Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

thesis statement start

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

thesis statement start

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.

A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.

A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.

When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.

Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.

Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.  

Descriptive thesis (not arguable)  

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)  

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim  

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim  

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis  

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
  • Tips for Reading an Assignment Prompt
  • Asking Analytical Questions
  • Introductions
  • What Do Introductions Across the Disciplines Have in Common?
  • Anatomy of a Body Paragraph
  • Transitions
  • Tips for Organizing Your Essay
  • Counterargument
  • Conclusions
  • Strategies for Essay Writing: Downloadable PDFs
  • Brief Guides to Writing in the Disciplines

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How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

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What’s Covered:

What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.

When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.

You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus. 

Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.

Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point. 

The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.

Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.

Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing

When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:

  • Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
  • Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
  • Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.

Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make

Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:

  • What impact did reality TV have on American society?
  • How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
  • Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?

If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that. 

If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:

“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”

Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point

Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:

“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”

Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves. 

Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing

Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.

When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.

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How to Write a Thesis Statement

Last Updated: December 24, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was reviewed by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,188,347 times.

Whether you’re writing a short essay or a doctoral dissertation, your thesis statement can be one of the trickiest sentences to formulate. Fortunately, there are some basic rules you can follow to ensure your thesis statement is effective and interesting, including that it must be a debatable analytical point, not a general truism.

Crafting Great Thesis Statements

Step 1 Start with a question -- then make the answer your thesis.

  • Thesis: "Computers allow fourth graders an early advantage in technological and scientific education."
  • ' Thesis: "The river comes to symbolize both division and progress, as it separates our characters and country while still providing the best chance for Huck and Jim to get to know one another."
  • Thesis: "Through careful sociological study, we've found that people naturally assume that "morally righteous" people look down on them as "inferior," causing anger and conflict where there generally is none."

Step 2 Tailor your thesis to the type of paper you're writing.

  • Ex. "This dynamic between different generations sparks much of the play’s tension, as age becomes a motive for the violence and unrest that rocks King Lear."
  • Ex. "The explosion of 1800s philosophies like Positivism, Marxism, and Darwinism undermined and refuted Christianity to instead focus on the real, tangible world."
  • Ex. "Without the steady hand and specific decisions of Barack Obama, America would never have recovered from the hole it entered in the early 2000s."

Step 3 Take a specific stance to make your thesis more powerful.

  • "While both sides fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery, the North fought for moral reasons while the South fought to preserve its own institutions."
  • "The primary problem of the American steel industry is the lack of funds to renovate outdated plants and equipment."
  • "Hemingway's stories helped create a new prose style by employing extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and strong Anglo-Saxon words."

Step 4 Make the argument you've never seen before.

  • "After the third and fourth time you see him beat himself, one finally realizes that Huck Finn is literature's first full-blown sadomasochist."
  • "The advent of internet technology has rendered copyright laws irrelevant -- everyone can and should get writing, movies, art, and music for free."
  • "Though they have served admirably for the past two centuries, recent research shows that America needs to ditch the two-party system, and quickly."

Step 5 Ensure your thesis is provable.

  • "By owning up to the impossible contradictions, embracing them and questioning them, Blake forges his own faith, and is stronger for it. Ultimately, the only way for his poems to have faith is to temporarily lose it."
  • "According to its well-documented beliefs and philosophies, an existential society with no notion of either past or future cannot help but become stagnant."
  • "By reading “Ode to a Nightingale” through a modern deconstructionist lens, we can see how Keats viewed poetry as shifting and subjective, not some rigid form."
  • "The wrong people won the American Revolution." While striking and unique, who is "right" and who is "wrong" is exceptionally hard to prove, and very subjective.
  • "The theory of genetic inheritance is the binding theory of every human interaction." Too complicated and overzealous. The scope of "every human interaction" is just too big
  • "Paul Harding's novel Tinkers is ultimately a cry for help from a clearly depressed author." Unless you interviewed Harding extensively, or had a lot of real-life sources, you have no way of proving what is fact and what is fiction."

Getting it Right

Step 1 State your thesis statement correctly.

  • is an assertion, not a fact or observation. Facts are used within the paper to support your thesis.
  • takes a stand, meaning it announces your position towards a particular topic.
  • is the main idea and explains what you intend to discuss.
  • answers a specific question and explains how you plan to support your argument.
  • is debatable. Someone should be able to argue an alternate position, or conversely, support your claims.

Step 2 Get the sound right.

  • "Because of William the Conqueror's campaign into England, that nation developed the strength and culture it would need to eventually build the British Empire."
  • "Hemingway significantly changed literature by normalizing simplistic writing and frank tone."

Step 3 Know where to place a thesis statement.

Finding the Perfect Thesis

Step 1 Pick a topic that interests you.

  • A clear topic or subject matter
  • A brief summary of what you will say
  • [Something] [does something] because [reason(s)].
  • Because [reason(s)], [something] [does something].
  • Although [opposing evidence], [reasons] show [Something] [does something].
  • The last example includes a counter-argument, which complicates the thesis but strengthens the argument. In fact, you should always be aware of all counter-arguments against your thesis. Doing so will refine your thesis, and also force you to consider arguments you have to refute in your paper.

Step 5 Write down your thesis.

  • There are two schools of thought on thesis timing. Some people say you should not write the paper without a thesis in mind and written down, even if you have to alter it slightly by the end. The other school of thought says that you probably won't know where you're going until you get there, so don't write the thesis until you know what it should be. Do whatever seems best to you.

Step 6 Analyze your thesis...

  • Never frame your thesis as a question . The job of a thesis is to answer a question, not ask one.
  • A thesis is not a list. If you're trying to answer a specific question, too many variables will send your paper off-focus. Keep it concise and brief.
  • Never mention a new topic that you do not intend to discuss in the paper.
  • Do not write in the first person. Using sentences such as, "I will show...," is generally frowned upon by scholars.
  • Do not be combative. The point of your paper is to convince someone of your position, not turn them off, and the best way to achieve that is to make them want to listen to you. Express an open-minded tone, finding common ground between different views.

Step 7 Realize that your thesis does not have to be absolute.

Sample Thesis and List of Things to Include

thesis statement start

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Think of your thesis as a case a lawyer has to defend. A thesis statement should explain to your readers the case you wish to make and how you will accomplish that. You can also think of your thesis as a contract. Introducing new ideas the reader is not prepared for may be alienating. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • An effective thesis statement controls the entire argument. It determines what you cannot say. If a paragraph does not support your thesis, either omit it or change your thesis. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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Write an Essay

  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/planning-and-organizing/thesis-statements
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/writing-a-thesis

About This Article

Gerald Posner

To write an effective thesis statement, choose a statement that answers a general question about your topic. Check that your thesis is arguable, not factual, and make sure you can back it up your with evidence. For example, your thesis statement could be something like "Computers allow fourth graders an early advantage in technological and scientific education." To learn about writing thesis statements for different types of essays or how to incorporate them into your essay, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Everything You Need to Know About Thesis Statement

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

Thesis-Statement

Persuasion is a skill that every human leverages to achieve their goals. For example, you persuade your friends to join you on some trip, your parents to purchase you an automobile, and your committee or audience to provide you approval for your research proposal.

Likewise, every scholarly task is aimed to persuade your readers or audience for certain goals. And the end goal is to incline the readers towards your perspective (facts and evidence-based). So, the act of convincing readers of your viewpoints via research work is often termed academic argument, and it follows a predetermined pattern of guidelines-based writing. After providing a comprehensive introduction to the research topic, you are supposed to state your perspective on the topic in a sentence or two, known as Thesis Statement . It summarizes the argument you will make throughout the paper.

Also, the Thesis Statement often serves as an answer to your research question. Thus, the thesis statement is a must for every research paper and scholarly work.

What is Thesis Statement?

what-is-thesis-statement

A Thesis Statement:

  • Describes how you interpret the subject matter's cause, significance, and results.
  • Is a guideline for the paper. In other words, it provides an understanding of the research topic.
  • Directly answers the question you are asked. The thesis is not the question itself but an interpretation of it. For example, a thesis can be about World War II, and it should also provide a way to understand the war.
  • Claims that other people might disagree with.
  • Is a single sentence at the beginning of your paper or near the end of the first para (where you present your argument to the reader). The body of the essay is the rest of the paper. It gathers and organizes evidence to support your argument.

A thesis statement should be concise and easily understandable. Use it as a magnet to attract your readers to keep them reading your paper till the end.

What is the purpose or the goal of the thesis statement?

The real purpose of the thesis statement is:

  • To establish a gateway through which your readers can make an entrance into your research paper.
  • To bring the entire research paper together to an epicenter of various arguments provided throughout the paper.

Simply put, the goal of writing a strong thesis statement is to make your research paper appear interesting enough for the readers to understand it and prove your arguments right completely.

Additionally, the goal of the thesis statement varies from the kind of research you are presenting. If your thesis provides some claims, justifications, or study, you should present an argumentative thesis statement . However, if your thesis is based on analysis, interpretation, demonstration of cause and effect, comparisons, and contrast, you should develop a persuasive thesis statement.

What is the length of an Ideal Thesis Statement?

You should write your thesis statement in 1-2 sentences. Ideally, it should not be more than 50 words in total.

Also, you should try inserting the thesis statement at the end of the topic introduction or just before the background information.

While writing your thesis statement, be mindful that a thesis statement is never meant to be factual. Your thesis statement is one of the most important elements of your thesis that will help your audience understand what you discuss throughout your paper. So, ensure that your thesis statement must appear like an arguable statement, not a factual one.

Many early researchers or young scholars choose to write factual statements as thesis statements as they are easy to prove. However, resorting to factual statements instead of arguable ones will overshadow your analytical and critical thinking skills, which readers anticipate in your paper.

How to Start a Thesis Statement?

how-to-start-a-thesis-statement

The thesis statement is an outline of your research topic in one sentence. Therefore, you must write it in a concise and catchy style. So, here are a few quick tips that help you understand how to start a thesis statement for a research paper:

Discover Your Research Question

Once the subject matter is finalized for writing a research paper, the next requirement is to figure out the research question. While formulating your research question, make sure that it shows the gaps in the current field of study and should serve as a primary interrogation point for your research.

Figure out the answer and develop your argument

Carry out intensive research to determine the perfect answer for your research question. Your answer should further guide you to structure your entire research paper and its content flow.

For example, if you write an argumentative paper, craft your opinion and create an argument. Then, develop your claim against the topics you want to cover and justify it through various data & facts.

Establish back-up for your Answer with Evidence

The more you research, the more you will learn about the variations in the research answer that you were trying to formulate. Similarly, with various sources and newer evidence coming up, you should be able to make an answer that should stand coherently, correctly, relevant, and justified enough. The answer should enhance the reader’s understanding of your paper from beginning to end.

How to determine if my thesis statement is strong?

find-the-right-thesis-Statement

Make a self-evaluation of your thesis statement and check if it stands the following interrogation:

  • Does it answer the question?

Re-read to understand the question prompt to ensure that your answer or the thesis statement itself doesn't skip the focus of the question. Try rephrasing it if you feel that the question prompt is not structured or appropriately discussed.

  • Does my thesis statement appear like an argument (for or against)?

Suppose you have chosen to present the facts and rationality behind it in the best way possible and assume that no one would or could ever disagree with it. It indicates that you've presented a summary instead of presenting an argument. So, always pick an opinion from the topic and justify your arguments backed with various evidence.

  • Is the Thesis Statement explicit and specific?

It may lack a strong argument if you have written a very general statement or vaguely crafted a thesis statement. Your audience will figure it out instantly.

