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Constructing the Thesis and Argument—From the Ground Up
Moving beyond the five-paragraph theme.
As an instructor, I’ve noted that a number of new (and sometimes not-so-new) students are skilled wordsmiths and generally clear thinkers but are nevertheless stuck in a high-school style of writing. They struggle to let go of certain assumptions about how an academic paper should be . Chapter 1 points to the essay portion of the SAT as a representative artifact of the writing skills that K-12 education imparts. Some students who have mastered that form, and enjoyed a lot of success from doing so, assume that college writing is simply more of the same. The skills that go into a very basic kind of essay—often called the five-paragraph theme —are indispensable. If you’re good at the five-paragraph theme, then you’re good at identifying a clear and consistent thesis, arranging cohesive paragraphs, organizing evidence for key points, and situating an argument within a broader context through the intro and conclusion.
In college you need to build on those essential skills. The five-paragraph theme, as such, is bland and formulaic; it doesn’t compel deep thinking. Your professors are looking for a more ambitious and arguable thesis, a nuanced and compelling argument, and real-life evidence for all key points, all in an organically  structured paper.
Figures 3.1 and 3.2 contrast the standard five-paragraph theme and the organic college paper. The five-paragraph theme, outlined in Figure 3.1 is probably what you’re used to: the introductory paragraph starts broad and gradually narrows to a thesis, which readers expect to find at the very end of that paragraph. In this idealized format, the thesis invokes the magic number of three: three reasons why a statement is true. Each of those reasons is explained and justified in the three body paragraphs, and then the final paragraph restates the thesis before gradually getting broader. This format is easy for readers to follow, and it helps writers organize their points and the evidence that goes with them. That’s why you learned this format.
Figure 3.2, in contrast, represents a paper on the same topic that has the more organic form expected in college. The first key difference is the thesis. Rather than simply positing a number of reasons to think that something is true, it puts forward an arguable statement: one with which a reasonable person might disagree. An arguable thesis gives the paper purpose. It surprises readers and draws them in. You hope your reader thinks, “Huh. Why would they come to that conclusion?” and then feels compelled to read on. The body paragraphs, then, build on one another to carry out this ambitious argument. In the classic five-paragraph theme (Figure 3.1) it hardly matters which of the three reasons you explain first or second. In the more organic structure (Figure 3.2) each paragraph specifically leads to the next.
The last key difference is seen in the conclusion. Because the organic essay is driven by an ambitious, non-obvious argument, the reader comes to the concluding section thinking “OK, I’m convinced by the argument. What do you, author, make of it? Why does it matter?” The conclusion of an organically structured paper has a real job to do. It doesn’t just reiterate the thesis; it explains why the thesis matters.
The substantial time you spent mastering the five-paragraph form in Figure 3.1 was time well spent; it’s hard to imagine anyone succeeding with the more organic form without the organizational skills and habits of mind inherent in the simpler form. But if you assume that you must adhere rigidly to the simpler form, you’re blunting your intellectual ambition. Your professors will not be impressed by obvious theses, loosely related body paragraphs, and repetitive conclusions. They want you to undertake an ambitious independent analysis, one that will yield a thesis that is somewhat surprising and challenging to explain.
The three-story thesis: from the ground up
You have no doubt been drilled on the need for a thesis statement and its proper location at the end of the introduction. And you also know that all of the key points of the paper should clearly support the central driving thesis. Indeed, the whole model of the five-paragraph theme hinges on a clearly stated and consistent thesis. However, some students are surprised—and dismayed—when some of their early college papers are criticized for not having a good thesis. Their professor might even claim that the paper doesn’t have a thesis when, in the author’s view it clearly does. So, what makes a good thesis in college?
- A good thesis is non-obvious . High school teachers needed to make sure that you and all your classmates mastered the basic form of the academic essay. Thus, they were mostly concerned that you had a clear and consistent thesis, even if it was something obvious like “sustainability is important.” A thesis statement like that has a wide-enough scope to incorporate several supporting points and concurring evidence, enabling the writer to demonstrate his or her mastery of the five-paragraph form. Good enough! When they can, high school teachers nudge students to develop arguments that are less obvious and more engaging. College instructors, though, fully expect you to produce something more developed.
- A good thesis is arguable . In everyday life, “arguable” is often used as a synonym for “doubtful.” For a thesis, though, “arguable” means that it’s worth arguing: it’s something with which a reasonable person might disagree. This arguability criterion dovetails with the non-obvious one: it shows that the author has deeply explored a problem and arrived at an argument that legitimately needs 3, 5, 10, or 20 pages to explain and justify. In that way, a good thesis sets an ambitious agenda for a paper. A thesis like “sustainability is important” isn’t at all difficult to argue for, and the reader would have little intrinsic motivation to read the rest of the paper. However, an arguable thesis like “sustainability policies will inevitably fail if they do not incorporate social justice,” brings up some healthy skepticism. Thus, the arguable thesis makes the reader want to keep reading.
