The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 21, 2023.

A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.

Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .

Thesis template

You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.

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Table of contents

Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.

You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.

  • A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
  • A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
  • In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
  • In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.

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what is an effective thesis

The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:

  • Your discipline
  • Your theoretical approach

Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.

In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section ,  results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a short list of thesis examples to help you get started.

  • Example thesis #1:   “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
  • Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.

The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:

  • Your full title
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date.

Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

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An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

  • Survivorship bias
  • Self-serving bias
  • Availability heuristic
  • Halo effect
  • Hindsight bias
  • Deep learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.

Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:

  • Plan to attend graduate school soon
  • Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
  • Are considering a career in research
  • Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience

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Writing Tutorial Services

How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
  • to better organize and develop your argument
  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
  • deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
  • express one main idea
  • assert your conclusions about a subject

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

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Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)

A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay.

Steps in Constructing a Thesis

First, analyze your primary sources.  Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)

Once you have a working thesis, write it down.  There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have.

Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction.  A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb.

Anticipate the counterarguments.  Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)

This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counterarguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counterargument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below.

Some Caveats and Some Examples

A thesis is never a question.  Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water.

A thesis is never a list.  "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational.  An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.

An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim.  "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim."

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible.  Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent."

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UMGC Effective Writing Center Designing an Effective Thesis

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Key Concepts

  • A thesis is a simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic.
  • A thesis provides a roadmap to what follows in the paper.
  • A thesis is like a wheel's hub--everything revolves around it and is attached to it.

After your prewriting activities-- such as assignment analysis and outlining--you should be ready to take the next step: writing a thesis statement. Although some of your assignments will provide a focus for you, it is still important for your college career and especially for your professional career to be able to state a satisfactory controlling idea or thesis that unifies your thoughts and materials for the reader.

Characteristics of an Effective Thesis

A thesis consists of two main parts: your overall topic and your position on that topic. Here are some example thesis statements that combine topic and position:

Sample Thesis Statements

Importance of tone.

Tone is established in the wording of your thesis, which should match the characteristics of your audience. For example, if you are a concerned citizen proposing a new law to your city's board of supervisors about drunk driving, you would not want to write this:

“It’s time to get the filthy drunks off the street and from behind the wheel: I demand that you pass a mandatory five-year license suspension for every drunk who gets caught driving. Do unto them before they do unto us!”

However, if you’re speaking at a concerned citizen’s meeting and you’re trying to rally voter support, such emotional language could help motivate your audience.

Using Your Thesis to Map Your Paper for the Reader

In academic writing, the thesis statement is often used to signal the paper's overall structure to the reader. An effective thesis allows the reader to predict what will be encountered in the support paragraphs. Here are some examples:

Use the Thesis to Map

Three potential problems to avoid.

Because your thesis is the hub of your essay, it has to be strong and effective. Here are three common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Don’t confuse an announcement with a thesis.

In an announcement, the writer declares personal intentions about the paper instead stating a thesis with clear point of view or position:

Write a Thesis, Not an Announcement

 2. a statement of fact does not provide a point of view and is not a thesis..

An introduction needs a strong, clear position statement. Without one, it will be hard for you to develop your paper with relevant arguments and evidence.

Don't Confuse a Fact with a Thesis

3. avoid overly broad thesis statements.

Broad statements contain vague, general terms that do not provide a clear focus for the essay.

Use the Thesis to Provide Focus

Practice writing an effective thesis.

OK. Time to write a thesis for your paper. What is your topic? What is your position on that topic? State both clearly in a thesis sentence that helps to map your response for the reader.

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Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

what is an effective thesis

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

  • Effective Thesis Statements

What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”
  • A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay
  • A standard place for your thesis is at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • A thesis is an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel that others might dispute.
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus for your argument, one to which every part of your paper refers in the development of your position.
  • A thesis keeps the writer centered on the matter at hand and reduces the risk of intellectual wandering. Likewise, a thesis provides the reader with a “road map,” clearly laying out the intellectual route ahead.
  • A thesis statement avoids the first person (“I believe,” “In my opinion”).

A simple equation for what a thesis might look like this:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis Specific Topic+ Attitude/Angle/Argument=Thesis

Steps To Write Effective Thesis Statement

  • Choose a prompt or, if appropriate, select a topic: television violence and children
  • What are the effects of television violence on children?
  • Violence on television increases aggressive behavior in children.
  • Avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”.
  • Lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis).
  • While poor parenting and easy access to weapons may act as contributory factors, in fact when children are exposed to television violence they become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, are more fearful of the world around them, and are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

The Components of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Even if you have a terrific insight concerning a topic, it won’t be worth much unless you can logically and persuasively support it in the body of your essay. A thesis is the evolutionary result of a thinking process, not a miraculous creation. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment .
  • Substantial – Your thesis should be a claim for which it is easy to answer every reader’s question: “So what?”
  • Supportable – A thesis must be a claim that you can prove with the evidence at hand (e.g., evidence from your texts or from your research). Your claim should not be outlandish, nor should it be mere personal opinion or preference (e.g., “Frederick Douglass is my favorite historical figure.”) It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • Precise – It is focused and specific. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing everything. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • Arguable – It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.
  • Relevant – If you are responding to an assignment, the thesis should answer the question your teacher has posed. In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc.
  • Aware of Counters – It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the reader with too much information.

Questions To Review Your Thesis

  • “Do I answer the question?” This might seem obvious, but it’s worth asking. No matter how intriguing or dazzling, a thesis that doesn’t answer the question is not a good thesis!
  • “Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?” If not, then you probably do not have a strong argument. Theses that are too vague often have this problem. If your thesis contains vague words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what makes something “successful”?
  • Would anyone possible care about this thesis? So What? Does your thesis present a position or an interpretation worth pursuing? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • “Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?” Just as a thesis that doesn’t answer the question ultimately fails, so does a thesis that isn’t properly supported with evidence and reasoning.
  • Does my thesis statement adequately address the direction words of the prompt: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, etc.?

Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one . Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph . This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length , no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement . It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support . It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

Progressively Complex Thesis Statements

  • Effective Thesis Statements. Provided by : Writing Guide Wikispaces. Located at : https://writingguide.wikispaces.com/Effective+Thesis+Statements . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • How to Write a Definition Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

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This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

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:

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:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

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9.1 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

Learning objectives.

  • Develop a strong, clear thesis statement with the proper elements.
  • Revise your thesis statement.

Have you ever known a person who was not very good at telling stories? You probably had trouble following his train of thought as he jumped around from point to point, either being too brief in places that needed further explanation or providing too many details on a meaningless element. Maybe he told the end of the story first, then moved to the beginning and later added details to the middle. His ideas were probably scattered, and the story did not flow very well. When the story was over, you probably had many questions.

Just as a personal anecdote can be a disorganized mess, an essay can fall into the same trap of being out of order and confusing. That is why writers need a thesis statement to provide a specific focus for their essay and to organize what they are about to discuss in the body.

Just like a topic sentence summarizes a single paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes an entire essay. It tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point. It is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

Elements of a Thesis Statement

For every essay you write, you must focus on a central idea. This idea stems from a topic you have chosen or been assigned or from a question your teacher has asked. It is not enough merely to discuss a general topic or simply answer a question with a yes or no. You have to form a specific opinion, and then articulate that into a controlling idea —the main idea upon which you build your thesis.

Remember that a thesis is not the topic itself, but rather your interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic your professor gives you, you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful and confident.

A thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of your introduction. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

A Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement contains the following qualities.

Specificity. A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic. For example, health care is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of that topic, such as options for individuals without health care coverage.

Precision. A strong thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and to remain focused on the topic. If the specific topic is options for individuals without health care coverage, then your precise thesis statement must make an exact claim about it, such as that limited options exist for those who are uninsured by their employers. You must further pinpoint what you are going to discuss regarding these limited effects, such as whom they affect and what the cause is.

Ability to be argued. A thesis statement must present a relevant and specific argument. A factual statement often is not considered arguable. Be sure your thesis statement contains a point of view that can be supported with evidence.

Ability to be demonstrated. For any claim you make in your thesis, you must be able to provide reasons and examples for your opinion. You can rely on personal observations in order to do this, or you can consult outside sources to demonstrate that what you assert is valid. A worthy argument is backed by examples and details.

Forcefulness. A thesis statement that is forceful shows readers that you are, in fact, making an argument. The tone is assertive and takes a stance that others might oppose.

Confidence. In addition to using force in your thesis statement, you must also use confidence in your claim. Phrases such as I feel or I believe actually weaken the readers’ sense of your confidence because these phrases imply that you are the only person who feels the way you do. In other words, your stance has insufficient backing. Taking an authoritative stance on the matter persuades your readers to have faith in your argument and open their minds to what you have to say.

Even in a personal essay that allows the use of first person, your thesis should not contain phrases such as in my opinion or I believe . These statements reduce your credibility and weaken your argument. Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude.

On a separate sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following topics. Remember to make each statement specific, precise, demonstrable, forceful and confident.

  • Texting while driving
  • The legal drinking age in the United States
  • Steroid use among professional athletes

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

Each of the following thesis statements meets several of the following requirements:

  • Specificity
  • Ability to be argued
  • Ability to be demonstrated
  • Forcefulness
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxon in the play Fences symbolize the challenge of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.
  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet spoils the outcome for the audience and weakens the plot.
  • J. D. Salinger’s character in Catcher in the Rye , Holden Caulfield, is a confused rebel who voices his disgust with phonies, yet in an effort to protect himself, he acts like a phony on many occasions.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.

You can find thesis statements in many places, such as in the news; in the opinions of friends, coworkers or teachers; and even in songs you hear on the radio. Become aware of thesis statements in everyday life by paying attention to people’s opinions and their reasons for those opinions. Pay attention to your own everyday thesis statements as well, as these can become material for future essays.

Now that you have read about the contents of a good thesis statement and have seen examples, take a look at the pitfalls to avoid when composing your own thesis:

A thesis is weak when it is simply a declaration of your subject or a description of what you will discuss in your essay.

Weak thesis statement: My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

A thesis is weak when it makes an unreasonable or outrageous claim or insults the opposing side.

Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

A thesis is weak when it contains an obvious fact or something that no one can disagree with or provides a dead end.

Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

A thesis is weak when the statement is too broad.

Weak thesis statement: The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

Read the following thesis statements. On a separate piece of paper, identify each as weak or strong. For those that are weak, list the reasons why. Then revise the weak statements so that they conform to the requirements of a strong thesis.

  • The subject of this paper is my experience with ferrets as pets.
  • The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil.
  • Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who lived in Baltimore during the nineteenth century.
  • In this essay, I will give you lots of reasons why slot machines should not be legalized in Baltimore.
  • Despite his promises during his campaign, President Kennedy took few executive measures to support civil rights legislation.
  • Because many children’s toys have potential safety hazards that could lead to injury, it is clear that not all children’s toys are safe.
  • My experience with young children has taught me that I want to be a disciplinary parent because I believe that a child without discipline can be a parent’s worst nightmare.

Writing at Work

Often in your career, you will need to ask your boss for something through an e-mail. Just as a thesis statement organizes an essay, it can also organize your e-mail request. While your e-mail will be shorter than an essay, using a thesis statement in your first paragraph quickly lets your boss know what you are asking for, why it is necessary, and what the benefits are. In short body paragraphs, you can provide the essential information needed to expand upon your request.

