What Is The Formula For Creating A Thesis Statement

When it comes to perfecting the dark art of thesis statements, there’s good news and bad news:

The bad news: Your thesis statement may well be the single, most important sentence in your essay, so you can’t mess it up.

The good news: It’s actually really, really easy to write a great thesis statement without wasting too many brain cells.

Luckily, despite what you may have been told, writing a thesis statement is actually incredibly easy. And we’re about to share a simple trick that will help you nail your statement every single time.

But before we get to the only thesis statement you’ll ever need, let’s take a look at the basics.

What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A single sentence that is located at the end of your introduction.
  • Tells the reader what your opinion is and what paper is going to prove.
  • Directs your reader to the main pieces of evidence you will explore.

If you want to learn more, check out Purdue’s guide to thesis statements. If you’re ready to get started on crafting the perfect statement, read on.

Thesis Statements That Suck

Announcing something

I’m going to describe Shakespeare’s love life.

This essay will examine the life of a politician.

What’s so wrong?

These statements provide the reader with an idea about what the essay, dissertation or thesis will discuss, but don’t actually put anything on the line. There’s nothing at stake, no specific issue to be resolved and absolutely nothing to make the reader want to learn more. Many of the essays we come across as part of our student proofreading services contain this basic mistake.

Stating the obvious

Shakespeare wrote a lot about love.

Politicians work long hours.

What’s so wrong?

If very few people are actually likely to disagree with the issues you discuss in your essay, what’s the point in wasting your time analyzing them? Your thesis statement needs to make a claim that someone may disagree with. You will then spend your essay arguing why your claim is true. Check out our guide to writing argumentative essays for more deets.

Asking a question

Did Shakespeare ever get married?

Why are politicians paid so much?

What’s so wrong?

Your thesis statement should be clearly stating your position and the purpose of the essay, not posing a question. These questions are weak and do not give your reader any idea about what you’re intending to prove in your paper.

So, now we know what a poor statement looks like, how do you write a fabulous one?

The Only Thesis Statement Formula You Will Ever Need

Simply fill in the blanks related to the topic of your essay and what you intend to prove and you’re done.

By examining <claim one>, <claim two> and <claim three> it is clear that <opinion>.

See it in action:

By examining politicians’ long working hours, depth of responsibility, and the important role they play in the social and economic wellbeing of the country, it is clear that they are not overpaid.

We’re done.

Seriously?

Yep. It really is that easy.

And to make your life even easier, we’ve crammed all this great info into a free printable PDF. Print the poster out and refer to it when you’re in the process of crafting your next thesis statement.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.

Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.

What is a “thesis statement” anyway?

You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.

Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument. In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.

2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive

Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.

For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis (rather than argumentative). You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach.

Example:

To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.

This thesis showed the reader the topic (a type of sandwich) and the direction the essay will take (describing how the sandwich is made).

Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true.

Example:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.

In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion (the best type of sandwich), which means I have chosen a stance. Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.

 2 Styles of Thesis Statements

Just as there are two different types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), there are two basic styles you can use.

The first style uses a list of two or more points. This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments.

Example:

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.

In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons. This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay.

In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.

Example:

Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.

In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.

Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis

One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point:

___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.

 

Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:

___________________ is true because of _____________________.

 

Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.

The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement

When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.

Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.

Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.

Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.

Example of weak thesis:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.

Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.

Example of a stronger thesis:

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.

This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.

Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.


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