- A good thesis is well specified . Some student writers fear that they’re giving away the game if they specify their thesis up front; they think that a purposefully vague thesis might be more intriguing to the reader. However, consider movie trailers: they always include the most exciting and poignant moments from the film to attract an audience. In academic papers, too, a well specified thesis indicates that the author has thought rigorously about an issue and done thorough research, which makes the reader want to keep reading. Don’t just say that a particular policy is effective or fair; say what makes it is so. If you want to argue that a particular claim is dubious or incomplete, say why in your thesis.
- A good thesis includes implications . Suppose your assignment is to write a paper about some aspect of the history of linen production and trade, a topic that may seem exceedingly arcane. And suppose you have constructed a well supported and creative argument that linen was so widely traded in the ancient Mediterranean that it actually served as a kind of currency.  That’s a strong, insightful, arguable, well specified thesis. But which of these thesis statements do you find more engaging?
Linen served as a form of currency in the ancient Mediterranean world, connecting rival empires through circuits of trade.
Linen served as a form of currency in the ancient Mediterranean world, connecting rival empires through circuits of trade. The economic role of linen raises important questions about how shifting environmental conditions can influence economic relationships and, by extension, political conflicts.
Putting your claims in their broader context makes them more interesting to your reader and more impressive to your professors who, after all, assign topics that they think have enduring significance. Finding that significance for yourself makes the most of both your paper and your learning.
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.: 
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. 
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.
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: 
- 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.
Three-story theses and the organically structured argument
The three-story thesis is a beautiful thing. For one, it gives a paper authentic momentum. The first paragraph doesn’t just start with some broad, vague statement; every sentence is crucial for setting up the thesis. The body paragraphs build on one another, moving through each step of the logical chain. Each paragraph leads inevitably to the next, making the transitions from paragraph to paragraph feel wholly natural. The conclusion, instead of being a mirror-image paraphrase of the introduction, builds out the third story by explaining the broader implications of the argument. It offers new insight without departing from the flow of the analysis.
I should note here that a paper with this kind of momentum often reads like it was knocked out in one inspired sitting. But in reality, just like accomplished athletes and artists, masterful writers make the difficult thing look easy. As writer Anne Lamott notes, reading a well written piece feels like its author sat down and typed it out, “bounding along like huskies across the snow.” However, she continues,
This is just the fantasy of the uninitiated. I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. 
Experienced writers don’t figure out what they want to say and then write it. They write in order to figure out what they want to say.
Experienced writers develop theses in dialog with the body of the essay. An initial characterization of the problem leads to a tentative thesis, and then drafting the body of the paper reveals thorny contradictions or critical areas of ambiguity, prompting the writer to revisit or expand the body of evidence and then refine the thesis based on that fresh look. The revised thesis may require that body paragraphs be reordered and reshaped to fit the emerging three-story thesis. Throughout the process, the thesis serves as an anchor point while the author wades through the morass of facts and ideas. The dialogue between thesis and body continues until the author is satisfied or the due date arrives, whatever comes first. It’s an effortful and sometimes tedious process. Novice writers, in contrast, usually oversimplify the writing process. They formulate some first-impression thesis, produce a reasonably organized outline, and then flesh it out with text, never taking the time to reflect or truly revise their work. They assume that revision is a step backward when, in reality, it is a major step forward.
Everyone has a different way that they like to write. For instance, I like to pop my earbuds in, blast dubstep music and write on a white board. I like using the white board because it is a lot easier to revise and edit while you write. After I finish writing a paragraph that I am completely satisfied with on the white board, I sit in front of it with my laptop and just type it up.
Another benefit of the three-story thesis framework is that it demystifies what a “strong” argument is in academic culture. In an era of political polarization, many students may think that a strong argument is based on a simple, bold, combative statement that is promoted it in the most forceful way possible. “Gun control is a travesty!” “Shakespeare is the best writer who ever lived!” When students are encouraged to consider contrasting perspectives in their papers, they fear that doing so will make their own thesis seem mushy and weak. However, in academics a “strong” argument is comprehensive and nuanced, not simple and polemical. The purpose of the argument is to explain to readers why the author—through the course of his or her in-depth study—has arrived at a somewhat surprising point. On that basis, it has to consider plausible counter-arguments and contradictory information. Academic argumentation exemplifies the popular adage about all writing: show, don’t tell. In crafting and carrying out the three-story thesis, you are showing your reader the work you have done.
