How to Write a Thesis Statement: Complete Writing Guide

Posted: October 5th, 2021

Every paper you write, whether it is a 10-page research paper or a 500-word essay, needs to have a thesis statement. This is because the main idea of your paper should be clearly outlined early on so that the reader knows where you are going with this piece and how they can expect to get there as well.

Writing strong thesis statements is an exercise in knowing what to say and what not to say. A good sentence starts with evidence and leads into interpretation , such as: “A study shows that keeping a journal during stressful times helps people cope with their emotions.” A bad sentence starts with interpretation and ends up meaning nothing, such as: “Keeping a journal during stressful times helps people cope.” The first has specific details like hard data, which strengthen its meaning. The second has pretty words but no substance.

Writing a thesis statement is about knowing how to be specific and avoiding generalizations or assumptions . Don’t say: “Businesses should focus on the customer service experience.” Say instead: “A study shows that customers will spend more money at businesses with better customer service.” The first statement describes what “businesses” do in the abstract while the second gives a concrete example of what one company can do to make their practices stand out from competitors.

So before you start writing your next paper, make sure you understand why a good thesis statement matters and how it can make a difference in your work!

What Is a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a sentence in an essay or other work that states the main point of the writing. A thesis statement can be several sentences long but it must contain only one, essential idea. It often appears at the end of introductory paragraphs or at the beginning of body paragraphs.

The American Psychological Association (APA) style guide recommends that every paper have a “conclusive” thesis statement, which includes one idea and contains no conditions, qualifiers nor exceptions to the rule. The standard length for a thesis statement in APA style is five words.[1]

Why It Is so Important

A thesis statement is a sentence that states what the main point of your article is. It’s sometimes called an argument, and it can be about anything: a person, a place or thing, an idea. Some thesis statements are debatable because they may not contain information related to truth value; however, most often, thesis statements do state truth values that you as the writer perceive as fact. Thesis statements serve as the central structure for an essay and help readers understand its direction.

The two main purposes of a thesis statement are to explain what the topic of your essay will be about and to give readers some sense of where you stand on this topic . Without a proper thesis statement, readers might have trouble understanding why you’re writing your essay or why they should read it.

When you’re first starting to write an essay, your thesis statement might change along the way because its main purpose is to help you organize and develop your ideas in a thought-out manner. However, when writing a thesis statement for an academic paper, such as when applying for college or university or applying to join the military, it must remain consistent throughout all stages of development.

Can a Thesis Statement Be a Question?

A thesis statement is defined as “an expression of your opinion, argument, or theory about a subject” ( However, an academic essay always revolves around the presentation of evidence that supports that thesis statement. The thesis is not meant to be the question at hand; it is supposed to be an answer.

Many students are taught that they should include a question in their thesis statement because it makes them sound more intelligent and interesting. One example could be: Should literature review articles ever cite Wikipedia? The issue with this is when there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove if this should or shouldn’t happen. This type of thesis statement fails to offer any real argument towards finding an answer to the research question and sounds more like an opinion. This detracts from the purpose of starting an essay with a question.

You can use a thesis statement that asks a question, but make sure to follow it up with solid reasoning and evidence in your paper to support this thesis statement as an answer. If you cannot prove what should happen, then simply do not present the question as a thesis statement as if you know the right answer because there is no right or wrong answer to any research question; there is only your argument and supporting evidence either proving it true or false.

Length Requirements: How Long Should a Thesis Statement Be?

A thesis statement is one of the most important parts of an essay. It tells the reader what the essay will be about and can help organize, or sometimes even determine, how you write it. Without a thesis statement every paragraph would essentially just be a separate point and not part of a whole cohesive argument.

The first step to writing a thesis statement is knowing what constitutes one and why they’re so important for your essay. This article aims to answer those questions by looking at some common advice on how long it should be as well as why length matters. Understanding these aspects will allow you to know where to begin when creating your own thesis statement and the lengths of others may even help guide you in your writing process.

One way of thinking about a thesis statement is that it should answer the “So What?” question. As an author, you need to tell your reader why what you are writing matters. This will be especially important when you are writing an argumentative essay. If you can’t convince your reader of the significance of your point, then there won’t be much else you can do.

However, this isn’t to say that your thesis must always be something like “Eating cat food is bad for you.” It’s more than likely that if by the end of the paper all you’ve done is prove that eating cat food is bad for someone (which most people probably already know), then your audience will not feel like anything new has been learned and neither will you. Saying that something is bad for someone doesn’t really answer the “So What?” question. What you need to do is give your reader a reason, or reasons, why it’s important to know this fact.

Therefore, rather than just being a simple statement of what you will be talking about in your essay, a thesis statement should instead answer the question of why your readers should care about what you are writing about at all. It needs to convince them that knowing this idea matters and has significance beyond just the scope of the paper itself.

