What a Thesis Statement Entails

A thesis statement helps your reader anticipate the rest of your paper.
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A thesis statement summarizes the argument or central message of your paper. You can think of a thesis statement as the answer to the question your paper discusses, according to the Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University. Thesis statements help writers focus their arguments and help readers know what to expect. They are typically one sentence long and are usually placed at the end of an essay's first paragraph although they might occur in the second paragraph of longer essays.

1 Writing an Effective Thesis Statement

An effective thesis statement is specific and reveals your position on your paper's topic. Avoid general claims such as "School uniforms are bad," and statements that don't take a position, such as "This paper discusses the relationship between TV and behavioral problems in children." Instead, state your reasoning or argument, such as "School uniforms violate students' first-amendment rights to free speech," or "Watching TV may lead to attention and behavioral problems in school-aged children."

2 Improving a Thesis Statement

Make your thesis statement more specific by replacing generic words with concrete words and "to be" verbs with action verbs, recommends the Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois. For example, replace "society" with "American taxpayers," "urban populations" or another specific group your essay discusses. Write "generate," "suggest," "signify" or another action verb in place of "is" or "are." For example, instead of writing "Steroids are addictive and dangerous," write "The high rate of steroid addiction among high school athletes indicates that these drugs present serious dangers to students."

3 Considerations

It can be difficult to craft a perfect thesis statement before you write your paper, especially if you don't know exactly what you're arguing. You should revise and refine your thesis statement after you write a draft of your paper. Check that your argument matches your thesis and that each paragraph of your paper relates to your central argument.

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.