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Where To Find A Thesis Statement In An Essay

Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements


This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Contributors: Elyssa Tardiff, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-01-24 02:29:37

Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

  • An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
  • An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Examples

Example of an analytical thesis statement:

An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain the analysis of the college admission process
  • Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors

Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.

The paper that follows should:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

The first thing to remember is that a thesis is the point the author is trying to prove. That means that a topic, which can be expressed in a phrase, like “alcoholism” or “effect of corruption on poverty,” is not a thesis. A thesis can only be expressed by a complete, declarative sentence (not a question, either). So be sure to write out a complete sentence when identifying the source’s thesis. (Review “What is a Thesis” for more details.)

Often all you need to identify the thesis of an article is the abstract—the brief summary, usually just a short paragraph, provided with the listing of many articles in most databases. This explains the main idea of the article and states what point it is trying to prove.

However, an abstract is not always provided. In those cases, you may need to read the first few paragraphs to get the gist of the article. This is typically where the author will lay out the argument and, again, state the point that they are trying to prove. In more difficult cases it may be necessary to read the conclusion as well, since this is often where they sum up the argument one last time. Sometimes it’s clearer in the conclusion than in the introduction.

With books, the thesis may be stated on the back, on the jacket flap, in the preface or introduction, or early on in the first chapter. On the back and on the jacket look for phrases like “the author argues that…” In the preface, introduction or first chapter, look for “I argue…” or similar phrases.

Keep in mind:Reference works do not have theses. Remember the definition of a thesis: a point that an essay is trying to prove. Reference works don�t try to prove a point. They simply report information. Usually it�s the more in-depth general interest works, and especially the scholarly sources, that have theses. So those are the ones you�ll want to focus on.

Note: If the full text of the article is not available on line, or if you’re looking at a listing for a book, it will be necessary for you to go to the library and get the hard copy off the shelf in order to identify the thesis. In a worst-case scenario, our library won’t have the source, and it may be necessary to go to another library such as the UW library to find it. Plan your time accordingly!