Structure of a Thesis Statement

In high school teachers do not talk about thesis statements much. They tend to teach about them, but do not expect you to use them throughout high school. I know this to be true because during my experience in high school I was not required to use thesis statements in any of my essays for any of my classes. In college, however, this all changes. Professors require thesis statements at the end of the first paragraph, no matter what class it is. This can make freshman year even more complicated, because you are not used to using them yet.

A thesis statement is the central argument of your essay and is very important. The thesis allows you to give a short and sweet introduction to the rest of your paper. The details in a thesis statement are like the milk in ice cream, without them, you will not have a complete thesis statement. Because of this, it is essential to be as clear and detailed as possible without being too wordy.

Make sure that your thesis statement has:

  • Your standpoint on the topic
  • Short summary of the main arguments
  • Road map to the paper

Several things go into writing a strong thesis statement.

Steps to Writing a strong Thesis:

  • First, research topic and come up with ideas
  • Then, write a rough draft of your thesis statement using your research
  • Third, narrow down your thesis to make sure it addresses all the main points that are going to be in your paper
  • Last, make sure it is a “road map” to your paper

Key points that make a thesis statement:

  • It takes a stand on a topic
  • Has specific details about the topic
  • And expresses the main idea of the paper

Even though every paper should have a thesis statement, the formula can vary from type to type of paper. The basic formula, however, does not change. The thesis statement is a complex sentence that explains your main claim, and then follows with the arguments you will be presenting. Usually, you should start with your weakest argument and finish the paper with your strongest. Each argument should be a different paragraph or set of paragraphs, and have clear breaks between sections.

Things that are not Thesis Statements:

  • A question, but it can be the answer to a question
  • A statement of purpose
  • A simple topic


Examples Thesis Statements:

  • Bad: Why are grades not good?
    • Reason why it is bad: question
  • Good: Grades should not be important in school because they cause anxiety and unnecessary pressure on students.
  • Bad: Drug usage is growing throughout society.
    • Reason why it is bad: To broad of a topic
  • Good: Illegal drug usage is becoming more common throughout all ages
  • Bad: Starbucks coffee is so much better then Java City coffee because it has more flavor, better quality, and more variety.


    • Reason why it is bad: Very weak thesis statement
  • Good: Based on x statistic, more people prefer Starbucks coffee to Java City because of the flavors, quality and variety.


For more examples and different types of thesis statements you can use this website



Importance of a Thesis Statement

Starting college can be extremely scary with all of the new concepts being thrown at you. It is a whole new way of living and the work can be very different. Writing is crucial to many college classes. Unlike high school level writing, college level writing can be a bit more thorough. Professors tend to look for key elements in your essays. One of the most essential parts to any essay is the thesis statement. Learning how to form a thesis statement is very important. A thesis statement is an imperative trait to form a strong essay. Normally one or two sentences, a thesis unifies and provides direction for a piece of writing.

There are two main reasons why thesis statements are so important for an essay.

  • First, the writer develops a thesis to create a focus on an essay’s main idea. It is important for the writer to be able to write the main idea in a few sentences to create a clear idea for the paper. Not only does the thesis guide the reader, but also the writer. The thesis provides direction to help the writer keep their paper organized.
  • Second, having a well-crafted thesis statement helps the reader understand the main idea of the essay. The thesis statement sets the reader up for the rest of the essay. Usually at the end of the introduction paragraph, the thesis leads into the body paragraph, which provides evidence and ideas to back up the thesis. The thesis statement is important because it tells the audience what they will be reading about.

Because thesis statements are essential in any essay, it is important for writers to understand what makes up a solid thesis. As the basis of an essay, a thesis must support three things: audience, purpose, and content. This basically just means answer who, why, and what in your thesis. Who are you writing this thesis for? Be sure to identify the audience to clarify who your paper is for. Why are you writing this thesis? Establish a purpose to ensure that the reader knows the direction of your paper. What will be included in this thesis? Determine the key points of your essay and include them in your thesis.

