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How to Write a Thesis Statement

By energ218 Nov 06, 2013 896 Words
For the introduction section, you will need to do two things: introduce your topic and provide a thesis statement. Typically, these two tasks should be accomplished using only one paragraph for a short paper, but can be longer for longer papers.

First, introduce your topic. The introductory paragraph(s) should briefly orient the reader to the topic and provide a conceptual map of the rest of the paper.

Your thesis statement is the main point of your paper and should address the paper topic assigned by your instructor.

Second, provide a thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the main point of your paper and should address the paper topic assigned by your instructor. Make sure your thesis statement is clear, specific, declarative, and on-topic. You should be able to provide the thesis statement in one or two sentences (most instructors prefer one, concise sentence) for a fairly short paper (about 1-8 pages). It is usually best stated at the end of your introduction section (the end of the first paragraph if your introduction section is only a single paragraph in length).

2. Body
The body section should consist of at least several paragraphs where you will provide support for your thesis statement in the form of reasons, evidence, arguments, justification, and so on. That is, you have something you want to communicate or argue for (your thesis) and here is your chance to explain it in detail, support it, and defend it.

Each paragraph in the body section should have a topic sentence and, perhaps, a transition sentence. The topic sentence is the particular point you are trying to make in the paragraph. It’s sort of like a mini-thesis statement. It should be the first sentence of the paragraph (though in some cases it is appropriate to be the second sentence). A transition sentence is a sentence that helps link the points of each paragraph together by making a smooth transition from the previous paragraph. If done, it can be done in the first sentence. A good way to tie all the points together throughout the body section is to have them all clearly state how they support the thesis statement. That way it is obvious that all of your paragraphs tie together. Note that the first sentence of the paragraph may satisfy both goals. That is, you may have a topic sentence that also serves to transition well. Another option is to have a transition sentence first and then a separate topic sentence following it.

3. Summary
The summary section (often misleadingly called a “conclusion”) is a short recap of what you have said in the essay. You might want to provide a slightly different version of your thesis statement as the first sentence of this paragraph and then provide a few sentences that sum up what the body section said in support of the thesis statement. The summary section should be only one paragraph long for a short paper, but can be longer for longer papers. (Some instructors even think that summary sections are unnecessary for short papers.)


It’s a good idea to put these sections titles in as headings in your paper to organize and break things up for yourself. If your instructor doesn’t want headings in your paper, just take them out before you print it to turn it in. It is also helpful for long papers to put in additional headings to break up the body section (such as “First Argument,” “Second Argument,” and so on).

3. General Writing Tips
1. Think & Discuss
Familiarize yourself with the material before you begin writing. You won’t be able to write much if you don’t have anything to put on the page. Think about your paper topic as soon as you get the paper assignment prompt from your instructor. This can be facilitated in a number of ways. A great way is to discuss the issue with your instructor or teaching assistant. Also, try talking about it to a friend or family member.

2. Rough Drafts & Editing
Write rough drafts ahead of time. For many people, writing their rough ideas down as rough drafts help them see their ideas more clearly than even thinking about them. Then, take a break from the essay (this usually requires at least a half, if not full, day). After the lengthy break (for example, the next day), go back and edit more. Repeat this process as necessary until finished. (This is why it is important to start working on your essay far in advance.)

Also, don’t be afraid to just type without thinking too much about whether it’s good. You can always go back and edit it. Many people find it best to just sit down and write a bunch without much reflection. Just make sure you have enough time to go back and edit.

3. Comments/Review
Once you have a final draft ready, have someone read it to look for errors and provide feedback. Many instructors encourage students to turn in early drafts to them for comments. Just be sure to check and see if your instructor allows you to do so.

4. Style & Punctuation
Overall, the paper should demonstrate a command of the writing process and the author’s care in crafting it. In particular, make sure to avoid errors of spelling, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, verb tense, and vocabulary, such as the following:

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