Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
Don’t think you need to know how to write a thesis statement? Or maybe you wonder if you really need to write one for your project.
It’s tempting to think of a “thesis statement” as squarely plunked into the domain of those in academia.
Wrongo. I write a thesis statement for nearly every piece of content that I peck out on my keyboard.
No, I’m not going all nerdy. Writing a thesis statement for a piece of content is an incredibly helpful tool. Get one in front of you as your write nearly any kind of content and you can save time, stay on track, and write clearer.
A thesis statement is a sentence that summarizes your main idea and presents your position.
It’s THE core tool I use in persuasive writing, as do many others. That includes not just research papers and college essays but also articles, letters, web pages, landing pages, social media posts, case statements, books, grant applications … literally any piece of persuasive content.
Note that it accomplishes two things:
That second point is a thesis statement’s key distinguishing feature.
You don’t need to include your actual thesis statement in your piece of content, (although you can.) You can simply write a thesis statement, set it aside, and use it as a guide as write.
This blog post explains the differences between a thesis statement and a purpose statement [Function #1: it presents information] – and shows you why you need to use a thesis statement when you write almost any piece of content [Function #2: it persuades you of its importance].
A purpose statement summarizes your content’s main idea. It’s different from a thesis statement in that it does not present a specific argument or choose sides.
It avoids revealing your position. You leave to the reader to draw her own conclusions.
Use a purpose statement when you have a single goal for your content: to define, describe, examine, explain, illustrate, inform, notify, report, reveal, state, tell, update, or otherwise present information to the reader. You can even write a purpose statement when explaining two contrasting points of view. Just stick to the facts and show how they are different from each other.
Use the five of the 6 W’s to help you write a purpose
statement – who, what, where, when, why, and wherefore (how).
This blog post explains the differences between a thesis statement and a purpose statement and gives examples of each one [Function: it presents information].
Nine times out of ten when you’re writing an academic paper, your instructor asks you to present an argument or take a position, making it clear that you need to work from a thesis statement. And to be truthful, the same goes for the content writer. More times than not, you write to present information with the goal of influencing or motivating your reader to embrace a particular point of view.
As you prepare to write a piece of content and are unsure about your goal (writing to inform + persuade or simply writing to inform), look at the answer to the “Why?” question:
“Why am I writing this piece of content?” And answer with … “I’m writing this piece of content in order to …”
You’ll save time and aggravation in the long run. And your point will be clearer.
A topic statement (or a topic sentence) states the main idea of a paragraph or short section. It can be presented at the beginning, middle, or end of the paragraph. It’s different from a thesis statement and a purpose statement because it’s a summary of one paragraph only (versus the complete piece of content.)
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