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Writing Effective Thesis Statements


What Is a Thesis Statement?


How Should I Write a Thesis Statement?

The structure and nature of your thesis statement will depend on the type of paper you are writing, so there’s not really a trick to thesis statements that works every time. However, below you will find some strategies that will help you develop strong thesis statements.


This is an easy formula to remember to help you ensure that you have included both elements of the thesis statement. The claim is the assertion or main idea that you are making. Then, you will want to make sure you that you include the reason or support for that claim. A nice word to substitute for the + part of the equation is “because.” You don’t have to use this exact word or this style every time, but it often works quite well.


Example: You might be writing a paper on sexist language in textbooks and state this thesis: “Sexist language in college textbooks is harmful.” This is a good start and makes clear the claim part of your thesis. However, to make it more powerful and specific, try adding in the “because clause” and reason: “Sexist language in college textbooks is harmful because it reinforces negative stereotypes about many groups and individuals.” The section of the sentence after “because” makes clear the reason to support your claim, so you now have claim + reason = thesis statement.


The best thesis statements will evolve as your paper progresses, so try using a “working thesis statement.” Have a basic idea of your thesis statement before you begin writing your paper, but be willing to change and revise it as your paper changes. Often, the conclusion you draw before starting a paper may be different than the conclusion you make after you research and write your paper. This is a good thing—it means that you learned something during the writing process!


Example: Before you being the writing process, you might have this working thesis statement: “Many women suffer from eating disorders.” While this is a good start on your thesis, it needs more work and more complexity. Thus, after researching this issue and writing about it, you might have the following thesis in your final draft: “Magazine ads and commercials can ultimately influence how women see themselves and how they behave and can lead to harmful behaviors such as eating disorders.”


Many times, writers will write what they think is a powerful thesis statement and, in fact, that statement makes no real argumentative assertion. This means that your reader may ask “so what?”


Example: You might state, “Many people in the world are victims of stereotyping.” While this may be a true statement, as a reader, I would ask, “so what?” What is so important or problematic about the fact that people are stereotyped? What more can you add to your conclusion or argument to make it more interesting and more complex?


A better thesis statement might be something like this: “Prejudgments are harmful because they limit the lives of the stereotyped individual and the person doing the stereotyping.”


Where Should I Place My Thesis Statement?

What Should a Thesis Statement Accomplish?

For the writer, the thesis statement:


For the reader, the thesis statement:


Thus, a thesis statement: