Thesis Statement Hacks: How to Write a Thesis for Academic Essays

Jerz > Writing > Academic > [ Argument | Titles | Thesis Statements | Blueprinting | Quoting | CitingMLA Format ]

A thesis statement is the single, specific claim that your essay supports. A strong thesis answers the question you want to raise; it does so by presenting a topic, the position you wish to defend, and a reasoning blueprint that sketches out your defense of your chosen position. A good thesis is not merely a factual statement, an observation, a personal opinion or preference, or the question you plan to answer. (See “Academic Argument: Evidence-based Defense of a Non-obvious Position.”
Good ExampleThe biography Black Elk Speaks challenges the Western genre’s stereotype of the “savage Indian” through its attention to cultural detail, its use of Indian words, and its direct quotes from Black Elk.
  • Topic: The representation of Indian lifestyle in the book Black Elk Speaks
  • Precise Opinion: the book challenges a stereotype
  • Reasoning Blueprint: the three ways the book mounts this challenge are through attention to cultural detail, using Indian words, and using direct quotations from Black Elk.
    • A strong blueprint would hint at why these three details add up to support the thesis statement.
    • A less impressive blueprint might simply list the main points the essay will cover.

There is nothing magically “correct” about a thesis on challenging a cultural stereotype. Instead of claiming that a book “challenges a genre’s stereotypes,” you might instead argue that some text “provides a more expensive but more ethical solution than X” or “undermines Jim Smith’s observation that ‘[some quote from Smith here]’”. (Don’t automatically use “challenges a genre’s stereotype” in the hopes of coming up with the “correct” thesis.)

A more complicated thesis statement for a paper that asks you to demonstrate your ability engage with someone else’s ideas (rather than simply summarize or react to someone else’s ideas) might follow a formula like this:

Good ExampleAlthough Smith says “quote a passage that makes a specific claim you intend to disagree with” (123), in this paper I will use Brown’s concept of X to argue that [your original thesis goes here].”
  • Your instructor might not want you to use “I” in your paper. You might instead say “This paper will use…” or “Applying Brown’s concept of X will show…”
  • Rather than promising to “use Brown to argue” (which is too general), this model recommends that you “use Brown’s concept of X to argue” (or “Brown’s case study” or “Brown’s thorough analysis” or “Brown’s unsuccessful rebuttal” — the more specific you are about how, specifically you will use Brown, the better).
  • It’s not enough to disagree with someone else; a strong paper will go beyond saying “Smith is wrong” and will instead say “Here’s a better solution that avoids problems P and Q that prevent Smith’s solution from working.”

For a short paper (1-2 pages), the thesis statement is often the first sentence. A complex thesis statement for a long paper may be part of a thesis paragraph. But it’s hard to go wrong if you put your thesis first.

Useful Formulae for Thesis Statements

If you’re not sure whether you have a good thesis statement, see whether you can fit your ideas into one of these basic patterns.

Good Example[Something] [does something] because [reason(s)].
Because [reason(s)], [something] [does something].
Good ExampleAlthough [opposing evidence], [reasons] show [something] [does something].

If you are just starting out, and you are still developing an original, evidence-based claim to defend, a simpler formula is probably best. Once you have done the research, and you understand the subject, then a formula like the following won’t look like random words; it will suggest a way to frame a nuanced, complex argument that goes beyond making non-controversial factual statements.

Good ExampleWhile [a specific, named person] says [a direct quote or paraphrase from the source], [a different, named person] says [something else]. While the two authors disagree over [a minor point], they both share a deep concern over [the topic of your paper]. [Person one’s] refusal to accept [a particular point made by person two]suggests that [person one] is [your thesis — stating the real reason why person one won’t agree with person two].
What really matters is not guessing the magically correct words to fit some secret formula that your mean instructor is refusing to tell you.

What matters is that you have researched your subject, that you have found and engaged meaningfully with peer-reviewed academic sources, and that you are developing an evidence-based claim, rather than summarizing or giving unsupported opinion.

