Refining a Thesis Statement

A reader should know where the author stands on the topic based on the thesis statement.

A thesis statement is usually necessary in academic essays, particularly those based on research. It should tell the reader exactly what the remainder of the paper will argue or explain. It should also give a broad overview of the main points to come. After writing a rough draft of your paper, you may need to revise and refine the thesis statement.

Essay Content

You must convey the general content of the essay in a thesis statement that the reader can easily identify as such. Your thesis should not be a question or begin with an explanation. For example, it should not begin “In this paper…” or “I believe that.…” Instead, your thesis should convey your paper's main point clearly and assertively, such as, "School uniforms helps students focus on their education."

Flow and Length

A thesis statement should flow with the rest of the introduction but not be too long. Generally, it should be only one sentence. You can often cut down longer sentences and move information to sentences leading up to the thesis statement or into the body of the essay. For example, a thesis statement should not include supportive information. You don't need to prove an argument within the thesis statement. Instead, your statement should provide an outline of the proof to come.


Your thesis statement should be clear and concise and should assert an argument, rather than simply stating a fact. For example, if your essay is about smoking and its effect on healthcare, your thesis should not be "Smoking can cause cancer." Instead, it should focus on something more persuasive and arguable. For example, "Smoking drives up health-care costs because insurance companies spread out the expense of covering the many tobacco-related diseases among their policyholders."


Your thesis statement needs to reflect the rest of the essay and every major argument presented. If you bring in new arguments after you write your thesis statement, you should revise your thesis statement to reflect the paper's content. Additionally, your thesis statement should not contain information that isn't presented in the paper. Compare your statement to every body paragraph in your paper to ensure that the arguments match.

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