Prewriting and Thesis Statement Strategies
Sponsored by The Center for Teaching and Learning at UIS
What is a Thesis?
A thesis statement is a sentence (or sentences) that expresses the main ideas of your paper and answers the
question or questions posed by your paper. It offers your readers a quick and easy to follow summary of what the
paper will be discussing and what you as a writer are setting out to tell them. The kind of thesis that your paper will
have will depend on the purpose of your writing. This handout will cover general thesis statement tips, explain some
of the different types of thesis statements, and provide some links to other resources about writing thesis
Start Creating a Thesis Statement
1. Analyze your topic. For example, ask yourself the question, “What do you notice?” What do you notice
about your topic? Do you notice any patterns in your pre-writing?
2. Focus on the rank of each detail. What three details are more interesting, significant, revealing or strange?
Circle these in your pre-writing activity.
3. Write down why they struck you as the most interesting. This step is to analyze your topic. Don’t generalize
or jump to judgment.
4. After you have determined the most interesting subtopics, make an assertion – a sentence stating your topic
and the point you want to make about it.
5. If you are having trouble coming up with an assertion, change your topic into a question that your essay can
answer. After you have created the question, develop the answer.
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned
Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to
distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is “Write a report to the local school
board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question
like “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question
your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.
The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Not Assigned.
Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question
about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.
A Bad Thesis Statement
A Good Thesis Statement
There are some negative and positive
Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement
aspects to the Banana Herb Tea
promotes rapid weight loss that results in
the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it
poses a potential danger to customers.
Websites for Reference
General Thesis Statement Tips
Good Examples of Thesis Statements
Last Edited 6/24/2008
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