About Thesis Statements

Emilie Zickel

A thesis serves as the guiding idea of the essay – the one core point that you will make in the essay.

A thesis is provided at the end of the introduction section.

A thesis functions as a guide for the paragraphs that follow. Each body paragraph will, in some way, help to develop, support or elucidate the thesis.

A thesis is often called a “road map” for the rest of the essay. In the thesis, you indicate to your reader the key subtopics that you will address in the rest of the paper. Thus the reader of your paper knows what to expect in the essay.

A thesis does not always have to be an argument; even explanatory papers have thesis statements.

How can you check to see if your thesis is strong?

1.Does your thesis answer the assignment question?

  • look over your assignment sheet for this essay/project. What is core assignment question that you need to answer? Where do you see your thesis directly addressing that question?
  • It is okay to reuse some of the wording from the assignment sheet in developing your thesis. For example:
    • Assignment sheet says: Identify several key themes that arise in critiques of the popular media.
    • Your thesis could reuse this wording: Several key themes that arise in critiques of popular media are the notions of partisanship on the part of the media corporations, partisanship among reporters, and a willingness to publish “fake news” stories.

2. Does your thesis adhere to the type of writing you are being asked to do? (persuasive or explanatory)?

  • Again, the type of writing that you are asked to do should be indicated on the assignment sheet. If you are not sure of what type of writing is expected of you, ask your professor.

3. Does your thesis provide enough material to meet the assignment length and depth requirements?

  • See the outlining chapter and try to build your outline if you are unsure of whether or not you have enough information for your thesis.

4. Does the thesis create a roadmap for the rest of the paper?

  • Your thesis can be a mini-outline of the body of the essay. If you indicate three ideas in your thesis that you will discuss (ideas 1, 2 and 3), then you should discuss those ideas – in the order that you presented them in the thesis – in your essay.

5. Does the thesis make sense?

  • A thesis must make sense as a sentence. Sometimes we get carried away in trying to “answer the assignment” and we end up with a thesis that technically addresses the assignment requirements, but ends up being a sentence that is grammatically unsound or otherwise unclear. A thesis should be a powerful, clear and interesting sentence that makes sense to the reader. If the grammar is off, the thesis will not make as much sense to a reader as it needs to and the thesis loses its power.

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ you need to revise your thesis.

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About Thesis Statements by Emilie Zickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.