

The thesis statement is the key to most academic writing. The purpose of academic writing is to offer your own insights, analyses, and ideas—to show not only that you understand the concepts you’re studying, but also that you have thought about those concepts in your own way and agreed or disagreed, or developed your own unique ideas as a result of your analysis. The  thesis statement  is the one sentence that encapsulates the result of your thinking, as it offers your main insight or argument in condensed form.

We often use the word “argument” in English courses, but we do not mean it in the traditional sense of a verbal fight with someone else. Instead, you “argue” by taking a position on an issue and supporting it with evidence. Because you’ve taken a position about your topic, someone else may be in a position to disagree (or argue) with the stance you have taken. Think about how a lawyer presents an argument or states their case in a courtroom—similarly, you want to build a case around the main idea of your essay. For example, in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted “The Declaration of Sentiments,” she was thinking about how to convince New York State policymakers to change the laws to allow women to vote. Stanton was making an argument.

Some consider all writing a form of argument—or at least of persuasion. After all, even if you’re writing a letter or an informative essay, you’re implicitly trying to persuade your audience to care about what you’re saying. Your thesis statement represents the main idea—or point—about a topic or issue that you make in an argument. For example, let’s say that your topic is social media. A thesis statement about social media could look like one of the following sentences:

  • Social media harms the self-esteem of American pre-teen girls.
  • Social media can help connect researchers when they use hashtags to curate their work.
  • Social media tools are not tools for social movements, they are marketing tools.

Please take a look at this video which explains the basic definition of a thesis statement further (we will be building upon these ideas through the rest of the readings and exercises): 

Attributions: 

  • The content about thesis statements has been modified from English Composition 1 by Lumen Learning and Audrey Fisch et al. and appears under an  Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. 
  • The video "Purdue OWL: Thesis Statements" by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab appears under a YouTube license . 

The Two-Story Model (basic)

First, we will cover the two-story thesis statement model. This is the most basic model, but that doesn't mean it's bad or that you shouldn't use it. If you have a hard time with thesis statements or if you just want to keep things simple, this model is perfect for you. Think of it like a two-story building with two layers. 

A basic thesis sentence has two main parts:

  • Topic:  What you’re writing about
  • Angle:  What your main idea is about that topic, or your claim

Examples: 

When you read all of the thesis statement examples, can you see areas where the writer could be more specific with their angle? The more specific you are with your topic and your claims, the more focused your essay will be for your reader.

Thesis:  A regular exercise regime leads to multiple benefits, both physical and emotional.

  • Topic:  Regular exercise regime
  • Angle:  Leads to multiple benefits

Thesis:  Adult college students have different experiences than typical, younger college students.

  • Topic:  Adult college students
  • Angle:  Have different experiences

Thesis:  The economics of television have made the viewing experience challenging for many viewers because shows are not offered regularly, similar programming occurs at the same time, and commercials are rampant.

  • Topic:  Television viewing
  • Angle:  Challenging because shows shifted, similar programming, and commercials

Please watch how Dr. Cielle Amundson demonstrates the two-story thesis statement model in this video:

  • The video "Thesis Statement Definition" by  Dr. Cielle Amundson  appears under a YouTube license . 

The Three-Story Model (advanced)

Now, it's time to challenge yourself. The three-story model is like a building with three stories. Adding multiple levels to your thesis statement makes it more specific and sophisticated. Though you'll be trying your hand with this model in the activity later on, throughout our course, you are free to choose either the two-story or three-story thesis statement model. Still, it's good to know what the three-story model entails. 

A thesis statement can have three parts: 

  • Relevance : Why your argument is meaningful

Conceptualizing the Three-Story Model: 

A helpful metaphor based on this passage by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.:

There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors who have no aim beyond their facts are one-story men. Two-story men compare, reason, generalize using the labor of fact collectors as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, predict—their best illumination comes from above the skylight.

One-story theses state inarguable facts. Two-story theses bring in an arguable (interpretive or analytical) point. Three-story theses nest that point within its larger, compelling implications. 