Thesis Statement Revision

Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Remember from Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” that your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement , an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

The best way to revise your thesis statement is to ask questions about it and then examine the answers to those questions. By challenging your own ideas and forming definite reasons for those ideas, you grow closer to a more precise point of view, which you can then incorporate into your thesis statement.

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

1. Pinpoint and replace all nonspecific words, such as people , everything , society , or life , with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Working thesis: Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis: Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use and be appreciated for their talents.

The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and work hard , the writer can better focus his or her research and gain more direction in his or her writing.

2. Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis: The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income, instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke . The writer should ask himself or herself questions similar to the 5WH questions. (See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information on the 5WH questions.) By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

3. Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Working thesis: Kansas City schoolteachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis: The Kansas City legislature cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask himself or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue:

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • What is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results

4. Omit any general claims that are hard to support.

Working thesis: Today’s teenage girls are too sexualized.

Revised thesis: Teenage girls who are captivated by the sexual images on MTV are conditioned to believe that a woman’s worth depends on her sensuality, a feeling that harms their self-esteem and behavior.

It is true that some young women in today’s society are more sexualized than in the past, but that is not true for all girls. Many girls have strict parents, dress appropriately, and do not engage in sexual activity while in middle school and high school. The writer of this thesis should ask the following questions:

  • Which teenage girls?
  • What constitutes “too” sexualized?
  • Why are they behaving that way?
  • Where does this behavior show up?
  • What are the repercussions?

In the first section of Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” , you determined your purpose for writing and your audience. You then completed a freewriting exercise about an event you recently experienced and chose a general topic to write about. Using that general topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions. After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

Now, on a separate sheet of paper, write down your working thesis statement. Identify any weaknesses in this sentence and revise the statement to reflect the elements of a strong thesis statement. Make sure it is specific, precise, arguable, demonstrable, forceful, and confident.

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

In your career you may have to write a project proposal that focuses on a particular problem in your company, such as reinforcing the tardiness policy. The proposal would aim to fix the problem; using a thesis statement would clearly state the boundaries of the problem and tell the goals of the project. After writing the proposal, you may find that the thesis needs revision to reflect exactly what is expressed in the body. Using the techniques from this chapter would apply to revising that thesis.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper essays require a thesis statement to provide a specific focus and suggest how the essay will be organized.
  • A thesis statement is your interpretation of the subject, not the topic itself.
  • A strong thesis is specific, precise, forceful, confident, and is able to be demonstrated.
  • A strong thesis challenges readers with a point of view that can be debated and can be supported with evidence.
  • A weak thesis is simply a declaration of your topic or contains an obvious fact that cannot be argued.
  • Depending on your topic, it may or may not be appropriate to use first person point of view.
  • Revise your thesis by ensuring all words are specific, all ideas are exact, and all verbs express action.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing Effective Thesis Statements

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A good thesis statement can be the difference between making an argument about something, and simply re-stating what someone else has already said. In your thesis statement, you want to make a claim that you will continue to develop throughout the paper. It should represent your own ideas–perhaps in response to something someone else has said–but ultimately, it is your argument. As such, a good thesis statement should have 3 main traits. A good thesis:

  • Can be developed with evidence throughout your paper. In other words, you should be able to say it in 1-2 sentences, but that shouldn’t be all that there is to say on the topic.
  • Is argumentative, not in a negative sense, but in that it can be supported and may have counter-arguments. Test this by asking “Could I argue the reverse of this?”
  • Should explain what, why, and how. What are you arguing? Why are you arguing that? And how will you show it? Think of the “what” as your basic position, the “why” as your reasoning, and the “how” as your evidence (theories, sources, etc.)

In all, the thesis is the backbone of your paper. In the rest of your paper, something in each paragraph should directly relate back to the paper. If you get lost in the writing process, you’ll want to be able to come back to your thesis and say, “this is what I’m arguing.” And remember, thesis statements can evolve with the paper. Once you’ve got your draft written, read through and make sure that what you’re saying in your paper matches up with what your thesis statement says you’re going to be saying.

H ere are a few helpful links to get you started:

  • https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/01/

The Purdue OWL (Purdue University) is a great source for writing, and this page goes into detail on the different types of thesis statements.

  • http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/thesis-statements/

Here’s another great source from the University of North Carolina with some tips and examples of strong thesis statements.

It can be useful to play around with and see examples, but DO NOT use it to create your actual thesis, as this may be considered plagiarism!

Best of luck with your writing endeavors!

–Your friends at the PLU Writing Center

what is an effective thesis

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5.1: Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

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  • Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

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Have you ever known a person who was not very good at telling stories? You probably had trouble following his train of thought as he jumped around from point to point, either being too brief in places that needed further explanation or providing too many details on a meaningless element. Maybe he told the end of the story first, then moved to the beginning and later added details to the middle. His ideas were probably scattered, and the story did not flow very well. When the story was over, you probably had many questions.

Just as a personal anecdote can be a disorganized mess, an essay can fall into the same trap of being out of order and confusing. That is why writers need a thesis statement to provide a specific focus for their essay and to organize what they are about to discuss in the body.

Just like a topic sentence summarizes a single paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes an entire essay. It tells the reader the point you want to make in your essay, while the essay itself supports that point. It is like a signpost that signals the essay’s destination. You should form your thesis before you begin to organize an essay, but you may find that it needs revision as the essay develops.

Elements of a Thesis Statement

For every essay you write, you must focus on a central idea. This idea stems from a topic you have chosen or been assigned or from a question your teacher has asked. It is not enough merely to discuss a general topic or simply answer a question with a yes or no. You have to form a specific opinion, and then articulate that into a controlling idea—the main idea upon which you build your thesis.

Remember that a thesis is not the topic itself, but rather your interpretation of the question or subject. For whatever topic your professor gives you, you must ask yourself, “What do I want to say about it?” Asking and then answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is precise, forceful and confident.

A thesis is one sentence long and appears toward the end of your introduction. It is specific and focuses on one to three points of a single idea—points that are able to be demonstrated in the body. It forecasts the content of the essay and suggests how you will organize your information. Remember that a thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather dissects it.

A Strong Thesis Statement

A strong thesis statement contains the following qualities.

  • Specificity. A thesis statement must concentrate on a specific area of a general topic. As you may recall, the creation of a thesis statement begins when you choose a broad subject and then narrow down its parts until you pinpoint a specific aspect of that topic. For example, health care is a broad topic, but a proper thesis statement would focus on a specific area of that topic, such as options for individuals without health care coverage.
  • Precision. A strong thesis statement must be precise enough to allow for a coherent argument and to remain focused on the topic. If the specific topic is options for individuals without health care coverage, then your precise thesis statement must make an exact claim about it, such as that limited options exist for those who are uninsured by their employers. You must further pinpoint what you are going to discuss regarding these limited effects, such as whom they affect and what the cause is.
  • Ability to be argued. A thesis statement must present a relevant and specific argument. A factual statement often is not considered arguable. Be sure your thesis statement contains a point of view that can be supported with evidence.
  • Ability to be demonstrated. For any claim you make in your thesis, you must be able to provide reasons and examples for your opinion. You can rely on personal observations in order to do this, or you can consult outside sources to demonstrate that what you assert is valid. A worthy argument is backed by examples and details.
  • Forcefulness. A thesis statement that is forceful shows readers that you are, in fact, making an argument. The tone is assertive and takes a stance that others might oppose.
  • Confidence. In addition to using force in your thesis statement, you must also use confidence in your claim. Phrases such as I feel or I believe actually weaken the readers’ sense of your confidence because these phrases imply that you are the only person who feels the way you do. In other words, your stance has insufficient backing. Taking an authoritative stance on the matter persuades your readers to have faith in your argument and open their minds to what you have to say.

Even in a personal essay that allows the use of first person, your thesis should not contain phrases such as in my opinion or I believe . These statements reduce your credibility and weaken your argument. Your opinion is more convincing when you use a firm attitude.

On a separate sheet of paper, write a thesis statement for each of the following topics. Remember to make each statement specific, precise, demonstrable, forceful and confident.

  • Texting while driving
  • The legal drinking age in the United States
  • Steroid use among professional athletes

Examples of Appropriate Thesis Statements

Each of the following thesis statements meets several of the following requirements:

  • Specificity
  • Ability to be argued
  • Ability to be demonstrated
  • Forcefulness
  • The societal and personal struggles of Troy Maxon in the play Fences symbolize the challenge of black males who lived through segregation and integration in the United States.
  • Closing all American borders for a period of five years is one solution that will tackle illegal immigration.
  • Shakespeare’s use of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet spoils the outcome for the audience and weakens the plot.
  • J. D. Salinger’s character in Catcher in the Rye , Holden Caulfield, is a confused rebel who voices his disgust with phonies, yet in an effort to protect himself, he acts like a phony on many occasions.
  • Compared to an absolute divorce, no-fault divorce is less expensive, promotes fairer settlements, and reflects a more realistic view of the causes for marital breakdown.
  • Exposing children from an early age to the dangers of drug abuse is a sure method of preventing future drug addicts.
  • In today’s crumbling job market, a high school diploma is not significant enough education to land a stable, lucrative job.

Five Ways of Looking at a Thesis

1. a thesis creates an argument that builds from one point to the next, giving the paper a direction that the audience can follow as the paper develops..

This point often separates the best theses from the pack. A good thesis can prevent the two weakest ways of organizing a critical paper: the pile of information and the plot summary with comments. A paper that presents a pile of information will frequently introduce new paragraphs with transitions that simply indicate the addition of more stuff. (“Another character who exhibits these traits is X,” for instance.) Consider these examples:

A: The Rules and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey both tell women how to act.

B: By looking at The Rules , a modern conduct book for women, we can see how Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is itself like a conduct book, questioning the rules for social success in her society and offering a new model.

Example A would almost inevitably lead to a paper organized as a pile of information. A plot summary with comments follows the chronological development of a text while picking out the same element of every segment; a transition in such a paper might read, “In the next scene, the color blue also figures prominently.” Both of these approaches constitute too much of a good thing. Papers must compile evidence, of course, and following the chronology of a text can sometimes help a reader keep track of a paper’s argument.

The best papers, however, will develop according to a more complex logic articulated in a strong thesis. Example B above would lead a paper to organize its evidence according to the paper’s own logic.

2. A thesis fits comfortably into the Magic Thesis Sentence (MTS).

The MTS: By looking at _____, we can see _____, which most readers don’t see; it is important to look at this aspect of the text because _____.

Try it out with the examples from the first point:

A: By telling the story of Wesley and Buttercup’s triumph over evil, The Princess Bride affirms the power of true love.

B: Although the main plot of The Princess Bride rests on the natural power of true love, an examination of the way that fighting sticks–baseball bats, tree branches, and swords–link the frame story to the romance plot suggests that the narrator’s grandson is being trained in true love, that love is not natural but socialized.