Here is a comparison to help you understand the importance: The role of a thesis statement is like the role of the sun in the solar system. Just as the planets orbit the sun in the solar system, the different parts of an essay orbit the thesis statement. The planets feed off of the sun, just like the body paragraphs and conclusion feed off of the thesis.

Your audience should be able to easily find the thesis in your essay. The thesis statement should be clear and concise so the reader can identify it and efficiently understand the meaning of the paper. If someone can’t find the thesis in your essay, go back and make sure that you created a meaningful and well-understood thesis.

All styles of writing are different, but a strong thesis is something that they all share.

Purpose of using tone in college writing

Tone is that unavoidable way an author speaks in his or her writing. Tone can even be flat, dull, and boring but still be considered tone. Tone is like how colors have meaning like red is an angry mood or how blue represents a sad mood such as the tone of a story. The reason we use tone to keep the reader interested in what we are writing about, whether it is a fictional story or a college paper. As an upcoming freshman you should be thinking of how the purpose of tone has changed. A few things you should be thinking about changing in your college writing is the audience, word choice, and purpose.


The area of tone you should think about changing is who it is the audience reading your work. While writing papers in college you have to understand who you are writing the paper for because you could be writing for professor or to another student. When writing a paper for a professor you want to make formal because you don’t want sound like you are talking to your friend. You want your tone to be serious and enthused about that topic because it could be the professor’s passion.


Another area of tone that you should look to change is word choice. Word choice is key to determining what tone the author is using. As you already some words portray different tones like “I was a dark and stormy night” infers that there is a negative tone. Your tone in a college paper says a lot about how you feel towards a topic. In an argumentative paper you want the tone to sound supportive of your argument. In some cause like if your typing a summary for a class you want a none bias tone and use sayings like ”however the author says that”.


Last area of tone you should consider to change when taking a college level English is the purpose of tone in writing. First step of this is to know who you’re writing the paper for. In this case you are writing for a college professor so your paper must have the proper tone that shows your argument and if you agree or disagree. It also shows how the writers feelings towards a topic. By using proper tone you want your audience to take away from reading you work. You want your tone to help provoke the ideas of your readers.


Tone in writing is one of the most important things in your writing to grab the attention of your readers. The tone of your paper will determine how your audience sees you as a writer. As an upcoming freshman you should start gearing towards making your paper appeal to the reader. Something you should consider doing to make your papers better are is the audience, word choice, and purpose. Tone is something that we can’t live without it is in our everyday lives whether it is a college paper or a children’s book.






Introducing Quotations: And Why It’s a Good Idea

Writing is a form of expression used to tell the reader what is going on, what happened and who has an opinion or something to say. Ultimately, we want our reader to understand who said what and why to get our point across or to explain the information about the topic we have used in our writing. However, we also want to be clear when someone other than the writer has said something to avoid plagiarism, which is a violation of any educational system and in general a huge concern for any writer!


All of us know that writing should be done in such a way as to make everything clear or with clarity to our readers. Part of clarity is to tell the reader who is responsible for saying certain things in our writing. In order for us to give proper credit to people for opinions or comments made by them we must use quotation marks to show that someone has said something. Not only are we showing who said something, but also when their words started and stopped in our writing. Quotation marks are giving credit to the person being quoted, but also putting things in perspective for the reader! Perspective is important to show perhaps the sequence of events in a story, the ideas you have used to come to your opinion on the subject you are writing, or the details that have been found with research provided by someone you are quoting. As you can see how we explain other peoples thoughts in our writing is a big responsibility and therefore, must be done correctly.


When you introduce a quotation you are flowing one idea into another. Like introducing a speaker at an event, they do not just walk up on stage, someone hosting the event talks about their accomplishments or why they are present to begin with. The same goes for your writing, you don’t want to confuse the reader by just throwing in a random quotation. You have to start off by saying who said the quote and then lead up with the quotation. By using quotations you are making your writing clearer to your audience. Your quotation will generally end something you just talked about or in most cases transition from one point to another and then talk about that next point you are writing. The reason most professors want quotations in papers is to show some evidence to your paper. That you fully researched and are making an argument that is not one sided.


