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How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.
Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.
Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?
- to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
- to better organize and develop your argument
- to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument
In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.
How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?
Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned
Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.
Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”
The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.
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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned
Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.
A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:
- take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
- deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
- express one main idea
- assert your conclusions about a subject
Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.
Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.
You start out with a thesis statement like this:
This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.
Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.
You change your thesis to look like this:
Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.
This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.
Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.
You revise your thesis statement to look like this:
More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.
This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.
Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:
Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.
This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.
Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:
Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.
Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.
How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One
1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..
Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:
There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.
This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.
Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.
This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.
2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.
Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:
My family is an extended family.
This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.
While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.
This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.
3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.
Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:
Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.
This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:
Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.
This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .
4. A strong thesis statement is specific.
A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:
World hunger has many causes and effects.
This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:
Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.
This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.
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- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
- Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.
Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.
You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
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This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.
Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement
1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
- An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
- An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
- An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.
2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
Thesis Statement Examples
Example of an analytical thesis statement:
The paper that follows should:
- Explain the analysis of the college admission process
- Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors
Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:
- Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers
Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
- Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college
What this handout is about.
This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.
Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.
What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement:
- tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
- is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
- directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
- makes a claim that others might dispute.
- is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.
If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)
How do I create a thesis?
A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.
Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .
How do I know if my thesis is strong?
If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :
- Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
- Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
- Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.
Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:
Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.
You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.
- Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
- Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?
After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:
Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.
This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.
Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:
Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.
You begin to analyze your thesis:
- Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.
Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:
In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
- Do I answer the question? Yes!
- Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
- Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
- Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
- Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”
After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:
Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.
This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.
Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.
Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.
Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
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- How to write a thesis statement
How to write a thesis statement.
Set yourself up for a great essay with a solid thesis statement.
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Start any essay with a thesis statement
Five steps for writing a thesis statement
The qualities of a strong thesis statement
Explore different kinds of thesis statements
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What is a thesis statement?
A thesis statement makes an argument and identifies your point of view. Learn how to:
- Set up your essay for success with a thesis statement.
- Write your own thesis statement using a step-by-step guide.
- Adapt your thesis statement after you've completed your writing.
Start any essay with a thesis statement.
Whether you’re writing a five-paragraph essay or a 50-page dissertation, you need to make your intention or argument clear to the reader. A thesis statement does just that. It’s a one- or two-sentence summary that covers the main point or argument you plan to explore in depth throughout your essay.
Where to put a thesis statement.
Sometimes called a topic sentence, a thesis is usually the last sentence of your introductory paragraph. It offers a specific point of view that will be expanded upon in the body paragraphs and pages to follow. This argument needs to be backed up by supporting facts, analysis, and research.
Your thesis statement may adapt.
Keep in mind that writing a paper is a process. It often takes several rounds of writing and editing to get to the final product. As you edit your essay, gather feedback and comments , and conduct more research, your thesis may need to change or adjust. That’s perfectly fine, but always make sure the following arguments tie back to your main point.
Five steps for writing a thesis statement.
A thesis statement should come before any essay. After all, you can’t continue the writing process if you don’t know what you’re writing about. But just because you write it first, your thesis statement doesn’t have to come out perfect right off the bat. Landing on it is a process:
1. Ask yourself a question.
A good working thesis starts as a question you ask yourself and helps guide the direction and structure of your essay. What are you trying to solve or prove in your paper? When you’ve identified that question, start gathering some research.
2. Answer your question.
After you’ve done some preliminary analysis, formulate an answer to your topic question.
3. Develop your stance.
Using more research and analysis, consider your answer again. If you’re writing an argumentative essay, figure out how to convince your reader to agree with your viewpoint. Start drafting an outline to organize your points and keep your essay clear and concise.
4. Refine your statement.
Your final thesis statement needs to summarize your argument or topic. Instead of just stating your position, it should identify your point of view and set you up to make a compelling argument for it.
5. Write your essay.
Now’s the time to flesh out your paper. Draft an introduction and put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. This gives you a chance to build up to your main point. From there, continue outlining your supporting arguments and use that as a roadmap for the rest of your essay. When you’re done, save your essay as PDF to make it easier to share with your professor or editor and gather comments.
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The qualities of a strong thesis statement.
Starting with an effective thesis statement is the key to writing a good paper. This single sentence should tell the reader what position you take and why you take that position. It should also explain what the reader will learn from your paper and briefly outline the highlights of your argument. A weak thesis statement means you’re building your essay on unsteady ground. If the statement is obvious, ambiguous, or not a complete sentence, you’ll need to hit the drawing board again.
Your thesis should follow these guidelines.
1. Concise . Keep it short and clearly state your point.
2. Contentious. Don’t write a simple statement that’s obvious or self-evident. Make sure your thesis statement is an argument that requires explanation and discussion.
