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Thesis Statement


The thesis statement is the most important sentence of an academic paper. Its purpose is to show very briefly the entire scope of the paper's argument, letting the reader know what to expect during the course of the paper.

Crafting good thesis statements is a skill that students develop over time, but a few basic principles can help the beginning student write a thesis statement that will function nicely. First, the student should identify a topic and should research that topic thoroughly. Second, the student should form an opinion on a problem or issue that arises out of that topic. Third, the student should develop an argument in favor of that opinion, sketching three or four persuasive points and making note of the supporting evidence for those points.

At this stage, the student is ready to write the thesis statement itself. Although the student will probably substantially revise it several times, writing a preliminary thesis statement is the first and most important step in the writing process. The student should briefly include the following elements: the subject of the paper, the paper's position with regard to that subject, and each of the three or four points that the paper will argue in favor of that position. Students who write good thesis statements balance all this information in a single complex sentence, making use of dependent clauses, adverbial and adjectival phrases, active verbs, and concrete nouns.

The thesis statement and the writing project work in tandem. As the project takes shape, so will the thesis statement; therefore, the student should not worry about creating an immaculate thesis statement in the beginning of the writing process. After having written the preliminary thesis statement and having begun writing in earnest, the student may discover that the paper's points have shifted in unexpected ways, and the student may revise the thesis statement to reflect those changes. By the time the student has finished writing, the thesis statement and the body of the text should reflect each other clearly.


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