Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Guide for Thesis Writers

What is a Thesis?

A thesis is the central idea of a piece of writing with the entire work developing and supporting the idea.  Though sometimes unstated, a thesis should always govern a paper.  It usually appears as a thesis statement somewhere in the paper, primarily in the opening paragraph.

OWL Purdue

This resource from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

UNC Chapel Hill

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can discover or refine one for your draft.

Online Tutorial

A Helpful Video from ETSU

Characteristics of a Strong Thesis

1.  A strong thesis statement should be specific covering only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
2.  A strong thesis statement will make a claim.  This does not mean that you have to reduce an idea to an "either/or" position and then take a stand. Rather, you need to develop an interesting perspective that you can support and defend. This perspective must be more than an observation.  It should inspire other points of view from your reader.
3.  A strong thesis statement will control your paper’s argument.  This sentence determines what you are required to say in a paper. It also determines what you cannot say. Every paragraph in your paper exists in order to support your thesis. If it seems like your paper is supporting something other than your thesis, you need to change your thesis or edit your paper.
4.  A strong thesis statement will provide structure for your paper.  It will show how you will present your position.  For instance, your thesis may say, “American fearfulness expresses itself in three curious ways: A, B, and C."  Your paper should then make those arguments in that order.  If you start discussing point C first, your reader may be confused.