What is a Thesis Statement?

When you receive a writing assignment, your first step in completing it might seem obvious, but is difficult to do: come up with an original idea or main point for your paper. No matter what type of paper you are writing (persuasive, expository, research, etc.), you need to have a central message. The arguments or points you make in your paper should all reference back to this message, which is called a thesis statement. So, what makes a thesis statement, and how does it fit into your paper? Read on for some helpful hints and answers to common questions.

Q: How long does my thesis statement need to be?

A: A strong thesis statement should summarize your main point in no more than one or two sentences. In those sentences, you want to present to the reader what you are writing about, as well as what your position on the topic is. It should be clear and concise, and serve as a preview to what you are planning on writing about in the rest of your paper.

Q: Does my thesis statement need to be specific?

A: Yes, you should try to make your thesis statement as specific as you can. One approach to accomplish this is to start with a more general statement, then refine it as you conduct research and write the body of your paper. Keep in mind that you want to focus your statement on an idea that can be addressed within the page range of the paper.

Your thesis statement should be as clear and specific as possible. Normally you will continue to refine your thesis as you revise your argument(s), so your thesis will evolve and gain definition as you obtain a better sense of where your argument is taking you.

Here is what a too-general thesis statement looks like:

Too much time spent on a digital device is bad for children.

Here is a stronger, more specific one:

Although electronic devices can provide educational content, parents should regulate the amount of time children spend on digital platforms, as they can inhibit social interaction, shorten attention spans, and cause unhealthy sleeping habits.

Q: Where do I put my thesis statement in my paper?

A: Your thesis statement should be the last one or two sentences in your introductory paragraph. This will help immediately inform the reader of what the subject of your paper is, and what specific examples you are planning to provide in order to prove your central point.


While researching your thesis statement, cite your sources in APA formatMLA format, or Harvard referencing using Cite This For Me citation tools!