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Words of Wisdom

My father gave me these hints on speech-making: "Be sincere . . .  be brief . . . be seated.”

— James Roosevelt



Hey there! It’s Shelby with the Texas A&M University Writing Center, and today, we are going to be talking about thesis statements. First, we’ll discuss what a thesis statement is; then, the different types of thesis statements; and finally, five things to look out for when revising your thesis. 

So what is a thesis statement? A thesis is the main claim you are making in an argument. In other words, it’s what you are trying to prove or persuade your audience to believe or do. 

Thesis statements serve as a guide in the writing process. In academic papers, they’re usually presented at the end of the introduction. 

As you think about or research your topic, you will likely end up refining your working thesis to add further detail and make it more specific.

Regardless, your thesis should always mention two things: #1, the topic and #2, your comment about the topic.
 
For example, if my topic is Reveille and my comment is that she’s the best dog in existence, my thesis statement might say, “Reveille is the best dog in existence because she is cute, soft, and well-behaved.”
 
So now that we know what a thesis is, how do we formulate one? 

Well, there are many types of effective thesis statements to choose from. Some thesis statements make comparisons and evaluate. For example, I might say that Reveille is a better mascot than Bevo because she’s got beauty, style, and grace.
 
This example clearly maps out the reasons supporting the thesis. Other thesis statements can begin with an “although” clause to help build rapport with a skeptical audience. 
 
For instance, I could say, “Although Bevo does match UT’s color scheme , Reveille, is better dressed and also has beauty and grace, making her the better mascot for me.”

Other thesis statements may attribute a cause, classify a topic, or advocate for a course of action.

For example, if the goal of my paper is to attribute a cause, I might say, “Reveille's success as a mascot can be attributed to her accessibility to students both in person and on social media." 

If I want to classify a topic, I might say, “Reveille can be considered a core tradition at Texas A&M, alongside other traditions like Midnight Yell and the Aggie Ring.”

And if I want to advocate for a course of action I might say, “The University should require that Reveille wear a coat during winter because it's fashionable and would keep her warm."

Besides these three options, there are also many other ways to create a thesis, as long as it is a claim that can be argued.

Alright, now that you’ve thought about which type of thesis statement best reflects your goal for the paper, let’s wrap up by talking about the five main things you want to watch out for when revising your thesis. 
First, make sure your thesis isn’t too vague--that it includes specific details you plan to support. 
Second, make sure it's arguable. You want to make sure that someone could take an alternate standpoint on the same issue. 
Third, make sure it’s the right “size” for the assignment--that it doesn’t lend itself to too big or too small of a paper. 
Fourth, make sure it’s appropriate for your audience and suited to the assignment you were given. 
And fifth, make sure it’s supported by the content of your paper. And, hey, if your paper ends up veering in an unexpected direction during the course of your writing process, you can always revise your thesis to better fit your new evidence.

So to recap, a thesis is basically just the main claim you are making in an argument, and it serves as a guide for the rest of the paper. For more writing tips and tricks, subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, and book an appointment with us at writingcenter.tamu.edu.



Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute The University Writing Center, Texas A&M University.

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