A thesis statement is a critical component of a well planned, well-thought out, and a well-executed essay. In only a couple of sentences, the thesis statement informs the reader what the essay will be about. Although forming a thesis statement can be a difficult process, it is important because it gives the essay a direction and a focus. One way to mentally picture the job of a thesis statement is to imagine an umbrella. Everything in the essay must fit under the umbrella. If something does not fit under the umbrella, then it does not belong in the essay or the umbrella must be expanded to include the extra cargo.
A thesis statement must be specific enough so the intent of the essay is not too large. For example, writing a paper about the current economic conditions in the United States is extremely broad and nearly impossible to thoroughly and effectively write about. Paring down the topic to the economic conditions in the state of Ohio is a little more manageable, but it is still too broad. Paring it down again to a discussion of the minimum wage laws in Ohio is much more specific. It is plausible that a cohesive research paper could be written about this topic with a thesis statement focused on current minimum wage laws in the state of Ohio. It is also important to have a thesis statement that is not too specific, as it may be difficult to find enough material to write about to comprise a full length essay.
The final thesis statement should not be finalized until the end of the writing process. By allowing the thesis statement to be flexible, it will open up possibilities about sources that can be used and topics that can be covered. It may also be the case that the essay does not adequately cover a topic or idea that the thesis statement indicates will be covered. Then it is necessary to either find and write about information pertaining to the omitted topic, or to rewrite the thesis statement so the topic does not need to be written about in the essay. Sometimes teachers and professors require students to submit their thesis statements before they can begin writing. If this is the case, do not be afraid to discuss with the instructor the possibility of tweaking or completely changing the thesis statement if you feel it is necessary to do so.
The first paragraph of an essay should capture the reader’s attention and make the reader want to learn more about the topic. These first introductory sentences should lead into the thesis statement, which will in turn focus the reader and explain what the rest of the essay will be about. Do not flatly announce the thesis statement (“In this essay I will explain…”), because it is a clear indication that the writer is a beginner with only basic writing skills.
Although writing a thesis statement is a process that requires thought and time, the work will pay off with a directed, focused, and cohesive essay.