The model of the organically structured paper and the three-story thesis framework explained here is the very foundation of the paper itself and the process that produces it. The subsequent chapters, focusing on sources, paragraphs, and sentence-level wordsmithing, all follow from the notion that you are writing to think and writing to learn as much as you are writing to communicate. Your professors assume that you have the self-motivation and organizational skills to pursue your analysis with both rigor and flexibility; that is, they envision you developing, testing, refining and sometimes discarding your own ideas based on a clear-eyed and open-minded assessment of the evidence before you.
- The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers an excellent, readable run-down on the five-paragraph theme, why most college writing assignments want you to go beyond it, and those times when the simpler structure is actually a better choice.
- There are many useful websites that describe good thesis statements and provide examples. Those from the writing centers at Hamilton College , Purdue University , and Clarkson University are especially helpful.
- Find a scholarly article or book that is interesting to you. Focusing on the abstract and introduction, outline the first, second, and third stories of its thesis.
- Television programming includes content that some find objectionable.
- The percent of children and youth who are overweight or obese has risen in recent decades.
- First-year college students must learn how to independently manage their time.
- The things we surround ourselves with symbolize who we are.
- Find an example of a five-paragraph theme (online essay mills, your own high school work), produce an alternative three-story thesis, and outline an organically structured paper to carry that thesis out.
- “Organic” here doesn’t mean “pesticide-free” or containing carbon; it means the paper grows and develops, sort of like a living thing. ↵
- For more see Fabio Lopez-Lazaro “Linen.” In Encyclopedia of World Trade from Ancient Times to the Present . Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2005. ↵
- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table (New York: Houghton & Mifflin, 1892). ↵
- The metaphor is extraordinarily useful even though the passage is annoying. Beyond the sexist language of the time, I don’t appreciate the condescension toward “fact-collectors.” which reflects a general modernist tendency to elevate the abstract and denigrate the concrete. In reality, data-collection is a creative and demanding craft, arguably more important than theorizing. ↵
- Drawn from Jennifer Haytock, Edith Wharton and the Conversations of Literary Modernism (New York: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008). ↵
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Pantheon, 1994), 21. ↵
Writing in College by Amy Guptill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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Making Arguments and Writing Theses
What is an argument?
An argument takes a stand on an issue that is debatable . It seeks to persuade an audience of a point of view in much the same way that a lawyer argues a case in a court of law. It is NOT a description or a summary.
- This is an argument: “Although it may seem that internal discord and external barbarian invasions were separate problems for the Roman Empire in the fourth century, these developments were fundamentally interrelated and formed the single most important explanation for the long-term decline of Rome.”
- This is not an argument: “In this paper, I will elucidate the reasons for the collapse of the Roman Empire in the two tumultuous centuries leading up to the sack of its capital city in 410 by the notorious Visigoth king Alaric.”
What is a thesis?
A thesis statement states the main argument of your project and describes, briefly, how you will prove your argument . In other words, it also states how you will organize your body of evidence in support of the argument.
- This is an vague argument, and not yet a thesis: “The Roman Empire fell due to multiple interrelated reasons.”
- This is a thesis: “The barbarian invasions from the late third to the early fifth century were a direct result of policy changes by the Roman government responding to political struggles within the empire, culminating in the collapse of the Roman Empire at the hands of the Germanic tribes from the north.”
A thesis makes a specific statement to the reader about what you will be trying to argue. Your thesis can be more than one sentence, but should not be longer than a paragraph. Do not state evidence or use examples in your thesis paragraph.
A Thesis Helps You and Your Reader
Your blueprint for writing:
- Helps you focus and clarify your ideas.
- Provides a “hook” on which you can “hang” your topic sentences.
- Can (and should) be revised as you further refine your evidence and arguments. New evidence often requires you to change your thesis.
- Gives your paper a unified structure and point.
Your reader’s blueprint for reading:
- Serves as a “map” to follow through your paper.
- Keeps the reader focused on your argument.
- Signals to the reader your main points.
- Engages the reader in your argument.
Tips for Writing a Good Thesis
- Find a Focus : Choose a thesis that explores an aspect of your topic that is important to you, or that allows you to say something insightful about your topic. For example, if your project seeks to analyze women’s domestic labor during the late fifteenth century, you might decide to focus on the products they produced at home.
- Look for Patterns : After determining a general focus, go back and look more closely at your evidence. As you re-examine your evidence and identify patterns, you will develop your argument and some conclusions. For example, you might find that as men’s access to professional training increased, women made fewer textiles at home, though they generally retained their production of butter and ale.
Strategies for Developing a Thesis Statement
Here are four ways to begin to develop your thesis. These will not necessarily result in a finished product, but will give you a place to start.
Strategy 1: Spend time ruminating over your topic. Make a list of the ideas you want to include in the essay, and then think about how to group them under several different headings. Often, you will see an organizational plan emerge from the sorting process.
Strategy 2: Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.