The biggest benefit of the three-story metaphor is that it describes a process for building a thesis. To build the first story, you first have to get familiar with the complex, relevant facts surrounding the problem or question. You have to be able to describe the situation thoroughly and accurately. Then, with that first story built, you can layer on the second story by formulating the insightful, arguable point that animates the analysis. That’s often the most effortful part: brainstorming, elaborating and comparing alternative ideas, finalizing your point. With that specified, you can frame up the third story by articulating why the point you make matters beyond its particular topic or case.

Though the three-story thesis statement model appears a little bit differently in this video, you can still see how it follows the patterns mentioned within this section: 

  • The content about thesis statements has been modified from Writing in College by Amy Guptill from Milne Publishing and appears under an  Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. 
  • The video "How to Write a STRONG Thesis Statement" by Scribbr  appears under a YouTube license . 

Identifying Thesis Statements

You’ll remember that the first step of the reading process, previewing ,  allows you to get a big-picture view of the document you’re reading. This way, you can begin to understand the structure of the overall text. The most important step of understanding an essay or a book is to find the thesis statement.

Pinpointing a Thesis Statement

A thesis consists of a specific topic and an angle on the topic. All of the other ideas in the text support and develop the thesis. The thesis statement is often found in the introduction, sometimes after an initial “hook” or interesting story; sometimes, however, the thesis is not explicitly stated until the end of an essay. Sometimes it is not stated at all. In those instances, there is an  implied thesis statement.  You can generally extract the thesis statement by looking for a few key sentences and ideas.

Most readers expect to see the point of your argument (the thesis statement) within the first few paragraphs. This does not mean that it has to be placed there every time. Some writers place it at the very end, slowly building up to it throughout their work, to explain a point after the fact. Others don’t bother with one at all but feel that their thesis is “implied” anyway. Beginning writers, however, should avoid the implied thesis unless certain of the audience. Almost every professor will expect to see a clearly discernible thesis sentence in the introduction.

Shared Characteristics of Thesis Statements:

  • present the main idea
  • are one sentence
  • tell the reader what to expect
  • summarize the essay topic
  • present an argument
  • are written in the third person (does not include the “I” pronoun)

The following “How to Identify a Thesis Statement” video offers advice for locating a text’s thesis statement. It asks you to write one or two sentences that summarize the text. When you write that summary, without looking at the text itself, you’ve most likely paraphrased the thesis statement.

You can view the  transcript for “How to Identify the Thesis Statement” here (download).

Try it! 

Try to check your thesis statement identification skills with this interactive exercise from the Excelsior University Online Writing Lab. 

  • The video "How to Identidy the Thesis Statement" by  Martha Ann Kennedy  appears under a YouTube license . 
  • The "Judging Thesis Statements" exercise from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab appears under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. 

Writing Your Own Thesis Statements

A thesis statement is a single sentence (or sometimes two) that provides the answers to these questions clearly and concisely. Ask yourself, “What is my paper about, exactly?” Answering this question will help you develop a precise and directed thesis, not only for your reader, but for you as well.

Key Elements of an Effective Thesis Statement: 

  • A good thesis is non-obvious. High school teachers needed to make sure that you and all your classmates mastered the basic form of the academic essay. Thus, they were mostly concerned that you had a clear and consistent thesis, even if it was something obvious like “sustainability is important.” A thesis statement like that has a wide-enough scope to incorporate several supporting points and concurring evidence, enabling the writer to demonstrate his or her mastery of the five-paragraph form. Good enough! When they can, high school teachers nudge students to develop arguments that are less obvious and more engaging. College instructors, though, fully expect you to produce something more developed.
  • A good thesis is arguable . In everyday life, “arguable” is often used as a synonym for “doubtful.” For a thesis, though, “arguable” means that it’s worth arguing: it’s something with which a reasonable person might disagree. This arguability criterion dovetails with the non-obvious one: it shows that the author has deeply explored a problem and arrived at an argument that legitimately needs 3, 5, 10, or 20 pages to explain and justify. In that way, a good thesis sets an ambitious agenda for a paper. A thesis like “sustainability is important” isn’t at all difficult to argue for, and the reader would have little intrinsic motivation to read the rest of the paper. However, an arguable thesis like “sustainability policies will inevitably fail if they do not incorporate social justice,” brings up some healthy skepticism. Thus, the arguable thesis makes the reader want to keep reading.
  • A good thesis is well specified. Some student writers fear that they’re giving away the game if they specify their thesis up front; they think that a purposefully vague thesis might be more intriguing to the reader. However, consider movie trailers: they always include the most exciting and poignant moments from the film to attract an audience. In academic papers, too, a well specified thesis indicates that the author has thought rigorously about an issue and done thorough research, which makes the reader want to keep reading. Don’t just say that a particular policy is effective or fair; say what makes it is so. If you want to argue that a particular claim is dubious or incomplete, say why in your thesis.
  • A good thesis includes implications. Suppose your assignment is to write a paper about some aspect of the history of linen production and trade, a topic that may seem exceedingly arcane. And suppose you have constructed a well supported and creative argument that linen was so widely traded in the ancient Mediterranean that it actually served as a kind of currency. 2  That’s a strong, insightful, arguable, well specified thesis. But which of these thesis statements do you find more engaging?

