Thesis Handout

Subject Area >Topic > Main Question > thesis

A good thesis will
1. narrow the topic to a single main idea
2. be a strong, controversial statement that asserts its position clearly and firmly
3. express an opinion or attitude toward a topic
4. state not simply a fact but an opinion
5. make a point that can be supported by details, facts, and examples within the assigned limitations of time and space
6. preview or forecast of the structure of the essay

Use your thesis as the connective tissue that joins each section and each paragraph of your paper. Every sentence in a paper should be connected to the previous one. All these sentence connections should tie everything together with your thesis.

Your thesis should be stated in the first paragraph of your essay (the introduction); it is best to master the basics of writing before moving on to more sophisticated essay structures.

Do not use a self-evident proposition i.e. Louise Erdrich wrote Tracks, but August Wilson wrote Fences: it does not make a good thesis.

A statement that merely announces the subject does not make a good thesis either i.e. this paper is to discuss the decline of heroes in America.

Restrict your thesis. Do not write America no longer produces heroes, instead write America no longer produces heroes such as . . ., only celebrities such as . . .

It is easier to start a paper with a good thesis than come up with one when writing. Doing enough brainstorming, outlining, or researching your topic should allow you to do this easily.

The when, where, who, what, why, and how should be answered by the introduction. The thesis should at least tell who or what and how or why, if not all four.

More is better.

Many of the ideas for this handout come directly from Ann Raimes's Keys For Writers: A Brief Handbook, p.18. 
  The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of Michele Reese.  The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of South Carolina.