Main Idea : Women’s domestic labor during the later Middle Ages contributed to the growth of the early industrial economy in Europe.
Strategy 3: Use a formula to develop a working thesis statement (which you will need to revise later). Here are a few examples:
- Although most readers of _________ have argued that _________, closer examination shows that _________.
- ________ used _________ and _________ to prove that _________.
- Historical event “X” is a result of the combination of _________, _________, and _________.
Strategy 4: Since your project instructions asks you to develop a specific historical question, turn the question into an assertion and give reasons for your statement.
Research Question : How did women’s domestic labor change between 1348 and 1500? How were changes in their work important to late medieval economic culture in Germany?
Beginning thesis : Between 1348 and 1500 women’s domestic labor changed as women stopped producing home-made textiles, although they continued to produce butter and ale. With the cash women earned from the sale of butter and ale they purchased cloth imported from Flanders and Italy, which in turn, helped increase early industrial production in those areas.
These strategies all should help you develop two characteristics all thesis statements should have: they state an argument and they reveal how you will make that argument. Your thesis probably still needs revising but these strategies may provide a good start.
Refine, Refine, Refine
As you work on your project, your ideas will change and so will your thesis. Here are examples of weak and strong thesis statements.
- Unspecific thesis : “Francis of Assisi was an important figure in the development of Christian attitudes about nature.”
This thesis lacks an argument. Why was Francis an important leader?
- Specific thesis : “Francis of Assisi offered a new interpretation of Christian asceticism that responded to the frustrations felt my many urban dwellers with the commercial economy of the thirteenth century, while using simple religious language that attracted people who were uncomfortable with impenetrable scholastic theology of the period.”
This thesis has an argument: Francis’s interpretation of Christianity became popular because it satisfied two different frustrations felt by many people in thirteenth-century Europe.
- Unspecific thesis : “At the end of the fifteenth century French women faced difficulty when they attempted to enter universities.”
No historian could argue with this general statement and uninteresting thesis.
- Specific thesis : “At the end of the fifteenth century French women experienced misogynist attacks from scholastics when they petitioned to enter universities primarily because theologians were concerned with protecting the monopoly that males had on priesthood, which was required for entry into academia.”
This thesis statement asserts that theologians attacked women who wanted a formal education because they feared that if women were allowed into universities they would be granted clerical status, which might threaten the male monopoly on priesthood.
Making an Argument
Your thesis is defenseless without you to prove that its argument holds up under scrutiny. Your reader expects you to provide all of the evidence to prove your thesis. There are two categories of evidence that you can use:
- Primary sources: treatises, letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, government documents, an organization’s meeting minutes and pamphlets.
- Secondary sources: articles and books that explain and interpret historical events.
How can you use this evidence?
- Make sure the examples you select from your available evidence address your thesis.
- Use evidence that your reader will deem credible. This means sorting through your sources, and identifying the clearest and fairest. It also means paying careful attention to the credibility of the source. This is especially important when dealing with web-based sources. Be sure to understand the biases and shortcomings of each piece of evidence. When in doubt consult with your professor or teaching assistant.
- Avoid broad generalizations that your reader may question by appealing to specific evidence.
- Use evidence to address an opposing point of view. How do your sources give examples that refute another historian’s interpretation?
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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:
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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Module 3: Writing Essentials
Thesis statements, learning objectives.
- Identify strong thesis statements
The thesis statement is the key to most academic writing. The purpose of academic writing is to offer your own insights, analyses, and ideas—to show not only that you understand the concepts you’re studying, but also that you have thought about those concepts in your own way and agreed or disagreed, or developed your own unique ideas as a result of your analysis. The thesis statement is the one sentence that encapsulates the result of your thinking, as it offers your main insight or argument in condensed form.
We often use the word “argument” in English courses, but we do not mean it in the traditional sense of a verbal fight with someone else. Instead, you “argue” by taking a position on an issue and supporting it with evidence. Because you’ve taken a position about your topic, someone else may be in a position to disagree (or argue) with the stance you have taken. Think about how a lawyer presents an argument or states their case in a courtroom—similarly, you want to build a case around the main idea of your essay. For example, in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted “The Declaration of Sentiments,” she was thinking about how to convince New York State policymakers to change the laws to allow women to vote. Stanton was making an argument .
Some consider all writing a form of argument—or at least of persuasion. After all, even if you’re writing a letter or an informative essay, you’re implicitly trying to persuade your audience to care about what you’re saying. Your thesis statement represents the main idea—or point—about a topic or issue that you make in an argument. For example, let’s say that your topic is social media. A thesis statement about social media could look like one of the following sentences:
- Social media harms the self-esteem of American pre-teen girls.
- Social media can help connect researchers when they use hashtags to curate their work.