How Can You Write Your Thesis Statements?

A good basic structure for a thesis statement is “they say, I say.” What is the prevailing view, and how does your position differ from it? However, avoid limiting the scope of your writing with an either/or thesis under the assumption that your view must be strictly contrary to their view.

  • focus on one, interesting idea
  • choose the two-story or three-story model
  • be as specific as possible
  • write clearly
  • have evidence to support it (for later on)

Thesis Statement Examples: 

  • Although many readers believe Romeo and Juliet to be a tale about the ill fate of two star-crossed lovers, it can also be read as an allegory concerning a playwright and his audience.
  • The “War on Drugs” has not only failed to reduce the frequency of drug-related crimes in America but actually enhanced the popular image of dope peddlers by romanticizing them as desperate rebels fighting for a cause.
  • The bulk of modern copyright law was conceived in the age of commercial printing, long before the Internet made it so easy for the public to compose and distribute its own texts. Therefore, these laws should be reviewed and revised to better accommodate modern readers and writers.
  • The usual moral justification for capital punishment is that it deters crime by frightening would-be criminals. However, the statistics tell a different story.
  • If students really want to improve their writing, they must read often, practice writing, and receive quality feedback from their peers.
  • Plato’s dialectical method has much to offer those engaged in online writing, which is far more conversational in nature than print.

You can gather more thesis statement tips and tricks from this video titled "How to Create a Thesis Statement" from the Florida SouthWestern State College Academic Support Centers: 

  • The video "How to Create a Thesis Statement" by the Florida SouthWestern State College Academic Support Centers appears under a YouTube license . 

Additional, Optional Resources

stack of books

If you feel like you might need more support with thesis statements, please check out these helpful resources for some extra, optional instruction: 

  • "Checklist for a Thesis Statement"  from the  Excelsior University Online Writing Lab  which appears under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. 
  • "Developing Your Thesis" from Hamiliton College which appears under a copyright. 
  • "Parts of a Thesis Sentence and Common Problems"  from the  Excelsior University Online Writing Lab  which appears under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.
  • "Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements" from the Purdue University Writing Lab which appears under a copyright. 
  • "Writing Thesis Statements & Hypotheses" by Hope Matis from Clarkson University which appears under a copyright. 
  • The content about these resources has been modified from English Composition 1 by Lumen Learning and Audrey Fisch et al. and appears under an  Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. 
  • The content about these resources has been modified from Writing in College by Amy Guptill from Milne Publishing and appears under an  Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. 
  • The untitled image of the books by OpenClipart-Vectors is licensed under Pixabay . 

Exercise #1: Identify Thesis Statements

Throughout the readings, we have been learning what an effective thesis statement is and what it is not. Before we even get to writing our own thesis statements, let's look for real-world examples. It's your turn to locate and identify thesis statements!

map with an X indicating a location

Objectives/Goals

By completeting this exercise students will be able to: 

  • identify the main ideas within a text 
  • summarize the main ideas within a text
  • choose one sentence from the text which you believe is the thesis statement
  • argue why you believe that's the true thesis statement of the text

Instructions

  • Any print or online text (probably something around a page in length) will be fine for this exercise. 
  • If you have trouble finding a text, I recommend looking at this collection from  88 Open Essays – A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric  by Sarah Wangler and Tina Ulrich. 
  • Write the title of the text that you selected and the full name(s) of the author (this is called the full citation). 
  • Provide a hyperlink for that text. 
  • Write one paragraph (5+ sentences) summarizing the main points of the text. 
  • Write one more argumentative paragraph (5+ sentences) where you discuss which sentence (make sure it appears within quotation marks, but don't worry about in-text citations for now) you think is the author's thesis statement and why. 