For instance, when I first started college I was not the best writer. I had a general understanding of what was involved in writing, but being in a college level class was different and we went into more detail. We had to apply everything we learned and we were graded more harshly for our mistakes then we were in high school. During one of our first papers I did not introduce my quotes. When I went and talked to my professor he said introducing quotations would have made my transitions easier, but also made my writing in general more effective. For that reason and a few careless mistakes I got a lower grade then I wanted. When you put all of these things together it really makes sense and will help you with all your writing assignments in college!


How to use a Counter Argument

How to use a Counter Argument

            Counter arguments are like an older sibling, they don’t always admit they’re wrong, but they always have your back. In an argumentative paper, counter arguments are used to acknowledge a difference of opinion on the topic and also strengthen the writer’s argument. When incorporating a counter argument students should use these techniques for an effective and helpful argument:

  • Use words to describe and explain the counter argument that allow for an unbiased presentation of the argument such as; stated, said, explained, etc.
  • Students should also fully explain the counter argument; this meaning writing enough about the counter argument, just because it is disagreeing with your stance does not mean you should ignore it. By thoroughly explaining the counter argument you can make your own argument seem that much stronger.
  • Counter arguments can be added anywhere in the body of your paper. It is usually best to add them right after the point they’re contradicting or somewhere around there.


You are writing a paper about abortion and have the opinion that abortion should be legal in the U.S. under all circumstances. For a counter argument you would choose a quote discussing the opposition to abortion. Here’s an example of an appropriate quote to use as a counterargument and how to use it in you own writing.

Many Christians believe abortion is morally wrong and should not be legal The Christian Reformed Church states “Mindful of the sixth commandment…the church condemns the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death.” This belief is consistent and appropriate for all Christians but for other citizens who do not have those beliefs might not agree with a law outlawing abortion. The values the U.S. were founded on also states that the U.S. government cannot establish a national religion according to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

  • The counter argument was properly introduced
  • The supporter/group of supporters were clearly stated
  • The counter argument was explained
  • The counter argument was rebutted

It is important to be fair when writing about your counter argument this makes you look better as a writer. It makes you seem very level-headed and willing to consider others’ opinions rather than ranting on and on about your own argument and therefore to your reader coming off as irrational and in turn making them less interested in what you have to say.


Writing a good counter argument can be a very important element in your argumentative paper to make your own argument stronger. Introducing the argument properly and giving it enough attention to be explained are all necessary for the counter argument to be effective. Having an effective counter argument can strengthen your own argument and increase the trust your readers have your you and your opinions. It can also disprove itself in comparison to your own argument and make you argument seem like the better opinion on the matter. Counter arguments were a very easy but very important technique learned in English 150.

Where Should I Place My Counterargument?

Mpuzzleany questions were buzzing around in my head the first time I heard the sentence “make sure to include a counterargument in your paper” in one of my college classes. The main question that surfaced was “Where in the world do I put a counterargument?”.

You should already know from the previous post that a counterargument is a possible argument against the argument you made in your paper. Finding the correct place to put this counterargument is like a puzzle, you can put it anywhere it fits.

The counterargument can go anywhere that you want, except the conclusion. This is because no new information is supposed to be added to a conclusion, it is only expected to tie in the points that have previously been introduced. Also, counterarguments are not often seen in the middle of academic papers because they often do not make sense placed in the middle of all of your main points. The most common places for a counterargument are in the introduction, the paragraph after your introduction, or the paragraph after all of your main points.


As part of your introduction 

Placing your counterargument in your introduction is one effective way to include your counterargument. Stating the counterargument before you introduce your topic and/or state your thesis can be successful because it informs the reader why you are writing the academic paper in the first place.

