A good introductory paragraph usually provides a summary or overview of the paper. Near the end of the introduction, writers usually include a thesis statement that contains the specific point or main idea of the paper.
A strong thesis statement should:
- Shed light on the paper topic
- Answers the question asked or addressed the prompt
- Makes a claim that has evidence to back it up
- Be concise and clear (one or two sentences)
- Original thesis: In this paper, I will discuss the relationship between fairy tales and early childhood.
- Revised thesis: Not just empty stories for kids, fairy tales shed light on the psychology of young children.
Types of Introductions
- Summary – The most common in academic writing is a brief summary. This summary should provide an overview of the main points or central topics in the essay.
- Opening with a Narrative or Surprising Statement – A writer may choose to introduce an essay with an engaging story or a contradictory statement. The story or statement must be closely related to the topic of the paper.
- Opening with a Question (or a set of questions) – Sometimes writers incorporate a question or a series of questions in the introduction. These questions should not have an obvious answer and should pique the reader’s interest so that they want to continue reading.
- Opening with a Definition – A definition may be included in the introduction, especially when the vocabulary that will be used in the paper is confusing and requires clarification. The definition should always be paraphrased in the writer’s own words rather than a dictionary definition.
- Opening with Background Information – By including background information in the introduction, a writer provides readers with a context for the discussion in the essay. This type of introductory paragraph is particularly applicable when defending a surprising or controversial thesis statement.
- Opening with a Quotation – An introduction may also contain a quotation that is logically related to the thesis statement. When an effective quotation is selected, the writer can elicit increased interest in the essay topic.
Examples of Weak Introductions
- The announcement: “This paper will argue…”
- Announcements take away from the formal tone required for college writing. Simply state the point/argument of the essay without leisurely sentence openers.
- The book report: “So and so wrote X. He talks about Y.”
- List of facts that is neither interesting nor relevant to the thesis.
- The epic epoch: “Since the dawn of time, people have been struggling with…”
- Very general and overused
- The dictionary: “According to Webster’s dictionary, morality can be defined as…”
- Very general and overused
- The space filler: “The issue of morality and religion brings up many important considerations…”
- Vague statements which show you do not know much about the topic and/or you are not very interested in it
- Essay topic echo statement: “The views of Jesus and the Dalai Lama on the value of compassion are very similar…”
- It is good to restate the question/topic, but you need to do more than just that. Do not forget to lead the reader into the discussion that brings up the question/topic in the first place.
Thesis Statement Guide Development Tool
Follow the steps below to formulate a thesis statement. All cells must contain text.
1. State your topic.
2. State your opinion/main idea about this topic.
This will form the heart of your thesis. An effective statement will
- express one major idea.
- name the topic and assert something specific about it.
- be a more specific statement than the topic statement above.
- take a stance on an issue about which reasonable people might disagree.
- state your position on or opinion about the issue.
3. Give the strongest reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.
4. Give another strong reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.
5. Give one more strong reason or assertion that supports your opinion/main idea.
6. Include an opposing viewpoint to your opinion/main idea, if applicable. This should be an argument for the opposing view that you admit has some merit, even if you do not agree with the overall viewpoint.
7. Provide a possible title for your essay.
Thesis Statement Guide Results
Thesis Statement Model #1: Sample Thesis Statement
Parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.
Thesis Statement Model #2: Thesis with Concession
Notice that this model makes a concession by addressing an argument from the opposing viewpoint first, and then uses the phrase "even though" and states the writer's opinion/main idea as a rebuttal.
Even though television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.
Thesis Statement Model #3: Thesis with Reasons
Here, the use of "because" reveals the reasons behind the writer's opinion/main idea.
parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans, it inhibits social interaction, and it isn't always intellectually stimulating.
Thesis Statement Model #4: Thesis with Concession and Reasons
This model both makes a concession to opposing viewpoint and states the reasons/arguments for the writer's main idea.
While television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it inhibits social interaction, shortens children's attention spans, and isn't always intellectually stimulating.
Remember: These thesis statements are generated based on the answers provided on the form. Use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like. Your ideas and the results are anonymous and confidential. When you build a thesis statement that works for you, ensure that it addresses the assignment. Finally, you may have to rewrite the thesis statement so that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation are correct.
Thesis Statement Guide: Sample Outline
Use the outline below, which is based on the five–paragraph essay model, when drafting a plan for your own essay. This is meant as a guide only, so we encourage you to revise it in a way that works best for you.
Start your introduction with an interesting "hook" to reel your reader in. An introduction can begin with a rhetorical question, a quotation, an anecdote, a concession, an interesting fact, or a question that will be answered in your paper. The idea is to begin broadly and gradually bring the reader closer to the main idea of the paper. At the end of the introduction, you will present your thesis statement. The thesis statement model used in this example is a thesis with reasons.
Even though television can be educational , parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans, it inhibits social interaction, and it is not always intellectually stimulating
First, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch because it shortens children's attention spans.
Notice that this Assertion is the first reason presented in the thesis statement. Remember that the thesis statement is a kind of "mapping tool" that helps you organize your ideas, and it helps your reader follow your argument. In this body paragraph, after the Assertion, include any evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports this first point. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.
Additionally, it inhibits social interaction.
The first sentence of the second body paragraph should reflect an even stronger Assertion to support the thesis statement. Generally, the second point listed in the thesis statement should be developed here. Like with the previous paragraph, include any evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports this point after the Assertion. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.
Finally, the most important reason parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch is it is not always intellectually stimulating.
Your strongest point should be revealed in the final body paragraph. Also, if it's appropriate, you can address and refute any opposing viewpoints to your thesis statement here. As always, include evidence–a quotation, statistic, data–that supports your strongest point. Explain what the evidence means. Show the reader how this entire paragraph connects back to the thesis statement.
Indeed, while television can be educational, parents should regulate the amount of television their children watch.
Rephrase your thesis statement in the first sentence of the conclusion. Instead of summarizing the points you just made, synthesize them. Show the reader how everything fits together. While you don't want to present new material here, you can echo the introduction, ask the reader questions, look to the future, or challenge your reader.
Remember: This outline is based on the five–paragraph model. Expand or condense it according to your particular assignment or the size of your opinion/main idea. Again, use the Thesis Statement Guide as many times as you like, until you reach a thesis statement and outline that works for you.