How to Compose a Good Thesis Statement

Writing Tutorial

How to Compose a Good Thesis Statement


If you are asked to write any type of persuasive paper- especially a formal argumentative paper- you will need to be able to compose a good thesis statement. Of course, this can only happen after you have carefully selected a topic for your essay. In order to compose a complete thesis statement that is neither too narrow nor too broad, you will need to follow a few simple steps. First, let’s look at some thesis statements.

Sample Problem

Too narrow/specific- Many college professors over the age of 40 find it hard to relate to the 18-20 year old students that come from the larger cities across the U.S. (This is so specific that it would only fit particular situations; therefore, there would not be that much to support or say.)
Too broad/general- Instructors don’t relate very well to their students sometimes. (What type of instructors? Swimming instructors? Bible school instructors? Military instructors? There is not enough information given. A paper with this thesis could become a BOOK because there would be so many instructors to cover!)
Just right!- Professors at small-town universities need to be able to relate to the attitudes and life experiences of their students. (Here, there is just enough specificity to give clarity, and the thesis is just broad enough to allow for some great support. This is a perfect balance!)


A thesis statement is like a mathematical equation. It can be shown as:


By using the example of the strong thesis above, we can say this:

Topic- Small-town college professors and how they should relate to students
Position- [They] should be able to relate well to the variety of attitudes and life experiences that come from students who may be coming from all backgrounds.
Thesis statement (more simply put)- Professors at small-town universities need to be able to relate to the attitudes and life experiences of their students.

*Avoid binary thinking- You don’t want to give the impression that it’s your way or the highway! Your thesis should be open enough for argument. Remember, you will use the body of your paper to support and show that your thesis is solid.
*Choose your own topic if you can- Topics that interest you, that aren’t too controversial, and that are current/local are the best.
*Make sure your thesis is in statement form- It is called a thesis statement for a reason: it should always be written in statement form, never in the form of a question.

Follow the examples and tips in this tutorial and you are sure to be a pro at composing a great thesis statement in no time!

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Greetings! I am a mother of 5 children and have been an adjunct instructor at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor for four years. At UMHB I teach a variety of English courses (reading, writing, literature) for the department of English and writing courses for ESOL department. In 2011, I acquired a...
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