3. Coherent. Anything mentioned in your thesis must be explained with facts and points throughout the rest of your paper.
Explore different kinds of thesis statements.
Your thesis statement will depend on your writing assignment. So before jumping in to write a thesis, explore these different types of essays (and different types of thesis statements) to identify the style of writing you need to employ.
This is a piece of writing that identifies a topic, often in the form of a specific question, and initially takes a neutral, balanced stance. For this essay, you’ll need to gather information from different credible sources and provide a well-supported critical analysis without necessarily persuading the reader to one side over the other. Analytical essays are a standard form of academic writing and can dissect research findings, analyze books, and so much more.
Analytical thesis statement example:
Topic: How does Shakespeare use metaphors in his sonnets?
Thesis statement: In Sonnet 60, Shakespeare uses metaphors and imagery to explain how individuals experience the passage of time differently.
This style of essay communicates factual information and educates the reader. These papers are clear and let the facts speak for themselves. This isn’t about being clever or argumentative — it’s about analyzing the information and explaining the process of how you reached a specific conclusion.
Expository thesis statement example:
Topic: Explore the elements of a healthy lifestyle.
Thesis statement: The core components of a healthy lifestyle include a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
This is your chance to investigate a specific topic, collect evidence, and establish a concrete position. As the name suggests, you’ll need to form an argument and gather detailed research. Whether it’s a research paper or an academic essay, argumentative writing aims to sway a reader to your point of view. This style of essay can also include counterarguments, followed by the author’s response to those counterpoints.
Argumentative thesis statement example:
Topic: Identify how social media affects mental health.
Thesis statement: Although social media platforms have a positive place in most people’s lives, with nearly 2.85 billion users currently active on Facebook, the long-term effects on those users’ mental health are proving to be quite damaging.
This type of writing tells a story and doesn’t require a thesis statement. Narratives can expand upon a personal experience or explore an imaginary story. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, narrative writing follows characters and can include dialogue.
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How to Write a Thesis Statement–Examples
What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement summarizes the main idea of a paper or an essay. Similar to the statement of the problem in research, it prepares the reader for what is to come and ties together the evidence and examples that are presented and the arguments and claims that are made later.
A good thesis statement can provoke thought, arouse interest, and is always followed up by exactly what it promises—if the focus or direction of your essay changes over time, you should go back to your statement and adapt it as well so that it clearly reflects what you are explaining or discussing.
Where does the thesis statement go in my paper?
Your thesis statement should be placed near the end of your introduction—after you have given the reader some background and before you delve into the specific evidence or arguments that support your statement.
Can you give me a thesis statement template?
Depending on the type of essay you are writing, your thesis statement will look different. The important thing is that your statement is specific and clearly states the main idea you want to get across. In the following, we will discuss different types of statements, show you a simple 4-step process for writing an effective thesis statement, and finish off with some not-so-good and good thesis statement examples.
Table of Contents:
- Types of Thesis Statements
- How to Write a Thesis Statement Step by Step
- Not-So-Good and Good Thesis Statements
Types of Thesis Statements
Depending on whether your paper is analytical, expository, or argumentative, your statement has a slightly different purpose.
Analytical thesis statements
An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its components, evaluates the pieces, and presents an evaluation of this breakdown to the reader. Such papers can analyze art, music, literature, current or historical events, political ideas, or scientific research. An analytical thesis statement is therefore often the result of such an analysis of, for example, some literary work (“Heathcliff is meant to be seen as a hero rather than a horrible person”) or a process (“the main challenge recruiters face is the balance between selecting the best candidates and hiring them before they are snatched up by competitors”), or even the latest research (“starving yourself will increase your lifespan, according to science”). In the rest of the paper, you then need to explain how you did the analysis that led you to the stated result and how you arrived at your conclusion, by presenting data and evidence.
Expository thesis statements
An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience, such as a historical development, a current phenomenon, or the effect of political intervention. A typical explanatory thesis statement is therefore often a “topic statement” rather than a claim or actual thesis. An expository essay could, for example, explain “where human rights came from and how they changed the world,” or “how students make career choices.” The rest of the paper then needs to present the reader with all the relevant information on the topic, covering all sides and aspects rather than one specific viewpoint.
Argumentative thesis statements
An argumentative paper makes a clear and potentially very subjective claim and follows up with a justification based on evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the author’s claim is true. A thesis statement for such a paper could be that “every student should be required to take a gap year after high school to gain some life experience”, or that “vaccines should be mandatory”. Argumentative thesis statements can be bold, assertive, and one-sided—you have the rest of the paper to convince the reader that you have good reasons to think that way and that maybe they should think like that, too.