Therefore, if you have used words like “good’’ or “bad,” try to put it more specifically by answering and figuring out “Why something is good”? Or ''What makes something good or bad”?

  • Does it clear the “So What” test?

After reading any research paper, the prompt question that pops up from a reader's mind is, "So What?". Now, if your thesis statement urges the reader with such questions, you need to develop a strong argument or relationship that bridges your research topic to a more significant real-world problem.

  • Does it go beyond the “How” and “Why” assessments?

After going through your thesis statement, if the readers come up with questions like "How" and 'Why," it indicates that your statement failed to provide the reader with the critical insights to understand your thesis statement and is too open-ended. So, you must provide your readers with the best statement explaining the introduction's real significance and the impending need for further research.

Thesis Statement Examples

Follow through with some interesting and creative thesis statements to clarify your doubts and better understand the concept.

Example 1: Social Media affects public awareness both positively and negatively

Yeah, it does answer the question. However, the answer is pretty vague and generic as it shows the effects both positively and negatively.

Not accurately. The statement can be argued only with the people having opinions either on positive or the negative aspect. Therefore, it fails to address every section of the audience.

  • Is the Thesis statement specific enough?

Not exactly. This thesis statement doesn't provide any details on positive and negative impacts.

No, not at all. The thesis statement stated above provides no clarifications over how the positive or negative impacts build up or the factors that build up such impacts.

Again, No. It fails to justify why anyone should bother about the impacts, be it positive or negative.

A stronger and alternate version for the above thesis statement can be:

Since not every piece of information provided on social media is credible and reliable enough, users have become avid consumers of critical information and, therefore, more informed.

Even though the above thesis statement is lengthy, it answers every question and provides details over cause, effect, and critical aspects that readers can easily challenge.

Example 2: Analytical Thesis Statement

  • Water is extremely important for human survival, but consuming contaminated water poses many health risks.
  • The hibernation period is one of the most important periods in animals for healthy well-being. Still, it renders them in a state of weakness and exposed to external and environmental threats.

Example 3: Argumentative Thesis Statement

  • At the end of the nineteenth century, French women lawyers experienced misogynist attacks from male lawyers when they attempted to enter the legal profession because male lawyers wanted to keep women out of judgeships.
  • High levels of alcohol consumption have detrimental effects on your health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.

Tips for writing a Strong Thesis Statement

tips-to-write-a-strong-Thesis-Statement

A strong thesis statement is the foremost requirement of academic writing, and it holds greater importance when written for research papers. However, it becomes more crucial when you want your readers to get convinced of your opinions or perspective of the subject matter.

Below are some pro-tips that can help you crack the code of how to write a strong thesis statement, especially for research papers, thesis, and dissertations:

Keep it specific

Readers often get disappointed and confused when you present a weak argument based on a generic thesis statement. To develop a strong thesis statement, focus on one key aspect and develop it further.

Keep it simple and clear

The essence of your entire research paper is dependent on your thesis statement. Also, a strong thesis statement stays hinged over the clarity it provides. Therefore, don't disrupt the meaning or clarity of your research paper by using some jargonish words or complexing it by combining different concepts.

Ingrain your opinions

Your thesis statement should explicitly display your opinion or position for the subject matter under discussion. Your reader wants to understand your position in detail and the factors you will justify with evidence and facts.

Make it unique and Original

Your audience or the readers have gone through the subject matter several times in their careers. Hence, you must present your thesis statement in a unique and completely original form. Never use generic statements; grow some risk-taking capability and surprise your readers.

Keep it Concise and Coherent

Your thesis statement can be considered good only if it is concise yet informational. Don’t make it wordy in any case, and never go beyond more than 50 words.

Additionally, your research paper will discuss many aspects of a topic. Still, in the end, every single aspect should come together to form a coherent whole, addressing, explaining, and justifying the research question.

Conclusion: How to write a Thesis Statement?

A strong thesis statement is the one of the most important elements of your research paper. The thesis statement always serves as a pillar that carries the entire load of a research paper and it’s several sections.

Whether your research paper is worthy of your audience time or not, entirely hinges upon your thesis statement. A thesis statement always depicts the plan for the research but a good thesis statement reflects your opinions, viewpoints and of course the trajectory that it sets for the entire paper.

So, always try to write a good thesis statement by carefully following its structure, about which we have already discussed.

Before you go: In view of your interest in simplifying research workflows, we suggest you take a look at SciSpace . In a single portal, you can complete all your research writing tasks, including literature searches.

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Hope the article has explained everything that you needed to know about the thesis statement. In case you have any questions or doubts, join our SciSpace (Formerly Typeset) community platform and put your questions there. We will make sure that you get your answers at the earliest.

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How to write a thesis statement for a research paper

How to write a thesis statement

The thesis statement is the central argument of your research paper makes and serves as a roadmap for the entire essay. Therefore, writing a strong thesis statement is essential for crafting a successful research paper—but it can also be one of the most challenging aspects of the writing process. In this post, we discuss strategies for creating a quality thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is the main argument of an academic essay or research paper . It states directly what you plan to argue in the paper.

A thesis statement is typically a single sentence, but it can be longer depending on the length and type of paper that you’re writing.

How to write a good thesis statement

In this section, we outline five key tips for writing a good thesis statement. If you’re struggling to come up with a research topic or a thesis, consider asking your instructor or a librarian for additional assistance.

1. Start with a question

A good thesis statement should be an answer to a research question. Start by asking a question about your topic that you want to address in your paper. This will help you focus your research and give your paper direction. The thesis statement should be a concise answer to this question.

Your research question should not be too broad or narrow. If the question is too broad, you may not be able to answer it effectively. If the question is too narrow, you may not have enough material to write a complete research paper. As a result, it’s important to strike a balance between a question that is too broad and one that is too narrow.

Thesis statements always respond to an existing scholarly conversation; so, formulate your research question and thesis in response to a current debate. Are there gaps in the current research? Where might your argument intervene?

2. Be specific

Your thesis statement should be specific and precise. It should clearly state the main point that you will be arguing in your paper. Avoid vague or general statements that are not arguable (see below). The more specific your thesis statement is, the easier it will be to write your paper.

To make your thesis statement specific, focus on a particular aspect of your topic. For example, if your topic is about the effects of social media on mental health, you can focus on a specific age group or a particular social media platform.

3. Make it debatable

A good thesis statement must be debatable (otherwise, it’s not actually an argument). It should present an argument that can be supported with evidence. Avoid statements that are purely factual or descriptive. Your thesis statement should take a position on a topic and argue for its validity.

4. Use strong language

Use strong, definitive language in your thesis statement. Try to avoid sounding tentative or uncertain. Your thesis statement should be confident and assertive, and it should clearly state your position on the topic.

It’s a myth that you can’t use “I” in an academic paper, so consider constructing your thesis statement in the form of “I argue that…” This conveys a strong and firm position.

To help make your thesis more assertive, avoid using vague language. For example, instead of writing, "I think social media has a negative impact on mental health," you might write, "Social media has a negative impact on mental health" or “I argue that social media has a negative impact on mental health.”

5. Revise and refine

Finally, remember that your thesis statement is not set in stone. You may need to revise, and refine, it as you conduct your research and write your paper. Don't be afraid to make changes to your thesis statement as you go along.

As you conduct your research and write your paper, you may discover new information that requires you to adjust your thesis statement. Or, as you work through a second draft, you might find that you’ve actually argued something different than you intended. Therefore, it is important to be flexible and open to making changes to your thesis statement.

The bottom line

Remember that your thesis statement is the foundation of your paper, so it's important to spend time crafting it carefully. A solid thesis enables you to write a research paper that effectively communicates your argument to your readers.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to create a thesis statement

Here is an example of a thesis statement: “I argue that social media has a negative impact on mental health.”

A good thesis statement should be an answer to a research question. Start by asking a question about your topic that you want to answer in your paper. The thesis statement should be a concise answer to this question.

Start your thesis statement with the words, “I argue that…” This conveys a strong and firm position.

A strong thesis is a direct, 1-2 sentence statement of your paper’s main argument. Good thesis statements are specific, balanced, and formed in response to an ongoing scholarly conversation.

How to write a research paper

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Developing Strong Thesis Statements

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These OWL resources will help you develop and refine the arguments in your writing.

The thesis statement or main claim must be debatable

An argumentative or persuasive piece of writing must begin with a debatable thesis or claim. In other words, the thesis must be something that people could reasonably have differing opinions on. If your thesis is something that is generally agreed upon or accepted as fact then there is no reason to try to persuade people.

Example of a non-debatable thesis statement:

This thesis statement is not debatable. First, the word pollution implies that something is bad or negative in some way. Furthermore, all studies agree that pollution is a problem; they simply disagree on the impact it will have or the scope of the problem. No one could reasonably argue that pollution is unambiguously good.

Example of a debatable thesis statement:

This is an example of a debatable thesis because reasonable people could disagree with it. Some people might think that this is how we should spend the nation's money. Others might feel that we should be spending more money on education. Still others could argue that corporations, not the government, should be paying to limit pollution.

Another example of a debatable thesis statement:

In this example there is also room for disagreement between rational individuals. Some citizens might think focusing on recycling programs rather than private automobiles is the most effective strategy.

The thesis needs to be narrow

Although the scope of your paper might seem overwhelming at the start, generally the narrower the thesis the more effective your argument will be. Your thesis or claim must be supported by evidence. The broader your claim is, the more evidence you will need to convince readers that your position is right.

Example of a thesis that is too broad:

There are several reasons this statement is too broad to argue. First, what is included in the category "drugs"? Is the author talking about illegal drug use, recreational drug use (which might include alcohol and cigarettes), or all uses of medication in general? Second, in what ways are drugs detrimental? Is drug use causing deaths (and is the author equating deaths from overdoses and deaths from drug related violence)? Is drug use changing the moral climate or causing the economy to decline? Finally, what does the author mean by "society"? Is the author referring only to America or to the global population? Does the author make any distinction between the effects on children and adults? There are just too many questions that the claim leaves open. The author could not cover all of the topics listed above, yet the generality of the claim leaves all of these possibilities open to debate.

Example of a narrow or focused thesis:

In this example the topic of drugs has been narrowed down to illegal drugs and the detriment has been narrowed down to gang violence. This is a much more manageable topic.

We could narrow each debatable thesis from the previous examples in the following way:

Narrowed debatable thesis 1:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just the amount of money used but also how the money could actually help to control pollution.

Narrowed debatable thesis 2:

This thesis narrows the scope of the argument by specifying not just what the focus of a national anti-pollution campaign should be but also why this is the appropriate focus.

Qualifiers such as " typically ," " generally ," " usually ," or " on average " also help to limit the scope of your claim by allowing for the almost inevitable exception to the rule.

Types of claims

Claims typically fall into one of four categories. Thinking about how you want to approach your topic, or, in other words, what type of claim you want to make, is one way to focus your thesis on one particular aspect of your broader topic.

Claims of fact or definition: These claims argue about what the definition of something is or whether something is a settled fact. Example:

Claims of cause and effect: These claims argue that one person, thing, or event caused another thing or event to occur. Example:

Claims about value: These are claims made of what something is worth, whether we value it or not, how we would rate or categorize something. Example:

Claims about solutions or policies: These are claims that argue for or against a certain solution or policy approach to a problem. Example:

Which type of claim is right for your argument? Which type of thesis or claim you use for your argument will depend on your position and knowledge of the topic, your audience, and the context of your paper. You might want to think about where you imagine your audience to be on this topic and pinpoint where you think the biggest difference in viewpoints might be. Even if you start with one type of claim you probably will be using several within the paper. Regardless of the type of claim you choose to utilize it is key to identify the controversy or debate you are addressing and to define your position early on in the paper.

