How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
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:
What is a thesis statement?
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.
Placement of the thesis statement
The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction.
Step 1: Start with a question
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:
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.
Step 3: Develop your answer
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.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
Step 4: Refine your thesis statement
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.
Types of thesis statements
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.
Frequently asked questions about thesis statements
- What is a thesis statement?
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.
- Why do I need a thesis statement?
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.
- How can I come up with a thesis statement?
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.
- Where does the thesis statement go in an essay?
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction.
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