The Purpose of the Thesis Statement

  • "[T]he purpose of the thesis is to give order both to the reader and to the writer. It does this by clearly stating the central claim that a piece of writing will try to prove. The writer takes care in the thesis statement to articulate a paper's argument as precisely as possible, and this precision clarifies and focuses the direction of the paper. Most of the time, a writer must work with a dynamic thesis statement--one that changes and evolves during the writing process. In other words, a working thesis statement that articulates what a writer is interested in exploring will be enough to guide a writer through a draft of the essay, but the exact words for the thesis statement are not finalized until the paper is nearly complete."

(Kathleen Muller Moore and Susie Lan Cassel, Techniques for College Writing: The Thesis Statement and Beyond. Wadsworth, Cengage, 2011)

Examples of Strong and Weak Thesis Statements

  • "A strong thesis statement both names the topic and reveals the writer's opinion about that topic. It should be clear and specific. A thesis statement can also list the supporting ideas, but sometimes these are written in a separate sentence.
  • "Look at these examples of a weak and a strong thesis statement.
    • Weak thesis statement:
      India has a lot of interesting festivals.

The statement is too broad--the writer can't discuss all Indian festivals. Even though it does state the writer's opinion, the statement is not clear: it doesn't explain why the festivals are interesting.

  • Strong thesis statement:
    Diwali is an important festival for Indians because they celebrate, remember traditional legends, and enjoy time with their families.

The topic is specific enough, and it clearly gives the writer's opinion. In addition, it lists the supporting ideas."

(Dorothy Zemach and Lynn Stafford-Yilmaz, Writers at Work: The Essay. Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Characteristics of an Effective Thesis Statement

  • "An effective thesis statement suggests your essay's direction, emphasis, and scope. Your thesis should not make promises that your essay will not fulfill. It should suggest where you will place your emphasis and indicate in what order your major points will be discussed, as the following statement does.
    • Effective Thesis Statement:
      Widely ridiculed as escape reading, romance novels are important as a proving ground for many never-before-published writers and, more significantly, as a showcase for strong heroines.
  • This thesis statement is effective because it tells readers that the essay to follow will focus on two major roles of the romance novel: providing markets for new writers and (more important) presenting strong female characters."

(Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, The Brief Wadsworth Handbook, 7th ed. Wadsworth, 2012)

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