How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement

The important sentence expresses your central assertion or argument

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A thesis statement provides the foundation for your entire research paper or essay. This statement is the central assertion that you want to express in your essay. A successful thesis statement is one that is made up of one or two sentences clearly laying out your central idea and expressing an informed, reasoned answer to your research question.

Usually, the thesis statement will appear at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. There are a few different types, and the content of your thesis statement will depend upon the type of paper you’re writing.

Key Takeaways: Writing a Thesis Statement

  • A thesis statement gives your reader a preview of your paper's content by laying out your central idea and expressing an informed, reasoned answer to your research question.
  • Thesis statements will vary depending on the type of paper you are writing, such as an expository essay, argument paper, or analytical essay.
  • Before creating a thesis statement, determine whether you are defending a stance, giving an overview of an event, object, or process, or analyzing your subject

Expository Essay Thesis Statement Examples

An expository essay "exposes" the reader to a new topic; it informs the reader with details, descriptions, or explanations of a subject. If you are writing an expository essay , your thesis statement should explain to the reader what she will learn in your essay. For example:

  • The United States spends more money on its military budget than all the industrialized nations combined.
  • Gun-related homicides and suicides are increasing after years of decline.
  • Hate crimes have increased three years in a row, according to the FBI.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increases the risk of stroke and arterial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).

These statements provide a statement of fact about the topic (not just opinion) but leave the door open for you to elaborate with plenty of details. In an expository essay, you don't need to develop an argument or prove anything; you only need to understand your topic and present it in a logical manner. A good thesis statement in an expository essay always leaves the reader wanting more details.

Types of Thesis Statements

Before creating a thesis statement, it's important to ask a few basic questions, which will help you determine the kind of essay or paper you plan to create:

  • Are you defending a stance in a controversial essay ?
  • Are you simply giving an overview or describing an event, object, or process?
  • Are you conducting an analysis of an event, object, or process?

In every thesis statement , you will give the reader a preview of your paper's content, but the message will differ a little depending on the essay type .

Argument Thesis Statement Examples

If you have been instructed to take a stance on one side of a controversial issue, you will need to write an argument essay . Your thesis statement should express the stance you are taking and may give the reader a preview or a hint of your evidence. The thesis of an argument essay could look something like the following:

  • Self-driving cars are too dangerous and should be banned from the roadways.
  • The exploration of outer space is a waste of money; instead, funds should go toward solving issues on Earth, such as poverty, hunger, global warming, and traffic congestion.
  • The U.S. must crack down on illegal immigration.
  • Street cameras and street-view maps have led to a total loss of privacy in the United States and elsewhere.

These thesis statements are effective because they offer opinions that can be supported by evidence. If you are writing an argument essay, you can craft your own thesis around the structure of the statements above.

Analytical Essay Thesis Statement Examples

In an analytical essay assignment, you will be expected to break down a topic, process, or object in order to observe and analyze your subject piece by piece. Examples of a thesis statement for an analytical essay include:

  • The criminal justice reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate in late 2018 (" The First Step Act ") aims to reduce prison sentences that disproportionately fall on nonwhite criminal defendants.
  • The rise in populism and nationalism in the U.S. and European democracies has coincided with the decline of moderate and centrist parties that have dominated since WWII.
  • Later-start school days increase student success for a variety of reasons.

Because the role of the thesis statement is to state the central message of your entire paper, it is important to revisit (and maybe rewrite) your thesis statement after the paper is written. In fact, it is quite normal for your message to change as you construct your paper.

  • How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • An Introduction to Academic Writing
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay
  • How To Write an Essay
  • Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay
  • How to Write a Response Paper
  • The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay
  • Understanding What an Expository Essay Is
  • The Introductory Paragraph: Start Your Paper Off Right
  • Tips for Writing an Art History Paper
  • The Five Steps of Writing an Essay
  • How to Write a Persuasive Essay
  • What an Essay Is and How to Write One
  • Development in Composition: Building an Essay

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How to Format a Thesis for a Research Paper

Matt Ellis

Every good research paper needs a clear and concise thesis statement to present the main topic and preview the paper’s contents. The question is, “How do you format a research paper thesis?” “What is standard, and what do readers and professors expect to see?”

Here we explain how to write a thesis for a research paper. We’ll explain the best format for a research paper thesis and share some examples for different types of papers. We’ll even discuss the difference between a thesis statement, a research question, and a hypothesis.

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What is a thesis statement in a research paper?

A thesis statement is a single sentence in a research paper that plainly and succinctly explains the main point the research attempts to prove. For example, if you were researching the effects of exercise on stress, your thesis statement might be:

Due to the neurological effects of exercise, people who exercise regularly report lower stress levels than those who do not exercise.

Notice how the thesis statement gives a complete overview of the topic without saying too much. Thesis statements act only as an introduction to the topic, while the rest of the paper covers the details and explains the finer points.

Understanding what goes into a good thesis statement is a necessary part of knowing how to write a research paper . By previewing what the paper is about, a thesis statement prepares the reader so they know what to expect. Because thesis statements play this role, they usually come at the beginning of a paper, typically in the introduction.

6 tips for formatting a research paper thesis

Although there are no official rules for a research paper thesis statement, some generally accepted best practices can help you write yours. Keep these guidelines in mind when writing your research paper thesis:

1 It should be clear and concise: A research paper thesis statement should use plain language and explain the topic briefly, without going into too much detail.

2 It’s a single sentence: A thesis statement is generally only one sentence, which helps keep the topic simple and makes it easier to understand.

3 It should establish the scope of the topic: After reading the research paper thesis, your reader should know what the paper will—and will not—discuss.

4 It asserts a claim: Thesis statements should not be ambiguous; they should present a clear assertion that is backed by evidence, which you discuss in the body of the paper.

5 It’s located at the beginning: A research paper thesis statement should come early in the paper, typically in the first paragraph of the introduction.

6 It’s reiterated at the end: A thesis statement is usually either repeated or rephrased at the end of the paper in the research paper conclusion as a way to wrap everything up.

A thesis statement can also help you organize your entire research paper. You must decide on a topic before you begin your research, and phrasing your topic as a thesis statement can further refine the direction your research will go in. In this way, your thesis statement can help you write your research paper outline and structure your evidence in a logical sequence to improve the flow of your paper.

Example format of research paper thesis by type

Argumentative.

The argumentative style of research paper attempts to convince the reader of a certain point of view using evidence and factual data. Often this style is used for topics that include opposing points of view; however, this is not a prerequisite.

A thesis statement in an argumentative paper clearly defines the author’s position and often uses persuasive language to appeal to the reader.

Example format of research paper thesis: Argumentative

Although washing your hands is an effective way to kill germs, our research finds that washing your hands excessively can actually weaken certain immunities and make the skin vulnerable to new afflictions.

As the name suggests, expository writing aims to expose new information that the reader is likely not familiar with. It is common in both journalism and research papers as a way to educate and inform readers.

Expository research papers often present their main point directly in the thesis statement, sometimes phrasing it as a hook to keep the reader engaged and curious enough to keep reading.

Example format of research paper thesis: Expository

Our research has found that cyberbullies are motivated primarily by recreation and entertainment, unlike offline bullies, who are more likely motivated by rage, revenge, or a misguided reward system.

An analytical style of research takes a focused, methodical approach to a single topic. Analytical research papers are a deep dive into one particular issue, exploring it from multiple angles and accounting for even the smallest details.

The thesis statement for an analytical research paper should briefly mention each key point of the topic without overexplaining or listing too many details.

Example format of research paper thesis: Analytical

Despite Sigmund Freud being regarded as the “father of modern psychology,” a present-day review of his famous theories and practices reveals that most of his ideas are, in retrospect, deeply flawed.

Thesis statement vs. research question vs. hypothesis

Thesis statements are often confused with research questions and hypotheses, all of which aim to encapsulate an entire paper’s idea in a single sentence at the beginning of the document. So what’s the difference between a thesis statement, a research question, and a hypothesis?

A thesis statement is a general overview that’s used not only for research papers but also for essay writing and other nonfiction works. A thesis statement is essentially a summary of the main idea in a paper that introduces the topic to the reader.

A research question is an interrogative sentence that your research attempts to answer. For example, if your research paper is about how long it takes different temperatures of water to reach a boiling point, your research question could be, “What is the optimal temperature for boiling water quickly?” Research questions are mainly for research papers that have a particular emphasis on empirical data.

A hypothesis is a prediction about what will happen that is made before the actual research begins. A hypothesis in a research paper is proven either correct or incorrect based on the research. You can include a hypothesis in addition to your thesis statement or research question.

Thesis statement format FAQs

What is a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a sentence in a research paper that concisely and clearly explains what the research is attempting to prove.

What are the guidelines for writing a well-formatted thesis statement?

A well-formatted thesis statement has the following qualities:

  • It’s clear and concise.
  • It’s a single sentence.
  • It establishes the scope of the topic.
  • It asserts a claim.
  • It’s located in the introduction.
  • It’s reiterated in the conclusion.

What’s the difference between a thesis statement, a research question, and a hypothesis?

A thesis statement is a general overview used in research papers and other nonfiction writing. A research question is an interrogative sentence that your research attempts to answer, and a hypothesis is a prediction made before the actual research begins about what will happen.

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What Makes a Thesis Statement Spectacular? — 5 things to know

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Table of Contents

What Is a Thesis Statement?

A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that states the primary idea of an essay or a research paper . In this statement, the authors declare their beliefs or what they intend to argue in their research study. The statement is clear and concise, with only one or two sentences.

Thesis Statement — An Essential in Thesis Writing

A thesis statement distills the research paper idea into one or two sentences. This summary organizes your paper and develops the research argument or opinion. The statement is important because it lets the reader know what the research paper will talk about and how the author is approaching the issue. Moreover, the statement also serves as a map for the paper and helps the authors to track and organize their thoughts more efficiently.

A thesis statement can keep the writer from getting lost in a convoluted and directionless argument. Finally, it will also ensure that the research paper remains relevant and focused on the objective.

Where to Include the Thesis Statement?

The thesis statement is typically placed at the end of the introduction section of your essay or research paper. It usually consists of a single sentence of the writer’s opinion on the topic and provides a specific guide to the readers throughout the paper.

6 Steps to Write an Impactful Thesis Statement

Step 1 – analyze the literature.

Identify the knowledge gaps in the relevant research paper. Analyze the deeper implications of the author’s research argument. Was the research objective mentioned in the thesis statement reversed later in the discussion or conclusion? Does the author contradict themselves? Is there a major knowledge gap in creating a relevant research objective? Has the author understood and validated the fundamental theories correctly? Does the author support an argument without having supporting literature to cite? Answering these or related questions will help authors develop a working thesis and give their thesis an easy direction and structure.

Step 2 – Start with a Question

While developing a working thesis, early in the writing process, you might already have a research question to address. Strong research questions guide the design of studies and define and identify specific objectives. These objectives will assist the author in framing the thesis statement.

Step 3 – Develop the Answer

After initial research, the author could formulate a tentative answer to the research question. At this stage, the answer could be simple enough to guide the research and the writing process. After writing the initial answer, the author could elaborate further on why this is the chosen answer. After reading more about the research topic, the author could write and refine the answers to address the research question.

