It is common for every written piece to have a central theme, message, idea, or point. Then any argument(s) a writer makes in the remainder of their paper should be linked to this central point. The thesis statement in a paper is one or two fairly short sentences that set out the writer’s position with regards to the main point or idea in their paper.
The thesis statement in a written piece focuses the writer’s ideas into one sentence or two at most. The role of this statement is to present the overall topic of the work and indicate the writer’s position in respect of that topic. A thesis statement should let readers know what a written piece is all about and the writer should use it to guide their writing and to keep their argument(s) in focus.
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The thesis statement should be presented early on in an essay 0 usually in the introductory section or, in the case of longer papers, at least in the paragraph after the introduction. The reason for this is to set out your position in good time and provide readers with a sort of roadmap or direction.
Useful Tip: Take note of the following to ensure your thesis statement is successful:
As mentioned earlier, it is important a thesis statement is as specific and clear as it possibly can be. Writers usually continue to fine-tune these statements as their argument(s) develop. Therefore, thesis statements often evolve and become better defined as the writer gets more of a feeling for where their argument is heading.
Useful Tip: Keep a check on your central thesis statement:
A thesis needs to be sufficiently limited so that it covers only what is achievable within the number of words or pages allowed to the writer. The topic should be shaped to enable you to get directly to the “heart” of the matter. Giving a paper a specific focus will make it more effective and successful than if you write about broad and general things that do not convey a great deal. Your aim should not be to settle for two pages of text 0 or even three 0 where you do nothing more than skim the surface of a topic.
While a sprawling, superficial, and broad-ranging thesis is not recommended, you should aim for the opposite, which is a crisp, narrow, and highly focused thesis. Compare the first thesis below, which is too broad and general, with the three revised versions, which are more highly focused and where each approaches the same subject in a distinctly different way:
There is little or no difference between writing thesis statements and other types of writing. These need to be as concise and clear as you can possibly make them. Writing a clear thesis statement will help readers understand your exact meaning.
Useful Tip: Here is some advice on making your writing clear:
Readers gain nothing from words like these unless you explicitly explain their meaning. Even if you understand what a sentence means, you should not assume its meaning is obvious to other people. Do your best to establish if any terms you use need to be defined (e.g., “commercialism,” “conventional,” “socialism,” “society,” “traditionalist,” etc.). You then need to decide the most suitable place for explaining these meanings. For instance, do not take it for granted that your readers will understand the word “socialism” in the same way you do. You need to be very specific to prevent any misunderstandings.
Look at the first thesis below (which is not sufficiently clear and specific) and compare it with the second version (which is much improved in terms of being clear and specific):
The role of a thesis statement is such that it does more than just indicate what a paper’s topic is. It should also say what the writer’s stance on that topic is and how they intend to evaluate and/or analyze the subject matter or problem. Put simply, rather than just making a general statement (e.g., announcing an already-known fact) or making a simplified statement on the pros or cons of an issue, it is important to carefully work out what you want to state or say.
First thesis: Within this essay, I intend to examine the relationship between childhood and the telling of fairy tales.
Second (revised version) thesis: A lot more than bedtime stories for children, fairy tales are known to throw important light on the psychological development of children.
First thesis: The world’s whales must be saved.
Second (revised version) thesis: Since the health of the planet is thought to largely depend on biological diversity, the whales of the world must be saved.
First thesis: The most feasible type of government system for the Kenyan people is socialism.
Second (revised version) thesis: In the event Kenya’s industrial sector is taken over and run by the country’s government, industrial efficiency will be much improved.
First thesis: Scandal rocked the Hoover administration.
Second (revised version) thesis: The series of scandals that marked the Hoover administration exposed a number of weaknesses in republican party processes and most notably in the nomination of candidates.
It is unrealistic to expect to develop a complete and final thesis statement before your paper is fully finished. It is inevitable that you will need to make changes to your thesis as your ideas develop and you do various rounds of revision. This is fine! Begin with a working thesis and review it as the rest of your work progresses and develops.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to avoid 0 at all costs 0 thesis statements that are based on generic ideas or arguments or are formulaic in nature. These are fine for putting a rough or first draft together, but readers will easily become bored with them. Continue revising until your true thoughts and ideas are reflected in your thesis.
Useful Tip: Any points a writer makes in his or her paper should be relevant and important:
Look at the following thesis statements and compare the first version to the revised versions:
Generic-type words and formula should be avoided. Look for active voice verbs and solid subjects and revise “to be” type verbs wherever possible. Feel free to check our website for ways of sharpening and clarifying the meaning of words you use.