- Social media tools are not tools for social movements, they are marketing tools.
A basic thesis sentence has two main parts:
- Topic: What you’re writing about
- Angle: What your main idea is about that topic, or your claim
Example Thesis Statements
Thesis: A regular exercise regime leads to multiple benefits, both physical and emotional.
Topic: Regular exercise regime
Angle: Leads to multiple benefits
Thesis: Adult college students have different experiences than typical, younger college students.
Topic: Adult college students
Angle: Have different experiences
Thesis: The economics of television have made the viewing experience challenging for many viewers because shows are not offered regularly, similar programming occurs at the same time, and commercials are rampant.
Topic: Television viewing
Angle: Challenging because shows shifted, similar programming, and commercials
When you read all of the thesis statements above, can you see areas where the writer could be more specific with their angle? The more specific you are with your topic and your claims, the more focused your essay will be for your reader.
Identifying the Thesis Statement
You’ll remember that the first step of the reading process, previewing , allows you to get a big-picture view of the document you’re reading. This way, you can begin to understand the structure of the overall text. The most important step of understanding an essay or a book is to find the thesis statement.
A thesis consists of a specific topic and an angle on the topic. All of the other ideas in the text support and develop the thesis. The thesis statement is often found in the introduction, sometimes after an initial “hook” or interesting story; sometimes, however, the thesis is not explicitly stated until the end of an essay. Sometimes it is not stated at all. In those instances, there is an implied thesis statement. You can generally extract the thesis statement by looking for a few key sentences and ideas.
Most readers expect to see the point of your argument (the thesis statement) within the first few paragraphs. This does not mean that it has to be placed there every time. Some writers place it at the very end, slowly building up to it throughout their work, to explain a point after the fact. Others don’t bother with one at all but feel that their thesis is “implied” anyway. Beginning writers, however, should avoid the implied thesis unless certain of the audience. Almost every professor will expect to see a clearly discernible thesis sentence in the introduction.
Thesis statements vary based on the rhetorical strategy of the essay. Thesis statements typically share the following characteristics:
- presents the main idea
- is one sentence
- tells the reader what to expect
- summarizes the essay topic
- presents an argument
- is written in the third person (does not include the “I” pronoun)
The following “How to Identify a Thesis Statement” video offers advice for locating a text’s thesis statement. It asks you to write one or two sentences that summarize the text. When you write that summary, without looking at the text itself, you’ve most likely paraphrased the thesis statement.
You can view the transcript for “How to Identify the Thesis Statement” here (download).
Writing a Thesis Statement
Remember your thesis should answer two simple questions: What topic are you writing about, and what is your position, or angle, on the topic?
A thesis statement is a single sentence (or sometimes two) that provides the answers to these questions clearly and concisely. Ask yourself, “What is my paper about, exactly?” Answering this question will help you develop a precise and directed thesis, not only for your reader, but for you as well.
A good thesis statement will:
- Consist of just one interesting idea
- Be specific and written clearly
- Have evidence to support it
A good basic structure for a thesis statement is “they say, I say.” What is the prevailing view, and how does your position differ from it? However, avoid limiting the scope of your writing with an either/or thesis under the assumption that your view must be strictly contrary to their view.
Following are some typical thesis statements:
- Although many readers believe Romeo and Juliet to be a tale about the ill fate of two star-crossed lovers, it can also be read as an allegory concerning a playwright and his audience.
- The “War on Drugs” has not only failed to reduce the frequency of drug-related crimes in America but actually enhanced the popular image of dope peddlers by romanticizing them as desperate rebels fighting for a cause.
- The bulk of modern copyright law was conceived in the age of commercial printing, long before the Internet made it so easy for the public to compose and distribute its own texts. Therefore, these laws should be reviewed and revised to better accommodate modern readers and writers.
- The usual moral justification for capital punishment is that it deters crime by frightening would-be criminals. However, the statistics tell a different story.
- If students really want to improve their writing, they must read often, practice writing, and receive quality feedback from their peers.
- Plato’s dialectical method has much to offer those engaged in online writing, which is far more conversational in nature than print.
Thesis Problems to Avoid
Although you have creative control over your thesis sentence, you still should try to avoid the following problems, not for stylistic reasons, but because they indicate a problem in the thinking that underlies the thesis sentence.
- For example, look at the thesis: Hospice workers need support. This is a thesis sentence; it has a topic (hospice workers) and an angle (need support). But the angle is very broad. When the angle in a thesis sentence is too broad, the writer may not have carefully thought through the specific support for the rest of the writing. A thesis angle that’s too broad makes it easy to fall into the trap of offering information that deviates from that angle.