Step 4 – Write the First Draft of the Thesis Statement

After ideating the working thesis statement, make sure to write it down. It is disheartening to create a great idea for a thesis and then forget it when you lose concentration. The first draft will help you think clearly and logically. It will provide you with an option to align your thesis statement with the defined research objectives.

Step 5 – Anticipate Counter Arguments Against the Statement

After developing a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This list of arguments will help you refute the thesis later. Remember that every argument has a counterargument, and if yours does not have one, what you state is not an argument — it may be a fact or opinion, but not an argument.

Step 6 – Refine the Statement

Anticipating counterarguments will help you refine your statement further. A strong thesis statement should address —

  • Why does your research hold this stand?
  • What will readers learn from the essay?
  • Are the key points of your argumentative or narrative?
  • Does the final thesis statement summarize your overall argument or the entire topic you aim to explain in the research paper?

thesis statement start

5 Tips to Create a Compelling Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a crucial part of any academic paper. Clearly stating the main idea of your research helps you focus on the objectives of your paper. Refer to the following tips while drafting your statement:

1. Keep it Concise

The statement should be short and precise. It should contain no more than a couple of sentences.

2. Make it Specific

The statement should be focused on a specific topic or argument. Covering too many topics will only make your paper weaker.

3. Express an Opinion

The statement should have an opinion on an issue or controversy. This will make your paper arguable and interesting to read.

4. Be Assertive

The statement should be stated assertively and not hesitantly or apologetically. Remember, you are making an argument — you need to sound convincing!

5. Support with Evidence

The thesis should be supported with evidence from your paper. Make sure you include specific examples from your research to reinforce your objectives.

Thesis Statement Examples *

Example 1 – alcohol consumption.

High levels of alcohol consumption have harmful effects on your health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.

This thesis statement states specific reasons why alcohol consumption is detrimental. It is not required to mention every single detriment in your thesis.

Example 2 – Benefits of the Internet

The internet serves as a means of expediently connecting people across the globe, fostering new friendships and an exchange of ideas that would not have occurred before its inception.

While the internet offers a host of benefits, this thesis statement is about choosing the ability that fosters new friendships and exchange ideas. Also, the research needs to prove how connecting people across the globe could not have happened before the internet’s inception — which is a focused research statement.

*The following thesis statements are not fully researched and are merely examples shown to understand how to write a thesis statement. Also, you should avoid using these statements for your own research paper purposes.

A gripping thesis statement is developed by understanding it from the reader’s point of view. Be aware of not developing topics that only interest you and have less reader attraction. A harsh yet necessary question to ask oneself is — Why should readers read my paper? Is this paper worth reading? Would I read this paper if I weren’t its author?

A thesis statement hypes your research paper. It makes the readers excited about what specific information is coming their way. This helps them learn new facts and possibly embrace new opinions.

Writing a thesis statement (although two sentences) could be a daunting task. Hope this blog helps you write a compelling one! Do consider using the steps to create your thesis statement and tell us about it in the comment section below.

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What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 21, 2023.

A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.

Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .

Thesis template

You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.

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Table of contents

Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.

You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.

  • A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
  • A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
  • In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
  • In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.

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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:

  • Your discipline
  • Your theoretical approach

Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.

In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section ,  results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a short list of thesis examples to help you get started.

  • Example thesis #1:   “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
  • Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.

The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:

  • Your full title
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date.

Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

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An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.

Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:

  • Plan to attend graduate school soon
  • Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
  • Are considering a career in research
  • Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience

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Thesis statements are central arguments in essays, and are usually written as one or two sentences (but can be longer depending on the context and discipline). A thesis focuses on the interpretation of facts to create an argument. A thesis is not a statement of fact, but a clear and convincing argument that takes a stand in a range of possible positions.  

Successful thesis statements usually:

State an opinion/position, which will be proved by evidence in the body of the essay, usually through the use of sources.

Are specific about the writer’s position, using details and specific terms.

Produce several responses, for example, agreement, neutrality, and disagreement. 

The WHAT/HOW/SO WHAT Strategy 

This strategy can help develop stronger thesis statements:

The WHAT: the topic you’re writing about . Can also reference larger academic conversations/make connections to the larger context you’re writing in.

The HOW: The methods and means by which you will be analyzing and discussing your topic. Or a general overview of how you will be guiding the reader through your text. 

The SO WHAT: Your analysis or interpretation of the topic. Why is this topic significant? What does your thesis statement mean in the surrounding academic conversation/the larger context you’re writing in? 

Sample thesis: 

In his 2018 poetry collection Elegía/Elegy,   [What]   Raquel Salas Rivera uses self translation and literary devices to create and break dichotomies within language and freedom    [how] . Breaking these dichotomies causes the reader to question how they have internalized colonial understandings of language purism   [so what] .  

This content was adapted by Marissa Burke from the Queen’s University online guide and tutorial for thesis statements, as well as the Carroll College Writing Center online resources for Writing a Good Thesis Statement

Mastering the Thesis Statement: Examples and Tips for Academic Success

What is the thesis statement? When it comes to writing an essay , there are many things that we must take into consideration in order to create a well-written and respected piece of work. One such thing is the thesis statement. Every good essay should have one and it needs to be well-written and well-thought-out. In this article, we are going to be looking at exactly what a thesis statement is and what it is used for as well as looking at some examples of the thesis statement as a way to gain a greater understanding of what its function is.

A thesis statement plays a crucial role in any well-crafted essay, as it helps both the writer and the reader establish the central point of the paper. Typically found near the end of the introduction, this sentence succinctly conveys the main idea the writer intends to communicate throughout the essay. Crafting a strong thesis statement increases the likelihood that the resulting essay will be cohesive, persuasive, and engaging for the audience.

Creating an effective thesis statement can, at times, be a challenging process. One useful method is to begin by exploring examples that illustrate the various ways in which thesis statements can be constructed, depending on the type of essay or paper being written. Studying these examples can help budding writers grasp the principles behind crafting compelling thesis statements, and serve as inspiration for their own work.

Table of Contents

What Is A Thesis Statement?

Definition and purpose.

In the most simple terms, a thesis statement is a short statement that provides insight into what the essay is going to be about. They are used to enlighten the audience on a variety of things, including:

  • The main argument or point to be discussed.
  • The purpose of the essay.
  • The point of view of the author on a specific topic.

A thesis statement is a sentence that encapsulates the central point or main idea of a paper or essay. It is typically found near the end of the introduction and serves as a guide to the reader, outlining the writer’s stance on the topic. The thesis statement not only answers the question asked but also acts as a roadmap for the paper, indicating what the reader can expect throughout the rest of the paper.

The purpose of a thesis statement is two-fold:

  • To convey a clear and concise argument or position on the topic.
  • To inspire further discussion and responses from the audience.

It’s crucial for a thesis statement to be focused, specific, and arguable. A strong thesis is easy to understand and provides a solid foundation for supporting evidence within the paper.

Types of Thesis Statements

Argumentative thesis statement.

An argumentative thesis statement is a claim that takes a strong position on an issue. This type of thesis statement aims to persuade the reader to accept the writer’s viewpoint by presenting logical reasoning and supporting evidence. It is essential to have a clear and concise argumentative thesis statement to guide the rest of the essay.

For example: “ Public transportation should be free in metropolitan areas to reduce carbon emissions and economic inequalities.”

Expository Essay Thesis Statement

An expository essay thesis statement highlights a specific issue or fact that the writer will explain or analyze throughout the essay. This type of thesis should be informative and objective, without taking a strong stance on the issue.

For example: “ High-level competitive athletes face numerous physical, mental, and emotional challenges throughout their careers. ”

Persuasive Thesis Statement

A persuasive thesis statement is similar to an argumentative thesis statement, but it aims to convince the reader to take action or adopt the writer’s viewpoint through emotional appeal and relatable examples. The persuasive thesis statement should be thought-provoking and debatable.

For example: “ Animal shelters should require background checks and home visits to ensure responsible pet adoption and prevent animal abuse. ”

Compare and Contrast Thesis Statement

A compare-and-contrast thesis statement sets the stage for an essay comparing or contrasting two or more subjects. This type of thesis statement may highlight similarities, differences, or a mix of both. It is crucial to establish a basis for comparison to provide a clear focus for the essay.

For example: “ While both public and private universities offer a variety of educational opportunities, the differences in cost, class size, and campus environment directly impact a student’s experience .”

By understanding and applying these types of thesis statements, writers can effectively tailor their essays’ tone and focus to suit their specific purpose and audience.

How Is A Thesis Statement Used?

As we mentioned a thesis statement is used to point out the main argument of the essay. There are certain rules that should be followed by the thesis statement. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail.

  • A thesis statement should appear in the introduction of the essay to layout the main topic and the author’s stance on it. It should also appear in the conclusion of the essay, where the author can refer back to it.
  • A thesis statement should be a short statement of only one or two sentences that delivers clear and concise information.
  • The thesis statement will directly answer the main question posed by the essay, for example, if the essay question were ‘What is the biggest tourist attraction in France?’ The thesis statement might directly reply to this with ‘With over 6 million visitors each year, the Eiffel Tower is clearly the biggest tourist attraction in France.’ If the essay topic doesn’t contain a question, you can fashion one yourself.
  • Many people use the ‘so what?’ technique when writing a thesis statement. If a reader is likely to think ‘so what?’ when starting your essay, you can use the thesis statement to form a relationship and a connection to the issue that will engage the reader and make them care about what is going to be talked about.
  • Similarly to the above point, a thesis statement should answer why or how questions that the reader may have. Look again at the example of the Eiffel Tower, the statement clearly shows the reader why the tower is the biggest tourist attraction in France using real statistics that cannot be ignored. But in the same breath, gives the reader the chance to dispute the information. This is another key point to the thesis statement. A reader should be able to look at the thesis statement and disagree with it, this might encourage them to research the topic themselves.
  • A thesis statement should agree with the body of the essay. If it does not, then it should be amended. Using the example of the French tourist attraction once again, the body of that essay would need to go into further detail about the tourist attractions in France and further prove why the Eiffel Tower is the most popular.

Creating a Strong Thesis Statement

Identifying your topic and scope.

When creating a strong thesis statement, it is essential to first identify your topic and the scope of your paper. You should consider the central idea you want to communicate and its impact on your field of study, whether it’s art, education, or environmental studies. A solid thesis statement should focus on a single aspect of your research, avoiding general terms or abstractions. Keep it clear and specific to ensure it effectively guides both you and the reader through your argument.

Forming a Debatable Claim

An argumentative thesis statement should present a debatable claim, one that reasonable people could disagree with. This means that it should not merely be a statement of fact, but rather an assertion that invites different opinions. For example, a debatable claim on nationalism could be, “Nationalism contributed to the rise of populism in the 21st century.” This claim allows for various arguments, opinions, and contextual interpretations.

Providing Evidence

A strong thesis statement should also set the stage for presenting evidence supporting your claim. In a research paper, this means providing an overview of the key elements and sources you will use to build your argument. For an argumentative essay, be prepared to provide well-researched and detailed evidence to back up your claim, whether it’s regarding renewable energy sources, the history of race and gender, or the role of nationalism in shaping global politics.

Here are some tips to help you write a strong thesis statement:

  • Make sure it’s clear and concise, typically consisting of one or two sentences.
  • Ensure that it’s focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Position it near the end of your essay’s introduction or within the first paragraph.

By following these guidelines and being mindful of your topic, scope, and evidence, you will be able to craft a powerful thesis statement that engages your audience and sets the stage for a successful research or argumentative paper.