  • Unlike a personal essay, which can rely on personal experience and general observations, a research paper must draw on evidence — usually in the form of direct quotations or statistics from peer-reviewed academic journals.
  • You have no reason to “defend” a position unless some expert has presented credible evidence that challenges a claim you want to make. (Finding, quoting, and engaging with that evidence is part of your task as an academic writer.)
  • An academic argument is not a squabble, a difference of opinions, or an attorney’s courtroom statement. The author of an academic argument is more like the judge, who, after hearing out the best arguments in favor of various possible solutions, supports the best one. An academic argument is part of a discussion that respects multiple viewpoints (as long as those viewpoints are backed by credible evidence).

Parts of a Thesis Statement

The thesis statement has 3 main parts: the limited subject, the precise opinion, and the blueprint of reasons.

1. Limited Subject

Make sure you’ve chosen a subject that meets your instructor’s requirements for the assignment. (It never hurts to ask.)

2. Precise Opinion

The precise opinion gives your answer to a question about the subject. A good precise opinion is vital to the reader’s comprehension of the goal of the essay.

3. Blueprint of Reasons

A blueprint is a plan. It lets the builder know that the foyer will be here, the living room will be to the east, the dining room to the west, and the family room will be north.The blueprint of an essay permits you to see the whole shape of your ideas before you start churning out whole paragraphs.While it’s okay for you to start writing down your ideas before you have a clear sense of your blueprint, your reader should never encounter a list of details without being told exactly what point these details are supposed to support. (For more details on the reasoning blueprint, see Blueprinting.)

Good ExampleThe biography Black Elk Speaks challenges the Western genre’s stereotype of the “savage Indian” through its attention to cultural detail, its use of Indian words, and its direct quotes from Black Elk.
In the blueprint, the author signals an intention to support the precise opinion. The author of the example above introduces three different kinds of evidence:

  • cultural details
  • Indian words
  • quotes from Black Elk.

Informed by this blueprint, the reader expects to encounter one section (a paragraph or more) devoted to each subtopic.The blueprint determines the shape of your paper.

If your thesis statement introduces three reasons A, B and C, the reader will expect a section on reason A, a section on reason B, and a section on reason C.

For a single paragraph, you might only spend one sentence on each reason. For a 2-3 page paper, each reason might get its own paragraph. For a 10-page paper, each reason might contain its own local thesis statement, with its own list of reasons, so that each section involves several paragraphs.To emphasize the structure of your essay, repeat keywords or paraphrased ideas from the blueprint as you introduce the sections in which you expand on each point. Crafting good transitions is a skill that takes time and practice. (See Transitions and Reminders of Thesis).

Note: If you repeat your blueprint phrases and your thesis statement robotically (“The third point I want to talk about is how Black Elk Speaks accurately represents the Indian lifestyle through its direct quotes from Black Elk.”), your writing will be rather dry and lifeless. Dull writing is probably better than aimless rambling, although neither is terribly effective. |

Note: A thesis statement amounts to nothing if the paper is not completely focused on that main point. Blueprinting helps create the coherency of the thesis throughout the entire essay, which makes it a necessary part of the thesis statement.

Good ExampleBlack Elk Speaks accurately represents Indian lifestyle through its attention to cultural detail, its use of Indian words, and its direct quotes from Black Elk.
  • Topic: The representation of Indian lifestyle in the book Black Elk Speaks
  • Precise Opinion: the book is accurate
  • Reasoning Blueprint: the book pays attention to cultural detail, it uses Indian words, and it uses direct quotations from Black Elk. (The rest of the paper will establish the truth of teach of these supporting points, and then explain why they add up to support the truth of the thesis statement.)
Bad ExampleIs Black Elk Speaks a tragedy?
This is a question, not a statement. It’s fine to sit down at the keyboard with the intention of writing a paper to answer this question, but before you start churning out the sentences, you should have a clear idea of what answer you’re trying to support.
Iffy ExampleThis paper will look at the book’s attention to cultural detail, its use of Indian words, and its direct quotations from Black Elk, in order to determine whether Black Elk Speaks accurately represents Indian lifestyle.
The above sample is slightly better because it offers more detail, but it still doesn’t say what position the author is taking on the topic of whether the book is accurate.
Good ExampleBecause the events in the story emphasize Black Elk’s role as a Sioux Warrior, and do not describe his eventual conversion to Catholicism and membership in the Society of St. Joseph, Black Elk Speaks presents a skewed and simplified view of the complex history of Native Americans.
Note that the above sample contains a topic (the accuracy of Black Elk Speaks), opinion (it is skewed and simplified), and reasoning (because the book only tells part of the story).

