Chapter 6: The Writing Process and Pre-Writing

Elements of a Thesis Statement

When writing an essay, you must focus on a main idea. This idea will stem from a topic you have chosen or been assigned or from a question your instructor has asked. It is not enough merely to discuss a general topic or answer with a yes or no: you will need to form an opinion and then articulate it into a controlling idea – the main idea you will build your thesis on.

A thesis is not the topic itself, but rather your interpretation of the question or subject. When an instructor presents you with a topic, ask, “What do you want to say about it?” Asking and answering this question is vital to forming a thesis that is specific.

A thesis is typically one sentence long and appears near the end of your introduction. It is specific and focuses on one to three points related to a main idea: you will work to prove these points in the body of your paper. Thus, the thesis forecasts the content of the essay and how you will organize your information. A thesis statement does not summarize an issue but rather helps to dissect it.

A strong thesis statement

Click on the items below to understand the qualities of a strong thesis statement.


Activities: Check Your Understanding



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Other than the activities, content for this page was adapted (with editorial changes) from:

Writing for Success 1st Canadian Edition by Tara Horkoff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. Download for free at:


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The Scholarship of Writing in Nursing Education: 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; Andy Tan; Arina Bogdan; Frances Dimaranan; Rachel Frantzke; and Nada Savicevic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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