Notice that the MTS adds a new dimension to point number one above. The first part of the MTS asks you to find something strange (“which most readers don’t see”), and the second part asks you to think about the importance of the strangeness. Thesis A would not work at all in the MTS; one could not reasonably state that “most readers [or viewers] don’t see” that film’s affirmation of true love, and the statement does not even attempt to explain the importance of its claim. Thesis B, on the other hand, gives us a way to complete the MTS, as in “By looking at the way fighting sticks link the plot and frame of The Princess Bride , we can see the way the narrator’s grandson is trained in true love, which most people don’t see; it is important to look at this aspect of the text because unlike the rest of the film, the fighting sticks suggest that love is not natural but socialized.” One does not need to write out the MTS in such a neat one-sentence form, of course, but thinking through the structure of the MTS can help refine thesis ideas.

3. A thesis says something about the text(s) exclusively .

If a thesis could describe many works equally well, it needs to be more specific. Let’s return to our examples from above:

Try substituting other works:

A: By telling the story of Darcy and Elizabeth’s triumph over evil, Pride and Prejudice affirms the power of true love.

Sure, that makes sense. Bad sign.

B: Although the main plot of Pride and Prejudice rests on the natural power of true love, an examination of the way that fighting sticks–baseball bats, tree branches, and swords–link the frame story to the romance plot suggests that the grandson is being trained in true love, that it is not natural but socialized.

pride-300x225.jpg

Um, nope. Even if you have never read Pride and Prejudice , you can probably guess that such a precise thesis could hardly apply to other works. Good sign. The point here is that the thesis needs to be specific enough that its meaning relates to the specific work(s) you are writing about -- be it fiction or nonfiction.

4. A thesis makes a lot of information irrelevant.

If the thesis is specific enough, it will make a point that focuses on only a small part of the text be analyzed or a particular aspect of a larger topic. A writer should ultimately apply that point to the work as a whole, but a thesis will call attention to specific parts of it. Let’s look at those examples again. (This is the last time, I promise.)

One way of spotting the problem with Example A is to note that a simple plot summary would support its point. That is not of true example B, which tells the reader exactly what moments the paper will be discussed and why. The thesis is focused and concentrated.

5. Remember to Address the Work as a Whole: The “So What?”

As you complete your analysis, remember to think about what the effect this will have on the world of academia.

  • Does your thesis introduce your topic in a clear way?
  • Does the introduction mention what you will be addressing? Social constructs, gender issues, etc.

Writing a Thesis Statement

One legitimate question readers always ask about a piece of writing is “What is the big idea?” (You may even ask this question when you are the reader, critically reading an assignment or another document.) Every nonfiction writing task—from the short essay to the ten-page term paper to the lengthy senior thesis—needs a big idea, or a controlling idea, as the spine for the work. The controlling idea is the main idea that you want to present and develop.

For a longer piece of writing, the main idea should be broader than the main idea for a shorter piece of writing. Be sure to frame a main idea that is appropriate for the length of the assignment. Ask yourself, “How many pages will it take for me to explain and explore this main idea in detail?” Be reasonable with your estimate. Then expand or trim it to fit the required length.

Developing Thesis Statements from Topics

The big idea, or controlling idea, you want to present in an essay is expressed in a thesis statement. A thesis statement is often one sentence long, and it states your point of view. The thesis statement is not the topic of the piece of writing but rather what you have to say about that topic and what is important to tell readers.

Table 5.1 “Topics and Thesis Statements” compares topics and thesis statements.

Table 5.1 Topics and Thesis Statements

The first thesis statement you write will be a preliminary thesis statement, or a working thesis statement. You will need it when you begin to outline your assignment as a way to organize it. As you continue to develop the arrangement, you can limit your working thesis statement if it is too broad or expand it if it proves too narrow for what you want to say.

Using the topic you selected in Section 4.6 “ Prewriting Strategies ”, develop a working thesis statement that states your controlling idea for the piece of writing you are doing. On a sheet of paper, write your working thesis statement.

You will make several attempts before you devise a working thesis statement that you think is effective. Each draft of the thesis statement will bring you closer to the wording that expresses your meaning exactly. Sometimes, this refinement of the thesis statement happens after your write your first draft of the paper.

Guidelines for Drafting a Thesis Statement

thesis-problem-300x221.png

It helps to understand why readers value the arguable thesis. What larger purpose does it serve? Readers will bring a set of expectations to an essay. If writers can anticipate the expectations of their readers, the better they will be able to persuade the audience to find the arguments convincing, interesting, and relevant.

Academic readers (and readers more generally) read to learn something new. They want to see the writer challenge commonplaces—either everyday assumptions about the object of study or truisms in the scholarly literature. In other words, academic readers want to be surprised so that their thinking shifts or at least becomes more complex by the time they finish reading an essay. Good essays problematize what we think we know and offer an alternative explanation in its place. They leave their reader with a fresh perspective on a problem.

We all bring important past experiences and beliefs to our interpretations of texts, objects, and problems. Writers can harness these observational powers to engage critically with what they are studying. The key is to be alert to what strikes you as strange, problematic, paradoxical, or puzzling about your topic. If writers can articulate this and a claim in response, they are well on their way to formulating an arguable thesis in the introduction.

How do I set up a “problem” and an arguable thesis in response?

All good writing has a purpose or motive for existing. The thesis is the writer’s surprising response to this problem or motive. This is why it seldom makes sense to start a writing project by articulating the thesis. The first step is to articulate the question or problem your paper addresses.

step-1.png

Here are some possible ways to introduce a conceptual problem in your paper’s introduction.

1. Challenge a commonplace interpretation (or your own first impressions).

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How are readers likely to interpret this source or issue? What might intelligent readers think at first glance? (Or, if you’ve been given secondary sources or have been asked to conduct research to locate secondary sources, what do other writers or scholars assume is true or important about your primary source or issue?)

What does this commonplace interpretation leave out, overlook, or under-emphasize?

2. Help the reader see the complexity of your topic.

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Identify and describe for the reader a paradox, puzzle, or contradiction in a primary source(s).

What larger questions does this paradox or contradiction raise for readers?

3. If research is part of the assignment, piggyback off another scholar’s research.

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4. If research is part of the assignment, identify a gap in another scholar’s or a group of scholars’ research.

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Summarize another scholar’s argument about your topic, primary source, or case study and explain to the reader why this claim is interesting. Or, summarize how scholars in the field tend to approach the topic.

Next, explain what important aspect this scholarly representation misses or distorts. Introduce the particular approach to the topic and its value.

5. If research is part of the assignment, bring in a new lens for investigating the case study or problem.

glasses.png

Summarize how a scholar or group of scholars has approached the topic.

Introduce a theoretical source (possibly from another discipline) and explain how it helps to address this issue from a new and productive angle.

Tip : your introductory paragraph will probably look like this:

introduction.png

Testing Your Thesis

Test a thesis statement’s arguability by asking the following questions:

1) Does the thesis only or mostly summarize a source?

If so, try some of the exercises above to articulate the paper’s conceptual problem or question.

2) Is the thesis arguable – can it be supported by evidence, and is it surprising and contentious?

If not, return to the sources and practice the exercises above.

3) Is the thesis about the primary source, or is it about the world?

If it’s about the world, revise it so that it focuses on primary source(s). Remember to include solid evidence to support the thesis.

"THREE-STORY THESIS STATEMENTS" BY AMY GUPTIL

How do you produce a good, strong thesis? And how do you know when you’ve gotten there? Many instructors and writers find useful a metaphor based on this passage by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.: 3

There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors who have no aim beyond their facts are one-story men. Two-story men compare, reason, generalize using the labor of fact collectors as their own. Three-story men idealize, imagine, predict—their best illumination comes from above the skylight.

One-story theses state inarguable facts. Two-story theses bring in an arguable (interpretive or analytical) point. Three-story theses nest that point within its larger, compelling implications. 4

The biggest benefit of the three-story metaphor is that it describes a process for building a thesis. To build the first story, you first have to get familiar with the complex, relevant facts surrounding the problem or question. You have to be able to describe the situation thoroughly and accurately. Then, with that first story built, you can layer on the second story by formulating the insightful, arguable point that animates the analysis. That’s often the most effortful part: brainstorming, elaborating and comparing alternative ideas, finalizing your point. With that specified, you can frame up the third story by articulating why the point you make matters beyond its particular topic or case.

Thesis: that’s the word that pops at me whenever I write an essay. Seeing this word in the prompt scared me and made me think to myself, “Oh great, what are they really looking for?” or “How am I going to make a thesis for a college paper?” When rehearing that I would be focusing on theses again in a class, I said to myself, “Here we go again!” But after learning about the three story thesis, I never had a problem with writing another thesis. In fact, I look forward to being asked on a paper to create a thesis.

Timothée Pizarro

For example, imagine you have been assigned a paper about the impact of online learning in higher education. You would first construct an account of the origins and multiple forms of online learning and assess research findings about its use and effectiveness. If you’ve done that well, you’ll probably come up with a well considered opinion that wouldn’t be obvious to readers who haven’t looked at the issue in depth. Maybe you’ll want to argue that online learning is a threat to the academic community. Or perhaps you’ll want to make the case that online learning opens up pathways to college degrees that traditional campus-based learning does not. In the course of developing your central, argumentative point, you’ll come to recognize its larger context; in this example, you may claim that online learning can serve to better integrate higher education with the rest of society, as online learners bring their educational and career experiences together. To outline this example:

  • First story : Online learning is becoming more prevalent and takes many different forms.
  • Second story : While most observers see it as a transformation of higher education, online learning is better thought of an extension of higher education in that it reaches learners who aren’t disposed to participate in traditional campus-based education.
  • Third story : Online learning appears to be a promising way to better integrate higher education with other institutions in society, as online learners integrate their educational experiences with the other realms of their life, promoting the freer flow of ideas between the academy and the rest of society.

Here’s another example of a three-story thesis: 5

  • First story : Edith Wharton did not consider herself a modernist writer, and she didn’t write like her modernist contemporaries.
  • Second story : However, in her work we can see her grappling with both the questions and literary forms that fascinated modernist writers of her era. While not an avowed modernist, she did engage with modernist themes and questions.
  • Third story : Thus, it is more revealing to think of modernism as a conversation rather than a category or practice.

Here’s one more example:

  • First story : Scientists disagree about the likely impact in the U.S. of the light brown apple moth (LBAM) , an agricultural pest native to Australia.
  • Second story : Research findings to date suggest that the decision to spray pheromones over the skies of several southern Californian counties to combat the LBAM was poorly thought out.
  • Third story : Together, the scientific ambiguities and the controversial response strengthen the claim that industrial-style approaches to pest management are inherently unsustainable.

A thesis statement that stops at the first story isn’t usually considered a thesis. A two-story thesis is usually considered competent, though some two-story theses are more intriguing and ambitious than others. A thoughtfully crafted and well informed three-story thesis puts the author on a smooth path toward an excellent paper.

The concept of a three-story thesis framework was the most helpful piece of information I gained from the writing component of DCC 100. The first time I utilized it in a college paper, my professor included “good thesis” and “excellent introduction” in her notes and graded it significantly higher than my previous papers. You can expect similar results if you dig deeper to form three-story theses. More importantly, doing so will make the actual writing of your paper more straightforward as well. Arguing something specific makes the structure of your paper much easier to design.

Peter Farrell

Effective Thesis Statements

As mentioned before, a thesis statement is the controlling idea of your essay. It is the main idea that all of the other sentences in the essay relate to. After gathering information about your topic, you need to figure out what you want to say about it.

An effective thesis statement has two major characteristics.

