Write your thesis statement for an essay

What is the thesis statement?

In an essay, the thesis statement is the central focal point that communicates what the paper will be about, or what central idea the writer is trying to advocate for. It helps guide the reader throughout the rest of the essay by communicating clearly what is of the greatest interest and importance to the writer. It is also the central challenge for the writer him/herself: whatever you choose to make your thesis statement about, you must adhere to the topic and attempt to back up the statement throughout the whole rest of the paper.

Typically, the thesis statement takes the form of a single sentence, and is usually included at the very end of the introductory paragraph in the essay. After the thesis statement, there are a series of three to five body paragraphs, which expand upon the thesis by either explaining the topic or providing evidence and argumentation in favor of the point the thesis advocates for.

While the thesis statement is just a short sentence, it is often the hardest portion of an essay to write. Here are some tips for crafting a strong thesis statement.

Make it Concrete

If you are making a claim or an argument in your essay, do not word it vaguely in your thesis statement. Instead of saying, for example, that the Irish Potato Famine had a “significant” effect on Europeaon history, state clearly what one of those large effects actually was. If your essay is not rooted in your opinion or in crafting an argument, make your thesis statement concrete by describing exactly which subtopics you will be exploring in your paper. For example, instead of having a thesis statement that states you will be “describing medieval torture practices”, list those practices so the reader knows what to expect.

Treat it Like an Outline

Your thesis should “signpost” the following three to five body paragraphs. “Signposting” is the rhetorical strategy of letting the reader know exactly what you will be describing, so they know what to expect and can follow the structure of your paper without any difficulty. If you are writing a persuasive essay, state your main claim, and then state the three to five pieces of evidence or argument you will be describing in the paper. If you are writing a more expository essay on a particular topic, use your thesis sentence to indicate what elements of the topic will be mentioned.

Make it Active

Make sure to write your thesis statement as a declarative, active sentence. This will further illustrate your point and help snare the reader’s interest. The thesis statement should operate as a roadmap to the rest of the paper, so make sure it’s a journey the reader actually wants to take!

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