Jule Romans is the author of "Take Advice from Shakespeare" and other books. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of education.
What Is a Good Thesis Statement?
Simply put, the thesis statement is a one sentence summary of your entire research paper. The thesis sentence guides everything else you do. It is your paper, all wrapped up in a single sentence.
In order to write a good thesis statement, you must have a very clear idea of exactly what you want to say and a good sense of how you plan to say it. That is exactly what you are doing when you write a thesis statement: condensing your entire outline into a single sentence.
The good news is that once you learn how to write a thesis statement, writing is no longer mysterious. It becomes much easier to tackle research papers, essays, and even other types of writing.
7 Steps to Write a Good Thesis Statement
The following list will help you develop a great thesis statement that will clarify and drive your paper.
1. Get Clear About What Is Required.
Examine the assignment. Read the exact words used to describe it. Think for a moment or two about what the professor wants. See if you can restate the purpose in your own words. Do this mentally. You don’t need to write anything
2. Use What You Already Know.
Make mini-notes. Don’t think of this as the typical brainstorm. Think of it as just a few focused words that will help you think a little more clearly about what you are going to do. If the assignment is very specific, pick out the key words in it, and write those down. If the assignment is more general, jot down three or four words that come to mind that fit with what you already know about the topic.
3. Do Five Minutes of Research.
Explore a few ideas. Check into the topic a little more—review your notes from class or do a quick google search. This step will save you hours of frustration. By gaining a bit of knowledge about the topic, you will set yourself up for the next step.
4. Write a Quick List of Words or Phrases.
Simply write down 5-10 words or phrases associated with your topic. This can come from the bit of research you did, or from your own mind. After you have written the list, just look at it for a moment. Read the words over to yourself.
5. Circle Up to Three Words From Your List.
Choose the words that seem to jump out at you from the page. These may be words that seem familiar to you, or words that strike your interest. Circle these words. These will be the words and phrases that you use to build out your thesis statement. It helps if they have a common theme, but it is not absolutely necessary.
6. Make a Sentence That Uses Those Three Words or Phrases.
Think of this like a fun little puzzle. How can you put these words together in a sentence that sounds good and is clearly worded? Write one or two sentences using different combinations of words or ideas. Keep it to no more than three main ideas, though. More than that, and you will get confused.
7. Review and Revise the Sentence.
Step back from it for a second. Look at the sentence. Is it clear? Does it express the three ideas in a direct manner? If yes, then you are done.You have a working thesis sentence that will carry you through to the next phases of research. Keep the sentence nearby as you begin your actual research. If not, back up a step or two and try again.
If you find yourself leaning toward a different direction, simply rewrite the sentence to reflect your new approach. Don’t skip that step, though—rewriting the sentence will keep your purpose clear and your research manageable.
What You Need to Know to Write a Good Thesis Statement
Here are a few guiding principles to help you write a good thesis sentence for a research paper or essay.
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A Thesis Statement Can Be Imperfect When You Start
What most people forget when trying to write thesis sentences is that the thesis statement can evolve and change as you continue to research and write.
It is very common for your thesis statement to change a little, and even get better, as you continue to research and write.
However, it’s quite important to write a thesis sentence before you begin the process of research. If you don’t, you risk wasting time by getting lost in the details of your search for information.Even if you write a thesis statement that sounds terrible, or seems really awkward to you, it is still fine. As long as you have one when you begin, you are golden. Try to remember that the thesis statement is a guide, and you must have a guide.
A Thesis Statement Is a Group of Ideas
The other item that many people overlook is the fact that a thesis statement is really a small group of ideas, not just a sentence.
Even though it is a sentence, it contains the key ideas that your paper will cover.
Since it is a group of ideas, those ideas can be reworded and moved around as you continue to learn more in the process of writing.
A Thesis Statement Is Part of the Learning Process
That process of writing is the most important concept that people do not understand when writing thesis statements.
When you write a paper, it’s usually not the paper itself that matters, it’s what you learn while preparing it. The paper is like evidence of what you have learned.
It is proof that you can search carefully, organize information, think critically, and ultimately, communicate it all effectively.
Many people worry so much about the words that they forget the entire purpose of the paper itself: to learn new things and communicate what you have learned to other people.
A Thesis Statement Helps You Think More Clearly
The thesis sentence is your first step in that process—it makes you think a little more clearly, and helps you focus your own learning. It’s simple: what you do in the thesis sentence is what you will do in the research paper as a whole.
Now, with that in mind, follow along with the next steps to learn how to write a thesis statement that will carry you through almost any writing project, from essays to research papers to dissertations.
Now you know how to write a good thesis statement. There are other ways to write thesis statements that also work well. Sometimes you just start with a rough idea and refine it, as in these examples.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jule Romans