Write with Might #6: Creating a Thesis Statement


This week we continue our exploration of the writing process, which again includes: (1) prewriting, (2) creating a thesis sentence, (3) developing an outline (4) reverse outlining and (5) proofreading. I would like to offer some support on how to create a thesis statement. The following information is adapted from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) and the Odegaard Writing &Research Center, with citations following.


Creating a thesis statement


In writing a thesis statement, remember that your task is to take a stance, argue a position and support it thoroughly with academic evidence.


1. Determine the kind of paper to determine your thesis' task


An analytical paper: your thesis should break down an idea/issue and evaluate it An expository paper: your thesis should explain something


An argumentative paper: your thesis should make a claim (an opinion) and argue it


Got something different?: Perhaps you are writing a narrative or reflection paper. If so, your thesis statement is still important as it should communicate one central theme or main idea to your reader. It will also help you stay organized.


  1. Start with your claim


Locate the strongest idea you developed while prewriting, then ask yourself, "is it arguable?"  Thesis statements


MUST be arguable.


Revise your claim as needed so that it is arguable.


Arguable statements:


  1. are persuasive and convincing
  2. tackle an issue/problem/question for which no easy answers exist
  3. invite a variety of possible perspectives


  1. Add reasons to your claim


A working thesis is a claim (arguable statement) with REASONS attached


CLAIM: Readers should reject women's magazines with advertising that presents impossibly thin models. REASON: Excessive dieting can cause psychological problems.

WORKING THESIS: Because excessive dieting causes psychological problems, readers should reject women's


magazines with advertising that presents impossibly thin models.


4. Ask: Is my thesis statement specific?


It should only cover what you will argue/discuss/present in your paper and what you can thoroughly


support with evidence within the scope of the paper. Be honest with yourself, perhaps you could pare it down?


5. Ask: Where does my thesis statement appear?


Your thesis should generally fall near end of your first paragraph. You should warm up the reader at the beginning of your first paragraph, providing interest, context and perhaps a brief description of the larger discourse in which your thesis lives. Consider adding a roadmap for the reader, telling them how you are going to prove your mentioned thesis. EXAMPLE: "This paper will....1), 2), 3).


6. Ask: Do I need to change my thesis now that I've written part of/all of this paper?


You may find that after you really delve into writing the body of your paper, you realize you have taken a different path. This is not necessarily a problem. Perhaps you simply need to revisit your thesis statement and change it to ensure it exactly reflects what you are telling your reader throughout the paper. Remember, reverse outlining is a great help for gaining this awareness!


Brizee, A., Tardiff, E. (2011, February, 24). Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements. Retrieved from:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/545/1/


Odegaard Writing & Research (n.d.) Center. Claims, Claims, Claims. Retrieved from:




Have a wonderful, inspired week and take good care of yourself,