The thesis statement of an essay, also called the thesis, is one of the most important elements of any academic research paper.
It can help you narrow down your topic and organize your thoughts as you write, and it allows your audience to understand what your argument will be before they read the rest of your essay.
In order to write a strong thesis statement, you’ll need to follow some specific steps and use specific language so that it catches the reader’s attention and piques their interest in learning more about your argument.
What is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is the most important sentence in your essay.
It tells your reader what your paper is about and helps guide your writing.
A good thesis statement should be clear, concise, and specific. It should also be arguable—that is, something that can be defended with evidence and reasoning.
Thesis statements usually appear at the end of the first paragraph of an essay. They tell the reader your view on a subject or answer the question you have posed.
For example, if you are writing about whether or not we should ban cell phones while driving, you might write :
There has been no shortage of accidents involving drivers who were texting behind the wheel; therefore we must consider banning this dangerous practice before more people die.
Here, the author’s opinion is clear (cell phone use while driving should be banned), as well as their stance on why they believe this (people will continue to die).
Types of Essay Thesis Statements
There are three main types of thesis statements: analytical, argumentative, and expository.
Each has its own unique purpose.
An analytical thesis statement is typically used in academic writing as the basis for discussing a topic or exploring the merits of an argument. Analytical writing is usually done with facts and statistics in order to offer more credible points.
An example of an analytical thesis statement would be:
Drinking milk before bedtime will help you sleep better. In this case, it is presenting an opinion that can be backed up by factual evidence.
An argumentative thesis statement is different from an analytical one because it puts forth a point of view about which there may not be much factual evidence. It seeks to convince the reader of something by making use of reasoning, explanations, examples, and other persuasive tools.
Argumentative essays are often found in philosophy and social sciences.
An example of an argumentative thesis statement might be:
Older people should get priority over younger people when they apply for new jobs.
Again, while the person writing this piece might have plenty of reasons to back up their claim, they don’t need to include them all; it’s enough to present just enough information so that readers can agree or disagree with what’s being said and continue the discussion on their own terms.
Finally, an expository thesis statement aims to provide clarity on a given topic without taking any specific position.
An expository essay might discuss both sides of an issue without coming down on either side in order to provide the most complete picture possible.
An example of an expository thesis statement could be:
Coffee tastes best at room temperature.
Here, the writer isn’t really taking any stance on whether coffee tastes best hot or cold, but instead provides some information about how to get the most enjoyment out of drinking coffee.
How to write a thesis statement for an essay step by step
Step 1: Choose your topic
Before you can write a thesis statement, you need to know what your paper is going to be about.
This means choosing a topic that interests you and doing some research on it.
Once you have a general idea of what you want to say, you can start narrowing down your focus.
Narrowing down your focus will help you create a focused thesis statement. It’s important to narrow the scope of your thesis so it isn’t too broad or too specific; there needs to be a balance between the two.
Your thesis should include both a narrow and broad point.
When deciding on what points to make in your thesis, think about not only whether they are relevant but also whether they will contribute something new or unique to the discussion.
Step 2: List down all your topic ideas
Once you’ve narrowed down your focus, it’s time to list down all of your ideas.
Do some brainstorming and then start narrowing them down as you go.
Begin by writing down every idea that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t seem directly related at first. Brainstorming helps to generate interesting angles and ways of thinking about the issue.
For example, when brainstorming about why more people are eating at fast food restaurants than they were 50 years ago, consider how the invention of drive-thru windows has made fast food accessible and convenient to eat in your car.
But don’t forget that other aspects such as convenience aren’t just limited to when you’re driving through. List down all your ideas. You might find one idea or line of thought which is better suited to your argument than others.
Keep focusing on those until you’ve narrowed them down to the one best suited for you.
Step 3: Get clear on what you want to say in the essay
Once you have a list of ideas, it’s time to narrow them down and choose what you want to say.
Narrowing your ideas can be difficult, but it’s essential.
When trying to narrow down your thesis statement idea, think about what you really want your audience to know and understand when they read it.
Make sure that whatever angle you take supports your overall purpose—to inform or persuade people about an issue.