See this example from The Dangers of Dams

Around the world, there are hundreds of dams of different sizes. Dams are used for irrigation, flood defenses, water supply, and hydroelectric power. Despite these positive elements, however, there are also many bad elements related to dams. Dams have a negative global impact because they eat up valuable land resources, ruin wildlife habitats, effects endangered species, and create damaging greenhouse gases.

First, the author effectively conveys the counterargument, “dams are used for irrigation, flood defenses, water supply, and hydroelectric power”, then he states his main argument that will be discussed throughout the paper, which is the “bad elements related to dams”.

After your introduction

Placing your counterargument in the paragraph after your introduction is beneficial to the reader because you are including the anticipated reaction from the audience that you will work against. This will show that you aren’t one-sided and that you are open to other ideas, which will allow the reader to trust you.

See example below (adapted from The Dangers of Dams):

     Around the world, there are hundreds of dams of different sizes. There are many bad elements related to dams. Dams have a negative global impact because they eat up valuable land resources, ruin wildlife habitats, effects endangered species, and create damaging greenhouse gases.

    However, many people believe that there are many positive aspects of dams. For example, they are used for irrigation, flood defenses, water supply, and hydroelectric power. Individuals see these positive aspects as more important than the ongoing negative effects because they use these resources in their everyday life.

First, the author makes it clear in the thesis that the paper will be focusing on the reasons that dams are creating a negative effect. The paragraph following the introduction includes the counterargument that is anticipated, which is the positive effects of dams.

As a paragraph after your main points

The counterargument can be used in a paragraph after your main points.  This is an effective placement because the reader gets the chance to hear all of your main points and get their own idea in their mind about how they feel about your topic.

See example of the outline below regarding The Dangers of Dams:

  • First paragraph: Introduction (Paragraph containing what the paper going to be about – the negative effects of dams)
  • Second paragraph: First main point (Paragraph on how they are eating up of valuable land resources)
  • Third paragraph:  Second main point (Paragraph on how they ruin wildlife habitats)
  • Fourth paragraph: Third main point (Paragraph on how they have bad effects of endangered species)
  • Fifth paragraph: Fourth main point (Paragraph on how they create damaging greenhouse gases)
  • Sixth paragraph: Counterargument (Paragraph containing the positive effects of dams – irrigation, flood defense, ect.)
  • Last paragraph: Conclusion

Finding a place to put a counterargument really isn’t that hard after all, right? They pretty much can go anywhere that fits. However, it is advised not to place your counterargument in your conclusion or in the middle of your paper. They are most commonly placed in your introduction, after your introduction, or directly following your main points. Just remember, finding a place to put your counterargument is like a puzzle, you have to mess around with your paper and figure out where it best serves its purpose!  As long as you remember these key points when placing counterargument, you’ll be good to go!

Quotations: The Protein of Academic Writing

Quotes are words taken from another source that the author places into his or her paper; and they are very important while writing papers in the academic world and for writing in many career fields. The affective use of quotes within a paper can be the difference between and A and a B. Quotations are important because they help you back up your main point, can add length and depth to the paper, and allow the audience to trust you. Quotes can also affect all three parts of writing, the purpose, context and audience. Quotes can help convey the purpose, make up the context of the writing and affect the relationship between the author and audience, which shows that the good or bad use of quotes can influence a papers grade. Quotations are similar to a protein shake after working out; they help make your writing stronger after all the hard work you put in.


While writing papers (especially in the academic world) if you are ever making an argument you must remember to back up that argument. The way to do that is using quotations. By taking words from professionals you can make your point much more credible. They help you back up what you are trying to say and make it easier to convey your purpose in a paper.


Quotes help beef up your writing too. Many academic papers will have a word or page limit, and if you ever find yourself trying to reach a certain amount or words or pages, quotes can help. They add more words and can also help string into other ideas about the topic or argument. Many academic papers will also require quotations as criteria toward the grade, which in such cases they directly affect the context and content of the paper.