Explore more: How To Write A Thesis Statement

Thesis Statement Examples

Argumentative thesis examples.

An argumentative thesis aims to establish a position and persuade the reader with evidence and reasoning. Examples include:

  • Though populism may fundamentally challenge traditional political structures, its effects on social and economic policies are necessary for a more equitable society.
  • Social media platforms are responsible for the increasing polarization of opinions and must adopt measures to limit the spread of misinformation.

Expository Essay Thesis Examples

An expository essay thesis presents facts, evidence, or an explanation without taking a persuasive stance. Examples include:

  • The process of photosynthesis is fundamental to the survival of plants and the ecosystems they support, providing energy for growth and reproduction.
  • Urbanization has led to numerous social, economic, and environmental consequences, including increased housing demand, traffic congestion, and pollution.

Persuasive Thesis Examples

A persuasive thesis seeks to convince the reader of a particular argument or opinion. Examples include:

  • The benefits of implementing a universal basic income outweigh the potential drawbacks, as it can alleviate poverty and provide residents with more financial security.
  • Investing in renewable energy sources is essential for combating climate change and ensuring a sustainable future for subsequent generations.

Compare and Contrast Thesis Examples

A compare and contrast thesis highlights the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. Examples include:

  • While both traditional and online education offer unique advantages and challenges, the flexibility and accessibility of online learning make it a more suitable option for students juggling work and personal responsibilities.
  • Despite similarities in their genre and themes, the novels “Pride and Prejudice” and “Wuthering Heights” differ significantly in their narrative styles and characterization.

Using these examples, you can create strong thesis statements tailored to your essay’s specific topic and goals. Remember to provide a clear and concise thesis that effectively showcases your argument, opinion, or comparison in a confident, knowledgeable, and neutral tone.

Thesis Statement Examples: Issues to Consider

Impact on society.

When creating a thesis statement, it’s essential to consider the potential impacts on society. The chosen topic may address issues such as education, war, and nationalism. For example, the thesis statement might analyze the effects of changing educational policies on different classes of society. This could include exploring access to education for low-income households or the impact of privatization on public schools. It is crucial to examine how the thesis topic relates to societal issues and incorporates them into the statement.

Related: Social Issues

Race, Gender, and Class

It is important to address issues related to race, gender, and class when developing thesis statements. For instance, research papers might examine inequalities in the workplace or disparities in access to resources. Such studies should think about context and historical background, comparing and contrasting the experiences of different groups. Here are some examples.

  • Gender : An examination of the gender pay gap across various industries
  • Race : A comparison of racial profiling incidents in law enforcement across different communities
  • Class : Exploring the impact of socio-economic status on healthcare access and outcomes

Consider using tables and bullet points to help present data and findings more effectively.

Environmental Concerns

Lastly, incorporating environmental concerns into thesis statements is essential, especially in today’s world, where sustainability and environmental protection are vital. Research papers might address issues such as pollution, waste management, or the effects of climate change on marginalized communities. For example, a thesis statement could focus on exploring the consequences of a specific eco-friendly initiative in a local community, or how environmental policies have evolved over time.

Keep in mind to maintain a confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear tone of voice throughout the section, focusing on accurate information and avoiding exaggerated or false claims.

Examples of Thesis Statements in Different Essay Types

In a narrative essay , the thesis statement revolves around the story being told. It is typically centered on a specific event, person, or experience that had a significant impact on the writer. The thesis statement in a narrative essay serves as a brief preview of what the reader can expect. It should provide some insight into the writer’s personal connection to the topic and help set the stage for the narrative to unfold.

For example:

The moment she won the lottery, Mary’s life changed forever, teaching her the importance of cherishing every moment with her loved ones.

An analytical essay breaks down a topic into its main components and presents an evaluation or interpretation of the topic based on those components. The thesis statement in an analytical essay should clearly state the issue or idea that will be analyzed and its essential elements. This type of statement should provide enough information to guide the reader through the essay and highlight the central points of analysis.

By examining the symbolism, characterization, and theme of “The Great Gatsby,” it becomes evident that Fitzgerald uses these techniques to criticize the American Dream’s materialism and superficiality.

Argumentative

In an argumentative essay , the thesis statement takes a clear, definitive stance on a specific issue or question. This type of thesis statement aims to persuade readers of the writer’s viewpoint and provide logical and supporting evidence to back up the claim. The thesis should be concise, specific, and controversial enough to encourage debate from various perspectives.

Although some people argue that video games can be beneficial, this essay will demonstrate that excessive video gaming is linked to increased violent behavior, addiction, and social isolation, and therefore requires stricter regulation.

Cause and Effect

A cause-and-effect essay explores the relationship between certain events, actions, or conditions and their respective outcomes. The thesis statement in a cause-and-effect essay should establish the connection between the cause and the effect, asserting a causal connection between the two. This type of thesis statement should present a clear, coherent structure to guide the reader through the essay and should establish the relationship between the cause and the effect.

The widespread use of smartphones has led to increased incidents of sleep deprivation among teenagers, resulting in declining academic performance, mood disorders, and health issues.

These are examples of how thesis statements can vary based on the type of essay and showcase the importance of tailoring the thesis statement to fit the specific requirements of each essay style.

More Thesis Statement Examples

Now that we are clear on what a thesis statement is and how it can be used, we are going to take a look at some examples of strong and effective thesis statements. This will give you a better idea on what they should contain and how they function within an essay.

American Education

The American education system has been evolving, and it is essential to have a clear thesis statement when discussing the topic. Here’s an example:

The integration of technology in American schools has significantly enhanced the learning experience of students, resulting in improved academic performance.

In this example, it highlights the positive impact of technology on the education system. It also provides a concise view that can be explored and supported through research and relevant statistics.

Internet and Society

The internet has changed the way society functions in various capacities. Here is a thesis statement example that can be used to discuss the relationship between the internet and society:

The widespread use of the internet has drastically altered societal interactions, affecting the population’s ability to communicate, access information, and maintain personal privacy.

This statement outlines the primary effects of the internet on society and can be further developed through specific examples and analysis. This statement can be supported through studies, data, and real-life cases that demonstrate the impact of the internet on communication, information access, and privacy concerns.

List of Thesis Statement Examples

  • Owing to the fact that many children are not being vaccinated because of illness, it is now imperative that we make it a requirement that healthy children are vaccinated in order to stop the spread of disease.
  • For families on a low income, schools should provide basic equipment such as pens, calculators and laptops.
  • Whilst school uniforms are expensive, they do provide security and a sense of belonging to students and for this reason, are an integral part of the school system.
  • Many public libraries are closing down due to lack of interest but these are important resources within the community and we should fight to keep them open.
  • With the internet becoming ever more popular and accessible to teenagers, cyber bullying is massively on the rise. A large number of cyber bullying cases end in suicide and it is down to parents and schools to tackle this growing problem.
  • Cannabis is not legal in many countries and states and this is for good reason. The drug is known to diminish the brain cells and regardless of how it might relax pain and anxiety, it should not be legalised.
  • Too many people are taking time of work for stress-related reasons and so it is more important than ever for workplaces to provide internal activities to combat this problem.
  • Many parents do not like the idea of their children being taught sex education at an early age but unfortunately in this day and age, it is a necessity if we want to keep children safe.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

When writing a thesis statement, it is essential to avoid common mistakes that may weaken your argument or confuse your reader. In this section, we will discuss two main pitfalls to avoid: Overgeneralizing and Using Weak or Vague Language.

Overgeneralizing

Overgeneralizing refers to making broad, sweeping claims in your thesis statement without providing specific, concrete evidence to support them. To avoid overgeneralization, focus on providing a clear and concise argument, grounded in solid research and evidence. Brainstorm specific examples or points you will address in your paper that support your thesis. For example, if your thesis is about a controversial topic, make sure your argument is based on valid research and takes a clear direction, rather than making generalized statements.

To prevent overgeneralization in your thesis statement:

  • Narrow the focus of your argument.
  • Ensure your claim is specific and backed up by evidence.
  • Be consistent with the goals and direction outlined in your paper.

Using Weak or Vague Language

Using weak or vague language in your thesis statement can result in a lack of clarity and create confusion for your reader. To maintain a strong, clear, and convincing thesis, avoid using weak or unclear terms, such as “interesting” or “might.” Instead, use assertive and definitive language that demonstrates your confidence and knowledge of the subject matter. For instance, if you are writing about a potential solution to a problem, make sure to express your stance in a strong, clear way to entice your reader and promise valuable insights.

To strengthen the language of your thesis statement:

  • Avoid using vague or ambiguous terms.
  • Use clear, specific language that directly communicates your argument.
  • Stay focused on your main points and the direction of your paper.

Keeping these tips in mind and utilizing clear language will contribute to a stronger, more effective thesis statement.

Crafting Engaging Introductions and Conclusions

Writing a hook.

A successful introduction begins with an attention-grabbing hook. A hook is an opening statement that piques the reader’s interest and encourages them to continue reading. There are various types of hooks, such as using a quote, posing a question, or stating an intriguing fact. The hook should be relevant to the topic and set the tone for the rest of the article.

Connecting Thesis Statement to Conclusion

The conclusion of an academic paper should restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs. However, it’s important to do this in a way that doesn’t merely repeat the same information, but instead provides a sense of closure and emphasizes the significance of the topic.

One way to achieve this is by connecting the thesis statement to the conclusion through the use of topic sentences and counterarguments. A well-crafted topic sentence should introduce the main idea of a body paragraph, while a counterargument addresses potential objections to the thesis statement. Utilizing these elements effectively throughout the paper creates a sense of cohesion and allows for a smooth transition from the introduction to the conclusion.

By incorporating engaging hooks and thoughtfully connecting the thesis statement to the conclusion, the reader is more likely to be drawn into the article and appreciate the depth of the content presented.

Thesis Statement Infographic

Thesis Statement: Definition, Useful Tips and Examples of Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is made up of one or two sentences and gives the author the chance to tell the reader what the essay is going to be about as well as their stance on the topic. It should be clear and concise and should always tie in with the body paragraphs of the essay .

Whilst there are many points to consider when writing a thesis statement, a well-written one can answer a question and engage the reader in the essay. Sticking with the ‘rules’ of the thesis statement will allow the author to craft a well-written and relevant essay.

FAQs on Thesis Statement

What is a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a sentence or two in an essay or research paper that presents the main argument or central idea of the paper. It tells the reader what to expect, guides the structure of the paper, and directly answers the question or topic being discussed.

How do I write a thesis statement?

There are four simple steps to write a thesis statement:

  • Start with a question : Identify the topic or question your paper will explore.
  • Write your initial answer : This should be a concise statement that provides a preliminary answer to the question.
  • Develop your answer : Expand on your initial answer by considering its implications, context, and evidence.
  • Refine your thesis statement : Revise and refine your statement to make it clear, specific, and arguable.

Where should the thesis statement be placed?

The placement of the thesis statement varies depending on the type of paper or essay. However, a common place for the thesis statement is at the end of the introduction paragraph, making it easier for the reader to identify the main argument early in the text.

What makes a good thesis statement?

A good thesis statement should be:

  • Clear : It should communicate your main point without confusion.
  • Specific : It should focus on a single topic or argument.
  • Arguable : It should present a claim that people can reasonably disagree on.
  • Relevant : It should relate to the purpose of the paper and contribute to its overall message.

What are the different types of thesis statements?

There are two main types of thesis statements:

  • Analytical : An analytical thesis breaks down an issue or idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents the breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • Expository (explanatory) : An expository thesis explains something to the audience.

