Writing Across the Curriculum - WriteNow!

Thesis Statements

What is a thesis statement? A thesis:

  • Is a complete sentence
  • Makes an assertion
  • Tells the main idea or overall focus of your essay

The thesis is the focus or controlling idea of your essay. It must be one succinct sentence. Usually, the thesis statement appears near the end of your introduction, after you have “hooked” the reader, setting the tone and focus of your entire essay. The body paragraphs that follow the introduction should provide details that support that original thesis.

For example, if an instructor asks you to write a paper on the causes of divorce, a simple thesis statement may be: Marriages often end in divorce due to finances, lack of communication, and abuse. It is clear that your main points will be: finances, lack of communication, and abuse (in that order). If you are a more advanced writer, you may not need to be quite so specific; however, beginning writers should be as specific as possible to avoid deviating from the main idea.

Keep in mind that as you write your draft, your paper may evolve. Be sure that you modify your thesis, as needed.