You don’t need to present those three parts in that exact order every time; furthermore, your instructor may have a good reason to ask you for a different organization. But most of the time, including these three parts will help your reader to follow your ideas much more closely.

Bad ExampleBiographies of all types can teach us many things about the past. What was the culture like? What was the language like? And what did the people say? One such book is Black Elk Speaks, which tells the story of a Sioux warrior in the late 1800s. How accurate is this book? This paper will investigate the cultural details, the language, and what Black Elk actually said, in order to determine the answer.
The above sample starts off with a wordy, general statement about biographies. But the main topic isn’t about biographies of all types, it’s specifically about one book, Black Elk Speaks.

Blueprinting: Planning Your Essay

17 Oct 2000 — originally posted by Nicci Jordan, UWEC Junior
08 Dec 2000 — first posted here. Maintained by Prof. Jerz.
13 Dec 2003 — links updated
22 Sep 2006 — moderate revisions by Jerz
29 Oct 2011 — updated by Jerz
14 June 2015 — minor adjustments

A blueprint is a rough but specific plan, or outline, which defines the structure of your whole essay. The blueprint, usually located within the thesis statement, is a brief list of the points you plan to make, compressed into just a few words each, in the same order in which they appear in the body of your paper.

Hochstein, Jordan, and Jerz
Thesis Reminders
A thesis reminder is a direct echo of the thesis statement. In a short paper, the topic sentence of each paragraph should repeat words or phrases from the thesis statement.

Dennis G. Jerz
Timed Essays: Planning and Organizing in a Crunch

See Also


218 thoughts on “Thesis Statement Hacks: How to Write a Thesis for Academic Essays

  1. Hi Mr. Jerz,

    I have to write a thesis for William Cullen Bryant’s poem “To a Waterfowl” for a literature essay.

    My thesis is :To a waterfowl is an optomistic poem through the author’s use of strength from the bird, power of nature, and a higher power from above.

    Is that ok? This is a literary analysis work.

    • To what extent is your thesis debatable? It doesn’t take much interpretation to list important images in the poem, so your claim that the poem is optimistic (note spelling) is a step in the right direction. But is there any way a rational person could interpret the poem as pessimistic? Some birds can have negative connotations such as vultures or buzzards, nature can include destructive forces, and the Bible includes stories of God bringing destruction from the skies, but is any of that represented in the poem? Isn’t a bird a part of nature? And the power of nature is, in poetry, often indistinguishable from the power of God, so there is some overlap in your categories.

  2. I need help writing a thesis for THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain and I do not even know where to start…..

    • What interpretative issue in R & J is worth debating about? Are the protagonists too immature and impulsive to think clearly, or are they the victims of their parents’ long-standing feud? If you believe in your answer 100%, and can’t find lines in the play that support any different interpretation, you probably need to keep looking.

  3. Please help me I really need your help. I am a citizen of US but i did my most schooling in India as per my choice, and I did alot of essays over there but the system n requirements are so different over here. I really don’t know how to write a strong thesis.I have done 2 essay till now in my class n d response was not that good. But i really wanna do good in this one. We are writing literary analysis essay on the book Ordianry People-by Judith Guest and I choose to write about change that comes along the story. Like trying relate the change topic with daily life changes we humans go through and this is what made up as my thesis….
    ‘The only constant and elongated wavelength in every human’s life is modification” please tell me if it will work

    • My first reaction is that your thesis doesn’t seem to relate to the book.