One way of doing this is by including both sides of an argument in your thesis statement. This type of technique requires that there actually be two sides to every argument so you’ll have to make sure that your topic is debatable (i.e., there is more than one opinion). If you are writing about something like how eating carrots is good, then you won’t be able to do this because it’s not an open debate. Here the argument only goes in one direction and therefore doesn’t need both sides included in your thesis statement.

On the other hand, if you were writing about whether or not abortions should be legal, then the thesis statement could say that “Abortions should be legal.” Since there are people who hold different opinions on abortion, this would imply that part of the paper will include why they think abortions should not be legal too so that readers understand both arguments before coming to a conclusion.

The length of a thesis statement depends on the type and depth of argument that you’re trying to make in your paper. It should really be as long as it needs to be to include all sides of an argument; however, sometimes people try too hard to include everything and end up making their thesis statements far too wordy. This is when “thesis creep” happens – when the blind pursuit for thoroughness leads to a bloated, overarching statement with no concise or straightforward point.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one set length for every essay; much again depends on the type and topic of your writing and what you’re trying to achieve. However, if your goal is just an introduction then you can keep it quite short: “The influence of technology has dramatically changed the way we live.” If you’re more concerned with exploring an idea, then it can go a little longer: “The influence of technology has dramatically changed the way we live (how many people do you know who actually communicate with others by phone anymore?)”

However, if your paper is argumentative and does require more of a thesis statement, then it should include both sides of the argument. This type usually starts out with about three sentences of preface material before transitioning into why one side is correct (“For better or worse, technology has undeniably changed our lives”) and then closing with how important it is that readers understand this point (“But this change brings just as many social ills as advances”).

Elements of a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement expresses the main point of an essay. An effective thesis statement is focused, specific, and achievable. A thesis statement should be precise enough that readers can not only identify what you are arguing, but also see how the evidence in your argument supports your claim.

An element of a thesis statement includes:

· Emphasizing key words

· Specificity – more than simply stating an idea; it must describe an actual position

· Concreteness

A thesis statement should include three important parts to be effective: 1) issue or question 2) answer 3) reasoning . Thesis statements vary in their level of difficulty from very simple statements to complex arguments. In general, however, a thesis statement should:

· Be 1-3 sentences in length

· Express a complete thought.

Every essay has a main issue or question and an answer to it. The thesis statement expresses the main idea of the paper, especially when it is framed as a question. It starts with what or who, followed by how or why . For example: “The character trait of courage was evident in Hamlet because he did not run away from his problems.” [Elements of a Thesis Statement] This statement includes all three elements of a thesis statement. First, there is a descriptive word – courage. Second, it answers the implied question by explaining that this trait was evident in Hamlet because he faced his problems instead of running away from them. Finally, it is very specific because it states that Hamlet’s courage was evident because he faced his problems instead of running away from them. The more specific your thesis statement, the easier it will be to write about a limited subject .

If you are having difficulty coming up with a thesis statement on your own, try brainstorming ideas first and then look for any commonalities among them. Pay attention to how they are alike or different . You can also ask yourself these questions:

· What are my opinions about this subject?

· What important words come to mind?

· How others see this topic?

Once you have an idea of what kind of paper you need to write, try writing a draft of your thesis statement in the middle of your paper. This will help ensure that you have enough material to support your argument .

To get ideas for writing effective thesis statements, be sure to read lots of literature examples, such as books or short stories or poems—or even advertisements . You can also look at criticism of literature examples on the Internet. Another place you can check out ideas is by looking at newspaper editorials. Read several different editorials on one issue and notice how each writer develops their own opinion about it .

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Writing a thesis statement is one of the most important parts of writing an essay. A thesis statement should not be too broad or too narrow, but just right for your argument. The following steps will help you write a thesis statement that’s golden!

Remember to choose an appropriate title for your paper.

Step One : Make a claim

First, think about what your claim is going to be or what your opinion is on the issue at hand. This should be something you’ve thought about before so you don’t waste valuable time brainstorming ideas instead of writing them down. The idea here is easy: if it has to do with anything (1) controversial (2) deconstructed (3) historical, then make sure you know what your stance is and stick with it for the rest of your essay.

Step Two : Back up your claim

Think about why you believe that this is a valid claim or opinion to make. Think about what knowledge or expertise you have on the subject, and what evidence you can use to support the argument that supports your claim. Take into consideration all of these points before moving forward. Your thesis statement should not be too broad nor too narrow, but just right for your argument in terms of scope. And don’t forget to take into consideration any counterarguments people might throw at you!

For instance, if I were writing an article titled “How to Write a Thesis Statement,” my thesis would probably read something like: A thesis statement should encapsulate your argument.

Step Three : Write a thesis statement

After you’ve thought about your claim and evidence and considered all possible counterarguments, it’s time to actually write the thesis statement! A good thesis should follow these guidelines:

(1) It should be specific. You should know exactly what you’re arguing or claiming in one sentence.