Remember, as you work on your thesis statement, keep the rest of your paper in mind to ensure that it aligns with the paper’s overall content and objective.

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25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze

JBirdwellBranson

Understanding what makes a good thesis statement is one of the major keys to writing a great research paper or argumentative essay. The thesis statement is where you make a claim that will guide you through your entire paper. If you find yourself struggling to make sense of your paper or your topic, then it's likely due to a weak thesis statement.

Let's take a minute to first understand what makes a solid thesis statement, and what key components you need to write one of your own.

Perfecting Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement always goes at the beginning of the paper. It will typically be in the first couple of paragraphs of the paper so that it can introduce the body paragraphs, which are the supporting evidence for your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should clearly identify an argument. You need to have a statement that is not only easy to understand, but one that is debatable. What that means is that you can't just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute . An ineffective thesis statement would be, "Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it." This isn't really something that's a debatable topic.

Something that would be more debatable would be, "A puppy's cuteness is derived from its floppy ears, small body, and playfulness." These are three things that can be debated on. Some people might think that the cutest thing about puppies is the fact that they follow you around or that they're really soft and fuzzy.

All cuteness aside, you want to make sure that your thesis statement is not only debatable, but that it also actually thoroughly answers the research question that was posed. You always want to make sure that your evidence is supporting a claim that you made (and not the other way around). This is why it's crucial to read and research about a topic first and come to a conclusion later. If you try to get your research to fit your thesis statement, then it may not work out as neatly as you think. As you learn more, you discover more (and the outcome may not be what you originally thought).

Additionally, your thesis statement shouldn't be too big or too grand. It'll be hard to cover everything in a thesis statement like, "The federal government should act now on climate change." The topic is just too large to actually say something new and meaningful. Instead, a more effective thesis statement might be, "Local governments can combat climate change by providing citizens with larger recycling bins and offering local classes about composting and conservation." This is easier to work with because it's a smaller idea, but you can also discuss the overall topic that you might be interested in, which is climate change.

So, now that we know what makes a good, solid thesis statement, you can start to write your own. If you find that you're getting stuck or you are the type of person who needs to look at examples before you start something, then check out our list of thesis statement examples below.

Thesis statement examples

A quick note that these thesis statements have not been fully researched. These are merely examples to show you what a thesis statement might look like and how you can implement your own ideas into one that you think of independently. As such, you should not use these thesis statements for your own research paper purposes. They are meant to be used as examples only.

  • Vaccinations Because many children are unable to vaccinate due to illness, we must require that all healthy and able children be vaccinated in order to have herd immunity.
  • Educational Resources for Low-Income Students Schools should provide educational resources for low-income students during the summers so that they don't forget what they've learned throughout the school year.
  • School Uniforms School uniforms may be an upfront cost for families, but they eradicate the visual differences in income between students and provide a more egalitarian atmosphere at school.
  • Populism The rise in populism on the 2016 political stage was in reaction to increasing globalization, the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Public Libraries Libraries are essential resources for communities and should be funded more heavily by local municipalities.
  • Cyber Bullying With more and more teens using smartphones and social media, cyber bullying is on the rise. Cyber bullying puts a lot of stress on many teens, and can cause depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Parents should limit the usage of smart phones, monitor their children's online activity, and report any cyber bullying to school officials in order to combat this problem.
  • Medical Marijuana for Veterans Studies have shown that the use of medicinal marijuana has been helpful to veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Medicinal marijuana prescriptions should be legal in all states and provided to these veterans. Additional medical or therapy services should also be researched and implemented in order to help them re-integrate back into civilian life.
  • Work-Life Balance Corporations should provide more work from home opportunities and six-hour workdays so that office workers have a better work-life balance and are more likely to be productive when they are in the office.
  • Teaching Youths about Consensual Sex Although sex education that includes a discussion of consensual sex would likely lead to less sexual assault, parents need to teach their children the meaning of consent from a young age with age appropriate lessons.
  • Whether or Not to Attend University A degree from a university provides invaluable lessons on life and a future career, but not every high school student should be encouraged to attend a university directly after graduation. Some students may benefit from a trade school or a "gap year" where they can think more intensely about what it is they want to do for a career and how they can accomplish this.
  • Studying Abroad Studying abroad is one of the most culturally valuable experiences you can have in college. It is the only way to get completely immersed in another language and learn how other cultures and countries are different from your own.
  • Women's Body Image Magazines have done a lot in the last five years to include a more diverse group of models, but there is still a long way to go to promote a healthy woman's body image collectively as a culture.
  • Cigarette Tax Heavily taxing and increasing the price of cigarettes is essentially a tax on the poorest Americans, and it doesn't deter them from purchasing. Instead, the state and federal governments should target those economically disenfranchised with early education about the dangers of smoking.
  • Veganism A vegan diet, while a healthy and ethical way to consume food, indicates a position of privilege. It also limits you to other cultural food experiences if you travel around the world.
  • University Athletes Should be Compensated University athletes should be compensated for their service to the university, as it is difficult for these students to procure and hold a job with busy academic and athletic schedules. Many student athletes on scholarship also come from low-income neighborhoods and it is a struggle to make ends meet when they are participating in athletics.
  • Women in the Workforce Sheryl Sandberg makes a lot of interesting points in her best-selling book, Lean In , but she only addressed the very privileged working woman and failed to speak to those in lower-skilled, lower-wage jobs.
  • Assisted Suicide Assisted suicide should be legal and doctors should have the ability to make sure their patients have the end-of-life care that they want to receive.
  • Celebrity and Political Activism Although Taylor Swift's lyrics are indicative of a feminist perspective, she should be more politically active and vocal to use her position of power for the betterment of society.
  • The Civil War The insistence from many Southerners that the South seceded from the Union for states' rights versus the fact that they seceded for the purposes of continuing slavery is a harmful myth that still affects race relations today.
  • Blue Collar Workers Coal miners and other blue-collar workers whose jobs are slowly disappearing from the workforce should be re-trained in jobs in the technology sector or in renewable energy. A program to re-train these workers would not only improve local economies where jobs have been displaced, but would also lead to lower unemployment nationally.
  • Diversity in the Workforce Having a diverse group of people in an office setting leads to richer ideas, more cooperation, and more empathy between people with different skin colors or backgrounds.
  • Re-Imagining the Nuclear Family The nuclear family was traditionally defined as one mother, one father, and 2.5 children. This outdated depiction of family life doesn't quite fit with modern society. The definition of normal family life shouldn't be limited to two-parent households.
  • Digital Literacy Skills With more information readily available than ever before, it's crucial that students are prepared to examine the material they're reading and determine whether or not it's a good source or if it has misleading information. Teaching students digital literacy and helping them to understand the difference between opinion or propaganda from legitimate, real information is integral.
  • Beauty Pageants Beauty pageants are presented with the angle that they empower women. However, putting women in a swimsuit on a stage while simultaneously judging them on how well they answer an impossible question in a short period of time is cruel and purely for the amusement of men. Therefore, we should stop televising beauty pageants.
  • Supporting More Women to Run for a Political Position In order to get more women into political positions, more women must run for office. There must be a grassroots effort to educate women on how to run for office, who among them should run, and support for a future candidate for getting started on a political career.

Still stuck? Need some help with your thesis statement?

If you are still uncertain about how to write a thesis statement or what a good thesis statement is, be sure to consult with your teacher or professor to make sure you're on the right track. It's always a good idea to check in and make sure that your thesis statement is making a solid argument and that it can be supported by your research.

After you're done writing, it's important to have someone take a second look at your paper so that you can ensure there are no mistakes or errors. It's difficult to spot your own mistakes, which is why it's always recommended to have someone help you with the revision process, whether that's a teacher, the writing center at school, or a professional editor such as one from ServiceScape .

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50 Argumentative Essay Thesis Statement Examples

argumentative essay thesis statement

A thesis statement in an argumentative essay needs to present a point of view . The biggest mistake you can make is to provide a thesis statement that doesn’t demonstrate what your argument will be. So, your thesis statement should set a clear argument, perspective, or position in relation to a debate. Check out the examples below.

Thesis Statements for Argumentative Essays

1. mandatory school uniforms.

school uniforms and dress codes, explained below

For: “School uniforms should be mandatory as they promote equality and reduce distractions, fostering a better learning environment.”

Against: “Mandatory school uniforms infringe on students’ freedom of expression and fail to address the root causes of bullying and social stratification.”

Read More: School Uniform Pros and Cons

2. School Should Start Later

moral panic definition examples

For: “Schools should start later in the morning to align with adolescents’ natural sleep cycles, resulting in improved mental health, increased academic performance, and better overall student well-being.”

Against: “Starting school later in the morning disrupts family routines, poses logistical challenges for after-school activities and transportation, and fails to prepare students for the traditional workday schedule.”

Read More: School Should Start Later Arguments | School Should Start Earlier Arguments

3. College Athletes Should be Paid

pros and cons of paying college athletes, explained below

For: “College athletes should be compensated for their contributions to the multi-billion dollar collegiate sports industry, as their commitment and efforts generate significant revenue and marketing value for their institutions.”

Against: “Paying college athletes undermines the spirit of amateurism in collegiate sports, complicates the primary focus on education, and poses significant financial and regulatory challenges for universities.”

Read More: Why College Athletes Should be Paid

4. Homework should be Banned

homework pros and cons

For: “Excessive homework can lead to student burnout, reduce family time, and is not always effective in enhancing learning.”

Against: “Homework is essential for reinforcing learning, fostering independent study skills, and preparing students for academic challenges.”

Read More: 21 Reasons Homework Should be Banned

5. Nature is More Important than Nurture

nature vs nurture examples and definition

For: “Genetic predispositions play a more critical role in shaping an individual than environmental factors, highlighting the importance of nature in personal development.”

Against: “Environmental factors and upbringing have a more significant impact on an individual’s development than genetic factors, emphasizing the role of nurture.”

Read More: Nature vs Nurture

6. The American Dream is Unattainable

American Dream Examples Definition

For: “The American Dream is an outdated and unachievable concept for many, masked by systemic inequalities and economic barriers.”

Against: “The American Dream is still a relevant and attainable goal, symbolizing hope, opportunity, and hard work in a land of limitless potential.”

Read More: Examples of the American Dream

7. Social Media is Good for Society

social media examples and definition

For: “Social media is a vital tool for modern communication, fostering global connectivity and democratizing information dissemination.”

Against: “Social media platforms contribute to mental health issues, spread misinformation, and erode quality face-to-face interactions.”

Read More: Social Media Pros and Cons

8. Globalization has been Bad for Society

types of globalization, explained below

For: “Globalization leads to the exploitation of developing countries, loss of cultural identity, and increased income inequality.”

Against: “Globalization is beneficial, driving economic growth, cultural exchange, and technological advancement on a global scale.”

9. Urbanization has been Good for Society

urbanization example and definition

For: “Urbanization is a positive force for economic development and cultural diversity, offering improved opportunities and lifestyles.”

Against: “Rapid urbanization leads to environmental degradation, overpopulation, and heightened social inequalities.”

Read More: Urbanization Examples

10. Immigration is Good for Society

immigration pros and cons, explained below

For: “Immigration enriches the social and economic fabric of the host country, bringing diversity and innovation.”

Against: “Uncontrolled immigration can strain public resources, disrupt local job markets, and lead to cultural clashes.”

Read More: Immigration Pros and Cons

11. Cultural Identity must be Preserved

cultural identity examples and definition, explained below

For: “Maintaining cultural identity is essential to preserve historical heritage and promote diversity in a globalized world.”