How to Write a Thesis Statement Step-by-Step
If you are not quite sure how you get from a topic to a thesis statement, then follow this simple process—but make sure you know what type of essay you are supposed to write and adapt the steps to the kind of statement you need.
First , you will have to select a topic . This might have been done for you already if you are writing an essay as part of a class. If not, then make sure you don’t start too general—narrow the subject down to a specific aspect that you can cover in an essay.
Second , ask yourself a question about your topic, one that you are personally interested in or one that you think your readers might find relevant or interesting. Here, you have to consider whether you are going to explain something to the reader (expository essay) or if you want to put out your own, potentially controversial, opinion and then argue for it in the rest of your (argumentative) essay.
Third , answer the question you raised for yourself, based on the material you have already sifted through and are planning to present to the reader or the opinion you have already formed on the topic. If your opinion changes while working on your essay, which happens quite often, then make sure you come back to this process and adapt your statement.
Fourth and last, reword the answer to your question into a concise statement . You want the reader to know exactly what is coming, and you also want to make it sound as interesting as possible so that they decide to keep reading.
Let’s look at this example process to give you a better idea of how to get from your topic to your statement. Note that this is the development of a thesis statement for an argumentative essay .
- Choose a specific topic: Covid-19 vaccines
Narrow it down to a specific aspect: opposition to Covid-19 vaccines
- Ask a question: Should vaccination against Covid-19 be mandatory?
- Answer the question for yourself, by sorting through the available evidence/arguments:
Yes: vaccination protects other, more vulnerable people; vaccination reduces the spread of the disease; herd immunity will allow societies to go back to normal…
No: vaccines can have side-effects in some people; the vaccines have been developed too fast and there might be unknown risks; the government should stay out of personal decisions on people’s health…
- Form your opinion and reword it into your thesis statement that represents a very short summary of the key points you base your claim on:
While there is some hesitancy around vaccinations against Covid-19, most of the presented arguments revolve around unfounded fears and the individual freedom to make one’s own decisions. Since that freedom is offset by the benefits of mass vaccination, governments should make vaccines mandatory to help societies get back to normal.
This is a good argumentative thesis statement example because it does not just present a fact that everybody knows and agrees on, but a claim that is debatable and needs to be backed up by data and arguments, which you will do in the rest of your essay. You can introduce whatever evidence and arguments you deem necessary in the following—but make sure that all your points lead back to your core claim and support your opinion. This example also answers the question “how long should a thesis statement be?” One or two sentences are generally enough. If your statement is longer, make sure you are not using vague, empty expressions or more words than necessary .
Good and Bad Thesis Statement Examples
Not-so-good thesis statement : Everyone should get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Problem: The statement does not specify why that might be relevant or why people might not want to do it—this is too vague to spark anyone’s interest.
Good : Since the risks of the currently available Covid-19 vaccines are minimal and societal interests outweigh individual freedom, governments should make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory.
Not-so-good thesis statement : Binge drinking is bad for your health.
Problem: This is a very broad statement that everyone can agree on and nobody needs to read an article on. You need to specify why anyone would not think that way.
Good : Binge drinking has become a trend among college students. While some argue that it might be better for your health than regular consumption of low amounts of alcohol, science says otherwise.
Not-so-good thesis statement : Learning an instrument can develop a child’s cognitive abilities.
Problem: This is a very weak statement—”can” develop doesn’t tell us whether that is what happens in every child, what kind of effects of music education on cognition we can expect, and whether that has or should have any practical implications.
Good thesis statement : Music education has many surprising benefits on children’s overall development, including effects on language acquisition, coordination, problem-solving, and even social skills.
You could now present all the evidence on the specific effects of music education on children’s specific abilities in the rest of your (expository) essay. You could also turn this into an argumentative essay, by adding your own opinion to your statement:
Good thesis statement : Considering the many surprising benefits that music education has on children’s overall development, every child should be given the opportunity to learn an instrument as part of their public school education.
Not-so-good thesis statement : Outer space exploration is a waste of money.
Problem: While this is a clear statement of your personal opinion that people could potentially disagree with (which is good for an argumentative thesis statement), it lacks context and does not really tell the reader what to expect from your essay.
Good thesis statement : Instead of wasting money on exploring outer space, people like Elon Musk should use their wealth to solve poverty, hunger, global warming, and other issues we are facing on this earth.
Get Professional Thesis Editing Services
Now that you know how to write the perfect thesis statement for your essay, you might be interested in our free grammar checker , the Wordvice AI Proofreader. And after drafting your academic papers, be sure to get proofreading that includes manuscript editing , thesis editing , or dissertation editing services before submitting your work to journals for publication.
We have many more articles for you on all aspects of academic writing , tips and tricks on how to avoid common grammar mistakes , and resources on how to strengthen your writing style in general.