How to Write a Thesis Statement Complete Writing Guide
What Is a Thesis Statement?
One of the main reasons students struggle with their thesis statements is a lack of technical understanding. It can be hard to grasp the fact that the thesis is, single-handedly, the most important sentence in the entire text. The rest of the paper is made up of supporting points to support the thesis statement.
“What is a thesis statement?” – A thesis statement is the main argument or point that is set out to be proven using tools like logical and/or emotional reasoning. It is the root from where the rest of your paper grows. The goal of a thesis-based paper is to make a claim about the relevant topic of discussion and defend this claim with logic, analysis, and third-party validation (external sources).
You should not confuse your thesis statement with an introduction—as most students asking about how to start an essay do! An essay’s thesis is mostly used to close your introduction rather than substitute it. So when writing an introduction, you should first hook the readers, introduce your topic, and only then state a thesis.
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Another question is: “What is a good thesis statement?” In order to have a good thesis statement, the author must be well-informed about the topic at hand. He/she should have factual confirmation from other parties (experts, and primary & secondary sources) before developing the main statement. This is why it is important to do research and have accurate comprehension of the topic before brainstorming ideas.
Why It Is so Important
Essentially, a thesis statement is the best way to organize your thoughts and narrow down the focus of the paper. If you know exactly what you aim to prove, you will have an easy time making valid points, defending your logic, etc. This statement should be the first thing an author creates when starting to work on the paper.
A good thesis statement can help make your paper more logical and focused, and even simplify the writing process for you. When you understand the main idea of your paper, you can express it in a clear and intelligible manner throughout the paper.
Another reason why the thesis statement is so important is that you are not likely to get an A for an essay which doesn’t include a thesis statement. It is one of the first things a Professor evaluates in an academic paper and one of the main factors for your grade.
Can a Thesis Statement Be a Question?
Another common question to pop up is, “Can a thesis statement be a question?” The short answer would be “No”. The goal of the thesis is to explain what the paper will cover. It is impossible to fulfil this mission with a question. According to the definition, this part of the academic paper presents the argument a writer has to support using credible sources in the rest of the text. A claim can never be a question. The conclusion should pose no new questions, and the thesis can even be considered the overarching conclusion.
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Length Requirements: How Long Should it Be?
The length of a thesis statement should not be too long. As a thesis statement is a concise summary of a main claim, it should consist of a single, complete sentence. Some circumstances may require two to three sentences, depending on the length of the entire paper. Example: a five-paragraph essay should only have a single-sentence thesis. The writer should summarize the idea of the paper. If one is writing a twenty-page research paper, the statement will likely require several sentences as there will be more information to cover.
An essay’s thesis consists of the following elements:
- The main idea of your paper expressed in a simple sentence.
- The reason(s) why you support and choose this idea.
- A counterargument to your claim. This is a valid piece of information which can, in turn, support your position. Use it only in case you have one.
So after you have determined these points, you should organize them in one or two coherent sentences. Here is an example of a good thesis statement that includes all of the necessary elements mentioned above:
Example: Though uniforms can improve unity in schools, schools should not make students wear them.
This statement is based on the idea that uniforms can limit students’ freedom, which is, in a way, a violation of basic human rights.
Points to check to see that your statement is strong:
- It’s brief and carries valuable information.
- It gives a clear argument which shows your opinion.
- It has a logical basis and is backed by basic logic or facts.
The thesis statement should highlight the topic, the claim, and the major points which you are going to use in your academic paper to support the claim.
Another example of a thesis statement:
How to Write a Thesis Statement
Pick a primary question to answer and come up with a clear, concise response to it in a thesis statement. All essays should have a thesis statement because it is the basic element of nearly any type of paper—apart from perhaps creative writing.
Students commonly spend a lot of time formulating rough ideas without knowing what a thesis statement should include. When writing any type of academic paper, it is important to have an organized system to complete the task promptly.
Here are some tips for formulating a good thesis statement:
- Brainstorming is a must! Work along with your peers, family members, or tutors to come up with a list of brilliant ideas and choose a topic based on them. This will help to create a claim. After selecting the topic, try narrowing down the idea to develop a catchy, concise, and clear statement.
- Formulate a research question. Here you will need to come up with a research question that you will answer. For example: What are the main factors that lead people to depression and how can it be avoided?
- Find an answer and take a position. After you have asked the question, you need to answer it and show your opinion. For example, The main factors that lead to depression are emotional and physical distress, and depression.
- Narrow and focus. We can’t stress this enough: a well-written paper should not be filled with general information. A writer’s goal is to prove a unique point about their topic. Make sure it is reflected in the thesis.
- Support your answer with reasoning and evidence. It will help you discover more evidence and sources which can, in turn, help you with further steps for writing your essay.
- Use bold language. Avoid passive voice to sound more confident. Apps like Hemingwayapp will help to avoid wordiness and other things that make reading difficult.
- Trump the counterargument. Not everyone is going to agree with the points that you make or your argument as a whole. To combat this effectively, find the strongest opposing points to your thesis; then, challenge the counterargument head-on in a body paragraph and present why your point is indeed better.
- Check if it fits! Writers will commonly decide to create their body paragraphs before phrasing their thesis statement. A writer may set out to prove one thing to end up proving an alteration of the initial idea. That’s why it is important to go back and ensure that the thesis fits with the points you’ve made. If you have proved something different from the initial claim, fix the main argument when revising it.
- Significance matters. This criterion is important to understand the value and overall significance of your thesis. Will the idea you’re presenting be interesting and captivating to read, and will the audience want to know what you have to say? The best thesis statements are ones that captivate the reader and leave them thinking about the idea even after reading the final words.
Examples & Templates
For many students, the best way to learn is to see some realistic examples. So here we will see how a thesis statement depends on the aim of the paper:
Make a claim about a chosen topic/question and try to justify this main argument by using reasons and credible evidence. Decide which type of thesis you plan to use. The main argument could be an opinion, analysis, or proposal. The writer should offer something some people can disagree with. Persuade the audience of your truth throughout the paper.
Example: The Brexit referendum result was caused by working-class frustration with the political elite and by austere policies that have eroded public services and fragmented communities; the referendum offered an alternative to the status quo.
Analytical Thesis Statement
You do not have to introduce a strong argument, you rather need to analyze, interpret, and evaluate different aspects of the same topic. It should introduce the key points of your analysis.
Example: An assessment of a barn owl’s flight technique depicts a couple of flight patterns: the ones connected with hunting prey and those related to courtship.
Expository Thesis Statement
The main aim of an expository thesis statement is to explain and discuss the facts of a topic.
Example: Gerbils are believed to be a perfect pet for kids as they are low-maintenance and cheap.
Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement
In a compare and contrast thesis statement your goal should be to compare, review, and juxtapose the two points.
Example: While Judaism and Christianity are Abrahamic religions sprung from the same cultural hearth, they are different by their implementation of traditions, their realizations of religious cannons, and their perceptions of Jesus Christ.
Cause and Effect Thesis Statement
In a cause and effect thesis statement you need to explain the reason for some event or happening.
Example: The primary reason why high school bullying takes place is the fact that modern teens watch violent videos and play violent video games.