What is a Thesis Statement?
The thesis statement is the sentence that states the main idea of a writing assignment and helps control the ideas within the paper. It is not merely a topic. It often reflects an opinion or judgment that a writer has made about a reading or personal experience. For instance: Tocqueville believed that the domestic role most women held in America was the role that gave them the most power, an idea that many would hotly dispute today.
What Makes a Strong Thesis Statement?
- A strong thesis statement gives direction to the paper and limits what you need to write about. It also functions to inform your readers of what you will discuss in the body of the paper. All paragraphs of the essay should explain, support, or argue with your thesis.
- A strong thesis statement requires proof; it is not merely a statement of fact. You should support your thesis statement with detailed supporting evidence will interest your readers and motivate them to continue reading the paper.
- Sometimes it is useful to mention your supporting points in your thesis. An example of this could be: John Updike's Trust Me is a valuable novel for a college syllabus because it allows the reader to become familiar with his writing and provides themes that are easily connected to other works. In the body of your paper, you could write a paragraph or two about each supporting idea. If you write a thesis statement like this it will often help you to keep control of your ideas.
Where Does the Thesis Statement Go?
A good practice is to put the thesis statement at the end of your introduction so you can use it to lead into the body of your paper. This allows you, as the writer, to lead up to the thesis statement instead of diving directly into the topic. If you place the thesis statement at the beginning, your reader may forget or be confused about the main idea by the time he/she reaches the end of the introduction. Remember, a good introduction conceptualizes and anticipates the thesis statement.
Tips for Writing/Drafting Thesis Statements
- Know the topic. The topic should be something you know or can learn about. It is difficult to write a thesis statement, let alone a paper, on a topic that you know nothing about. Reflecting on personal experience and/or researching will help you know more information about your topic.
- Limit your topic. Based on what you know and the required length of your final paper, limit your topic to a specific area. A broad scope will generally require a longer paper, while a narrow scope will be sufficiently proven by a shorter paper.
- Brainstorm. If you are having trouble beginning your paper or writing your thesis, take a piece of paper and write down everything that comes to mind about your topic. Did you discover any new ideas or connections? Can you separate any of the things you jotted down into categories? Do you notice any themes? Think about using ideas generated during this process to shape your thesis statement and your paper.
What is in a thesis statement?
I’ve noticed that by far, the most hits on this blog come from my post on thesis and outline generators, so I thought I’d take a minute and write about the formula for a good thesis statement.
A good thesis statement has 3 parts:
1. Presentation of the topic
2. Your opinion on the topic
3. Your roadmap for how you will prove your opinion
For example, if you were to write a thesis statement on the topic of kids watching TV, it might look something like this:
In the United States, the average child between the ages of 2 and 11 watches around 30 hours of television a week.
While there are some educational television shows out there, nothing can replace the learning that comes from loving human interaction; therefore, parents should spend more time with their kids and reduce the amount of television their children watch.
Roadmap (3 parts)
(1) More human interaction would benefit kids by helping them learn how to interact with and treat others in a real world context. (2) Children who spend more time with their parents are proven to do better in school and have larger vocabularies. (3) Also, many tasks must be learned hands-on, especially in early childhood, and a television can’t provide that type of learning experience.
(Notice that each part of the road map tied back to the opinion about learning, and didn’t just list general reasons why television watching is bad for kids. Be specific in each part of your thesis statement!)
Put all three parts together, and there you have it – a comprehensive thesis statement, letting your reader know what your paper will be about, what your opinion on the topic is, and how you will convince him or her that you are right.
Q: I don’t even know what my opinion is on the topic. How can I write my thesis statement before I know what research is out there?
A: You can’t. Wait until you have researched and synthesized the information before writing your thesis statement. Sometimes I wait until I have written the bulk of my paper before writing my thesis statement. Then I go back and tie all of the paragraphs back to the thesis statement.
Q: What is the difference between a thesis statement and an introductory paragraph?
A: Good question. An introductory paragraph can sometimes include only a thesis statement, but the better-written ones also have a grabber at the beginning, like a quote, a compelling question, or an interesting scenario. Then there is a bridge connecting the grabber to the thesis statement, and finally, the thesis statement itself.
Q: What if my paper is much more complex, and I have far more than three parts to include in my roadmap?
A: First, group your subtopics together as much as possible. Even if a section has multiple components and paragraphs, as long as all of those paragraphs relate to the same subtopic, you can mention only that main subtopic in your thesis statement roadmap.
Then, make sure that your wording is as concise as possible for your thesis statement roadmap. You only want the main idea of the subtopic in your roadmap, not the details.
Q: Why do thesis statements matter so much? Why do my professors seem to care about them?
A: A well-written thesis statement prepares your reader for the rest of your paper. It tells her what you will be proving in your paper and how you will go about proving it. Thesis statements also help you by providing you with a roadmap for your paper, as well as a central idea on which to focus.
Q: Once I’ve written my thesis statement, can I just forget about it and write the rest of the paper?
A: No. You must tie every paragraph or subtopic back to it in some way.
Posted in Paper Writing, Thesis Statements and tagged how to write a thesis statement, parts of a thesis statement, thesis statement writing help, thesis statements