Against: “Excessive emphasis on cultural identity can lead to isolationism and hinder integration and mutual understanding in multicultural societies.”

Read More: Cultural Identity Examples

12. Technology is Essential for Social Progress

technology examples and definition explained below

For: “The advancement of technology is crucial for societal progress, improving efficiency, healthcare, and global communication.”

Against: “Over-dependence on technology leads to privacy concerns, job displacement, and a disconnection from the natural world.”

13. Capitalism is the Best Economic System

capitalism examples and definition

For: “Capitalism drives innovation, economic growth, and personal freedom, outperforming socialist systems in efficiency and prosperity.”

Against: “Capitalism creates vast inequalities and exploits workers and the environment, necessitating a shift towards socialist principles for a fairer society.”

14. Socialism is the Best Economic System

socialism definition examples pros cons, explained below

For: “Socialism promotes social welfare and equality, ensuring basic needs are met for all citizens, unlike the inequalities perpetuated by capitalism.”

Against: “Socialism stifles individual initiative and economic growth, often leading to governmental overreach and inefficiency.”

Read More: Socialism Pros and Cons

15. Pseudoscience has no Value to Society

pseudoscience examples and definition, explained below

For: “Pseudoscience is harmful as it misleads people, often resulting in health risks and the rejection of scientifically proven facts.”

Against: “Pseudoscience, while not scientifically validated, can offer alternative perspectives and comfort to individuals where mainstream science has limitations.”

Read More: Pseudoscience Examples

16. Free Will is Real

free will examples and definition, explained below

For: “Individuals possess free will, enabling them to make autonomous choices that shape their lives and moral character, independent of genetic or environmental determinism.”

Against: “The concept of free will is an illusion, with human behavior being the result of genetic and environmental influences beyond personal control.”

Read More: Free Will Examples

17. Gender Roles are Outdated

gender roles examples and definition, explained below

For: “Rigid gender roles are outdated and limit individual freedom, perpetuating inequality and stereotyping.”

Against: “Traditional gender roles provide structure and clarity to societal functions and personal relationships.”

Read More: Gender Roles Examples

18. Work-Life Ballance is Essential for a Good Life

work-life balance examples and definition, explained below

For: “Achieving a work-life balance is essential for mental health, productivity, and personal fulfillment.”

Against: “The pursuit of work-life balance can lead to decreased professional ambition and economic growth, particularly in highly competitive industries.”

Read More: Work-Life Balance Examples

19. Universal Healthcare

universal healthcare pros and cons

For: “Universal healthcare is a fundamental human right, ensuring equitable access to medical services for all individuals.”

Against: “Universal healthcare can be inefficient and costly, potentially leading to lower quality of care and longer wait times.”

Read More: Universal Healthcare Pros and Cons

20. Raising the Minimum Wage

raising minimum wage pros and cons

For: “Raising the minimum wage is necessary to provide a living wage, reduce poverty, and stimulate economic growth.”

Against: “Increasing the minimum wage can lead to higher unemployment and negatively impact small businesses.”

Read More: Raising the Minimum Wage Pros and Cons

21. Charter Schools are Better than Public Schools

charter schools vs public schools, explained below

For: “Charter schools provide valuable alternatives to traditional public schools, often offering innovative educational approaches and higher standards.”

Against: “Charter schools can drain resources from public schools and lack the same level of accountability and inclusivity.”

Read More: Charter Schools vs Public Schools

22. The Internet has had a Net Positive Effect

internet pros and cons

For: “The internet is a transformative tool for education, communication, and business, making information more accessible than ever before.”

Against: “The internet can be a platform for misinformation, privacy breaches, and unhealthy social comparison, negatively impacting society.”

Read Also: Pros and Cons of the Internet

23. Affirmative Action is Fair and Just

affirmative action example and definition, explained below

For: “Affirmative action is necessary to correct historical injustices and promote diversity in education and the workplace.”

Against: “Affirmative action can lead to reverse discrimination and undermine meritocracy, potentially harming those it aims to help.”

Read More: Pros and Cons of Affirmative Action

24. Soft Skills are the Most Important Workforce Skills

soft skills examples and definition, explained below

For: “Soft skills like communication and empathy are crucial in the modern workforce, contributing to a collaborative and adaptable work environment.”

Against: “Overemphasis on soft skills can neglect technical proficiency and practical skills that are essential in many professional fields.”

Read More: Examples of Soft Skills

25. Freedom of the Press has gone Too Far

freedom of the press example and definition, explained below

For: “Unregulated freedom of the press can lead to the spread of misinformation and biased reporting, influencing public opinion unfairly.”

Against: “Freedom of the press is essential for a democratic society, ensuring transparency and accountability in governance.”

Read More: Free Press Examples

Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 15 Fairness Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 60 Technology Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 21 Productivity Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 25 Thesis Statement Examples

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7 ways to use Microsoft Copilot right

The free version of microsoft’s generative ai chatbot is available in windows and on the web. here’s how to make the most of it..

Preston Gralla

Contributing Editor, Computerworld |

Microsoft Copilot

Whether you believe AI will be the salvation of humankind or the death of it, whether you think it’s little more than a plaything to while away your time or the surest way to get onto the fast track at work, you’re going to use it someday. Maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week or next month. But one day, you’ll turn to it. And you’ll most likely be surprised at how helpful it can be, even in its earliest days.

For many business users, that means using Copilot, Microsoft’s umbrella name for a variety of AI products. There are already highly targeted Copilots for various Microsoft products, notably Copilot for Microsoft 365 , which integrates with Microsoft Office apps like Word, Outlook, and OneNote. That Copilot is only available for business customers willing to pay a hefty $30 per user per month, essentially doubling the price of the Microsoft 365 E3 plan, for instance. There’s also a $20-per-month Copilot Pro subscription for individuals that offers integration with Office apps and priority access during peak times.

In this article, though, we’re going to give you tips about how to get the most out of the everyday, free version of Copilot, available from directly inside Windows , inside the Edge browser , inside Microsoft’s Bing search engine , and on the web for anyone using Windows or macOS, as long as they have a Microsoft account.

Know the Copilot basics

Before you start using Copilot, you need to understand exactly what it is — and what it isn’t. It’s what’s called generative AI , or genAI for short. It’s called that because it can create, or generate, different kinds of content — notably text, images, and videos. In this article, we’ll primarily cover text-based content.

For text generation, Copilot uses a large language model (LLM) to do its work. It’s based on the GPT-4 model, developed by a company called OpenAI in which Microsoft is the largest investor. It’s trained on massive amounts of articles, books, web pages, and other publicly available text. Based on that training, it can respond to questions, summarize articles and documents, write documents from scratch, and much more.

Like its more famous cousin, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Copilot works as a chatbot. You ask it a question or feed it a prompt, and it generates a response. You can ask a series of follow-up queries in an ongoing conversation, or start over with a new query.

Using Copilot can initially be somewhat eerie, because its responses are often human-like. But don’t be fooled — it has no human intelligence. So when asking it for information, give it very precise detailed information about what you want, and be as concise as possible. Microsoft also recommends that you “avoid using relative terms, like yesterday or tomorrow , and pronouns, like it and they . Instead, use specifics, such as an exact date or a person’s name.”

Three ways to access Copilot

Copilot is a shift-shaping genAI tool, and the general, free version is available in several ways, including directly from Windows, in the Edge browser, and as a web tool in Bing or on its own.

Here are the ways to access it and when to use each.

Copilot in Windows

If you use Windows 11, Copilot for Windows (still in preview) is always just a click away — there’s an icon of it just to the right of the search box. (If you don’t see the icon, try updating to the latest version of Windows 11 . If you’re using Windows in a business or educational setting, your organization may not yet have enabled Copilot.)

As I write this, the Copilot preview in Windows 10 is available only for those who are Windows Insiders and have opted in to get the newest preview updates. Eventually, though, it will make its way to all Windows 10 users.

Click the Copilot icon and Copilot appears in a right-hand pane. The pane stays open no matter what you’re doing in Windows — running an app, switching between windows, or just looking at the desktop. It always stays the same size and takes up the entire right side of your screen. So running it this way is your best bet if you run it regularly and use it throughout the day.

Once you launch Copilot in Windows, its pane stays open on the right side of your screen until you close it. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Copilot in Edge

Microsoft Edge browser users have an easy way to use Copilot — click the Copilot icon at the upper right of Edge’s screen, and a Copilot pane slides into place on the right side of the screen.

Here’s the Copilot pane in Edge. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Type your request into the “Ask me anything” search box at the bottom of the Copilot pane, or else click one of the suggestions for things you can do with Copilot in the middle of the pane. You’ll find these suggestions sometimes useful and sometimes not. “Generate page summary” is certainly helpful. But “Watch romance movies in 1990s”? Not so much.

The Copilot pane in Edge is part of what Microsoft calls the Edge sidebar. Other icons running vertically down the right side of Edge let you launch different panes in the same location, such as an Outlook pane or the Windows Action Center pane.

As of this writing, Copilot in Edge has more built-in features than it does in Windows, Bing, or the standalone web tool. For instance, Copilot in Edge has an option for summarizing the web page you’re on, and another for generating a first draft of a document, an email, or other text — features we’ll cover later in this story. Those features may eventually make their way to other versions of Copilot, but for now, Edge offers the most full-featured option.

Copilot in Bing and on the web

A simple way to use Copilot is to head to Microsoft’s Bing search website and click the Ask Bing Chat button in the center of the page. That launches Copilot.

Copilot also has a dedicated web page at https://copilot.microsoft.com . Microsoft says it works only in Edge, Chrome, or other Chromium-based browsers and only on Windows and macOS; however, we found that it also worked in Firefox on macOS. You’ll need to sign in with a Microsoft ID to use it.

Copilot has a dedicated web page, but you need a Microsoft account to use it. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Now that you know the Copilot basics, let’s explore some ways to put it to its best use.

1. Choose the right chat mode

Copilot isn’t one size fits all. To a certain extent, you can customize the responses it gives you. A little more than halfway up its pane you can choose what Microsoft calls a “conversation style.” You’ll get a lot more out of it if you choose the right one for the task at hand.

For better results, choose the right chat mode for the task.

Here are the three styles, and what each is best suited for:

More Creative. Microsoft says this mode will “furnish elaborate and imaginative responses, presenting information in a more extensive and creative manner.” Normally, this isn’t the mode you’ll use for work — Microsoft says it’s best for things like coming up with “fun pet names” or writing short stories. (I’ve published a number of short stories in literary magazines, and I recommend that you never use Copilot to write one. When I’ve tested this ability, the results have ranged from execrable to dull-as-dirt to painfully idiotic and cliched.) However, if you’re looking to do something such as jumpstarting a first draft of marketing copy, give this mode a try.

More Precise. Think of this as Copilot’s “Just-the-facts-ma’am” mode. Copilot will get right to the point, eliminate unnecessary words and information, and deliver the facts you’re looking for to the best of its ability. It’s ideal for tracking down clearly definable information that requires no context.

More Balanced. As the name implies, this mode strikes a balance between “More Creative” and “More Precise” modes. It delivers facts, but with additional information and context if you need it. According to Microsoft, “If you’re planning a trip or looking for product recommendations, this style will be helpful.”

2. Create a web page summary

Life is too short to spend it trying to dig your way through all the text on a web page to find the few nuggets of useful information buried there. So use Copilot to summarize the contents of the web page you’re currently on in Edge. Click the Copilot icon at the upper right of the screen, then click the Generate page summary button in the Copilot pane. The summary will appear.