1. An effective thesis statement makes a point about a topic. For this reason, it must do more than state a fact or announce what you plan to write about.

Statement of fact: The military recruits students in high schools.

Announcement: In this essay, I would like to discuss what’s wrong with military recruitment in high schools.

List thesis: We should not allow the military to recruit in high schools because recruiters violate privacy, manipulate naïve young people, and target low-income youth.

Effective thesis: We should end the abusive and discriminatory practice of military recruitment in high schools.

A statement of fact is not an effective thesis statement because it does not take a position, giving you nothing to develop in your essay. Likewise, an announcement of what you plan to write about in your essay does not take a position on the issue, leaving you with nothing to develop. A good thesis statement makes a claim that is arguable.

2. The most effective thesis statements do not list your main points but unite your main points into a larger, central idea. The list thesis above looks strong, but notice how the effective thesis connects the three points with the words “abusive” and “discriminatory.” Now we know how the three points relate to each other; they are more than just a list.

To turn three or four “reasons” or topic sentences into a thesis, consider what they have in common and what your overall point is.

You can find thesis statements in many places, such as in the news; in the opinions of friends, coworkers or teachers; and even in songs you hear on the radio. Become aware of thesis statements in everyday life by paying attention to people’s opinions and their reasons for those opinions. Pay attention to your own everyday thesis statements as well, as these can become material for future essays.

Now that you have read about the contents of a good thesis statement and have seen examples, take a look at the pitfalls to avoid when composing your own thesis:

Weak thesis statement: My paper will explain why imagination is more important than knowledge.

Weak thesis statement: Religious radicals across America are trying to legislate their Puritanical beliefs by banning required high school books.

Weak thesis statement: Advertising companies use sex to sell their products.

Weak thesis statement: The life of Abraham Lincoln was long and challenging.

Read the following thesis statements. On a separate piece of paper, identify each as weak or strong. For those that are weak, list the reasons why. Then revise the weak statements so that they conform to the requirements of a strong thesis.

  • The subject of this paper is my experience with ferrets as pets.
  • The government must expand its funding for research on renewable energy resources in order to prepare for the impending end of oil.
  • Edgar Allan Poe was a poet who lived in Baltimore during the nineteenth century.
  • In this essay, I will give you lots of reasons why slot machines should not be legalized in Baltimore.
  • Despite his promises during his campaign, President Kennedy took few executive measures to support civil rights legislation.
  • Because many children’s toys have potential safety hazards that could lead to injury, it is clear that not all children’s toys are safe.
  • My experience with young children has taught me that I want to be a disciplinary parent because I believe that a child without discipline can be a parent’s worst nightmare.

Writing at Work

Often in your career, you will need to ask your manager for something through an e-mail. Just as a thesis statement organizes an essay, it can also organize your e-mail request. While your e-mail will be shorter than an essay, using a thesis statement in your first paragraph quickly lets your manager know what you are asking for, why it is necessary, and what the benefits are. In short body paragraphs, you can provide the essential information needed to expand upon your request.

Thesis Statement Revision

Your thesis will probably change as you write, so you will need to modify it to reflect exactly what you have discussed in your essay. Remember from Chapter 4 that your thesis statement begins as a working thesis statement, an indefinite statement that you make about your topic early in the writing process for the purpose of planning and guiding your writing.

Working thesis statements often become stronger as you gather information and form new opinions and reasons for those opinions. Revision helps you strengthen your thesis so that it matches what you have expressed in the body of the paper.

The best way to revise your thesis statement is to ask questions about it and then examine the answers to those questions. By challenging your own ideas and forming definite reasons for those ideas, you grow closer to a more precise point of view, which you can then incorporate into your thesis statement.

Ways to Revise Your Thesis

You can cut down on irrelevant aspects and revise your thesis by taking the following steps:

1. Pinpoint and replace all nonspecific words, such as people , everything , society , or life , with more precise words in order to reduce any vagueness.

Working thesis: Young people have to work hard to succeed in life.

Revised thesis: Recent college graduates must have discipline and persistence in order to find and maintain a stable job in which they can use and be appreciated for their talents.

The revised thesis makes a more specific statement about success and what it means to work hard. The original includes too broad a range of people and does not define exactly what success entails. By replacing those general words like people and work hard , the writer can better focus their research and gain more direction in their writing.

2. Clarify ideas that need explanation by asking yourself questions that narrow your thesis.

Working thesis: The welfare system is a joke.

Revised thesis: The welfare system keeps a socioeconomic class from gaining employment by alluring members of that class with unearned income instead of programs to improve their education and skill sets.

A joke means many things to many people. Readers bring all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives to the reading process and would need clarification for a word so vague. This expression may also be too informal for the selected audience. By asking questions, the writer can devise a more precise and appropriate explanation for joke . The writer should ask himself or herself questions similar to the 5WH questions. (See Chapter 4.6 " Prewriting Strategies " for more information on the 5WH questions.) By incorporating the answers to these questions into a thesis statement, the writer more accurately defines his or her stance, which will better guide the writing of the essay.

3. Replace any linking verbs with action verbs. Linking verbs are forms of the verb to be , a verb that simply states that a situation exists.

Working thesis: Kansas City schoolteachers are not paid enough.

Revised thesis: Kansas City cannot afford to pay its educators, resulting in job cuts and resignations in a district that sorely needs highly qualified and dedicated teachers.

The linking verb in this working thesis statement is the word are . Linking verbs often make thesis statements weak because they do not express action. Rather, they connect words and phrases to the second half of the sentence. Readers might wonder, “Why are they not paid enough?” But this statement does not compel them to ask many more questions. The writer should ask himself or herself questions in order to replace the linking verb with an action verb, thus forming a stronger thesis statement, one that takes a more definitive stance on the issue:

  • Who is not paying the teachers enough?
  • What is considered “enough”?
  • What is the problem?
  • What are the results

In an earlier section you determined your purpose for writing and your audience. You then completed a free writing exercise about an event you recently experienced and chose a general topic to write about. Using that general topic, you then narrowed it down by answering the 5WH questions. After you answered these questions, you chose one of the three methods of prewriting and gathered possible supporting points for your working thesis statement.

Now, on a separate sheet of paper, write down your working thesis statement. Identify any weaknesses in this sentence and revise the statement to reflect the elements of a strong thesis statement. Make sure it is specific, precise, arguable, demonstrable, forceful, and confident.

Collaboration

Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

In your career you may have to write a project proposal that focuses on a particular problem in your company, such as reinforcing the tardiness policy. The proposal would aim to fix the problem; using a thesis statement would clearly state the boundaries of the problem and tell the goals of the project. After writing the proposal, you may find that the thesis needs revision to reflect exactly what is expressed in the body. Using the techniques from this chapter would apply to revising that thesis.

Purdue OWL: Thesis Statements . Authored by: OWL Purdue. License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube license.

Contributors

  • Adapted from Writing for Success . Provided by: The Saylor Foundation. License: CC-NC-SA 3.0 .
  • Adapted from " Five Ways of Looking at a Thesis. " Authored by: Erik Simpson. Provided by: LumenLearning. License: CC BY: Attribution
  • Adapted from Formulating a Thesis . Authored by: Andrea Scott. Provided by: Princeton University. Project: WritingCommons. License: CC BY-NC-ND:
  • Adapted from Writing in College . Authored by Amy Guptill. License: CC-NC-SA 4.0

This page most recently updated on June 8, 2020.

what is an effective thesis

Writing an Effective Thesis Statement

what is an effective thesis

Writing an Effective Thesis Statement Podcast

Writing an effective thesis statement transcript.

Greetings everyone. This is Kurtis Clements with another effective writing podcast. In this episode, I am going to discuss how to write an effective thesis statement. One issue to keep in mind when you write is that your words need to stand on their own. It is your responsibility to express your thoughts in a way that others can understand. Think of it this way: You will not be around to explain to readers what you meant by a certain remark or to offer another example to illustrate a fuzzy point. Indeed, the words in your composition will have to communicate meaning without your presence. What you do not want to have happen is for your audience to reach the end of a piece of your written communication and say, “So what? What’s the point?”

The “so what” of a piece of writing is the specific point the piece makes, what the writing says about its subject. The “so what” is what the writing adds up to. It is the meaning found in the writing. The “so what” of an informative essay may be Boston has a lot to offer young children. The “so what” of a business memo may be profits have exceeded expectations.

No matter the type of composition, the piece of writing must communicate meaning, not to the writer, but, rather, to an audience. The meaning found in a piece of writing, the “so what,” is the most important aspect of any piece of writing, for what good would a piece of writing be if it did not add up to something, if it did not say something to an audience? When you are working on a composition, you will need to think about what you are trying to say so that you are in a position to make sure that what you are trying to communicate is, in fact, communicated.

I know what you’re thinking: What’s all this have to do with a thesis statement? The answer: everything! Let me explain.

Every composition needs to make a clear point about its topic—otherwise, what purpose would the writing serve? One way to ensure that readers will follow along in the development of an essay is by including a written out thesis statement (more on this in just a moment). The word thesis comes from a Greek word that means “proposition” or “position.” In an essay, the thesis establishes the writer’s position, the main idea of the paper, what the writer claims to be true or important about the topic. A thesis helps readers understand the direction the essay is heading and it connects body paragraphs to a controlling idea so that the essay comes together as a unified whole.

Most thesis statements are expressed in a single declarative sentence, but depending on a number of factors such as the scope and complexity of the topic or the writer’s approach in discussing it, the thesis may require more than one sentence, but this is the exception rather than the rule. In most academic writing, the thesis will appear near or at the end of the introduction and announce to readers exactly what the body paragraphs that follow will discuss. In some writing, especially personal writing, a written-out thesis may not be necessary, but regardless the focus of the paper still needs to be clear. So, whether the thesis is written out verbatim or not, the thesis of the paper—what it will discuss—still needs to be clear.

Constructing a thesis statement will take time; in fact, like writing itself, developing a thesis is a process, so you will need to be patient and be willing to revise as necessary. A good thesis comes about the more you explore your topic whether that exploration is the result of exploratory writing like freewriting or research or long walks in which you think and think and think.

As you explore your thinking, your ideas will get clearer and clearer. Again, a thesis statement evolves over time. Begin with a working thesis—your tentative ideas about a topic—and be willing to modify the statement depending on what you discover about your topic and how your thinking changes over time. Indeed, many writers find themselves in jams because they are unwilling to deviate from their original thesis and are bent on trying to support ideas that are unrealistic, perhaps even impossible.

Still worse, some writers try to force the content to fit the idea expressed in the thesis. This won’t work. In fact, some writers approach their work so that the thesis emerges out of the writing. That’s right! Some writers don’t start with a thesis—working or otherwise—and, instead, explore their thinking in writing as a way to discover what it is they have to say about a topic. The fabulous Donald Murray, a journalist and famous writer about the process of writing, worked this way. And other writers work this way, too. And of course, many writers do not work this way and the truth is the actual process you use to develop a thesis does not matter so long as the end result is successful.

As you approach drafting a thesis, make sure you keep your purpose for writing in mind. Will you be informing? Persuading? Entertaining? Complaining? Whatever the case, you will want that purpose to be apparent from the construction of the thesis.