Another huge aspect of writing papers is the relationship between the author and audience. All audiences want to trust the author and know what they are saying is factual. If the audience does not trust the author they would most likely not even want to evaluate the paper. Trust greatly influences a positive or negative view of the writer and the paper. A good way to earn trust is the use of quotations. Using quotations means that the author did some sort of research on the topic they are writing about. Researching means that the author has knowledge on the topic and knows what he or she is saying. So by using quotes you let the audience know that they can trust you because what you’re saying is backed up by facts.


So as you can see, as you enter the academic world it is ideal to learn how to affectively use quotes. Quotes are a very important aspect to writing they can “beef up” a paper. Properly used quotes help back up an argument by providing substantial evidence, they give the author credit by proving that he or she knows what they’re writing about and they add depth to any paper.


Explanation of Quotes!


Putting an explanation after a quote is like securing a huge delicious sandwich with its top bun!


Quotes are an amazing way to put a little flavor in your writing. It gives different points of views of a certain subject, and it can draw major attention to your writing. The only way a quote cannot work in writing is when the writer does not correctly format how to use a quote.


There are THREE concepts to make a quote fit perfectly in an essay. You should have read the two blogs about formatting a quotation: Introduction of the quote, and what kind of quote should an individual use in their writing. Then the third key factor of a fitting a quote in is that a person needs to secure the quote with an explanation. There is literally no point in doing an introduction to a quote, but then not explaining why the quote is important to your writing.


Here is an illustration of how a quote should be formatted (in sandwich style)

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 1.29.49 PM

Just think, you put the bottom bun down so you can start the delicious sandwich (the introduction of the quote). Then next, you put the most important part on that you enjoy and possibly what other people enjoy as well (the actual quote). Lastly, you put the top bun on because if the top bun was not there, your sandwich would fall apart and you could not enjoy the delicious sandwich at all.


The actual quote is highly important, but it also should be backed up to relate to your writing. In my opinion, and also professors’ opinions, if there is no explanation of a quote, why would you even put the quote in your writing in the first place? The purposes to using explanations after a quote are:


  1. Why did you, the writer, think this was a good quote?
  2. Does the quote give a valid point to the subject of the writing?
  3. Is the quote interesting?
  4. Does is relate to your thesis?

HINT: Sometimes the explanation should be longer than your actual quote!



(INTRODUCTION) Another of James’ interesting positions is his agreement that a non-military conscription can improve our society by improving the character of the young people who serve it.

(QUOTE) He claims that “we should get toughness without callousness, authority with as little criminal cruelty as possible, and painful work done cheering because the duty is temporary, and threatens not, as now, to degrade the whole remainder of one’s life

(EXPLANATION) I agree with James that requiring everyone to serve in a non-military army could cause these positive characteristics to become much more commonplace in our country, which in turn would cause our society and even our politics to be much improved.

**There are more examples at to form a quote in the best possible way

Here is another image to reinforce on how a quote should be set up:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 1.29.46 PM

Overall, forming a perfect sandwich for a quote is completely simple if you just learn the basic facts of how to form it! If you use this format correctly, it will make your writing change completely because in my opinion good writing always needs a spice of quotations in it!

Picking and Choosing Quotations

Choosing quotations for a paper in college writing can be like choosing the right friends, because you want to make sure they will always back you up. Quotes can strengthen your writing and provide backup support for the points you are making in a paper. A major challenge for me was deciding which quotes to use, and which quotes not to use. I learned that you should not use quotes that are too long, or too short, and to always make sure your quotes are relevant to your writing.


Long Quotations

When I first started writing, I always felt very intimidated by the number of pages required for assignments. I would constantly try to find the longest possible quotations that would take up the most space in my paper to meet the length requirement. For example, lets say you are talking about teamwork in a paper, and need a quote from a prestigious athlete.


See example below:

“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and
never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to
sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in
the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual
goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest
is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades
will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and
intelligence win championships.” (Michael Jordan)


While this is a very good quote, it could easily be summarized by the last sentence, and shortened to “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” All the other information in the beginning is just sort of fluff information, and could bore the reader by not getting to the point fast enough. Quotes are great for adding another person’s perspective or insight. If you are talking about the importance of teamwork in a paper, the shortened version of Michael Jordan’s long quote would be ideal. Professors aren’t looking for paragraph long quotations, but rather short and to the point.


