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The thesis statement (which may be more than one sentence) usually appears at the end of your introduction and presents your specific argument or claim to the reader. The thesis should cover only what you discuss in your paper and be supported throughout the paper with evidence. A thesis statement serves many purposes, including the following:

  • Prepare your readers for the purpose of your paper and the content
  • Set the focus for your paper
  • States your side on an issue
  • Previews the ideas you will address

Steps to Writing a Thesis

Brainstorm by answering the following questions about your argument.

1. What is your main argument?

Miami University should install refill stations on its water fountains.

2. Why are you making this argument?

So students and faculty at Miami University can refill their water bottles easily, instead of purchasing bottled water.

3. What support will you give for your argument? What ideas will you discuss in your paper?

Refill stations can discourage waste and thus are better for the environment. Students will be more likely to use these stations if they are required to purchase reusable water bottles and do not have the option to buy bottled water on campus.

Then, combine these ideas into a thesis statement. Your thesis can be one- to two sentences long.

Miami University could improve its sustainability efforts and discourage waste through installing refill stations and encouraging their use by limiting the sale of bottled water on campus and requiring all first-year students to purchase reusable water bottles

Problems to Avoid When Writing a Thesis

1. Don't write a highly opinionated thesis. You may alienate readers, especially the ones you are trying to convince.

Example: With characteristic clumsiness, campus officials bumbled their way through the recent budget crisis.
Better: Campus officials had trouble managing the recent budget crisis effectively.

2. Don't make an announcement. Include your attitude toward the subject as well as the subject. Otherwise, you're just stating your intent, not your thesis or claim.

Example: My essay will discuss handgun legislation.
Better: Banning handguns is the first step toward controlling crime in America.

Example: In this essay, I will discuss cable television.
OK: In this essay, I will present three reasons why cable television has not delivered on its promises. (Though this includes the writer's attitude about the subject, it is still announcing intent and is not as sophisticated and direct as the following thesis.)
Even better: Cable television has not delivered on its promise to provide an alternative to network programming. (This directly states what the writer will discuss and attempt to prove.)

3. Don't make a factual statement. Your essay will develop an issue. Stating a fact doesn't give you anything to develop; there's no where to go. It just is.

Example: Many businesses pollute the environment.
Better: Tax penalties should be levied against companies that pollute the environment.

Example: Today's movies are violent.
Better: Movie violence provides a healthy outlet for aggression.

4. Don't make a broad statement. Your thesis should focus on the point(s) you will make; limit your subject. Use specific rather than vague or general terms.

Example: Education is often meaningless.
Better: A high school education has been devalued by grade inflation.