Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.
Contributors: Elyssa Tardiff, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-01-24 02:29:37
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:
An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.
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:
The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.
The paper that follows should:
- Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers
Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.
The paper that follows should:
- Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college
A thesis statement is one sentence that expresses the main idea of a research paper or essay. It makes a claim, directly answering a question. A thesis statement must be very specific, indicating statements that are about to be made in your paper and supported by specific evidence. Generally, your thesis statement can be the last line of the first paragraph in your research paper or essay.
It's worth reiterating that a good thesis statement is specific. If you find yourself using general words like "good," then you're not digging deep enough. For example, "European travel is a good way to spend your summer," is not specific enough. Why is European travel good? Further examine the heart of your topic and focus on very specific areas of European travel that you can realistically cover and support with solid evidence. "Solo European travel requires independence which, in the end, bolsters personal confidence." Now, you can hone in your research on solo travel through Europe, the need for independence, and its positive effect on personal confidence.
Finding Your Point of View
A good thesis statement is developed from the point of view of the reader. Be very careful you're not developing a topic that is of interest to you alone. This is a harsh yet necessary question to ask yourself: will my readers have any reason to care about what I'm writing? In the example above, readers might be interested in European travel but will they be interested in solo travel, and greater independence and confidence? Hopefully the answer is yes; just make sure you examine all viewpoints before investing your valuable time in a well-written piece.
A thesis statement is powerful on two fronts. First, it allows the reader to get excited about what, specifically, is coming their way. Second, it stands as the point of reference for your entire paper. Think of it as a loving mother steering her children away from danger. Essay writers run the risk of getting off track and wandering into thickly-wooded forests of needless tangents. (This is also why a well-planned outline is essential.) However, a strong thesis statement will help keep you in check; have you wandered off topic?
Thesis Statement Examples: Bad vs. Good
Bad: Everyone should exercise.
Why should I? What's in it for me?
Good: Americans should add exercise to their daily morning routine because it not only keeps their bodies at a healthy weight but also reduces the risk of high blood pressure.
Here, we've made several specifications i.e. Americans (not everyone), the morning routine (not the evening), weight maintenance, and high blood pressure prevention. Your research actually becomes easier when you have very specific objectives.
Bad: High levels of alcohol consumption are bad for you.
This is too broad. What are the specific detriments of alcohol consumption that you would like to discuss?
Good: High levels of alcohol consumption have detrimental effects on your personal health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.
Notice we got very specific in our reasons why. In your thesis statement, you don't need to state every single detriment you're going to lay out (in fact, you shouldn't as it will risk becoming a run-on sentence) but you can point to the main areas you will explore.
Bad: Reading can develop a child's analytical mind.
Words like "can," aren't strong enough. This thesis statement begs the question of how? If you're about to write several paragraphs (or pages) about a topic make sure you can confidently defend every point you make.
Good: Reading develops a child's mind by fostering comprehension skills, increasing vocabulary, and exposing them to new worlds they might not otherwise encounter.
Now, we've not just stated that reading is good, we've provided a sampling of all the benefits we're about to bring to light in our paper.
Bad: All retirees should relocate to Florida.
Your research paper or essay will need to delve into numerous supporting claims. This broad thesis statement runs the risk of allowing you to go off on several tangents.
Good: Retirees should relocate to Florida, where 75% of Americans choose to settle, because you will afford yourself the opportunity to develop a wide array of friendships.
From here, you can introduce a paragraph on the importance of friendship and then cite studies or testimonials describing how people can discover these important new relationships.
Bad: The Internet has improved the lives of many.
Again, while readers may agree with this and your statement may be true, how has the Internet improved people’s lives? Also, you should run your thesis statement past the "What's in it for me" test. Why should readers care?
Good: The Internet serves as a means of expediently connecting people all across the globe, fostering new friendships and an exchange of ideas that wouldn't have occurred prior to its inception.
While the Internet offers a plethora of benefits, we're choosing to hone in on its ability to foster new friendships and exchange ideas. We'd also have to prove how this couldn't have happened prior to the Internet's inception – and that is good. The tighter your focus, the better your paper.
Bad: Organ donors should be financially compensated.
Why? What happens to them that causes you to take this stance?
Good: Given the grueling surgery and lifelong changes they endure, kidney donors should be financially compensated for their act of self-sacrifice.
There are many forms of living organ donation. As with any good thesis, you want to get as specific as possible. Now, our stance is clear and the reader will understand that we're about to describe the grueling process of kidney donation as well as any forthcoming lifestyle changes.
Always Be Specific
When searching for a new home, realtors will tell you there are three important factors: location, location, and location. When developing your one-sentence thesis statement, it is important for you to be: specific, specific, specific. Write your thesis statement once and then rewrite it again with greater specificity. Also, make sure your audience will want to learn these new facts and possibly embrace these new opinions. Now, you have a compass for your entire paper, keeping you safely on course.