      How can a work of fiction, written by one person and featuring a handful of imaginary characters, prove something about every person in the world? As a literature professor, I ask my students to make claims about the author’s fictional world, rather than use the book to try to prove something about the world, since the world doesn’t need a work of fiction to justify itself.

      Do you mean that the book makes that argument? I haven’t read it, so I can’t help you there.

      Your instructor is really the best person to help, because I don’t know how how he or she will grade your paper.

  4. Hi Mr. Dennis i have a difficulties about how to make a thesis statement about cohabitation, can you help me to make a thesis statement about that topic ??

    • Stanley, if there is something specific on this page that you find confusing, I’d be happy to help, but it sounds like you might want to talk to your instructor first.

    • Without knowing what the purpose of the assignment is and how it’s being evaluated, there is not much I can do for you. I am sure your instructor has put some guidelines into the description of the assignment.

    • Luis, the beginning of this page reads: “A thesis statement is the single, specific claim that your essay supports. A strong thesis answers the question you want to raise…”

  5. Hi, I am writing a thesis essay on the book: The absolutely true diary of a part-time indian. We are supposed to be writing a thesis essay about change – is my thesis statement strong enough and easy to write a thesis essay about?

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian shows that when someone changes their environment, that self-expression helps people overcome the adversity involved.

    • Can a work of fiction really “show” anything about the outside world? The novel you mention is one author’s representation, his construction, his carefully built illusion. Characters in fiction are usually extraordinary in some way, but most of us in the real world are not. I am speaking from the perspective of a college professor trained in English literature. If I were assigning the book in order to teach high school social studies, or middle school reading skills, I might have a very different way of looking at your thesis.

      I certainly don’t mind firing off an opinion, but since your teacher is the one who created the assignment, he or she is really the best person to ask.

      • I’m writing a thesis essay on the concept of changing self. I’ve altered my thesis a bit, but I’m not sure if it’s easy to write a topic about it. Please comment on my thesis:

        The concept of changing self explored in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian shows that changing self is destined to happen, whether beneficial or not.

  6. Hi, I have a question. I’m in the process of writing my term paper for this year. The teacher I have is very strict on how we write our thesis statement. He insists that there be absolutely no outling of our paper in our thesis statement whatsoever. If we do outline at all, our paper automatically goes down to a B. How in the world do I write a thesis without summarizing my main points? Thanks.

    • Your instructor may have a good reason for that guideline, so I would suggest that you get together with some classmates, and write several different versions of the same thesis statement, and ask your instructor for feedback on how to revise each attempt so that it meets his/her expectations. The thesis paragraph can contain the outline, but the one-sentence thesis statement might be “Little Red Riding Hood is a feminist cautionary tale that teaches young girls to be careful about when and where to accept help from men,” rather than “Red Riding Hood’s three main choices, to ignore her mother’s warning to avoid strangers, to accept the wolf’s suggestion that she pick flowers, and to listen to her supposed grandmother’s request to step closer, all demonstrate that the story is a feminist cautionary tale.” as you can see, both versions make the same point, but your teacher would probably prefer the first version.

      But really, since your instructor is the one who is grading your work, he or she is the best person to ask.

  7. Hi, below is my thesis statement and think it’s more like a skeleton thesis, but I really can’t figure out how to change it to a more formal one. Please give me some advice. Thanks

    The San Francisco Civil Right Movement has finally came to success, everyone can be hired from their dream company. I think the College should choose Chapter 5 in The Roots of Justice to help students learn from the San Francisco Civil Right Movement. It helps students to understand how people used to think about Blacks, how people have fought for the future against racism, and nothing is impossible

    • Since I din’t know what Chapter 5 in The Roots of Justice means, and I’m not sure what level your assignment is, I don’t know whether your claim is actually a debatable point.