Submitting the Assignment

You will be submitting Exercise #1: Identify Thesis Statements within Canvas in our weekly module. 

Please check the assignment page for deadlines and Canvas Guides to help you in case you have trouble submitting your document. 

  • "88 Open Essays - A Reader for Students of Composition & Rhetoric" by Sarah Wangler and Tina Ulrich from LibreTexts appears under an  Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. 

Exercise #2: Write Your Own Thesis Statements

Now that you've had some practice with locating and identifying thesis statements, you are ready to write some practice thesis statements yourself. 

writing supplies/tools

  • write a two-story thesis statement 
  • write a three-story thesis statement
  • reflect on your thesis statement skills
  • Using the same text from Exercise #1, write a two-story thesis statement in response to that text. 
  • Using the same text from Exercise #1, write a three-story thesis statement in response to that text. 
  • Is it easy for you to identify thesis statements in other texts? Why or why not?
  • What methods do you use to identify/locate thesis statements?
  • In the past, how have you felt when you needed to write a thesis statement?
  • How did you feel about writing your own thesis statements in Exercise #2?
  • Which thesis statement writing strategies were the most beneficial to you? Why?
  • What challenges did you face when you were writing you thesis statement for Exercise #2?

You will be submitting Exercise #2: Write Your Own Thesis Statements within Canvas in our weekly module. 

  • The untitled image of the writing supplies by ptra  is licensed under Pixabay . 

Version History

Logo for M Libraries Publishing

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

9.1 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

Learning objectives.

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

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

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

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

Elements of a Thesis Statement

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

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

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

A Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement contains the following qualities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Texting while driving
  • The legal drinking age in the United States
  • Steroid use among professional athletes

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

Each of the following thesis statements meets several of the following requirements:

  • Specificity
  • Ability to be argued
  • Ability to be demonstrated
  • Forcefulness
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxon in the play Fences symbolize the challenge of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.
  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet spoils the outcome for the audience and weakens the plot.
  • J. D. Salinger’s character in Catcher in the Rye , Holden Caulfield, is a confused rebel who voices his disgust with phonies, yet in an effort to protect himself, he acts like a phony on many occasions.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.

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

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

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay.

Weak thesis statement: My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side.

Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end.

Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad.

Weak thesis statement: The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

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

  • The subject of this paper is my experience with ferrets as pets.
  • The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil.
  • Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who lived in Baltimore during the nineteenth century.
  • In this essay, I will give you lots of reasons why slot machines should not be legalized in Baltimore.
  • Despite his promises during his campaign, President Kennedy took few executive measures to support civil rights legislation.
  • Because many children’s toys have potential safety hazards that could lead to injury, it is clear that not all children’s toys are safe.
  • My experience with young children has taught me that I want to be a disciplinary parent because I believe that a child without discipline can be a parent’s worst nightmare.

Writing at Work

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

Thesis Statement Revision

Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Remember from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” that your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement , an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

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

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

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.

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

A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke . The writer should ask himself or herself questions similar to the 5WH questions. (See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information on the 5WH questions.) By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

3. Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Working thesis: Kansas City schoolteachers are not paid enough.

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

The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask himself or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue:

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • What is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results

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

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

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

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

  • Which teenage girls?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Why are they behaving that way?
  • Where does this behavior show up?
  • What are the repercussions?

In the first section of Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , you determined your purpose for writing and your audience. You then completed a freewriting exercise about an event you recently experienced and chose a general topic to write about. Using that general topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions. After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

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

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

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

Key Takeaways

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

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.

