How to Write a Thesis Statement
The thesis statement expresses the main idea of a composition. It should encompass every idea, detail, and argument in that one thesis statement. It should all relate in some way to the thesis. Your thesis isn’t going to list out all of your arguments and details that you’re going to have in your composition, but it should relate in some way to all of them.
A thesis can be kind of tricky, because you want it to be general enough to encompass everything that’s going to be in your paper but specific enough that the reader knows what your main idea is. It should be a short, declarative statement. It should not be vague. It needs to be specific. It can’t just be a general, subjective sentence that doesn’t really tell the reader what’s going on.
The thesis statement should suggest the content of the rest of the piece, so the audience knows what to expect. If you’re too vague, the audience isn’t going to know what to expect. So you have to be specific without being too specific and general without being too general. I’ll give you a few examples, so you can see how to balance these things and draft an effective thesis statement. “The principal is basically a nice guy.”
It tells you the principal is nice, but there are lots of things you could talk about that would make the principal a nice guy. This is a pretty vague statement. Let’s improve upon that. Let’s get more specific and give the reader more of an idea of what the content of your piece is going to be. “The principal’s policies demonstrate his care for students.” Now, the reason we think he’s a nice guy is because it’s obvious that he cares for his students based on his policies.
We’re not talking about the principal being a nice guy because he coaches little league or he just says, “Hi,” to you in the hallway. It’s because he has policies at school that show that he cares about his students. This is an effective thesis statement. This is a good one. This one is too vague. We had to get more specific.
Let’s look at another example. “Dogs are good pets.” Not everyone is going to think that, but at least if you give them more information they may see your side of things. Saying that dogs are good pets is still really vague. You need to get more specific. Why do you think they’re good pets? Don’t get too specific, because you want your main idea to be in your thesis statement, but you don’t want all the supporting details to be there.
You want to save those for the body of your paper. Let’s look at this as an effective thesis statement example, changing “dogs are good pets”, which is still too vague, to something more effective. “Because of a sense of loyalty, it’s ability to be trained, and it’s good companionship, a dog is the perfect pet for me.” This thesis does actually tell you what your main subtopics are probably going to be.
You’ll probably have a body paragraph talking about a dog’s sense of loyalty, another one about how easy they are to train, and another one about how they are good companions. This kind of thesis statement is also okay, because it gets specific but not too specific. It tells what your subtopics are going to be, what your supporting overall ideas are going to be, but it doesn’t get into every detail and argument that you’re going to present in your composition.
This would be another good example. One of the main things to remember when writing your thesis statement is to include the main idea of your paper, let the reader understand what they should expect from the rest of your paper, but don’t be too vague or too specific. Try to focus on a short, declarative statement that tells the overall idea of your paper without giving it all away.