- Consider this thesis: Hospice workers have a 55% turnover rate compared to the general health care population’s 25% turnover rate. This sentence really isn’t a thesis sentence at all, because there’s no angle idea to support. A narrow statistic, or a narrow statement of fact, doesn’t offer the writer’s own ideas or analysis about a topic. A clearer example of a thesis statement with an angle of development would be the following:
Practice identifying strong thesis statements in the following interactive.
argument : in writing, the argument is the main stance, claim, or position that is supported with evidence
explicit thesis : a clear and direct statement of the writer’s claim
thesis statement : a statement of the topic of the piece of writing and the angle the writer has on that topic
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Developing Your Thesis Statement
What is a thesis statement.
Composition classes stress the role of the thesis statement because it is the backbone of collegiate composition. The thesis statement gives the reader insight into the topic, letting him/her know what the essay is about. Without a thesis statement, the essay may lack an argument, focus, clarity, and continuity.
1. There are two major types of thesis statements: explanatory and argumentative. The explanatory thesis announces the subject to the reader; it never declares a stance which needs an argument to defend. These explanatory theses are evident in expository essays and research essays. In an argumentative essay, the thesis statement should be a claim, not a factual statement or a personal response to a topic. It should be an idea that provokes opposition, a claim that readers might choose to refute.
2. The thesis statement is usually found at the end of an introductory paragraph. It's planted early in the essay because it informs the reader of the main important idea that encompasses the entire essay.
3. A thesis statement is not always one sentence; the length of the thesis depends on the depth of the essay. Some essays may require more than a single sentence. However, the statement should be as clear and concise as possible in the final draft of the essay. The shorter and more direct a thesis statement is the more confident and assertive the writer sounds. Being assertive and confident is crucial, especially in argumentative essays.
Creating a thesis statement:
As a writer, keep your thesis statement in mind. Each proposed or considered topic within the essay should have some relevance to your thesis statement. It is the argument or focus of the essay, as well as a great structuring tool.
Because of the pivotal role a thesis statement plays in a piece of composition, many novice writers put too much emphasis on the thesis statement during the production of an essay. It is important to keep the thesis in mind, but it is also important to avoid hindering the writing process by restricting your writing to a thesis statement. This is where a working thesis comes into play.
A working thesis is exactly what it means: a thesis statement that is "in progress" during the writing process. Normally, a thesis statement will not be fully constructed until the entire essay is written. A working thesis allows for a writer to approach the topic with a thesis in mind, even though that thesis can be revised (and it will be numerous times) during the writing prcess.
Constructing a working thesis should come after brainstorming or deriving a topic. It should be a thesis that can help guide you as a writer through the composition of the essay. A simple way to begin the construction of a working thesis is to write "I believe that ... " and follow it up with a simple claim that includes the key topics to be discussed in the essay. An example would be:
" I believe that America's cultural identity can be defined by art, literature, and film."
The working thesis stated above now gives the writer a structure for the paper. Three main ideas should be discussed in their relation to cultural identity: art, literature, and film.
The best aspect of a working thesis is that it can be revised at any time to meet the needs of the essay or the writer. For instance, when using a working thesis, the writer knows that the thesis can be changed to fit in an extra topic if the essay needs it:
" I believe that America's cultural identity can be defined by art, literature, music , and film."
The role of the working thesis is to lessen the stress of writing a collegiate essay and to incorporate some flexibility into the writing process. Knowing that a working thesis will be subjected to numerous revisions allows the writer more freedom when writing the essay.
Now let's revise our working thesis into a stronger claim.
Revising the thesis statement
The first step in changing the working thesis into a strong, independent claim is to cut "I believe that" from the beginning of the sentence. Let us use the original working thesis from the previous section as an example:
As it stands now, this thesis is a bit weak because the writer is asserting that it is their opinion or what they think. To make it into an argument or claim, the writer must be taken out of the sentence.
"America's cultural identity can be defined by art, literature, and film."
Hmm….Still sounds a little weak. Although the writer is now void from the statement, there is still doubt in this claim. This is where diction becomes important. The key is to use words that make the claim stronger and more assertive. Taking out the passive voice in the statement will add strength to the statement.
"Art, literature, and film define America's cultural identity."
Now an argument can be sparked.
Although this is not the best thesis statement, the aforementioned example is to show how to create and revise a thesis. If this thesis were to be used, it probably would be revised again to make it more specific; the types of art, literature, and film would need clarification.
Key points in revising a thesis statement:
Make sure that your paper reinforces your thesis statement at all times. One way to ensure this is by checking the use of the topic sentences throughout the essay:
- Do they have any relevance to the thesis statement?
- Do they pertain to the topic or argument?
If not, don't change your paper right away; see if you can revise the thesis statement to meet the needs of your essay. If you can't change the thesis, then change the essay.
Using diction in a thesis statement is important. Make sure the words comprising the statement are used correctly and help reinforce the claim.
