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Tips on Writing a Thesis Statement

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What is a Thesis?

Also known as the claim or argument. Everything in a persuasive essay relates to the thesis, either as evidence, explanation, elaboration or rebuttal of alternative claims. Think of the thesis as the spine of your paper. Just as all the parts of your body are connected to the spine, and without the spine your body could not stand, so too in your essay all parts must be connected to the thesis, and without the thesis the essay cannot stand.

Parts that are not connected must be revised so that they do connect, or else eliminated. A thesis, in other words, is not the same as the thesis statement, which is a sentence or two in your introduction that tells the reader what the thesis is.

The thesis is not limited to one spot in your essay; it runs through the whole thing, from start to finish. An arguable thesis is one you have to give reasons for, that is worth proving i. So my example above is not a valid thesis, because everybody knows what color the sky is. This statement is not obvious, and it would require evidence about the nature of the atmosphere a billion years ago, and explanations of why that evidence is reliable, in order to be proved.

Theses can be statements about matters of fact e. In this class theses about values are not allowed. Your paper should make a persuasive case about some question of fact, interpretation or analysis. Your paper will then attempt to answer this question, and the answer you provide will be your thesis. It contains the topic and the controlling idea. The indirect thesis statements does not state the explicit reasons, while the direct thesis statement does.

If I write, "I love New York for three reasons," the fact that I love New York is the topic, and "three reasons" are an indirect thesis statement.

The essay will contain the three reasons. If I write, "I love New York because of the food, the jazz clubs and the Broadway Shows," that's a direct thesis statement that tells what each section or body paragraph is going to be about. Thesis statements help organize and develop the body of the writing piece. They let readers know what the writer's statement is and what it is aiming to prove. The thesis will inevitably change as you revise and develop your ideas—and that is ok! Start with a tentative thesis and revise as your paper develops.

Avoid, avoid, avoid generic arguments and formula statements. They work well to get a rough draft started, but will easily bore a reader. Keep revising until the thesis reflects your real ideas. Avoid formula and generic words. Search for concrete subjects and active verbs, revising as many "to be" verbs as possible. A few suggestions below show how specific word choice sharpens and clarifies your meaning.

Use your own words in thesis statements; avoid quoting. Crafting an original, insightful, and memorable thesis makes a distinct impression on a reader. You will lose credibility as a writer if you become only a mouthpiece or a copyist; you will gain credibility by grabbing the reader with your own ideas and words. A well-crafted thesis statement reflects well-crafted ideas. It signals a writer who has intelligence, commitment, and enthusiasm.

Center for Writing Studies: Quick Links Home Search Contact. How long does it need to be? In order to write a successful thesis statement: Avoid burying a great thesis statement in the middle of a paragraph or late in the paper. Be as clear and as specific as possible; avoid vague words. Are there two large statements connected loosely by a coordinating conjunction i. Would a subordinating conjunction help i.

Or do the two statements imply a fuzzy unfocused thesis? If so, settle on one single focus and then proceed with further development. Is your thesis statement too general? Compare this original thesis too general with three possible revisions more focused, each presenting a different approach to the same topic: There are serious objections to today's horror movies. Because modern cinematic techniques have allowed filmmakers to get more graphic, horror flicks have desensitized young American viewers to violence.


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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 .

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A thesis statement declares what you believe and what you intend to prove. A good thesis statement makes the difference between a thoughtful research project and a simple retelling of facts. A good tentative thesis will help you focus your search for information.

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A good practice is to put the thesis statement at the end of your introduction so you can use it to lead into the body of your paper. This allows you, as the writer, to lead up to the thesis statement instead of diving directly into the topic. In composition, a thesis statement (or controlling idea) is a sentence in an essay, report, research paper, or speech that identifies the main idea and/or central purpose of the text. In rhetoric, a claim is similar to a thesis.

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A thesis statement usually appears at the middle or end of the introductory paragraph of a paper, and it offers a concise summary of the main point or claim of the essay, research paper, etc. It is usually expressed in one sentence, and the statement may be reiterated elsewhere. It contains the . A thesis, in other words, is not the same as the thesis statement, which is a sentence or two in your introduction that tells the reader what the thesis is. The thesis is not limited to one spot in your essay; it runs through the whole thing, from start to finish.