      For a college paper, I would point out that the claim that e Civil Rights movement is over would come as a surprise to, for instance, activists fighting what they see as instututional racism in death row prison sentencing.

      If every kid dreams of being hired by Apple or Google, or being a dinosaur hinter or a fairy princess, or being President of the United States, is it really true that their dream comoany will hire them? It’s not technically true that “nothing is impossible.”

      Instead of focusing on “glittering generalities,” what if you compared the relative merits and drawbacks of chapter 5 and some other chapter, carefully explaining for an open-minded but skeptical reader in what circumstances the other chapter would be a good choice, but noting as your thesis that for reasons A, B and C, chapter 5 is the better choice. (Don’t call it the “best” choice if you are only comparing it to one other thing.)

  8. Hi, Mr. Jerz. I’m a Thai college student. I’d like to know that where I can get academic website from.
    Last week, I sent my English professor the illustration essay He told me that all website that I used are not enough academic.
    That made me got just grade B. However, I try to find the academic website to support my writing.
    Could you give me some good advice for this? My topic of second essay is Milan, a livable city in Italy.
    I have tried so hard to find useful information, yet I haven’t found yet. T^T

  9. Your site is very generous, especially to someone like me. I am a senior citizen, returning to college to FINALLY get my college degree before I croak. Of almost more importance to me, is to find the set of skills that I need in order to be able to write. Just glancing at your site, I see what it is that I have been looking for years, and even better, it is in a language/format that I can understand.
    Your site is an answer to a prayer for direction and just might be a game-changer in the direction that my life is heading. I’ve always had a fierce need to communicate verbally, but I have been so frustrated in my attempts to put it on paper without feeling that my efforts are puny and inadequate.
    Thank you for your willingness to share what you know-I feel confident that I can become (perhaps) what I was destined “to be” all along…


    • Your future clients will be happy to know you are working hard to earn your degree. Your instructor would be the best present to ask for guidance. I’m sure he or she will be willing to help, so long as you demonstrate you are keeping up with all the readings and have looked at the assignment instructions. Good luck!

  11. Hi there,
    I am teaching how to write a thesis statement to ESL students, but I don’t know the simplest way to start.

  12. Hi Dennis I don’t know if you read Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry By Mildred D. Taylor but i was wondering if you can help me with the thesis statment. If you have not read it it’s about racim in America in the 1940s. My essay is about three characters Stacy, T.J, and Jeremy. Stacy is black and his family is the only family in his town with there own land. Jeremy is white and his dad is very racist while Jeremy does not care about color. The last character is T.J who is black and very childish and foolish. Stacy is mature and loves his family. He is a lot like Jeremy but he is friends only with T.J and shows more loyalty to him because they are from the same race. The thing i’m arguing is that rasicm is something that is very wrong and should not come in between a great friendship.
    Thanks Noura

    • A really good thesis argues a debatable point. Do you think anybody reading that book would believe its message is “racism is good, and a perfectly good reason to disrupt a friendship?”

  13. I have to write a short essay based on this topic, “Why do you want to spend 5 or 6 years at a particular university or college? What is important about college?” I am having trouble thinking of a thesis statement. FYI I believe some good reasons to go to college would be: to earn more money, for the experiences, and to pursue a dream or passion. HELP!

  14. ok i have to do a high school essay on the book “The Kite Runner”

    for my thesis i came up with this

    “Due to the betrayal toward Hassan, both Amir and Baba cope with guilt in different ways”

    any suggestions?

    • That’s a perfectly clear observation, but a stronger paper might focus on why the author chooses to deal with guilt in two different ways. Can you think about offering an original interpretation that requires you to do a little convincing, rather than stating an accurate but obvious observation that no rational person would ever disagree with?

      What can the reader learn, that would not otherwise be so effective? Why does it matter that the two characters face grief differently? The characters also have different names, and probably like different flavors of jellybeans, but that stuff doesn’t really matter. Why does a difference in something important to the story matter?