One good way to come up with ideas that you can use to construct a working thesis is to explore your thoughts. What do you already know about the topic? Use freewriting (or some other exploratory writing method such as brainstorming) to capture what you already know and think about the topic. Roll up your sleeves and spend 10, 15, or more minutes just writing. Write about what interests you about the topic and what you might like to know. Explore freely what is bouncing around inside your head and do not be afraid to follow your thinking wherever it takes you. Writing is an act of discovery, and you might stumble upon an interesting angle to pursue if you give yourself permission to explore. After you’ve written for a period of time, look over your writing and see if any dominant idea emerges or if some of the writing suggests a direction worth thinking about more. In a perfect world, the freewriting will produce enough of your ideas that you can almost see the beginning of a thesis.

Another good approach to producing a thesis is to conduct some research. Some assignments may not benefit from this tip, but many—even those that don’t specifically require research—will. To this end, peruse the library whether you do so physically or virtually. Poke and read around about your topic, following the discussion here and there depending on what interests you. Take some notes as you see fit.

You could also ask questions about what you wonder or would like to know about your topic. Do big-box stores such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart have an impact on local economies? What are the benefits of a vegan lifestyle? How costly are green energy sources? What steps should individuals take to safeguard against identity fraud? Avoid yes/no type questions and research accordingly. A good research question can lend itself to the development of a working thesis in that the “answer” can serve as a starting point.

So what are the characteristics of an effective thesis statement?

An effective thesis statement establishes one major idea. If a thesis introduces more than one idea, the paper will not have a tight focus. Most papers you will write will be relatively short and do not have room to discuss more than one major idea. Pay particular attention to your thesis statement if it includes the word “and” as this connecting word often joins new ideas. Note how the following thesis has more than one main idea: Healthcare reform must be addressed because so many Americans are uninsured or without adequate coverage, and politicians must work together to ensure new legislation is passed. In this example, the word “and” establishes an additional main idea and so the thesis lacks a clearly defined focus. To improve upon the thesis, the thesis would need to be streamlined and focus on one main idea. For example, a better thesis might be Politicians must work together to reform healthcare because too many Americans are without sufficient coverage.

An effective thesis statement is limited in scope. The thesis should limit the extent of the discussion to something manageable given the assignment—neither too broad nor too narrow. The thesis should establish a focus that is realistic and suitable for a substantive discussion of the main idea. Taking a stand on capital punishment, for example, is not realistic for a short research paper let alone an entire book—the topic is too broad. However, limiting the focus by narrowing the scope may work. You could argue that capital punishment does not reduce the crime rate or that lethal injection is the most humane form of capital punishment. In this way, the focus is something that realistically could be addressed in the paper.

An effective thesis statement clearly states the writer’s position. The thesis should state precisely and specifically what the paper will discuss. After reading the thesis, readers should know exactly what to expect. Avoid language that is too general, abstract, or otherwise confusing. If your thesis does not clearly establish your main idea, readers may have a difficult time following the development of the body paragraphs that follow. Here is an example of a thesis statement that is vague: Television violence is an issue that many face. Based on this thesis, do you understand what the writer is going to explore in the paper? Sure, television violence, but beyond that general subject, do you have any clear sense of what the writer will be exploring? Not at all! This thesis lacks the specificity it needs to orient readers appropriately so that they know what to expect in the discussion.

An effective thesis statement requires supporting evidence. The thesis expresses an idea that moves beyond a statement of fact and requires supporting content to “prove” the main idea. For example, a thesis that proclaims Barack Obama is the first African-American to be elected president of the United States would not be very good as it states a widely known fact. A better thesis might proclaim this: Barack Obama’s election as president of the United States marked a seminal moment in American politics. The revised thesis moves beyond simply stating a fact and, instead, presents a main idea that would require evidence to support.

There are two basic approaches to composing a thesis—forecasting the main points by embedding them in the thesis (an approach commonly referred to as the three-point thesis) or not including the main points in the thesis. Your approach will depend on the topic you are addressing as well as any particular requirements of the assignment.

A three-point thesis states the main idea of the essay and includes three key points as support. Take a look at the following thesis: Banning cigarette smoking in public places is an effective intervention to improve the public’s health by helping to reduce the dangers of second-hand smoke on non-smokers, encouraging current smokers to quit, and reducing healthcare costs. In this example, the main idea—the position the writer takes relative to the topic—is Banning cigarette smoking in public places is an effective intervention to improve the public’s health. This part of the thesis states what the writer claims to be true about the topic. How will the writer support this view? In this case, the thesis includes three telegraphed key points—by helping to reduce the dangers of second-hand smoke on non-smokers, encouraging current smokers to quit, and reducing healthcare costs.

The three-point thesis is the blueprint of the essay in that it not only establishes the main idea, but it also fleshes out the key points to that readers can anticipate a basic structure of the essay. Readers would expect each forecasted point to be discussed in the order presented—that is, the first section will discuss the first key point, the next section the second, and so on.

Another approach to composing a thesis is to state the main idea minus the key points. Using the example above, the thesis would read: Banning cigarette smoking in public places is an effective intervention to improve the public’s health. With this approach, the key points are not included in the thesis, yet the focus and direction are clear. Readers may not know the exact key points, but they understand the writer’s position on the topic and can anticipate the likely discussion that will follow. In this case, since the main idea states the view that banning smoking in public is an effective intervention to improve public health, it is logical to expect key points that address how this is so.

Please keep in mind that writing a good thesis is a process and a process requires time. While some folks might be able to come up with a humdinger of a thesis from the get-go that is not the norm. To this end, give yourself time to explore your topic and don’t be impatient. Draft a working thesis and revise as necessary. I hope you find this podcast helpful.

Thanks, everyone. Happy writing!

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Writing Effective Thesis Statements

What is a thesis, what is a thesis statement.

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Grammarly will then check your work for a specific set of issues common to a certain type of assignment. You can also check your thesis statement for common issues without uploading a full essay.

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A thesis is a type of paper written at the end of an academic program . This is not the same as a " thesis statement ."

View our Theses Services guide if you're looking for additional information to complete the thesis requirement at the end of your program.

A thesis statement is a short statement, usually one sentence in length, that is present at the end of your introduction paragraph. 

A thesis statement summarizes the main point of the essay and makes an argument about the topic, its importance, or its plausibility. 

A thesis statement is...

... in the body of the essay through the use of examples and evidence.

Read more about thesis statements .

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Thesis statements are central arguments in essays, and are usually written as one or two sentences (but can be longer depending on the context and discipline). A thesis focuses on the interpretation of facts to create an argument. A thesis is not a statement of fact, but a clear and convincing argument that takes a stand in a range of possible positions.  

Successful thesis statements usually:

State an opinion/position, which will be proved by evidence in the body of the essay, usually through the use of sources.

Are specific about the writer’s position, using details and specific terms.

Produce several responses, for example, agreement, neutrality, and disagreement. 

The WHAT/HOW/SO WHAT Strategy 

This strategy can help develop stronger thesis statements:

The WHAT: the topic you’re writing about . Can also reference larger academic conversations/make connections to the larger context you’re writing in.

The HOW: The methods and means by which you will be analyzing and discussing your topic. Or a general overview of how you will be guiding the reader through your text. 

The SO WHAT: Your analysis or interpretation of the topic. Why is this topic significant? What does your thesis statement mean in the surrounding academic conversation/the larger context you’re writing in? 

Sample thesis: 

In his 2018 poetry collection Elegía/Elegy,   [What]   Raquel Salas Rivera uses self translation and literary devices to create and break dichotomies within language and freedom    [how] . Breaking these dichotomies causes the reader to question how they have internalized colonial understandings of language purism   [so what] .  

This content was adapted by Marissa Burke from the Queen’s University online guide and tutorial for thesis statements, as well as the Carroll College Writing Center online resources for Writing a Good Thesis Statement

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25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze

JBirdwellBranson

Understanding what makes a good thesis statement is one of the major keys to writing a great research paper or argumentative essay. The thesis statement is where you make a claim that will guide you through your entire paper. If you find yourself struggling to make sense of your paper or your topic, then it's likely due to a weak thesis statement.

Let's take a minute to first understand what makes a solid thesis statement, and what key components you need to write one of your own.

Perfecting Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement always goes at the beginning of the paper. It will typically be in the first couple of paragraphs of the paper so that it can introduce the body paragraphs, which are the supporting evidence for your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should clearly identify an argument. You need to have a statement that is not only easy to understand, but one that is debatable. What that means is that you can't just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute . An ineffective thesis statement would be, "Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it." This isn't really something that's a debatable topic.

Something that would be more debatable would be, "A puppy's cuteness is derived from its floppy ears, small body, and playfulness." These are three things that can be debated on. Some people might think that the cutest thing about puppies is the fact that they follow you around or that they're really soft and fuzzy.

All cuteness aside, you want to make sure that your thesis statement is not only debatable, but that it also actually thoroughly answers the research question that was posed. You always want to make sure that your evidence is supporting a claim that you made (and not the other way around). This is why it's crucial to read and research about a topic first and come to a conclusion later. If you try to get your research to fit your thesis statement, then it may not work out as neatly as you think. As you learn more, you discover more (and the outcome may not be what you originally thought).

Additionally, your thesis statement shouldn't be too big or too grand. It'll be hard to cover everything in a thesis statement like, "The federal government should act now on climate change." The topic is just too large to actually say something new and meaningful. Instead, a more effective thesis statement might be, "Local governments can combat climate change by providing citizens with larger recycling bins and offering local classes about composting and conservation." This is easier to work with because it's a smaller idea, but you can also discuss the overall topic that you might be interested in, which is climate change.

So, now that we know what makes a good, solid thesis statement, you can start to write your own. If you find that you're getting stuck or you are the type of person who needs to look at examples before you start something, then check out our list of thesis statement examples below.

Thesis statement examples

A quick note that these thesis statements have not been fully researched. These are merely examples to show you what a thesis statement might look like and how you can implement your own ideas into one that you think of independently. As such, you should not use these thesis statements for your own research paper purposes. They are meant to be used as examples only.

