Practicing the art of writing a thesis statement is crucial for improving writing skills in many areas, from writing a term paper to creating a dissertation. After all, while it may seem simple, a thesis statement can be the most important part of a paper – for without an introductory statement explaining what argument(s) a writer will present in his or her paper, it’s difficult to follow a paper, no matter how brilliant a writer’s insights may be.
The following article will not only define a thesis statement but also provide tips for creating better thesis statements.
What is a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is a brief introductory statement – usually no more than one or two sentences – that summarizes the arguments a paper will explore or cover. Thesis statements usually appear in the last sentence of the first paragraph and can help readers decide if an article is covering the types of topics they’re interested in – or let teachers see the arguments a student promises to make in his or her essay.
If a writer is asked to create an article on the importance of developing early reading skills, for instance, his or her thesis statement might read something like this:
“Getting kids to develop early reading skills is crucial not only for combating basic illiteracy but also for helping kids gain a love of reading for pleasure and research.”
The above thesis statement explains what topic the paper will cover (developing early reading skills), the writer’s opinion on the topic (he or she believes developing early reading skills is important), and the points the writer will explore to justify this opinion (combating illiteracy and developing a love of reading).
While thesis statements are useful for readers, they’re even more useful for writers during the writing process. Once writers can state what information they’ll cover in a paper, they’ll know what kind of research they need to do to support their argument. In the above example, the writer will have to find facts to show how and why combating illiteracy and developing a love of reading will be beneficial.
Well-written thesis statements also let writers know what information they don’t need, saving them the headache of researching material that won’t fit into their paper.
Writing Thesis Statements
One of the easiest ways to write a thesis statement is to brainstorm the arguments a writer wants to cover in a paper and then list them in a sentence. Let’s say, for instance, that a writer wants to give three reasons why learning the art of origami (Asian paper folding) is a good activity for kids. That thesis statement might read something like this:
“Teaching kids the art of origami is a worthwhile activity since it improves kids’ hand-eye-coordination, lets kids create their own toys, and develops kids’ awareness of other cultural practices.”
Note again that, like the previous thesis statement example, this thesis statement identifies the topic of the paper (teaching kids the art of origami), expresses an opinion (teaching origami is worthwhile), and lists the points that will support this opinion (develops hand-eye-coordination etc.).
While some consider this “laundry list” thesis statement fairly basic, it remains a good way for all writers to organize their thoughts and keep the main ideas of their paper in front of them as they write the paper. Over time, writers who exercise their writing skills with these “laundry list” statements may want to experiment with more sophisticated thesis statements as their writing skills improve.
Keep in mind that while thesis statements are one of the first things a reader will see in an essay, they may be one of the last things a writer writes. Sometimes, while writing a paper, a writer will start to disagree with his or her original argument about a topic, requiring that the thesis statement be rewritten.
Other times, a writer may discover that the argument in his or her original thesis statement is too complex to be covered in a single essay forcing him or her to narrow the thesis statement down to something more manageable. Still other times, a writer may just not like the way a current thesis statement sounds and decide to tweak it a little.
Whatever the reason for a change, it’s a good idea for writers to look back at their original thesis statements as they write their essays, term papers, or articles, and ask themselves if a thesis statement needs to be changed based on the way the arguments in their paper are developing.
Writing a Thesis Statement
Although writing a thesis statement is just the first step in writing good research papers, it remains a crucial step in identifying a writer’s topic and focusing his or her argument. Writers who master this vital practice will find the writing process will become considerably smoother with a thesis statement to guide them.