Copilot creating a summary of a web page. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Note that you may need to give Copilot permission before it will summarize page contents. Click the vertical three-dot icon at the upper right of the Copilot pane, then choose Notification and app settings and set the Allow Microsoft to access page content toggle to on.

Like other responses that Copilot generates, page summaries are not saved after the current session. So if you want to save the summary, click the Export icon underneath it (it looks like a download arrow). You can save it as a Word document, as a PDF, or as plain text. If you prefer, click the Copy button to its left to put it into your Clipboard.

If you don’t use Edge, you can get similar results in Copilot in Bing or on the web by asking it to tell you the key points of an article or web page and pasting in the URL, although Edge’s “Generate page summary” feature seems to return more comprehensive results.

3. Generate a first draft

For many people, the hardest part of writing is getting down a first draft. Facing an empty screen waiting to be filled with words so frightens many people that they can become paralyzed and put off working on it.

Copilot can help by generating a first draft for you. It’s best suited for documents that aren’t overly long or complex — memos, emails, marketing pitches, summaries, and similar material. It doesn’t work well on sizable reports, especially those that include other kinds of materials like spreadsheets and graphics.

To do it, launch the Copilot pane in Edge and click the Compose tab at the top. A screen appears with the following sections:

Copilot can help you generate a first draft of many kinds of documents. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Write about: Here’s where you describe the draft you want written. Make sure to include the purpose of what you’re writing, what its audience will be, what you would like emphasized, and as much detail as possible. The more information you give Copilot, the better the results will be. You’ve got a maximum length of 2000 characters here, so you won’t need to be succinct. Don’t fret about exact wording — Copilot will do that for you. Just describe what you want done.

Tone: Here you can choose a tone for the draft: Professional, Casual, Enthusiastic, Informational, or Funny.  (I recommend staying away from Funny. Copilot is good at many things, but being funny isn’t one of them.) If none of these choices describe the tone you want, click the + button and type in the tone you’d like.

Format: Will this be an email? A blog post? Something best suited for a paragraph format? A bulleted list of ideas? Choose that in this section.

Length: You’ve got three choices: Short, Medium, or Long. The length of the generated draft varies according not just to whether you select Short, Medium, or Long, but also the tone you select — Enthusiastic, for example, creates significantly longer drafts than Professional. When I asked Copilot to compose a draft of a marketing document, the short professional draft was 100 words, the medium professional draft was 150 words, and the long professional draft was 250 words. The short enthusiastic draft was 250 words, the medium enthusiastic draft was 285 words, and the long enthusiastic draft was 375 words.

Once you’ve made your choices, click the Generate draft button. Copilot gets to work and writes a draft that it puts into the Preview area. After it creates the draft, you can copy it by clicking the Copy icon at the bottom of the Preview area.

If you’re not happy with the draft, click the Re-generate draft icon (two circular arrows) at the bottom right of the Preview area to have Copilot create a different draft.

Copilot will also suggest other pieces of information you might want to add to the draft. Just underneath the Preview area it shows prompts that might be as broad as asking if you want more details added or as granular as asking if you want to add the dimensions of a product for which you’re writing a marketing pitch.

4. Use images in conversations with Copilot

Copilot is a text-based chatbot, so naturally you would expect all your interactions with it to be text-based. But that’s not the case. You can combine text with images in your conversations with it, which, when used correctly, can be a quite powerful tool.

The simplest example is getting information about a person, place, or thing. To test out the feature, I copied a photo of myself available on the internet into a conversation with Copilot, and said to Copilot, “Tell me about this person.” It correctly identified me and summarized basic information about me that is available widely on the internet. It did a surprisingly good job at this, including that I have frequently written about the ethical and social aspects of artificial intelligence, and noted a title of one of my recent columns.

You can include images in your conversations with Copilot. (Click image to enlarge it.)

I also pasted a photo of Dubai into a conversation with Copilot and asked it to “Tell me about this place.” Again, it did an excellent job of identifying the city and providing a great deal of information in a simple, coherent way.

To use an image in a conversation with Copilot, first find the image you want to use. It can be on your computer or on the internet. Next, type in what you want Copilot to do with the image — in my examples, to provide information about it. Then click the small icon at the bottom left of the text-input area. If you hover your mouse over it, the text reads “Add an image.” When you do that, a text box pops up. You can paste in the image or a link to the image, or instead click the Upload from this device link and then navigate to where the image is on your device.

After you’ve inserted the image, press the Enter key, and Copilot does the search.

Note that if you use Copilot from the Edge sidebar, you can take a screenshot and insert it into your Copilot conversation. To do it, click the Add a screenshot icon (a pair of scissors) at the bottom left of the Copilot input area. When you click it, you’ll be able to take a screenshot of a portion of your screen or the entire screen, which then gets automatically placed in the input area.

5. Don’t be fooled by Copilot’s hallucinations

Copilot appears to be an all-seeing, all-knowing font of information, able to pull up the most arcane facts on request. That’s not the case, though. In truth, it’s more like a not-always-reliable, self-taught polymath who, when confronted with a question he can’t answer, makes something up in order to appear more knowledgeable than he really is.

That’s because Copilot, like all genAI, is subject to what AI researchers call “hallucinations” but the rest of us call lies. Every genAI lies, often with serious consequences. Take the example of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who gave his own lawyer a group of legal citations to be used to convince a judge to free Cohen from the court’s oversight. Cohen used Google’s Bard AI to find them. But the citations were bogus — Bard hallucinated them .

Similarly, a lawyer named Steven Schwartz suing the airline Avianca for a client submitted a 10-page brief with more than half-a-dozen citations to a judge in support of the suit. The lawyer had used ChatGPT, the brains behind Copilot, to find the citations. ChatGPT hallucinated every single one of them . The New York Times has found a number of instances in which Bing Chat — the previous name for Copilot —   hallucinated incorrect information it attributed to the Times .

Don’t let this happen to you. When you use Copilot, double-check important facts and citations before using them. Typically, genAI doesn’t lie about easy-to-find straightforward facts. Rather, it’s more often arcane facts or highly specialized information like law cases that you need to be concerned about. So make sure to verify if Copilot’s so-called facts are really facts. Copilot typically includes citations for where it found information. Follow the link to each citation — you may find links to nowhere. You can use a search engine to double-check arcane facts as well.

Whatever you do, don’t ask Copilot to check those facts, because there’s a reasonable chance Copilot will say they’re true. That’s what happened to Schwartz. He asked ChatGPT to verify that the fake citations were real, and ChatGPT said they were. Instead, use a search engine and double-check the information yourself.

6. Check for Copilot plagiarism

Copilot sometimes has the opposite problem to hallucinations. Rather than make things up, it copies text verbatim — or nearly verbatim — from material it’s been trained on. That can be copyright infringement, whose use carries legal consequences. And even if there are no legal consequences, if you’re found violating copyrighted information at your workplace, you could be disciplined or be fired.

It’s difficult to know how often Copilot does this. But a New York Times lawsuit against Microsoft and ChatGPT cites several instances of ChatGPT, the brains behind Copilot, plagiarizing its articles, including a Pulitzer-Prize-winning, five-part 18-month investigation into predatory lending practices in New York City’s taxi industry. The suit charges: “OpenAI had no role in the creation of this content, yet with minimal prompting, will recite large portions of it verbatim.”

It can be tough to know when Copilot’s output plagiarizes copyrighted text. However, there are things you can do to reduce the risk. First, pay attention to the tone of Copilot’s answers to your prompts. Any sections that sound different from the rest or from its previous answers could signal a problem. Rewrite that section if you have any suspicions.

If you come across text you suspect might be plagiarized, copy a section of it into your search engine and do a search. That can find original text that Copilot has plagiarized. Also, follow the citation links at the bottom of Copilot’s response to you, read through them and see whether any text has been plagiarized.

You can also try using any of the many websites that claim they check for plagiarism. I’ve tried a number of them and have been underwhelmed by their usefulness. They’re generally good at finding obvious plagiarism — every one I tried was able to say with certainty that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written by a human, not a genAI like Copilot. But you’d be able to do the same thing on your own. However, if you want to use them, here are a few free ones to try: GPTKit , ZeroGPT , and Unicheck , which is available for free only for personal use. This article lists more , including a number of for-pay ones.

Finally, don’t use Copilot’s answer verbatim and pass it off as your own. Consider its output a first draft, not a finished piece of work.

Note that Microsoft indemnifies users of paid versions of Microsoft’s commercial Copilot services (such as Copilot for Microsoft 365) and Bing Chat Enterprise against claims of copyright infringement. However, that offer doesn’t extend to the free versions of Copilot covered in this article.

7. Remove the Copilot in Windows icon from the taskbar

Making better use of Copilot means not just knowing all the things it can do, but also the things it can’t. That way, you won’t waste your time wrangling with it.

Microsoft designed Copilot in Windows to function in two ways: to generate answers and other text (as you’d use it in Edge or Bing) and to do basic tasks in Windows itself, such as changing your desktop background. While it works perfectly fine for the former function, its integration with Windows has proven to be a bust.

When it was released in late September, it could do only the simplest of simple tasks — a handful of things like changing Windows to dark mode. By mid-December, nearly three months later, it had dramatically regressed, and now you’re lucky if you can get it to do anything at all. For instance, if you ask it to turn on dark mode, one of the few things it used to be able to do, it starts by saying, “I’m sorry for any confusion, but as an AI developed by Microsoft, I don’t have the ability to change the settings on your device.” Then it does an internet search and tells you how you can make the change yourself. There’s no need for AI to do that — you can just search the internet yourself.

If you’d like to register your displeasure about this, you can remove the Copilot in Windows icon from your taskbar. Right-click the taskbar, select Taskbar settings , and from the screen that appears, move the slider on Copilot from On to Off. Don’t worry, you can still access it if you’d like. To do it, press the Windows key + C.

Here’s where you can remove the Copilot icon from your taskbar. You can still run it by pressing Win + C. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Bonus tip: Tap into Microsoft’s Image Creator

Most people use Copilot and other genAI tools to create text-based content — summaries, articles, and marketing materials, among other things. But genAI also has the power to create images. Microsoft has an excellent AI image-creation tool, which it calls Image Creator, based on OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 image-generation model.

You can get to it by putting its icon on Edge’s sidebar, then clicking the icon. That way, it’ll be in easy reach whenever you want to use it. To do it:

  • Click the + button at the bottom of the vertical row of icons running down the right side of Edge.
  • In the “Discover more” area, click By Microsoft , then scroll down and click Image Creator from Designer .
  • In the text box at the top of the screen, type in the image you want created — for example, “Eiffel Tower being scaled by an alien in climbing gear.”
  • Image Creator will create multiple versions of the image you asked for. Click any of the images and it fills up the rest of your Bing screen. From here you can save it, share it, download it, and customize it.

Microsoft Image Creator in action. (Click image to enlarge it.)

If you want the Image Creator icon to stay permanently on the sidebar, right-click it and select Pin to sidebar . If you don’t do that, the icon will vanish after you close the pane.

Note for Mac users: The Image Creator by Designer app isn’t available in Edge on macOS, but a very similar app called “Designer (Preview)” is. You can find it by clicking the plus sign at the bottom of the Edge sidebar and searching for “designer.”

  • Generative AI
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Small and Medium Business

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld and the author of more than 45 books, including Windows 8 Hacks (O'Reilly, 2012) and How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).

Copyright © 2024 IDG Communications, Inc.

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