Thesis Statements

Adapted from Choices, a handbook on writing
from Pearson
What is a thesis?
 A thesis is a complete sentence that demonstrates the
“take away value” of your writing.
 It answers the question readers may be asking
themselves: “So what?”
Answers to these questions will lead you
to the thesis or the main idea.
 Why will your readers care about your topic and
your writing?
 What do you want your readers to take away from
your writing?
 Why are you the best person to write about this topic
in this way at this time?
An effective thesis statement demands
proof or demonstration.
 It is never a question, but it is often the answer to a
A thesis statement . . .
 Uses specific, objective language
 Identifies the topic
 States your purpose, intention, or attitude toward the
 May suggest the arrangement or organization of the
ideas to come
Writers commonly revise their
thesis statements.
 Don’t expect to think of a perfect thesis at the
 Plan to create a “working thesis” that you can use as
you revise your sloppy copy into a draft.
 A working thesis need not be elegant or formal; it
just needs to get you started.
Some examples of poor thesis
statements and revision:
 My instructor has an attendance policy.
 My instructor should change her attendance policy
because it is unreasonable, inflexible, and unfair.
 Some children show violent behavior.
 Conflict-resolution courses should be taught to help
prevent violence in America’s schools.
 Social networking sites such as Facebook can cause
 College students should be careful of what they put on
their Facebook pages because prospective employees
routinely check them.
Some strategies that can help you
create a working thesis:
 Reword the topic question into a statement.
 Use “I” statements. Writing from your own
viewpoint can help you figure out what you are
trying to say. If first person is not appropriate for
your audience, you can edit the wording later.
More Strategies
 Choose a sentence from the last paragraph of your
sloppy copy. Writers often figure out what they want
to say as they are writing.
 Choose any sentence from your sloppy copy that
meets the criteria. You just need something to get
you started; you can change your working thesis as
you write.
Use a fill-in-the-blank
 “Although many people think ____, in reality, ____
because ____.”
 “_____ is the most significant _____ because _____.”
 “______ illuminates the role of ______ in people’s
lives by showing us how _______, _____, and _____.”
More fill-in-the-blanks
 “Although many reasons have been suggested for _____,
they all boil down to _____.”
 “_____ is true for these reasons: _____, _____, _____, and
 “X has argued that _____, but Y’s position is stronger
because _____.”
 “The more important effects of _____ went beyond those
of _____.”
Remember that a thesis statement
helps to shape the rest of your paper.
 Different thesis statements lead to different papers.
 If you find that your paper does not match your
working thesis, you will need to change one to fit the
Any Questions?
Note: This PowerPoint was first developed by Professor
David Carithers, Department of English and MFL, and has
helped numerous students with shaping thesis statements.
Example thesis statements were taken from Patterns for
College Writing by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R.
Mandell. In September of 2014, Riley Rich, student
assistant in the Writing Center, redesigned this PowerPoint
and added example thesis statements.
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