(2) Your audience should understand just as quickly as well as know exactly what point you’re trying to prove by the end of this sentence. If they don’t, then edit it until it does!

(3) The subject of your sentence needs to match up with the topic of your paper (in this case: “How to write a thesis statement”). Here are some examples:

–“Thesis statements should encompass the argument of a paper.”

–“Writing thesis statements is important when presenting an argument.”

–“A thesis statement should be specific enough for your reader to understand what you’re arguing throughout the paper, but also broad enough to where they know exactly what point you’re trying to prove in one sentence.”

Just make sure your audience knows what you’re saying and that it relates back to the title of your essay! It’s simple once you learn how! [ARTICLE END]

Disclaimer: The steps may vary from assignment to assignment, depending on scope/length. Please consult your professor for clarification. This article is not meant as a template; it is only here for demonstration purposes.

Thesis Statement Examples & Template

primarily because Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans wanted to abolish slavery while the Democrats were determined to preserve it .

Keywords: Article summary , article writing guidelines , article outline template , artical writing tips , background information , exampleThe thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes the main point of an entire research paper. It acts as a topic sentence, giving readers an idea of what to expect from the content that follows. A thesis statement should be written at the end of your introduction , but it can also be included in any other section throughout your assignment if you want to reemphasize your main point or break down multiple points into subtopics.

This article provides information about how to develop different types of effective thesis statements and examples for each type. We’ll look at general statements, cause/effect statements, argumentative statements, and definition-statement examples . If you need even more examples or guidance on developing your own strong thesis statement essays , please see our thesis statement examples page .

To develop an effective thesis statement for your essay, ask yourself these questions:

What is the point of my essay?

How can I prove that my topic is important or relevant?

Am I taking a position on the issue or just providing an explanation of it?

What are some common misconceptions about my topic?

You should only have one thesis statement in your introductory paragraph. Breaking up this main point into subtopics within the same paragraph will not effectively communicate to readers how your ideas are organized and related to each other. When you begin developing ideas for each subtopic, be sure to organize them in a coherent manner so that they contribute to proving your thesis. That means avoiding unrelated points, subjective statements, and irrelevant examples.

Developing a thesis statement: 4 steps

1. Determine the point of your essay and write a working thesis .

2. Think about what you want to prove or explain by the end of your paper and be sure that it supports your main thesis. Be as specific as possible for maximum effectiveness.

3. Create three common misconceptions about the topic and include reasons as to why they are incorrect .

4. Make sure all ideas in your paper contribute to proving your original thesis statement, avoiding unrelated points , subjective statements , and irrelevant examples . You can also see here for 50 more example thesis statements! Thesis Statement Examples & Templates – Sample Essays

General Thesis Statement:

A general thesis statement is one that is not focused on proving a particular point, but instead focuses on the subject itself. Often times, these statements are used in essays about literature, history, and other “non-fiction” writing. Here are some examples:

The Civil War had far reaching consequences for both the North and South. (This statement could be part of an essay about different aspects or topics related to the Civil War.)

The Industrial Revolution transformed England from an agrarian society to one dominated by cities and factories.

Specific Thesis Statement:

When you want to prove something specific with your paper, try using a more specific thesis statement. One way of doing this would be statistics or facts in your thesis statement. Here are some examples:

The earliest known forms of life to appear on Earth were bacteria and algae, which evolved over 3 billion years ago.

Before the Civil War, free African Americans outnumbered those who were enslaved by a ratio of ten to one . Cause/ Effect Thesis Statement:

Another way to prove something specific is through cause and effect reasoning. If you want your essay to be based on this type of reasoning, try using a thesis statement that includes “because” or “since.” Use these types of thesis statements to explain what events caused other events or why certain things happened in history. For example:

One reason that Native American populations were so easily defeated after the arrival of Europeans was because they had never encountered horses before.

Theory/ Conceptual Thesis Statement:

Conceptual thesis statements are used when explaining certain concepts, theories, and systems in your paper. These types of thesis statements often start with words like “is,” “may,” or “should.” For example:

One potential consequence of climate change is increased rainfall throughout the world . Argumentative/ Controversial Thesis Statement:

Argumentative essays need argumentative thesis statements. Try to avoid making objective claims in these types of papers because they will not help you prove anything. For example:

Violent video games do not cause violent behavior. Instead, the root causes of violence should be targeted for a real solution . Definition-Statement Examples :

Definition thesis statements are plans to give a detailed description of some object, idea, or phenomenon. These are very common in the sciences, for instance when defining some medical term that is being considered for the first time. They can also be used in humanities papers, for example to describe what someone means by using a specific word or phrase. Here are some examples of definition thesis statements:

The trans-Alaska pipeline is an oil pipeline which runs 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s northern coast to the port of Valdez on the state’s southern coast .

A “troll” is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

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