Be direct, clear and concise. Do not use large, vague words unless they are necessary. Do not fluff the thesis statement. The goal of the thesis statement is to make sure the reader understands the topic on hand. Don't confuse him/her with a big, flowery sentence.
If the essay is argumentative, be assertive !!
A Check List:
Here is a list of questions to help determine the strength of your thesis statement. After revising the working thesis into a more effective statement, ask yourself the following:
- Does my thesis statement introduce readers to the argument or claim headlining the essay?
- Will this thesis evoke discussions or arguments? Can it be opposed? Or is it merely a factual statement?
- Is my thesis obscure? Is it too general? Would making it more specific be helpful for readers?
- Does my thesis guide the essay? Is it the foundation for the topics discussed in the essay?
- Is it clear that the progression of the essay pertains to the thesis statement?
- Are my word choices in the thesis statement correct? Are all the words used in the right context? Could I make the sentence stronger by cutting unnecessary words?
- If I am writing a research paper, does my thesis place the essay and reader into a larger, contemporary scholastic discourse?
- Overall, do I feel comfortable with and confident about the final revision of the thesis statement? Do I feel that it would pique a reader's interest?
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- How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 14, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .
Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.
You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:
- Start with a question
- Write your initial answer
- Develop your answer
- Refine your thesis statement
Table of contents
What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.
A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.
The best thesis statements are:
- Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
- Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. 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.
The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.
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You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.
You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?
For example, you might ask:
After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .
Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.
In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.
The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.
In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.
The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.
A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:
- Why you hold this position
- What they’ll learn from your essay
- The key points of your argument or narrative
The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.
These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.
Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:
- In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
- In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
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Thesis Statement and Controlling Idea
So what? This is the question you will get asked if your thesis statement, or main idea, is not obvious in your paper. Your thesis statement is the most important part of your writing; without it, your paper doesn’t have a main point or stance. A thesis statement states the purpose and topic of your writing, and the controlling idea indicates the direction and, often, the writing strategy you will adopt.
Generally, your thesis is placed at the end of your introduction and is a concise and simple sentence that combines your topic and your position on the topic. Like a road map, your thesis lets your readers know what to expect from the rest of your paper. Your body paragraphs support it, and your essay lacks direction without it.
It is important to keep in mind that this early in your writing, your thesis statement is really a working thesis that you use to begin thinking about your topic. You may revise this thesis many times before you are finished thinking and ready to write your final draft. Below are some sample thesis statements.
YOUR TOPIC + POSITION ON TOPIC = THESIS STATEMENT
Thesis statement do's and don'ts.
Present an argument, stance, or claim. Can your audience argue with it?
Provide a key to the organization of your paper. Can you construct body paragraphs that support it?
Mirror the assignment prompt. Are you following what is expected of you?
Present the thesis at the end of the introduction.
Answer the question: “so what?”
Present an argument that can be supported by reputable research. Is your argument logical?
Embrace the “how” and “why” elements. It’s a great strategy to present the problem, examine why it’s a problem, and show how it can be fixed.
Include announcement style language like “this paper will discuss” or “this will be shown in this essay.”
Be informative only with no argument or stance, such as, “Some high school seniors decide to take a gap year.”
Include overly broad or generalized statements like, “Kids of this generation are lazy.”
Force the reader to guess what the paper will prove or discuss
Your thesis is one statement at the end of your introduction and should be clear, concise, and arguable.
Without a thesis, your paper lacks direction and purpose.
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Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing
Chapter 1: College Writing
How Does College Writing Differ from Workplace Writing?
What Is College Writing?
Why So Much Emphasis on Writing?
Chapter 2: The Writing Process
Doing Exploratory Research
Getting from Notes to Your Draft
Prewriting - Techniques to Get Started - Mining Your Intuition
Prewriting: Targeting Your Audience
Prewriting: Techniques to Get Started
Prewriting: Understanding Your Assignment
Rewriting: Being Your Own Critic
Rewriting: Creating a Revision Strategy
Rewriting: Getting Feedback
Rewriting: The Final Draft
Techniques to Get Started - Outlining
Techniques to Get Started - Using Systematic Techniques
Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Freewriting
Writing: Getting from Notes to Your Draft - Summarizing Your Ideas
Writing: Outlining What You Will Write
Chapter 3: Thinking Strategies
A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone
A Word About Style, Voice, and Tone: Style Through Vocabulary and Diction
Critical Strategies and Writing
Critical Strategies and Writing: Analysis
Critical Strategies and Writing: Evaluation
Critical Strategies and Writing: Persuasion
Critical Strategies and Writing: Synthesis
Developing a Paper Using Strategies
Kinds of Assignments You Will Write
Patterns for Presenting Information
Patterns for Presenting Information: Critiques
Patterns for Presenting Information: Discussing Raw Data
Patterns for Presenting Information: General-to-Specific Pattern
Patterns for Presenting Information: Problem-Cause-Solution Pattern
Patterns for Presenting Information: Specific-to-General Pattern
Patterns for Presenting Information: Summaries and Abstracts
Supporting with Research and Examples
Writing Essay Examinations
Writing Essay Examinations: Make Your Answer Relevant and Complete
Writing Essay Examinations: Organize Thinking Before Writing
Writing Essay Examinations: Read and Understand the Question
Chapter 4: The Research Process
Planning and Writing a Research Paper
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Ask a Research Question
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Cite Sources
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Collect Evidence
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Decide Your Point of View, or Role, for Your Research
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Draw Conclusions
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Find a Topic and Get an Overview
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Manage Your Resources
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Outline
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Survey the Literature
Planning and Writing a Research Paper: Work Your Sources into Your Research Writing
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Human Resources
Research Resources: What Are Research Resources?
