What is a thesis?
A thesis is a specific sentence in an
essay (but sometimes a cluster of
sentences) that lets the reader know
what the writer is asserting about the
topic. In college-level papers we
establish interest in the topic and some
focus for the topic before offering the
Tips for writing your thesis:
1. Determine what kind of paper you are
being asked to write:
Analysis – in an analytical paper you break down
an issue or idea into its component parts,
evaluate the idea, and present this breakdown
and evaluation to the audience
Exposition – in an expository essay, you explain
or describe some thing, place, person, or event
to the audience
Argument – in an argumentative assignment, you
make a rational claim about a topic and justify
this claim with specific evidence to logically
convince your readers that your claim is true.
2. A thesis is an assertion, NOT a
statement of fact or observation.
Fact or observation: People use many
Thesis: People are poisoning the
environment with chemicals merely to
keep their lawns clean.
3. A thesis takes a stand rather than
announcing a subject or topic. Never
begin your essay with a phrase like:
The thesis of this paper is…
I am writing about…
My paper will examine…
In this paper, I will discuss…
4. A thesis is NOT a question. Your thesis
should be an answer to a question.
5. A thesis statement is narrow, rather than
broad. If the thesis statement is sufficiently
narrow, it can be fully supported.
Broad: The American steel industry has many
Thesis: The primary problem of the American
steel industry is the lack of funds to renovate
outdated plants and equipment.
6. A thesis statement is specific, rather
than vague or general. Avoid fuzzy or
hard to define words like:
Working Thesis - You can revise your
thesis statement whenever you want
while you are drafting your essay. The
thesis you start with is a work in progress
and is not written in stone. Your topic
may change as you write, so you may
need to revise your thesis statement to
reflect exactly what you have discussed
in the paper.