      You are on the right track.

  15. Thank you so much for the information. This is my first time doing online classes and I am having a hard time with my thesis statements. My essay is an example essay and I am writing on how failure can lead to success. The essay is to be three to four pages long. This is my thesis statement: Although most people would not understand how failure can lead to success; my life tells a different story. Any suggestions?

    • If you are writing a personal essay, You have a lot of freedom, but I would say that arguing against what “most people” say is a straw man argument.

      I can recall many graduation speeches and bumper stickers and greeting cards that urge me to learn from my mistakes, but I can’t think of one person who ever urged me NOT to learn from my mistakes. So from the start I am scratching my head wondering, who are these people are say the thing you want to argue against?

  16. I am trying to write a thesis statement for a short story analysis in my college class, but I have never been good at it and none of my attempts seem acceptable. Could you proof read one and offer suggestions please? I did read your page and it has made things alot simpler for me thank you for creating it. Thesis Statement: The Adventure of the Six Napoleons shows that even seemingly random acts of vandalism may have a deeper more sinister purpose. (The short story was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

    • The answer depends in part on the nature of your assignment. I generally teach classes where the assignments asks students do take one side of a complicated issue that rational people could disagree about, and consider the evidence pro and con your specific position. The thesis you propose is clear and precise, but I’m not sure that anyone reading the story would be able to find evidencde against your claim, just as nobody could argue against “Watson plays the role of the sidekick” or “Holmes notices more than ordinary people.” Your statement is accurate, but are there any instances in the story of random vandalism that has a riteous purpose? Are there, in fact, any random acts of vandalism in this story, or do the acts only appear random until Holmes explains them?

  17. I had an academic writing topic at my lesson, the instructor, just gave tips on it but then after readig this i got to understand everything about thesis statement, thank you!

  18. This was very helpful to my research paper, however, I’m still rather confused. I’m writing a research report on Adolf Eichmann of the Holocaust. I’ve have experience with writing a thesis statement for a book report or a persuasive essay, but never an actual research essay. Since I’m writing about the overall life of Adolf Eichmann, and not focusing on a certain point, I’m not quite sure what to write my thesis around. Could you please give me a bit more advice or maybe an example of some sort which is somewhat more specific? Thank you so much for taking your time to share such information with us.

  19. Hi Dennis,

    I found this site randomly while looking for lesson plan ideas. I’ve been wary of thesis formulae, but this is enough to teach the concept and allow for creative wiggle room. Thanks!

  20. This is kind of helpful but I am trying to make an essay with a beggining of a level 2 thesis sentence. If you know what a level 2 or 3 statement is it would be appreciated thanks.

  21. Thank you for getting back to me. As I said I’m helping a friend as best I can. Its years since I did my thesis and it wasn’t anything as historical as shes doing. I’m only helping her so that she won’t give up as she was just going to leave it and not do it. I have no idea why she hasn’t had instruction. I’m thinking thatmaybe she hadn’t been attending at the time and more or less gave up

  22. Can a thesis be partially biographical? I am helping a friend whose thesis starts…..the History of……. she is part of that history so how would she write her self in?

    An example might be say….The History of Reggae Music. She might have been part of the history as a prominent singer. Would it be ok to write it as her history as well as references from other published info? Also can it just be the history of…..or should it also be answering a question?

    • Those are very good questions, but really only your instructor can answer questions at that level.

      A thesis is a specific answer to a question…the examples you gave are topics, not thesis statements.

  23. Thx for this, I do get what thesis now, but my question is what is enthymemtric/enthymemetic/enthymematric thesis? ( yeah I don’t know how to spell or which is the correct spelling. I’m just copying what’s on the paper my professor gave me) I might ask her this question tomorrow, but I wanna know it from you. Your explanation might be better to understand than from hers. Just started college and the first essay is about literacy narrative. ~sigh~ it would be awesome if you can help me. Thanks

    • Your instructor is using the “enthymeme” as a way to ensure that you connect the claim you are making with your reasons for believing it to be true.

