Chapter 4: Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
What is a Thesis Statement?
⚜ FRENCH TRANSLATION: énoncé de la thèse
The short version: authors compose thesis statements to tell readers what their text will be about.
"This webpage demystifies thesis statements."
There you have it. The above sentence is actually a thesis statement. At the same time, it's a truthful statement—this page really will discuss the topic of thesis statements in some detail.
Without a coherent thesis statement, your paper will lack direction, and your reader will be lost.
At a minimum, the thesis statement must somehow communicate to readers what the text's overarching topic is. Sometimes the text has an objective. When this is the case, the thesis may explicitly declare that objective. Sometimes, however, it's implicit. Here are some examples:
"The following paragraphs will show you how to bake a cake."
"Vehicles powered by fossil fuels should be illegal."
In the first example above, the author's objective is explicit. The thesis statement clearly states that there is an educational purpose to the text.
In the second example, the author's objective is implicit. Readers can assume that this will be some sort of argumentative or persuasive text. The author will try to convince them that there are reasonable grounds for outlawing gasoline-powered vehicles. This is implicit because the author did not write something like, "I will try and convince you that vehicles powered by fossil fuels should be illegal."
Depending on the media, it is not always easy to determine where the thesis statement is because it is not written transparently. This is why people need to develop reading comprehension skills.
Location and Length
Thesis statements usually appear toward the beginning of the document. In a magazine article, they typically appear somewhere in the first three paragraphs. In a newspaper article, the thesis statement may be in the first five paragraphs.
Most college essay thesis statements appear as the last sentence in the introductory paragraph. They are usually one sentence long; however, they can sometimes be two sentences in length.
In addition to the minimal requirements discussed earlier, authors may choose to include additional information in their thesis statement. One such thing is the sub-topic roadmap.
This roadmap outlines the various significant perspectives from which the main overarching idea will be discussed. Francophone readers may be familiar with the term "sujet divisé." Often, in short texts, Anglophones will not provide a roadmap in their thesis statement. This is because the topic sentences in the essay's body clearly communicate the paper's structure to readers.
Earlier, we saw an example thesis statement that argued that fossil-fuel vehicles should be abolished. But, the author chose not to inform readers about how they arrive at this conclusion. The author could have written:
"From environmental, health and financial perspectives, vehicles powered by fossil fuels should be illegal."
On the one hand, readers will be able to digest the essay's contents more easily because they've been alerted to the essay's structure in advance. As the paper transitions from the topic of vehicles and the environment to the issue of vehicles and health, readers will have a tendency to think, "Oh yes, that's right. We're moving to the second topic now."
On the other hand, the element of surprise has been taken away. Also, thesis statements that provide a roadmap are longer than their minimalist counterparts. If an author has been asked to write a concise essay, a lengthy thesis statement may not be appropriate.
Thesis statements should:
use a "firm" tone—even when discussing a debatable topic.
announce only one main topic. This point should describe all of the sub-topics in the paper by encompassing them under one overarching topic.
"sell" the topic. Readers are motivated to continue reading the remainder of the paper after reading a good thesis statement.
Thesis statements differ depending on the type of paper that they are being written for. In contemporary news pieces, they seem to want to encourage the reader to continue reading and stay on the web page for as long as possible so that advertising can be shown. In an analytical piece, the statement highlights the overall finding in the analysis. In an argumentative or persuasive essay, the author's opinion is revealed. In an expository essay, the topic to be explained (such as how to bake a cake) is communicated to the reader.
Below are some examples of thesis statements for various types of work. If you don't see a thesis statement for the category of paper you're writing, communicate with us via the "send feedback" button at the bottom of this page and request that we add one for you.
An analysis of this year's annual student college survey revealed that students are unhappy with the campus cafeteria on many different levels.
The remainder of the paper would then provide details of the survey, discuss these details, synthesize these details with other external information, and relate how the student experience with on-campus food was negative. This could be done from several sub-topics, such as rapidity of service, temperature of the food, and attitude of the serving staff.
Argumentative / Persuasive Paper
The moment a virus is detected that could result in a pandemic, nations must immediately invoke quarantine measures for all travellers arriving within their borders.
The remainder of the paper would then provide reasons that support this stance. For example, sub-topics that could be addressed on this topic might be the financial, health, and educational ramifications of allowing a virus to spread throughout the population.
Expository / Explanatory Paper
The Quebec snow snake is characterized by its stealth tactics, protective scaling, and summer hibernation strategy.
The remainder of the paper would then teach readers about the Quebec snow snake. Discussion would be broken up into three sub-topics: tactics, protection, and hibernation.