Overall Thesis Statement

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize, and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question, and interrogate. These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

Developing a Strong Thesis Statement

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With a narrowed-down topic, you are ready to develop your thesis statement. This statement conveys the topic of your research paper and your stance on the topic. A thesis statement is:

  • Limited in scope
  • Specific
  • An organizational aid

How to develop a strong thesis statement

A strong thesis statement is a definitive assertion you can make with confidence and conviction. To write a statement for a paper where you must take a stance, for example, break your topic into three parts: your stance, the reason you take that stance and the opposing stance on the same topic.

What is your position or stance?—Use a complete sentence to state your position.
Why do you take the position?—State your position, starting with “because… .”
What is the opposing view?—State the opposing view, starting with “although… .”

Consider the example below that puts the pieces of a thesis statement together:

Topic: Employees working out in a company gym on the clock

Your stance: Employees should be allowed to work while being paid to work.

Reason for your stance: Because it improves morale, focus and overall employee health

Opposing position: Although employees are technically being paid for an extracurricular activity that does not involve work-related task

Putting it together: Although employees are technically paid for an extracurricular activity that does not involve work-related tasks, they should be allowed to exercise on company time because it improves employee morale, employee focus and overall employee health.

Working through this process creates a working thesis statement. If you are not required to take a position on a topic, omit the opposing position portion, and replace your stance and reasoning by answering the questions of “how” or “why.”

You might make adjustments to your thesis statement as you research and write, but this forms the basis for your paper. You might even need to spend a little additional time clarifying your statement if it is too broad.

Characteristics of a strong thesis statement

A strong thesis statement makes your research, outlining and writing easier by creating direction as you write. When this statement is well-developed, it has several characteristics:

It is a complete sentence.
It summarizes your point of view.
It identifies the purpose of your paper.
It conveys something important with respect to your topic.
It is specific enough for the paper’s assigned length.
It provides a guide as you write your paper.

Evaluating your thesis statement

Before you begin creating an outline from your thesis statement, make sure it meets the assignment requirements. Are you being asked to explain your thesis or argue a point about it? In either case, make sure the thesis statement contains a solid, well-defined idea.

Does it challenge your readers to think?
Does it have the power to hold the attention of your readers?
Does it tell readers something new or give a fresh take on a common topic?
Does it avoid stating something that is obvious?
Does it avoid simply announcing your topic?

If you can answer yes to those questions after writing your thesis statement, you are ready to move on to outlining and writing your first draft. If you cannot answer yes, consider further clarifying your thesis statement.

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