Short Quotations

Although, having too short of quotations is also a poor habit. You don’t want to have one or two word quotes, because they can sometimes look like they are just thrown into the paper. Most of the time they don’t fully back up or support the claim you’re trying to make, rather than just serving the purpose of having the quote in your paper because it’s a requirement in the rubric. From personal experience, I would say to use quotes that are one to two sentences in length, so they can be clearly understood by the reader and back up any claim you are trying to make.


Credible and Relevant Quotations

Lastly, you always want to make sure your quotes are relevant to your paper. If you are talking about teamwork in the game of basketball, don’t get a quote from a soccer player, but a quote from a basketball player with credentials like Michael Jordan. You also want to make sure your quote is from a credible source. If you have a false quotation, there is a good chance you are going to get marked off. Don’t rearrange the words in the quote or the reader could get a different idea than what the quote is really trying to accomplish.


See the example below.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and
intelligence win championships.” (Michael Jordan)


This quote above could be shortened even more to, “Talent wins games.” However, this is not the purpose of the quote. The main purpose of this quote is to explain how even though talent is important, teamwork and intelligence are even more important. Without the second half of the quotation, the reader would not be able to understand the importance of teamwork and intelligence which is the gist of the quote. You have to be careful not to twist the author’s words.


Quotations can serve as a great source of evidence for back up support to your main points in college writing. Be sure to not use too long of quotes, too short of quotes, and to make sure your all your quotes are credible and relevant. If you can remember these small tips, you will have no problem choosing which quotes to use when writing a college paper. Like choosing the right friends to positively impact your life, choosing quotes can have a major impact in college writing.

Placement of Thesis Statements

Placement of Thesis Statements

You now know what a thesis statement is and how important it will be in relation to college writing. The next question is where to place it in relation to your paper.

The thesis statement should usually appear at the beginning of a college paper. Potentially, it could be the first sentence of your paper but that does not excite your audience or catch the reader’s attention of what your paper will be about. It is advised to place your thesis statement near the end of the first paragraph.

The first paragraph acts as a funnel opening to the content of the paper which draws the audience into the discussion. Your argument of the paper is then focused by the thesis statement before the main content of the essay begins.

Everything that then follows in your paper should have something that fits under the umbrella of your thesis statement.

However, if you are writing a relatively short paper, you could put the thesis statement as the first sentence. If this is the case, then the rest of the first paragraph will discuss what you’re going to argue for the rest of the paper. Once you reach the second paragraph, you’re already into the first part of the paper and your introduction is complete.

Before putting the thesis statement at the very start of your paper, it is important to recognise that this will not work as well when you begin to write papers that are longer and more complex.

To sum up where you should place your thesis statement; remember that the optimal home for your thesis statement is at the end of the introduction paragraph. This makes a natural bridge from the introduction through to the body of your paper. It also provides an opportunity for your introduction to develop into a distinct, thorough thesis statement that will effectively portray the argument of your paper.

Relationship of Structure to Thesis Statements

A good writer incorporates structure into their paper. As you have most likely learned in High School, there are three components to a paper. The introduction, body and conclusion. The thesis statement and where you put it is a vital component of the structure of your paper. It is like a blurb at the back of a book. It gives you the main summary of the book, without all the details that the book will reveal over time.

It is important that you give careful thought to the arrangement of your ideas and the paragraphs that contain them.

College students that take the time to structure their papers correctly will find that their papers are capable of creatively introducing the topic of the paper, present the content in a clear and logical manner and conclude by reinforcing the main argument and providing a sense of closure.

Why thesis statements are important and relevant to the structure of a paper:

  • The author can refer back to it to narrow down points.
  • Reader will not get confused by multiple points in correspondence to the paper’s objective.
  • Focuses the paper on the author’s main points of the paper.