If you are writing a paper for school, you will need to come up with a thesis statement. Developing a strong thesis statement is crucial in any discipline, as it sets the stage for the entire paper. Your statement must be clear, focused, and persuasive. But what is a thesis statement, and how do you go about writing it? Here are a few tips to help get you started.
What is a thesis statement?
Generally, a thesis statement is a position you will argue throughout your essay, and it will serve as your essay’s backbone. A thesis statement is not a statement of fact, and should be debatable. Then, in the body of your essay, you’ll provide the evidence for why you are taking this particular position.
The thesis statement is extremely important, as it serves as the roadmap that will guide the reader through the rest of the paper. Therefore, it needs to be concise, specific, and clear. You don’t want your reader wondering what’s to come. Rather, the reader should know exactly what point you are trying to prove, and will read further to find out why you think your position is worth considering.
It’s worth repeating. Your thesis statement needs to be specific. It shouldn’t be so broad that the reader can’t decipher which position you are taking on which topic, and it shouldn’t be so obvious that everyone agrees with it. While your thesis statement shouldn’t run on for a paragraph, it should fully describe what you think, and why.
Thesis statement format
Usually, a thesis statement is a single sentence that appears at the end of your introduction. Your introduction sets the stage, and your thesis hits home the point will you make with the rest of your paper. Your thesis statement should never get lost in the middle of another paragraph, or be indistinguishable from the rest of your introduction. It should strongly state your position, and not leave too much wiggle room for the reader’s mind to wander. The goal, though, is not necessarily to make them agree with you 100%. The strongest thesis statements are not obvious, but instead give way to discussion and consideration of new viewpoints.
Getting started on your thesis
Coming up with your thesis statement is going to take some time. You’ll need to brainstorm potential arguments you want to make in your paper, and find plenty of supporting evidence. You’ll likely go through many versions. Once you have your thesis statement, don’t get too attached as it will most likely shift as you write the body of your essay. Consider your first stab as your working thesis, and know that it’s not set in stone.
Thesis statement examples
Here are a couple of examples of weak and strong thesis statements to help get the wheels turning. Notice that the weak statements do not contain a position, argument, or answer questions like, “What are you trying to prove with this paper?” The strong statements provide detail about what point the paper will make, while still remaining concise and specific.
- Weak thesis: In this paper, I will discuss how Milton portrays heaven, earth, and hell in Paradise Lost.
- Strong thesis: In Paradise Lost, Milton creates three distinct worlds with heaven, earth, and hell, and his portrayal of each space as either chaotic or organized mirrors how that space’s inhabitants relate to God.
- Weak thesis: It can be difficult to change a child’s bad behavior.
- Strong thesis: When children misbehave, it is a far more effective method to change their behavior by using positive reinforcement rather than punishment tactics, especially as children model their behavior after their parents.
Always come back to your thesis
If your argument changes as you dive deeper into writing your essay, make sure your thesis reflects it. Don’t consider your thesis as unchangeable once you decide on one. The most important thing is that your supporting evidence points to your thesis directly, and the entire essay feels cohesive and focused.
As you are writing, ask yourself, “Does this provide context and support for my thesis?” Never stray too far from your argument, and you’ll leave your reader with a new perspective.
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