  • Vaccinations Because many children are unable to vaccinate due to illness, we must require that all healthy and able children be vaccinated in order to have herd immunity.
  • Educational Resources for Low-Income Students Schools should provide educational resources for low-income students during the summers so that they don't forget what they've learned throughout the school year.
  • School Uniforms School uniforms may be an upfront cost for families, but they eradicate the visual differences in income between students and provide a more egalitarian atmosphere at school.
  • Populism The rise in populism on the 2016 political stage was in reaction to increasing globalization, the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Public Libraries Libraries are essential resources for communities and should be funded more heavily by local municipalities.
  • Cyber Bullying With more and more teens using smartphones and social media, cyber bullying is on the rise. Cyber bullying puts a lot of stress on many teens, and can cause depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Parents should limit the usage of smart phones, monitor their children's online activity, and report any cyber bullying to school officials in order to combat this problem.
  • Medical Marijuana for Veterans Studies have shown that the use of medicinal marijuana has been helpful to veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Medicinal marijuana prescriptions should be legal in all states and provided to these veterans. Additional medical or therapy services should also be researched and implemented in order to help them re-integrate back into civilian life.
  • Work-Life Balance Corporations should provide more work from home opportunities and six-hour workdays so that office workers have a better work-life balance and are more likely to be productive when they are in the office.
  • Teaching Youths about Consensual Sex Although sex education that includes a discussion of consensual sex would likely lead to less sexual assault, parents need to teach their children the meaning of consent from a young age with age appropriate lessons.
  • Whether or Not to Attend University A degree from a university provides invaluable lessons on life and a future career, but not every high school student should be encouraged to attend a university directly after graduation. Some students may benefit from a trade school or a "gap year" where they can think more intensely about what it is they want to do for a career and how they can accomplish this.
  • Studying Abroad Studying abroad is one of the most culturally valuable experiences you can have in college. It is the only way to get completely immersed in another language and learn how other cultures and countries are different from your own.
  • Women's Body Image Magazines have done a lot in the last five years to include a more diverse group of models, but there is still a long way to go to promote a healthy woman's body image collectively as a culture.
  • Cigarette Tax Heavily taxing and increasing the price of cigarettes is essentially a tax on the poorest Americans, and it doesn't deter them from purchasing. Instead, the state and federal governments should target those economically disenfranchised with early education about the dangers of smoking.
  • Veganism A vegan diet, while a healthy and ethical way to consume food, indicates a position of privilege. It also limits you to other cultural food experiences if you travel around the world.
  • University Athletes Should be Compensated University athletes should be compensated for their service to the university, as it is difficult for these students to procure and hold a job with busy academic and athletic schedules. Many student athletes on scholarship also come from low-income neighborhoods and it is a struggle to make ends meet when they are participating in athletics.
  • Women in the Workforce Sheryl Sandberg makes a lot of interesting points in her best-selling book, Lean In , but she only addressed the very privileged working woman and failed to speak to those in lower-skilled, lower-wage jobs.
  • Assisted Suicide Assisted suicide should be legal and doctors should have the ability to make sure their patients have the end-of-life care that they want to receive.
  • Celebrity and Political Activism Although Taylor Swift's lyrics are indicative of a feminist perspective, she should be more politically active and vocal to use her position of power for the betterment of society.
  • The Civil War The insistence from many Southerners that the South seceded from the Union for states' rights versus the fact that they seceded for the purposes of continuing slavery is a harmful myth that still affects race relations today.
  • Blue Collar Workers Coal miners and other blue-collar workers whose jobs are slowly disappearing from the workforce should be re-trained in jobs in the technology sector or in renewable energy. A program to re-train these workers would not only improve local economies where jobs have been displaced, but would also lead to lower unemployment nationally.
  • Diversity in the Workforce Having a diverse group of people in an office setting leads to richer ideas, more cooperation, and more empathy between people with different skin colors or backgrounds.
  • Re-Imagining the Nuclear Family The nuclear family was traditionally defined as one mother, one father, and 2.5 children. This outdated depiction of family life doesn't quite fit with modern society. The definition of normal family life shouldn't be limited to two-parent households.
  • Digital Literacy Skills With more information readily available than ever before, it's crucial that students are prepared to examine the material they're reading and determine whether or not it's a good source or if it has misleading information. Teaching students digital literacy and helping them to understand the difference between opinion or propaganda from legitimate, real information is integral.
  • Beauty Pageants Beauty pageants are presented with the angle that they empower women. However, putting women in a swimsuit on a stage while simultaneously judging them on how well they answer an impossible question in a short period of time is cruel and purely for the amusement of men. Therefore, we should stop televising beauty pageants.
  • Supporting More Women to Run for a Political Position In order to get more women into political positions, more women must run for office. There must be a grassroots effort to educate women on how to run for office, who among them should run, and support for a future candidate for getting started on a political career.

Still stuck? Need some help with your thesis statement?

If you are still uncertain about how to write a thesis statement or what a good thesis statement is, be sure to consult with your teacher or professor to make sure you're on the right track. It's always a good idea to check in and make sure that your thesis statement is making a solid argument and that it can be supported by your research.

After you're done writing, it's important to have someone take a second look at your paper so that you can ensure there are no mistakes or errors. It's difficult to spot your own mistakes, which is why it's always recommended to have someone help you with the revision process, whether that's a teacher, the writing center at school, or a professional editor such as one from ServiceScape .

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Status.net

30 Examples: How to Conclude a Presentation (Effective Closing Techniques)

By Status.net Editorial Team on March 4, 2024 — 9 minutes to read

Ending a presentation on a high note is a skill that can set you apart from the rest. It’s the final chance to leave an impact on your audience, ensuring they walk away with the key messages embedded in their minds. This moment is about driving your points home and making sure they resonate. Crafting a memorable closing isn’t just about summarizing key points, though that’s part of it, but also about providing value that sticks with your listeners long after they’ve left the room.

Crafting Your Core Message

To leave a lasting impression, your presentation’s conclusion should clearly reflect your core message. This is your chance to reinforce the takeaways and leave the audience thinking about your presentation long after it ends.

Identifying Key Points

Start by recognizing what you want your audience to remember. Think about the main ideas that shaped your talk. Make a list like this:

  • The problem your presentation addresses.
  • The evidence that supports your argument.
  • The solution you propose or the action you want the audience to take.

These key points become the pillars of your core message.

Contextualizing the Presentation

Provide context by briefly relating back to the content of the whole presentation. For example:

  • Reference a statistic you shared in the opening, and how it ties into the conclusion.
  • Mention a case study that underlines the importance of your message.

Connecting these elements gives your message cohesion and makes your conclusion resonate with the framework of your presentation.

30 Example Phrases: How to Conclude a Presentation

  • 1. “In summary, let’s revisit the key takeaways from today’s presentation.”
  • 2. “Thank you for your attention. Let’s move forward together.”
  • 3. “That brings us to the end. I’m open to any questions you may have.”
  • 4. “I’ll leave you with this final thought to ponder as we conclude.”
  • 5. “Let’s recap the main points before we wrap up.”
  • 6. “I appreciate your engagement. Now, let’s turn these ideas into action.”
  • 7. “We’ve covered a lot today. To conclude, remember these crucial points.”
  • 8. “As we reach the end, I’d like to emphasize our call to action.”
  • 9. “Before we close, let’s quickly review what we’ve learned.”
  • 10. “Thank you for joining me on this journey. I look forward to our next steps.”
  • 11. “In closing, I’d like to thank everyone for their participation.”
  • 12. “Let’s conclude with a reminder of the impact we can make together.”
  • 13. “To wrap up our session, here’s a brief summary of our discussion.”
  • 14. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to present to you. Any final thoughts?”
  • 15. “And that’s a wrap. I welcome any final questions or comments.”
  • 16. “As we conclude, let’s remember the objectives we’ve set today.”
  • 17. “Thank you for your time. Let’s apply these insights to achieve success.”
  • 18. “In conclusion, your feedback is valuable, and I’m here to listen.”
  • 19. “Before we part, let’s take a moment to reflect on our key messages.”
  • 20. “I’ll end with an invitation for all of us to take the next step.”
  • 21. “As we close, let’s commit to the goals we’ve outlined today.”
  • 22. “Thank you for your attention. Let’s keep the conversation going.”
  • 23. “In conclusion, let’s make a difference, starting now.”
  • 24. “I’ll leave you with these final words to consider as we end our time together.”
  • 25. “Before we conclude, remember that change starts with our actions today.”
  • 26. “Thank you for the lively discussion. Let’s continue to build on these ideas.”
  • 27. “As we wrap up, I encourage you to reach out with any further questions.”
  • 28. “In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude for your valuable input.”
  • 29. “Let’s conclude on a high note and take these learnings forward.”
  • 30. “Thank you for your time today. Let’s end with a commitment to progress.”

Summarizing the Main Points

When you reach the end of your presentation, summarizing the main points helps your audience retain the important information you’ve shared. Crafting a memorable summary enables your listeners to walk away with a clear understanding of your message.

Effective Methods of Summarization

To effectively summarize your presentation, you need to distill complex information into concise, digestible pieces. Start by revisiting the overarching theme of your talk and then narrow down to the core messages. Use plain language and imagery to make the enduring ideas stick. Here are some examples of how to do this:

  • Use analogies that relate to common experiences to recap complex concepts.
  • Incorporate visuals or gestures that reinforce your main arguments.

The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three is a classic writing and communication principle. It means presenting ideas in a trio, which is a pattern that’s easy for people to understand and remember. For instance, you might say, “Our plan will save time, cut costs, and improve quality.” This structure has a pleasing rhythm and makes the content more memorable. Some examples include:

  • “This software is fast, user-friendly, and secure.”
  • Pointing out a product’s “durability, affordability, and eco-friendliness.”

Reiterating the Main Points

Finally, you want to circle back to the key takeaways of your presentation. Rephrase your main points without introducing new information. This reinforcement supports your audience’s memory and understanding of the material. You might summarize key takeaways like this:

  • Mention the problem you addressed, the solution you propose, and the benefits of this solution.
  • Highlighting the outcomes of adopting your strategy: higher efficiency, greater satisfaction, and increased revenue.

Creating a Strong Conclusion

The final moments of your presentation are your chance to leave your audience with a powerful lasting impression. A strong conclusion is more than just summarizing—it’s your opportunity to invoke thought, inspire action, and make your message memorable.

Incorporating a Call to Action

A call to action is your parting request to your audience. You want to inspire them to take a specific action or think differently as a result of what they’ve heard. To do this effectively:

  • Be clear about what you’re asking.
  • Explain why their action is needed.
  • Make it as simple as possible for them to take the next steps.

Example Phrases:

  • “Start making a difference today by…”
  • “Join us in this effort by…”
  • “Take the leap and commit to…”

Leaving a Lasting Impression

End your presentation with something memorable. This can be a powerful quote, an inspirational statement, or a compelling story that underscores your main points. The goal here is to resonate with your audience on an emotional level so that your message sticks with them long after they leave.

  • “In the words of [Influential Person], ‘…'”
  • “Imagine a world where…”
  • “This is more than just [Topic]; it’s about…”

Enhancing Audience Engagement

To hold your audience’s attention and ensure they leave with a lasting impression of your presentation, fostering interaction is key.

Q&A Sessions

It’s important to integrate a Q&A session because it allows for direct communication between you and your audience. This interactive segment helps clarify any uncertainties and encourages active participation. Plan for this by designating a time slot towards the end of your presentation and invite questions that promote discussion.

  • “I’d love to hear your thoughts; what questions do you have?”
  • “Let’s dive into any questions you might have. Who would like to start?”
  • “Feel free to ask any questions, whether they’re clarifications or deeper inquiries about the topic.”

Encouraging Audience Participation

Getting your audience involved can transform a good presentation into a great one. Use open-ended questions that provoke thought and allow audience members to reflect on how your content relates to them. Additionally, inviting volunteers to participate in a demonstration or share their experiences keeps everyone engaged and adds a personal touch to your talk.

  • “Could someone give me an example of how you’ve encountered this in your work?”
  • “I’d appreciate a volunteer to help demonstrate this concept. Who’s interested?”
  • “How do you see this information impacting your daily tasks? Let’s discuss!”

Delivering a Persuasive Ending

At the end of your presentation, you have the power to leave a lasting impact on your audience. A persuasive ending can drive home your key message and encourage action.