IMAGES

  1. How To Write A Thesis Statement (with Useful Steps and Tips) • 7ESL

    define thesis statement briefly

  2. How to Write Thesis Statement: Briefly Explained

    define thesis statement briefly

  3. how to identify a good thesis statement

    define thesis statement briefly

  4. How to Write a Thesis Statement: Fill-in-the-Blank Formula

    define thesis statement briefly

  5. 120+ Thesis Statement Examples

    define thesis statement briefly

  6. Mastering the Thesis Statement: Examples and Tips for Academic Success

    define thesis statement briefly

VIDEO

  1. How to write a thesis statement!

  2. How to write a thesis statement #shorts #education #essay #english #learnenglish #essaywriting

  3. Thesis Statement- WRITING ( breakthroughcollaborative )

  4. Thesis statement example #shorts #education #essay #english #learnenglish #englishessay #writing

  5. Thesis Statement Example #shorts #education #essay #english #learnenglish #essaywriting #writing

  6. What is Thesis Statement? Writing Thesis Statement with Practice in Urdu/Hindi #researchmethodology

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 2: Write your initial answer. After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process. The internet has had more of a positive than a negative effect on education.

  2. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay, and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay. A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to ...

  3. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  4. Writing a Thesis Statement

    How to write a thesis statement. When writing a thesis, the following guidelines apply: Step 1: Determine the type of paper (explanatory, argumentative, or analytical). Step 2: Identify the topic, position/claim, and supports of the essay. Step 3: Determine if the supports should be included within the thesis. Although they are considered optional, they might be required depending on the ...

  5. Thesis Statements

    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.

  6. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper. Is generally located near the end ...

  7. How to write a thesis statement + Examples

    It is a brief statement of your paper's main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about. Organize your papers in one place. Try Paperpile. No credit card needed. Get 30 days free. You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the ...

  8. Academic Guides: Writing a Paper: Thesis Statements

    The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper.

  9. How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

    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 ...

  10. Thesis Statements

    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.

  11. What is a Thesis Statement and How to Write It (with Examples)

    A thesis statement can be defined as a sentence that describes the main idea of the research or thesis to inform the reader of the argument the research will pursue and the reason the author adopts a specific stance on the subject. Essentially, it expresses the author's judgment or opinion based on a review of the literature or personal ...

  12. Thesis Statements: Definition and Examples

    A thesis statement is a sentence used in academic or professional writing that states your position on a certain topic. Your thesis statement explains what the rest of your essay is about in clear, detailed terms. Thesis statements often appear in expository essays, compare and contrast essays, persuasive essays and research papers.

  13. Thesis Statement

    Think about the purpose and tone of your paper: A thesis statement should contain the main point of the paper and suggest to the reader a direction that the paper will take in exploring, proving, or disproving that main point. 4. State your main point in a sentence or two: A good writer can assert the main idea of a short, coherent essay briefly.

  14. How To Write A Thesis Statement

    Definition Thesis Statement. A thesis statement captures the main idea of a paper in one or two sentences. Your thesis statement points the reader to your interpretation of the subject under discussion and is important to the research question. For example, if the topic is Mark Twain's novel Huckleberry Finn, the thesis statement offers a way ...

  15. Thesis and Purpose Statements

    A thesis statement makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of the paper. It summarizes the conclusions that the writer has reached about the topic. A thesis statement is generally located near the end of the introduction. Sometimes in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or an entire ...

  16. Thesis Statements: How to Identify and Write Them

    Thesis Statement Definition . Attributions: The content about thesis statements has been modified from English Composition 1 by Lumen Learning and Audrey Fisch et al. and appears under an Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. The video "Thesis Statement Definition" by Dr. Cielle Amundson appears under a YouTube license.

  17. Writing

    The main idea, thesis statement, and topic sentences all provide structure to an essay. It is important for both readers and writers to understand the roles of each of these in order to maintain ...

  18. 9.1 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

    A strong thesis is specific, precise, forceful, confident, and is able to be demonstrated. A strong thesis challenges readers with a point of view that can be debated and can be supported with evidence. A weak thesis is simply a declaration of your topic or contains an obvious fact that cannot be argued.

  19. PDF A Brief Guide to the Elements of the Academic Essay

    mer home a thesis. (If the essay is complex or long, its structure may be briefly announced or hinted at after the thesis, in a road-map or plan sentence—or even in the thesis statement itself, if you're clever enough.) 7. Stitching: words that tie together the parts of an argument, most commonly (a) by using transition (link-