How to Write a Thesis Statement: Complete Writing Guide

This is the most crucial part of the entire paper. We will explain, "What is a thesis statement?", how to write an outline, format it, and more.

Andrew Newman
Updated on

One must know how to write a good thesis statement to make your reader invest in your entire essay. This post will give you vital elements necessary in composing a strong thesis.

What Is a Thesis Statement

The lack of a technical understanding is the main reason students struggle with their thesis statement. It can be difficult to comprehend that thesis is the most crucial sentence in the whole paper. The rest of the essay consists of supporting points to support the thesis statement.

“What is a thesis statement?”- A thesis statement is a primary idea or argument presented that directs the reader of what to expect as they continue reading the text.  This main idea intends to be proven using tools like logical and or/ emotional reasoning. The thesis statement is the backbone of the entire paper. A thesis-based essay aims to bring forth an argument about the relevant subject of discussion and support it with logic, analysis, and third-party validation (outside sources).

When asking about how to start an essay, most students confuse a thesis statement with an introduction. Usually, a paper’s thesis is used to close the introduction instead of replacing it. Therefore, as you write your introduction, the first thing to do is hook the audience, introduce the topic, and then state the thesis.

Another question asked is: “What is a good thesis statement?” A good thesis statement originates from an author who is well-informed about the topic at hand. Before developing the thesis statement, a writer should have factual confirmation from other parties (experts, primary and secondary sources). This is why it is essential to conduct research and accurately understand the topic before brainstorming ideas.

Why It Is so Important

Fundamentally, a thesis statement is the most incredible way of organizing your ideas and breaking them down to the essay’s focus. You will have an easy time coming up with valid points and backing up your logic if you know what you aim to prove. When starting to work on the paper, the thesis statement should be the first thing a writer creates.

A good thesis statement can assist in making your paper more logical and focused and ease the writing process. When you comprehend the primary claim of your essay, you can voice it clearly and intelligently throughout the paper.

A good thesis statement is key to getting good grades. Most papers where students do not include it are graded poorly. A thesis statement is the first thing a professor assesses in an academic paper and one of the primary factors associated with your grade.

Can a Thesis Statement Be a Question?

Another question that regularly emerges is “can a thesis statement be a question?” and the answer is “No.” The goal of a thesis is to describe what the paper will entail. It is hard to achieve this with a question. According to the definition, this section of an academic paper brings forth the argument the author has to defend using relevant sources in the rest of the writing. A claim can never be a question. The conclusion should not pose any new questions, and the thesis can even be considered the overarching conclusion.

Length Requirements: How Long Should a Thesis Statement Be?

A thesis statement should not be too long. A thesis statement should comprise a single, complete sentence since it is a concise overview of a primary argument. Depending on the length of the whole paper, some essays might require two or more sentences. For instance, a five-paragraph essay should have a one-sentence thesis. The author should sum up the argument of the paper. In case one is writing a twenty-page research paper, the thesis will require numerous sentences as there will be more information to cover.

Elements of a Thesis Statement

A paper’s thesis is made up of the following elements:

  • The primary idea of your essay expressed in a simple sentence.
  • The reason(s) why you back up and select this idea.
  • A counterargument to your claim. This is a useful piece of information that can, in turn, defend your position. Use it only if you have one.

So once you have uncovered these elements, you should organize them in one or two coherent sentences. Below is an illustration of a good thesis statement that incorporates all of the necessary points discussed above:

Example: Though uniforms can improve equity in schools, schools should not make students wear them.

This statement is grounded on the idea that uniforms can limit students’ freedom which in a way is a violation of basic human rights.

Points to check to know that your statement is strong:

  • It’s short but carries valuable material.
  • It gives a clear argument which shows your opinion.
  • It has a logical basis and is supported by basic logic or facts.

The thesis statement should highlight the argument, the idea, and the key points you will use in your academic essay to defend the claim.

Another illustration of a thesis statement :

Example: Stress in the fast-food workplace can lead to severe physical, psychological, and emotional problems for the employees.

Topic: Stress

Claim: Can lead to severe problems

Key points: Physical, psychological, and emotional problems.

In your thesis, you should provide an interpretation of a subject, not the subject itself.

Below are examples of good and bad thesis statements:

Example 1:

A: The death penalty should not be abolished because people who commit crimes should be punished.

B: Although many argue that human life is sacred, the death penalty should remain for people who commit brutal crimes and offer no positive value to their society.

Between the two, which one is better? You got it right. Thesis B is better because the writer presented a more detailed and narrowed version of his/her perspective. This makes it simpler for them to prove their point in general.

