A theme statement expresses the main idea of a topic. It may be used for an analysis paper or to express the central ideas of a text. It may also be used as a point of focus for a business proposal, speech or conference. In either case, the theme statement prepares an audience to understand the main ideas of its author without laying out specific examples.

Theme Statements in Writing

A theme statement may be used in place of a thesis statement when writing about a text. In this case, the writer is not trying to prove something about the specific characters or events in the text, but rather making a point about the overall goals or ideas expressed by the author. For example, a paper focusing on destiny in Oedipus Rex might use the following theme statement:

"No matter how hard humanity struggles against fate, struggle serves only to reinforce fate's inevitability."

Advance Organizers

The use of theme statements is derived from the concept of "advance organizer," created by educational theorist and psychologist David Ausubel. An advance organizer is a tool used by an instructor to provide students with a conceptual foundation or anchor on which new information can be added and organized. In the case of a theme statement for a presentation, providing a group with the main idea at the outset facilitates learning the central ideas over the course of the presentation.