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found?
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Electronic Resources
Research Resources: Where Are Research Resources Found? - Print Resources
Structuring the Research Paper: Formal Research Structure
Structuring the Research Paper: Informal Research Structure
The Nature of Research
The Research Assignment: How Should Research Sources Be Evaluated?
The Research Assignment: When Is Research Needed?
The Research Assignment: Why Perform Research?
Chapter 5: Academic Integrity
Giving Credit to Sources
Giving Credit to Sources: Copyright Laws
Giving Credit to Sources: Documentation
Giving Credit to Sources: Style Guides
Practicing Academic Integrity
Practicing Academic Integrity: Keeping Accurate Records
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Paraphrasing Your Source
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Quoting Your Source
Practicing Academic Integrity: Managing Source Material - Summarizing Your Sources
Types of Documentation
Types of Documentation: Bibliographies and Source Lists
Types of Documentation: Citing World Wide Web Sources
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - APA Style
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - CSE/CBE Style
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - Chicago Style
Types of Documentation: In-Text or Parenthetical Citations - MLA Style
Types of Documentation: Note Citations
Chapter 6: Using Library Resources
Finding Library Resources
Chapter 7: Assessing Your Writing
How Is Writing Graded?
How Is Writing Graded?: A General Assessment Tool
The Draft Stage
The Draft Stage: The First Draft
The Draft Stage: The Revision Process and the Final Draft
The Draft Stage: Using Feedback
The Research Stage
Using Assessment to Improve Your Writing
Chapter 8: Other Frequently Assigned Papers
Reviews and Reaction Papers: Article and Book Reviews
Reviews and Reaction Papers: Reaction Papers
Writing Arguments: Adapting the Argument Structure
Writing Arguments: Purposes of Argument
Writing Arguments: References to Consult for Writing Arguments
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Anticipate Active Opposition
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Determine Your Organization
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Develop Your Argument
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Introduce Your Argument
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - State Your Thesis or Proposition
Writing Arguments: Steps to Writing an Argument - Write Your Conclusion
Writing Arguments: Types of Argument
Appendix A: Books to Help Improve Your Writing
General Style Manuals
Researching on the Internet
Special Style Manuals
Appendix B: Collaborative Writing and Peer Reviewing
Collaborative Writing: Assignments to Accompany the Group Project
Collaborative Writing: Informal Progress Report
Collaborative Writing: Issues to Resolve
Collaborative Writing: Methodology
Collaborative Writing: Peer Evaluation
Collaborative Writing: Tasks of Collaborative Writing Group Members
Collaborative Writing: Writing Plan
Appendix C: Developing an Improvement Plan
Working with Your Instructor’s Comments and Grades
Appendix D: Writing Plan and Project Schedule
Devising a Writing Project Plan and Schedule
Reviewing Your Plan with Others
The first key difference is the thesis. Rather than simply positing a number of reasons to think that something is true, it puts forward an arguable statement:
A thesis makes a specific statement to the reader about what you will be trying to argue. Your thesis can be more than one sentence, but should not be longer
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
A thesis statement can appear as one sentence (see examples C and D) or several sentences (see ... can even contain key words from the thesis statement.
Identifying the Thesis Statement · presents the main idea · is one sentence · tells the reader what to expect · summarizes the essay topic · presents an argument · is
These explanatory theses are evident in expository essays and research essays. In an argumentative essay, the thesis statement should be a claim, not a factual
One way to ensure the originality of the key points summarized in a thesis statement is to do thorough research on the topic you're interested
The thesis statement is one sentence, contains the main idea of the essay, and is found in the introductory paragraph. When do I write a thesis statement?
Placement of the thesis statement; Step 1: Start with a question ... the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments
Present an argument, stance, or claim. Can your audience argue with it? · Provide a key to the organization of your paper. Can you construct body paragraphs that