Think about the tone of your paper as well. If you want to sound sarcastic or lighthearted, feel free to use a humorous tone. However, if you are aiming for an informative and serious tone, stick with that throughout your entire essay.
Step 4: Find supporting material
Once you’ve narrowed down your idea and figured out what you want to say, it’s time to start looking for supporting material.
Your first step is probably going to be doing some research.
Look online or read articles on whatever you want your paper to be about—this will give you many interesting perspectives that can support your argument and idea. Use these different perspectives to build up your arguments, but don’t copy and paste!
Once you have found enough sources to back up your thesis statement, start taking notes. Note down any quotes or statistics that come from these sources.
You can also write down questions you may still have after reading each source.
Don’t worry about finding too much information or not having enough to back up your claims, this process is supposed to be fun! Remember that the goal of this process is to come up with a strong thesis statement.
Step 5: Restate your main idea in your thesis statement
Now you should be ready to draft your thesis statement.
When writing your thesis statement, ask yourself: What am I going to say? Your answer will help guide everything else that follows. If you need some more help, think about all of your different ideas from step one and decide which ones are most important.
Also, remember that it’s important not only what you say but how you say it!
You could make your thesis statement less persuasive by saying something like most Americans instead of a majority of Americans. That’s because while technically both statements are true, most imply less than half.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re only providing evidence and not giving your opinion.
That way, anyone who reads your essay will be able to form their own opinion based on the facts instead of being swayed by yours.
For the example of fast food consumption in America, consider the following thesis statement
There are three reasons why fast food has become so popular; convenience, price, and advertising.
This statement clearly states that the writer believes there are three contributing factors to the increased popularity of fast food.
How to write a thesis statement for an argumentative essay
In some cases, you’ll need to write an argumentative essay. In these cases, your thesis statement will include your stance on whatever issue or topic you’re writing about.
That is why it’s so important that your thesis statement contains only facts and not opinions—this way there won’t be any confusion between what you think and what you can prove!
Next, try to find supporting material to back up your claim.
As you look for these pieces of evidence, it’s a good idea to keep track of questions you might have.
By creating an outline, you’ll be able to organize your thoughts before drafting your paper.
And finally, after deciding on a good thesis statement and making sure it meets all of the criteria, go ahead and state your opinion in the introduction!
Just like the thesis statement, use as few words as possible when stating your opinion.
Letting readers know where you stand from the very beginning helps them know what they’re getting into when they start reading.
How to write a thesis statement for an informative essay
An informative essay has to follow a specific structure, which starts with your thesis statement. This statement should contain the focus of your article and give readers a general overview of what you’ll be discussing.
Keep in mind that your thesis statement does not have to be long and detailed, just enough to let people know what you’re talking about.
After your thesis statement, provide background information on your subject matter. Again, it’s important to stick to factual statements without adding your opinion.
One common mistake many students make is including too much detail in their introductory paragraph.
Here, it’s best to avoid overloading your audience with too much information at once. Instead, take time to slowly introduce them to the topic and explain each aspect separately.
How to write a thesis statement for an analytical essay
An analytical essay is one that offers critical insight on some matter or thing.
These essays can be about art, culture, politics, technology, or almost anything else!
And like any other type of academic writing, you’ll need to start with your thesis statement.
In addition to giving readers an idea of what you’re writing about and why it matters, your thesis statement should also clearly explain what your stance is on whatever issue you’re discussing.
You want to make sure that your thesis statement doesn’t come across as being too vague or open-ended; instead, it should be direct and clear. Remember, this part of the paper needs to stay focused on fact and not an opinion!
Once you’ve figured out what kind of analysis you’re going to do (descriptive, comparative, causal), create an outline to guide your research process. You may have several questions throughout this process; this outline will help keep things organized and easier for you.
Finally, if you end up choosing a great topic and following through with solid research, don’t forget to ask yourself whether your essay fulfills the requirements of its genre.
If it’s not meeting the expectations set by your professor, then you may need to rethink what you’re trying to say or how you plan on saying it. If everything checks out so far, congratulations!
You now have everything you need to finish writing a solid analytical essay.