      Because A and B, [thesis].

      That’s far more effective than a paper that stretches all that out haphazardly across several paragraphs.

      There are many aspects to [my topic].

      For instance, A. (Details.)

      In addition, B. (Details.)

      Therefore, [thesis].

  24. Thanks! Great descriptive tutorial. However, I have to wonder, how are we supposed to do a thesis if we really don’t have an opinion? What if we just have a bunch a facts put together in an organized fashion? I must say, this is one of those gaping wholes in you tutorial… (no offence of cource). Then again, its not like you paid to do this, you just do it to help people, so, flawed or not, thank you for making such an effort!


    Well, this is not really a “BTW”, but another *question (*actually 2): Is there a format for doing a non-opinionated thesis (like topic, precise opinion, and reasoning blueprint), and is it really even OK to have a thesis without a opinion? Thanks again!

    • Leo, you are right to identify the connection between a thesis and an opinion. I don’t know what subject your instructor has assigned, what level/grade you are in, how your instructor wants you to treat original observations or library research or personal experience.

      It’s a good question, but the one best prepared to answer it is the one who gave you the assignment.

    • A scholarly essay or book has a main point called a thesis, and under the mentorship of a faculty member, graduate students write a practice essay or book that’s also called a thesis. A thesis could become an article if it gets published.

  25. Thanks for this page (and for having a last name that’s the same as my user name. LOL) Although I’ve had four years of college (no degree – just 130+ credits) and got As on virtually all my papers, I do not ever remember being told about a thesis statement. It wasn’t until I was helping a friend with essays that he expressed incredulity that I didn’t know what it was. I learned something similar in a public speaking course, but don’t remember it when writing. So, I wanted to read up on it and your page was one I found. Thank you. When I’m helping him, I’ll now be able to recognize this key element when I’m proofing and typing his papers.

  26. Would it be a good idea to restate the thesis statement in the comclusion, but not the same way of course, but delivering the main points i talked about?

    • Juan, if your paper is 10 pages long, then it’s probably fine to write one short sentence that reminds the reader what your main point is, but if you summarize your argument point-by-point, I would consider it filler.

      Just what you SHOULD do in your conclusion depends on the assignment, so your instructor will be the best person to ask.

      A colleague of mine, Joel Pace of UWEC, tells his students, “The thesis is the road map, the conclusion is the destination, the paper is the journey.”

      When I see summative conclusion in the drafts my own students submit, I ask questions like, “Now that your paper has brought me to this point where I am ready to accept your thesis, what new ideas am I ready to understand, that I would not have been able to understand before?” or “So, why does all this matter?” or “Now that I’m standing with you at your paper’s destination — on a mountaintop, in a lush valley, on the shores of a different continent — what new and important things can I see that I would never have been able to see before I read your paper?”

      • Okay, I appreciate the help. I’ll probably be back with more questions. I’m trying to get better at writting essays.

    • Your instructor is the best person to ask. The answer will vary depending on the purpose of the assignment. In a research paper, your personal beliefs are not as relevant as the evidence that informs your beliefs.

  27. Very useful website. I appreciate people like you who do these random acts of kindness that benefit the rest of us. I am a teacher and I don’t always have time to come up with things myself. Thank. I would like to see more examples of different kinds of thesis statement using literature text. The Frankenstein thread was VERY useful. It helped me forsee questions will ask.

  28. I really like this. I cannot tell you how many ways I have heard professors describe an “arguable thesis” to classes I was in only to confuse the less experienced writers. They often throw a lot of examples out to the class but seem unable to clarify the objectives of the thesis statement. I am sending this page to my Kindle and will certainly refer to it when I present thesis statements to students myself. I love how this handout also demonstrates how a well structured thesis can help with arrangement in the composition. Thanks for sharing this!

  29. I know I’m opening myself up here to lambaste and possibly discrimination through social isolation, but one of my favorite movies of all time is James Whalen’s “Frankenstein,” 1931. I know, I know, it’s nothing like the book. To think that it came out in 1931 though, stark black and white images of horror 30ft. tall in cinemas and theaters all over the country is a trip.