Sales and Persuasion Tactics

When you’re concluding a presentation with the goal of selling a product or idea, employ carefully chosen sales and persuasion tactics. One method is to summarize the key benefits of your offering, reminding your audience why it’s important to act. For example, if you’ve just presented a new software tool, recap how it will save time and increase productivity. Another tactic is the ‘call to action’, which should be clear and direct, such as “Start your free trial today to experience the benefits first-hand!” Furthermore, using a touch of urgency, like “Offer expires soon!”, can nudge your audience to act promptly.

Final Impressions and Professionalism

Your closing statement is a chance to solidify your professional image and leave a positive impression. It’s important to display confidence and poise. Consider thanking your audience for their time and offering to answer any questions. Make sure to end on a high note by summarizing your message in a concise and memorable way. If your topic was on renewable energy, you might conclude by saying, “Let’s take a leap towards a greener future by adopting these solutions today.” This reinforces your main points and encourages your listeners to think or act differently when they leave.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some creative strategies for ending a presentation memorably.

To end your presentation in a memorable way, consider incorporating a call to action that engages your audience to take the next step. Another strategy is to finish with a thought-provoking question or a surprising fact that resonates with your listeners.

Can you suggest some powerful quotes suitable for concluding a presentation?

Yes, using a quote can be very effective. For example, Maya Angelou’s “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” can reinforce the emotional impact of your presentation.

What is an effective way to write a conclusion that summarizes a presentation?

An effective conclusion should recap the main points succinctly, highlighting what you want your audience to remember. A good way to conclude is by restating your thesis and then briefly summarizing the supporting points you made.

As a student, how can I leave a strong impression with my presentation’s closing remarks?

To leave a strong impression, consider sharing a personal anecdote related to your topic that demonstrates passion and conviction. This helps humanize your content and makes the message more relatable to your audience.

How can I appropriately thank my audience at the close of my presentation?

A simple and sincere expression of gratitude is always appropriate. You might say, “Thank you for your attention and engagement today,” to convey appreciation while also acknowledging their participation.

What are some examples of a compelling closing sentence in a presentation?

A compelling closing sentence could be something like, “Together, let’s take the leap towards a greener future,” if you’re presenting on sustainability. This sentence is impactful, calls for united action, and leaves your audience with a clear message.

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Module 3: Definition Essay

Effective thesis statements, what is a thesis statement.

  • A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an “argument,” a “main idea,” or a “controlling idea.”
  • A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay
  • A standard place for your thesis is at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • A thesis is an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel that others might dispute.
  • A strong thesis not only grabs the interest of your reader, who now wants to see you support your unique interpretation, it also provides a focus for your argument, one to which every part of your paper refers in the development of your position.
  • A thesis keeps the writer centered on the matter at hand and reduces the risk of intellectual wandering. Likewise, a thesis provides the reader with a “road map,” clearly laying out the intellectual route ahead.
  • A thesis statement avoids the first person (“I believe,” “In my opinion”).

A simple equation for what a thesis might look like this:

What you plan to argue + How you plan to argue it = Thesis Specific Topic+ Attitude/Angle/Argument=Thesis

Steps To Write Effective Thesis Statement

  • Choose a prompt or, if appropriate, select a topic: television violence and children
  • What are the effects of television violence on children?
  • Violence on television increases aggressive behavior in children.
  • Avoid general phrasing and/or sweeping words such as “all” or “none” or “every”.
  • Lead the reader toward the topic sentences (the subtopics needed to prove the thesis).
  • While poor parenting and easy access to weapons may act as contributory factors, in fact when children are exposed to television violence they become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, are more fearful of the world around them, and are more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.

The Components of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • You can’t just pluck a thesis out of thin air. Even if you have a terrific insight concerning a topic, it won’t be worth much unless you can logically and persuasively support it in the body of your essay. A thesis is the evolutionary result of a thinking process, not a miraculous creation. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment .
  • Substantial – Your thesis should be a claim for which it is easy to answer every reader’s question: “So what?”
  • Supportable – A thesis must be a claim that you can prove with the evidence at hand (e.g., evidence from your texts or from your research). Your claim should not be outlandish, nor should it be mere personal opinion or preference (e.g., “Frederick Douglass is my favorite historical figure.”) It tackles a subject that could be adequately covered in the format of the project assigned.
  • Precise – It is focused and specific. A strong thesis proves a point without discussing everything. It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence. Note: Be flexible. It is perfectly okay to change your thesis!
  • Arguable – It should be contestable, proposing an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree.
  • Relevant – If you are responding to an assignment, the thesis should answer the question your teacher has posed. In order to stay focused, pay attention to the task words in the assignment: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, etc.
  • Aware of Counters – It anticipates and refutes the counter-arguments.

The best thesis statement is a balance of specific details and concise language. Your goal is to articulate an argument in detail without burdening the reader with too much information.

Questions To Review Your Thesis

  • “Do I answer the question?” This might seem obvious, but it’s worth asking. No matter how intriguing or dazzling, a thesis that doesn’t answer the question is not a good thesis!
  • “Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose?” If not, then you probably do not have a strong argument. Theses that are too vague often have this problem. If your thesis contains vague words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what makes something “successful”?
  • Would anyone possible care about this thesis? So What? Does your thesis present a position or an interpretation worth pursuing? If a reader’s first response is, “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • “Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering?” Just as a thesis that doesn’t answer the question ultimately fails, so does a thesis that isn’t properly supported with evidence and reasoning.
  • Does my thesis statement adequately address the direction words of the prompt: summarize, argue, compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, etc.?

Myths about Thesis Statements

  • Every paper requires one . Assignments that ask you to write personal responses or to explore a subject don’t want you to seem to pre-judge the issues. Essays of literary interpretation often want you to be aware of many effects rather than seeming to box yourself into one view of the text.
  • A thesis statement must come at the end of the first paragraph . This is a natural position for a statement of focus, but it’s not the only one. Some theses can be stated in the opening sentences of an essay; others need a paragraph or two of introduction; others can’t be fully formulated until the end.
  • A thesis statement must be one sentence in length , no matter how many clauses it contains. Clear writing is more important than rules like these. Use two or three sentences if you need them. A complex argument may require a whole tightly-knit paragraph to make its initial statement of position.
  • You can’t start writing an essay until you have a perfect thesis statement . It may be advisable to draft a hypothesis or tentative thesis statement near the start of a big project, but changing and refining a thesis is a main task of thinking your way through your ideas as you write a paper. And some essay projects need to explore the question in depth without being locked in before they can provide even a tentative answer.
  • A thesis statement must give three points of support . It should indicate that the essay will explain and give evidence for its assertion, but points don’t need to come in any specific number.

Progressively Complex Thesis Statements

  • Effective Thesis Statements. Provided by : Writing Guide Wikispaces. Located at : https://writingguide.wikispaces.com/Effective+Thesis+Statements . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

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CS PhD student wins People's Choice award at Three Minute Thesis competition

Aaquib Tabrez, a 5th year PhD student in the Department of Computer Science advised by Assistant Professor Bradley Hayes, won the People's Choice award for the graduate school's Three Minute Thesis competition. The competition challenges students to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience after a few months of preparation. 

To celebrate Tabrez's accomplishments, let's learn more about his research and experience with the competition and graduate school at CU Boulder. 

Please briefly summarize your thesis:

I design novel algorithms that enable robots and autonomous systems to more effectively explain their decision-making processes to human collaborators. This enhances the ability of individuals to place appropriate levels of trust in these systems. The aim is to make these systems more transparent, trustworthy, and reliable across various human-robot team settings, including manufacturing, autonomous driving, and search and rescue operations. By improving human-machine communication and collaboration, we can significantly enhance the effectiveness of these teams.

Specifically, my work involves teaching robots how to teach or coach humans during collaborative efforts. Additionally, I investigate situations where people may over-trust or under-trust the recommendations and guidance provided by robots. My research explores various methods and techniques to mitigate these mismatches in trust by offering suitable explanations from the robots.

How does it feel to be recognized as the People’s Choice for the Three Minute Thesis competition?

It feels absolutely incredible. Public speaking hasn't always been my strong suit, particularly with my Indian accent. Competing in such a big competition has been a significant confidence booster. It’s truly rewarding to see people acknowledging my research and the hard work I’ve put in here at CU Boulder.

What inspired you to submit to the competition?

My advisor has always stressed the importance of being able to articulate our research to those outside our field. Plus, as an expert, I believe that I am best suited to explain what is happening within my field and my work to make sure people don’t misunderstand it. Participating in this competition seemed like the perfect opportunity to hone those communication skills.

Tell me a bit about yourself. How did you come to study at CU Boulder?

Before joining CU Boulder, I was working a typical 9-5 job. I did not like the monotony and the lack of learning opportunities. So, I wanted to try something different which would be intellectually challenging. I also like philosophy and was interested in figuring out how people think. So, I thought, why not try to do the same for robots? That basically motivated me to apply here, specializing in robotics. Plus, I was a big H.G. Wells fan when I was a kid, so that kinda motivated me to consider robotics.

What goals do you have for the future? 

Professionally, I would like to run my own research lab, working closely with those directly impacted by emerging technologies, such as healthcare workers and teachers. My goal is to explore how these advancements can bring about tangible improvements in their fields and their personal life. On a personal level, I love hiking, and I want to explore as many countries as possible and hiking trails around the world.

What advice would you give to a student considering graduate school?

One thing that has really helped me throughout my PhD is being physically active, whether it's going to the gym, running, or hiking. It gives me a sense of clarity and a rush of adrenaline that helps me think through any situation. Graduate school is both fun and challenging, filled with distractions, doubts, imposter syndrome, and deep bonding with the people around you. Surround yourself with supportive people who can help you overcome these challenges. Don't hesitate to ask for help when you're not in a good place; there are so many people ready to lend a hand when you ask for it.

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5 takeaways from President Biden's State of the Union address

Deirdre Walsh, 2018

Deirdre Walsh

what is an effective thesis

President Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

President Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

President Biden didn't waste any time in his prime-time State of the Union address drawing a sharp contrast with his likely 2024 presidential rival, former President Donald Trump.

Instead of a policy-heavy laundry list speech, the president leaned into politics, and at times, shouted and amped up Democrats with some fiery rhetoric.

Early in his speech he derided Trump, without mentioning his name, chastising those who failed to heed the threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Ukraine, and denouncing those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The atmosphere in the House chamber often seemed more like a political convention than the annual required speech assessing the state of the nation.

Here are five takeaways.

1. He took on Trump extensively on a wide range of policies

The president referred to policies or comments from "my predecessor" more than a dozen times, making it clear the high-stakes televised speech was his campaign roadmap for his rematch with Trump in November.

The president leaned into the issues that energize his base, like abortion and gun control and tax hikes on the wealthy. But he also attempted to challenge Republicans in the chamber, and Trump outside of it, on issues like the border and crime, areas where he faces skepticism from many independent and suburban voters.

Key moments from Biden's 2024 State of the Union address you may have missed

Key moments from Biden's 2024 State of the Union address you may have missed

The president, who is 81, had a bar to clear to alleviate concerns from some in his own party about his age and capacity to hold the demanding job as commander in chief for four more years.

He stuck mostly to his script, was energetic and appeared to fire up Democrats in the chamber, who occasionally chanted "Four more years!" and jumped to their feet cheering the president.

Biden also worked to flip the age issue against his opponent, who at one point he referred to as "some other people my age." Trump is 77.