Example 2 :

A: Owning a college degree should not be a requirement for professional positions in the workforce. 

B: If a candidate has work experience, reasonable competency in the field, and shows a strong work ethic, they should not be disqualified from competing for a position due to the lack of having a college degree.

Option B gives three different subpoints it will use to prove its main statement, while the first sentence makes an overall argument.

Example 3 : 

A: Guns law should be more strict and demand more requirements because of the increased nationwide shootings.

B: A strict gun regulations policy will not reduce nationwide violence since guns are still obtainable illegally, and humans, not weapons, are catalysts of brutality.

Option B gives in-depth information about why its argument is correct and presents reasoning that can be justified from many external sources.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

Choose a key question to answer and bring a clear, brief response to it in a thesis statement. All essays should have a thesis statement because it a fundamental element for close to any type of paper apart from maybe creative writing.

Usually, students spend most of their time developing rough ideas without knowing what a thesis statement should incorporate. As you write any type of essay, it is essential to have an organized system to finish the task promptly.

Below are several tips for formulating a good thesis statement:

  • Brainstorming is a must! To develop a list of brilliant ideas, work along with peers, family members, and tutors. These people can help you choose a topic that you are familiar with. This will assist you in making an argument. Once you pick the subject, attempt narrowing down the idea to develop a catchy, brief and clear statement.
  • Formulate a research question. Here you need to compose a research question to which you will respond. For instance, The main factors that lead people to anxiety and how to overcome it?
  • Find an answer and take a position. Once you have asked the question, you need to answer it and show your perspective. For instance, The main factors that lead to anxiety are trauma, personality, and mental health disorders.
  • Narrow and focus: We can’t stress this enough: a well-written paper should not be filled with general information. An author’s objective is to prove a unique idea about their topic. Ensure it is reflected in the thesis.
  • Support your answer with logic and evidence: It will assist you in finding out more proof and credible sources that can help with further steps of the writing process.
  • Use bold language: To sound more confident, avoid passive voice. Apps like Hemingwayapp will assist you in evading wordiness and other things that make reading difficult.
  • Trump the counterargument: The arguments you make or the points you agree with will not always be accepted by everyone. To curb this effectively, discover the strongest opposing claims to your thesis; then, challenge the counterargument head-on in a body paragraph and explain why your idea is indeed better.
  • Check if it fits! : Most times, writers will decide to compose their body paragraphs before phrasing their thesis statement. An author might set out to prove one thing and end up proving a variation of the initial idea. That’s why it is essential to go back and make sure that the thesis connects with the points you have created. In case you proved the opposite of what your thesis claims, fix the main argument when revising it.
  • Significance matters: It is vital to comprehend the value and general importance of your thesis. Will the idea you are introducing be entertaining and fascinating to read, and will the audience want to know what you have to say? The best thesis statements are the ones that fascinate the reader and leave them thinking about the idea even after the last words.

Thesis Statement Examples & Templates

Most students rely on realistic examples to get a good glimpse of something. Therefore here, we will see how a thesis statement depends on the purpose of the paper.

Argumentative Thesis Statement

Make an idea about a selected topic/question and defend this primary claim using reasons and valid evidence. Choose which type of thesis you plan to use. The primary idea could be a perspective, analysis, or proposal. The author should offer something that several people do not agree with. Convince the readers of your beliefs throughout the paper.

Example: The Brexit referendum result was caused by working-class frustration with the political elite and by austere policies that have eroded public services and fragmented communities; the referendum offered an alternative to the status quo.

Analytical Thesis Statement

Here you do not need to introduce a strong claim; instead, you should assess, interpret and evaluate various aspects of the same topic. It should present the main points of your analysis.

Example: An analysis of a barn owl’s flight technique depicts a couple of flight patterns: the ones connected with hunting prey and those related to courtship.

Expository Thesis Statement 

The primary goal of an expository thesis statement is to explain and discuss the facts of the topic.

Example: Gerbils are believed to be perfect pets for kids as they are low-maintenance and cheap.

Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

In a compare and contrast thesis statement, your objective should be to compare, review and juxtapose the two points.

Example: While Judaism and Christianity are Abrahamic religions sprung from the same cultural hearth, they are different by their implementation of traditions, their realizations of religious cannons, and their perceptions of Jesus Christ.

Cause and Effect Thesis Statement

In a cause and effect thesis statement, you need to discuss the reason for some event or occurrence.

Example: The primary reason high school bullying occurs is that modern teens watch violent videos and play violent video games.

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