    Colin Clive was a bad-ass. Tragic man, tragic life, he should have been allowed to do so much more.

    James Whalen of course was discovered to be a homosexual, and was never allowed to re-create the genius found in “Frankenstein.”

    The movie lives on however, in DVD format. Clive was over-the-top in a very “English Stage and Thee-a-tuhh” kind of way, and the manic over-acting really worked well for a guy who was losing his crackers playing with the force of life.

    One of my favorites:


  30. I think he means, "In Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein,' the experience of the Monster's life is an accurate exhibit of discrimination through social isolation and neglect."

    Thanks for the site Dennis! Assuming the caveat, "But you should really ask your teacher," can a thesis statement be two sentences, if the idea starts in one and flows to the next? I haven't been able to readily identify a concrete MLA answer.

    I see one-liners as examples, but it doesn't say you can't use two sentences. I see two-liners on web pages, but I wonder, "Are they officially MLA-approved?"

    And just who DOES officially do the official approving in the wide, wonderful of of MLA?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    Thanks again man!


    • Thanks for your contribution.

      The MLA doesn’t grade anyone’s papers, so other than consulting official textbooks published by the MLA, there is no mechanism for sanctioning individual thesis statements, other than grades assigned by the instructors. I can imagine many good reasons why an instructor may wish to require a thesis to be a single sentence, or require a thesis paragraph to follow a certain structure, so again, consulting your instructor is your best bet.

  31. Thank you Denis. This very helpful especially that a presentation about thesis statements is on my plan for grades 10 and 11 tomorrow.

  32. Do you mean the monster is a victim of discrimination, or he discriminates against someone? Why is that question important — does it change anything we get out of the novel?

  33. PLEASE HELP ME. Im writing a research paper on Frankenstein by Mary Shelly I just do not understand how to do this here is what I have so far could you modify and/or correct me ? im trying to prove that there is discrimination againts the monster with NEGLECT and ISOLATION to prove DISCRIMINATION, or to accept others…


    The Monster in Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley accuretly exhibits discrimination through the considerations of neglect and social Isolation from everyone around him.

    (I dont know what else to write or shluod i just leave it like that)

  34. This is awesome! Thanks so much for this page. Is there more? I would love to see it. I’m writing up a essay proposal and this is a great reference since I’ve been out of University for a while. A refresher is always good! Thanks again!

  35. I got this but i didnt get it. How do you start off a thesis? Are there any transition words that use? Or do you start like a regular sentence? Some people started in the beginning and some at the end of the paper. I mean I know its not like another introductory paragraph. help please?

    • In a standard college paper, there is no specific formula you have to use; there are no required words. A thesis should not be at the end of your paper, it should be at the beginning (though it doesn’t have to be the first sentence). Your instructor might have asked you to use specific words or put it in a certain place, of course, so your instructor would be the best person to ask such a specific question.

  36. Thanks for the great ref. I needed some help for my thesis and i hate Bedford HB. this post is so much more clear. Thanks again.

  37. Ok thanks the info on this page will help me out alot in class. Its quite funny because whenever my teacher asks the class ok so what’s the thesis everyone is quiet lol.

  38. Thanks. Teaching a lesson tomorrow to my 4th, 5th and 6th graders and this provides a very clear explanation.

    • How impressive that you are teaching this subject at such a young age. I hope your students and their parents appreciate the opportunity you are providing in your classroom!

    • Sigh. I don’t like comments like this.

      I can deal with critiques, of course… But this comment is far too vague for me to figure out whether maybe one of the other pages on my site will help, or whether your instructor’s assignment is just too specific for a general page like this to be of any help. Good luck anyway, “someone.”

    • i agree. i don’t understand this at all. my topic tho is very specific and makes it harder. the example was from a book but my topic isn’t on a book so how am i suppsed to understand this?

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