2. Reproductive rights are front and center in 2024 campaign

With six justices of the U.S. Supreme Court sitting in the front rows, the president criticized the majority conservative court for overturning the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade in 2022. As he warned that "history is watching" how the U.S. handles alliances abroad, and supports Ukraine, he warned about "another assault on freedom."

Referring to Trump, Biden maintained that the former president was responsible for overturning the law and said, "In fact, he brags about it." He warned that Republicans in the Congress were pushing for a national abortion ban.

Alluding to Trump, Biden calls out Republicans 'bragging' about abortion bans

Alluding to Trump, Biden calls out Republicans 'bragging' about abortion bans

He ticked through how a host of red states have restricted access to reproductive health services — warning about the latest law in Alabama that effectively banned in vitro fertilization. He mentioned Kate Cox, a guest sitting with the first lady . Cox suffered a fatal fetal condition during her pregnancy but was unable to obtain an abortion in Texas and sued the state .

Biden warned that the GOP underestimated the power of women to mobilize, referencing past wins when reproductive freedom was on the ballot and predicting a win again in 2024.

He also promised to restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land — something he will need a Democratic House and Senate to achieve, which is not likely after the 2024 election, when Republicans are favored to flip control of the Senate.

The political symbolism of the power of women for Biden's campaign was also visibly on display in the chamber. Dozens of Democratic lawmakers donned white and sported buttons emblazoned with a slogan "fighting for reproductive freedom."

3. Biden made the case for why his economic policies are working

Congressional Democrats, especially those in swing seats , needed Biden to alleviate voters' concerns about his ability to do the job in this kickoff campaign speech. But they chiefly named the economy as the issue they wanted him to highlight.

He argued that the state of the country was far worse when Trump was in office, citing the pandemic that triggered job losses, millions of deaths and a "mental health crisis of isolation and loneliness."

He acknowledged what many Democrats concede, that some of the major bills that Democrats passed since 2021 aren't fully felt around the country.

"It doesn't make the news but in thousands of cities and towns, the American people are writing the greatest comeback story never told," he said.

Many Republicans in the chamber groaned and booed at Biden's description of Trump's record.

Biden touts economic 'comeback' in election-year pitch to skeptical voters

Biden touts economic 'comeback' in election-year pitch to skeptical voters

When Biden wasn't calling out Trump's record in the White House, he outlined his own. He pulled out statistics about real world projects that are funded through his top legislative accomplishments — a heath care and climate bill, which was passed without a single GOP vote, and the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Biden took credit for lowering prescription drugs, and capping the cost of insulin for seniors on Medicare to $35 a month. He vowed in a second term to extend that cap for all who need insulin.

Biden used a familiar populist line from the stump about shifting more cost savings to those on the lower-income side, at the expense of the top 1%.

Biden cited Trump's 2017 tax cuts as the prime example of a president who was skewed toward helping the rich.

He looked into the cameras to those watching at home and asked the political question designed to relate to most Americans, "For folks at home, does anybody really think the tax code is fair?"

4. Border security provoked a GOP response, and blame game

Going into the State of the Union, the president and his advisers knew he needed to detail how he would address the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border and acknowledge the impact it is having, not just in red border states, but in blue cities across the country, where migrants are being bused and straining public resources.

Public opinion polls consistently show it's his weakest issue politically, and Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill have made it their top priority. Before the president's speech on Thursday, the House approved a bill dubbed the "Laken Riley Act," a reference to the 22-year-old Georgia nursing student who was murdered recently by a migrant who entered the U.S. illegally in 2022. The move was a deliberate attempt to force Democrats to go on the record on a measure that requires the detention of any migrant with a record of theft, and 37 Democrats — chiefly from swing districts — backed it.

Biden spars with Republicans on border security during State of the Union

Biden spars with Republicans on border security during State of the Union

Republicans wore buttons that included Riley's name, and some chanted her name when President Biden called for Congress to pass the bipartisan Senate border security bill, which White House officials helped broker over several months. The Senate approved the legislation with a significant bipartisan vote, but House Speaker Mike Johnson said it was "dead on arrival" and declined to take it up.

Biden again didn't mention Trump by name, but blamed him for derailing it, "I'm told my predecessor called Republicans in Congress and demanded they block the bill. He feels it would be a political win for me and a political loser for him."

GOP rebuttals to Biden's State of the Union focus on the border and immigration

GOP rebuttals to Biden's State of the Union focus on the border and immigration

Biden repeated a challenge he issued in a recent trip to the southwest border for Trump to join him to help pass the bill. He mentioned he was looking at executive authority for policies to reduce the number of migrants — something that has split Democrats on Capitol Hill — but he also said he needed Congress to change the law to fund more enforcement personnel.

The blame game over which party is more serious about the situation at the border is expected to be a leading theme through the fall. Although Democrats are split on the president's embrace of some conservative policies, like altering who can be eligible to claim asylum, the strategy of trying to flip the script and put Republicans on defense for blocking a bipartisan plan is one candidates in competitive races are expected to replicate.

Latino Democrats launch 'Our Lucha' war room using Spanglish to combat GOP

Latino Democrats launch 'Our Lucha' war room using Spanglish to combat GOP

5. biden addressed critics on his mideast policy, stepped up criticism of israeli leaders.

President Biden made Israel's now five-month-long war against Hamas in Gaza a significant part of his speech, and he acknowledged families of those still being held hostage by Hamas in the chamber's visitors galleries.

His handling of the war has angered many progressives, and younger voters, who argue that the president isn't tough enough on the Israeli government. The fallout from his approach has cost him politically, and Democrats are concerned it could prompt some voters to stay home in the fall.

In Michigan, a significant bloc of Democrats upset about the president's handling of Israel's war in Gaza, sent a message in the primary last week, with more than 100,000 registering a vote for the "uncommitted" option on the ballot, instead of for Biden. A number of Super Tuesday states had similar efforts.

'Uncommitted' movement spreads to Super Tuesday states

'Uncommitted' movement spreads to Super Tuesday states

In Thursday's address, the president announced the U.S. military will build a temporary emergency pier to facilitate the delivery of aid to civilians desperate for food and medicine. But, he declared, "No U.S. boots will be on the ground."

The president stressed that his administration is working on a cease-fire so that hostages can be released and more humanitarian assistance can be delivered. He stressed his personal record over decades as a strong supporter of Israel and his visit during the early part of the war. But he also said, "As we look to the future, the only real solution is a two-state solution."

There is increasing pressure for an immediate cease-fire to materialize, and Biden, who recently predicted a temporary pause would be coming in a matter of days, faces calls from progressives in Congress to cut off military aid to Israel and concentrate on humanitarian assistance.

Biden may have largely united his own party on the need to continue supporting Ukraine. But the deep fissures when it comes to his approach to Israel, as the death toll of civilians mounts in Gaza, has been a regular flashpoint already in campaign stops and shows no sign of fading.

Correction March 8, 2024

An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Republicans are favored to flip control of the House. The GOP currently controls the House and could flip the Senate.

IMAGES

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  2. 25 Thesis Statement Examples (2024)

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    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. Tip AI tools like ChatGPT can be effectively used to brainstorm and refine potential thesis statements.

  2. Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement: tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself.

  3. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  4. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a sentence in a paper or essay (in the opening paragraph) that introduces the main topic to the reader. As one of the first things your reader sees, your thesis statement is one of the most important sentences in your entire paper—but also one of the hardest to write!

  5. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  6. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point. 3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

  7. Developing A Thesis

    An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim. "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and ...

  8. Designing an Effective Thesis

    Key Concepts. A thesis is a simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic. A thesis provides a roadmap to what follows in the paper. A thesis is like a wheel's hub--everything revolves around it and is attached to it. After your prewriting activities-- such as assignment analysis and outlining--you should be ready to ...

  9. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic. As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or ...

  10. Effective Thesis Statements

    What is a Thesis Statement? A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an "argument," a "main idea," or a "controlling idea.". A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how ...

  11. Strong Thesis Statements

    Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy. The thesis needs to be narrow. Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence.

  12. 3.5: Effective Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an "argument," a "main idea," or a "controlling idea.". A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is ...

  13. Creating a Thesis Statement, Thesis Statement Tips

    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 ...

  14. 9.1 Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

    A strong thesis is specific, precise, forceful, confident, and is able to be demonstrated. A strong thesis challenges readers with a point of view that can be debated and can be supported with evidence. A weak thesis is simply a declaration of your topic or contains an obvious fact that cannot be argued.

  15. Writing Effective Thesis Statements

    Writing Effective Thesis Statements. A good thesis statement can be the difference between making an argument about something, and simply re-stating what someone else has already said. In your thesis statement, you want to make a claim that you will continue to develop throughout the paper. It should represent your own ideas-perhaps in ...

  16. PDF Thesis Statements Defining, Developing, and Evaluating

    An effective thesis statement functions as a directional signpost, providing clarity and focused direction for the reader on a particular topic's significance. Dictionary.com defines

  17. 5.1: Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement

    A good thesis statement makes a claim that is arguable. 2. The most effective thesis statements do not list your main points but unite your main points into a larger, central idea. The list thesis above looks strong, but notice how the effective thesis connects the three points with the words "abusive" and "discriminatory."

  18. Writing an Effective Thesis Statement Podcast

    A good thesis comes about the more you explore your topic whether that exploration is the result of exploratory writing like freewriting or research or long walks in which you think and think and think. As you explore your thinking, your ideas will get clearer and clearer. Again, a thesis statement evolves over time.

  19. Writing Effective Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement is a short statement, usually one sentence in length, that is present at the end of your introduction paragraph.. A thesis statement summarizes the main point of the essay and makes an argument about the topic, its importance, or its plausibility.. A thesis statement is.... developed; supported; explained... in the body of the essay through the use of examples and evidence.

  20. How to Format a Thesis for a Research Paper

    Notice how the thesis statement gives a complete overview of the topic without saying too much. Thesis statements act only as an introduction to the topic, while the rest of the paper covers the details and explains the finer points. Understanding what goes into a good thesis statement is a necessary part of knowing how to write a research ...

  21. Writing Thesis Statements

    Thesis statements are central arguments in essays, and are usually written as one or two sentences (but can be longer depending on the context and discipline). A thesis focuses on the interpretation of facts to create an argument. A thesis is not a statement of fact, but a clear and convincing argument that takes a stand in a range of possible ...

  22. 25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze

    What that means is that you can't just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute. An ineffective thesis statement would be, "Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it." This isn't really something that's a debatable topic. Something that would be more debatable would be, "A puppy's ...

  23. 30 Examples: How to Conclude a Presentation (Effective Closing Techniques)

    30 Example Phrases: How to Conclude a Presentation. 1. "In summary, let's revisit the key takeaways from today's presentation.". 2. "Thank you for your attention. Let's move forward together.". 3. "That brings us to the end. I'm open to any questions you may have.".

  24. Effective Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an "argument," a "main idea," or a "controlling idea.". A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is ...

  25. CS PhD student wins People's Choice award at Three Minute Thesis

    Learn more about Aaquib Tabrez, a computer science PhD student who won the People's Choice award for his effective presentation on how he helps robots and autonomous systems more effectively explain their decision-making processes to human collaborators.

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    President Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP. President Biden didn't waste any ...

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    A thesis statement tells a reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. Such a statement is also called an "argument," a "main idea," or a "controlling idea.". A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is ...