Writing a Thesis Statement

thesis statementCreating a successful piece of academic writing is impossible without a properly composed thesis statement. A thesis statement is a sentence or two that clearly introduces the main point of your piece of writing, its central message. A thesis statement comments on your position in regard to your chosen topic, and helps your readers keep track of your arguments.

Steps for Writing a Thesis Statement

  1. Explore your subject and narrow it down. A strong thesis statement cannot be vague—it must contain the essence of your topic. For instance, if your subject is, “Political Regimes of the Modern World,” it could be narrowed down to the topic, “Rise of Authoritarianism in Third-World Countries in Southeast Asia.”
  2. Paraphrase your topic in the form of a simple question. The answer to this question will most likely become your thesis. In the example above, the question could sound like, “How does authoritarianism affect socio-political life in third-world countries in Southeast Asia?” The answer (and the thesis, respectively) could be: “A regressive transition from democracy to authoritarianism results in a sequence of negative political, social, and economic consequences for a state, which is illuminated by the current political climate in Southeast Asian countries that are deemed to be classed as third-world.”
  3. Once you think your thesis statement is working, analyze and evaluate it. Make sure it refers strictly to a single issue, reflects exactly what you want to say in your paper, and covers at least three areas of discussion.
  4. Write your thesis statement down. Usually, it is located in the middle or at the end of an introductory paragraph; the reason why a thesis is usually placed there is that it helps the writer engage readers into the set arguments from the beginning.

Techniques for Composing a Thesis Statement

One of the main problems students face is having no idea about where to start from. Composing a thesis statement may be tricky, but certain approaches exist which can give a writer some starting ground. Some of these techniques are listed below:

  • Determining the purpose of the paper. It is actually as easy as it sounds: simply decide what the purpose of your paper is, and it can be later developed into a thesis statement.
  • Summarizing. After you have comprehended material on your subject, you can try to briefly retell its essence. Do it a couple of times, reducing and compressing your summary more and more, and finally what is left will be the main idea of your essay.
  • Turn your assignment guidelines upside down. If your assignment refers to a specific question, restate it in a form of an assertion.
  • Expressing an opinion. Before starting to work on the thesis statement, express your opinion on the subject without worrying about supporting it with evidence—this can be done later. You aren’t supposed to create a strongly-argued thesis statement immediately.

Key Points to Consider

  • To some extent, a thesis statement is similar to an opinion. However, there is a major difference between them. While an opinion is more about thinking this or that way, a thesis statement implies that the claim you offer to the reader has been thoroughly studied and is supported with evidence.
  • Your thesis statement may change while working on a paper. Therefore, don’t treat your initial thesis statement as absolute; make it a working one, so that you can revise and correct it later, if needed.
  • A thesis statement is meant to serve as a specific road map for your whole paper, since it determines its main idea, its structure, and those arguments you will refer to while writing. A strong thesis statement is also debatable, which implies that an opponent can reasonably argue an alternative position.
  • A thesis statement must show your conclusions in regard to a subject. It is important to remember that a thesis statement isn’t simply a fuse for further writing; on the contrary, it is a result of your explorations in your chosen subject, a summary.

Do and Don’t


  • Do know your writing purpose. Before starting to compose a thesis statement, determine what the purpose of your paper will be: to persuade, to analyze, to evaluate, and so on.
  • Do formulate a thesis statement in a debatable manner. A thesis must not simply repeat facts: it must take a stand on a statement that can be discussed and argued.
  • Do make your thesis statement easy to read; if you use complex diction excessively, your thesis will be more difficult to understand.
  • Do include details that will make your thesis statement more specific.
  • Do have a clear vision of your topic. Before composing a thesis statement, learn as much about your subject as you can. The more you know, the more supporting arguments you can find for the thesis.

  • Don’t compose your thesis statement in a form of a question. The thesis should answer questions, not ask them.
  • Don’t use such sentence structures as “The point of my paper is,” or “This paper argues that” to indicate your thesis statement.
  • Don’t use general statements or obvious facts. A thesis statement should make an argumentative assertion about the topic, and not repeat well-known clauses.
  • Don’t make vague statements as well as statements that cannot be verified.
  • Don’t provide announcements or assumptions. A thesis should clearly state your point, which is an already achieved result of studies and research, and not an “attempt to find out,” or “try to take a closer look at” your topic.

Common Mistakes

  • Choosing a thesis statement that is not appropriate in terms of the required length of the paper. No matter how talented you are, you can hardly disclose all the reasons of a Middle East war conflict in a one-page essay.
  • Using quotations. Though it may seem like a sound idea, a quotation shows that the thought which you express in your thesis does not belong to you.
  • Using a lot of meaningful-sounding words and phrases, but actually saying nothing.
  • Expressing a point of view which doesn’t belong to you. Your opinion may not be original, and most likely it has already been thought of. However, people cannot think identically, and if you simply restate the assertions of your predecessors, it will be rather noticeable.

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Samples for Writing a Thesis Statement


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