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Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions




What is a simple, step-by-step way to start a thesis?


This short chapter offers a thesis worksheet that can help you get started on a thesis paper.  Directions: Print it to write on it, or copy this column to a Word document to type on it.

This thesis worksheet also is something you can show to your instructor or a writing tutor if you seek help in developing your ideas or if you must turn in a beginning rough draft or outline.



Use this worksheet to help you develop your own thesis sentence and reasons why it is true.  You may print it out.  You also can copy this middle column and paste it to an MS Word document so that you can write in it.  For a much more thorough and developed chapter about how to write a thesis paper, see "Writing a Thesis Paper."

1. State your specific subject, questions, or areas of interest from which you will choose:



2. Write two entirely opposing arguments about something from "1" above in the two boxes here.  Be sure to make them strongly opposite each other.  This means do not choose a middle position for one of them.  In other words, do not  take either of these two positions:

Extreme Left                               Middle Ground                               Extreme Right

     Arg. A. <---------------------------------|  Arg. B

Arg. A.  |---------------------------------> Arg. B      

Instead, do this:

Arg. A.  <<--------------------------------------------------------------------->>  Arg. B

Make sure you choose the two extremes of the possible arguments.  For example, don't write, "Some wars are good; some are bad."  Instead create the extremes: for example, "Constant war is needed for the growth of all nations" vs. "All war should be outlawed."  (If you really prefer some kind of middle ground, wait until step "3" below.)

Place your two very opposite arguments in the boxes here:

A. Some would argue that



B. Others would argue the opposite, that










3. Now, write a compromise or higher position in this next box.  How do you make a compromise?  You find any middle point between the two strong opposites, above, that is a true compromise between the two--not just a weak acceptance of one side or the other:

Arg. A  <<-------------------------------|  Arg. C  |------------------------------->>  Arg. B

If you need to rewrite/revise the two arguments in your two boxes above so that they are more opposite, do so now.  Then write your compromise.

How do you take a "higher position"?  Imagine that there is a third way that neither of the two opposing groups, above, can see:

Arg. C

Arg. A  <<--------------------------------------------------------------------------->>  Arg. B

For example, if two opposing positions are that "War is good" and "War is bad," a higher position might be that with more scientific advances, someday war will not be necessary.

C. or D. However, a third group might argue that





4. Now, circle your choice—choose just one of these three positions from the three boxes above and circle it.          

5. Then narrow it as much as possible: make it more specific, smaller, more limited, dealing with one small time, place, event, sub-issue, or sub-part.  The idea is to limit it to something about which you can write a short paper (rather than a too-long paper or a book!).  However, be sure not to narrow it so much that you can't find enough good sources.  (If this happens, then later you may need to broaden it a little, again.)  If you have doubts about any of this narrowing/broadening process, get help from your instructor or a writing center tutor. 

Write your new version of your single argument here, preferably in just one or at most two sentences:

One can argue that




6. Next, state at least six possible reasons why this argument is true.  Fill in all six, even if you have to creatively make up some reasons (so you can expand your possibilities).  You must finish each sentence below grammatically—sensibly (to double check that the reason really does support the thesis sentence.)  Use the backside of this sheet if necessary.

a. One possible reason this position is true is that


b. Another possible reason it is true is that


c. Another possible reason it is true is that


d. Another possible reason it is true is that


e. Another possible reason it is true is that


f. Another possible reason it is true is that


7. Finally, circle your 3-4 best choices: choose just 3-4 of the above reasons (or combine what you have into just 3-4).  If you are writing a research paper, in general you should choose the reasons for which you are able to supply the best proof from research.  If you are writing a personal experience thesis, then you should choose the reasons for which you have the most logical and most compelling personal-experience stories.

8. Repeat this pattern, "1"-"7," if needed until you find a thesis sentence and reasons that work well.

9. Then, if you need to show your work to a tutor or instructor, write your results below:

A. (Write your main thesis sentence here in just one sentence:)


B. Write your reason #1 sentence as a complete sentence here: The first reason my thesis is true is that


C. Write your reason #2 sentence here: The second reason my thesis is true is that


D. Write your reason #3 sentence here: The third reason my thesis is true is that


(E. if you have a reason #4:) The fourth reason my thesis is ture is that



Return to top.








 31. What Is an "Argument"?

 32. Dialogic/Dialectic

 33. Thesis Worksheet

 34. Thesis Paper

 35. Tests & Other Args.




Related Chapters:


Disagreement w/Reading 

Literary Thesis

Professional Proposal

Recommendation Report

Magazine/Nwsltr. Article

IMRaD/Science Report

Case Study

 Related Links in

12. Types of Papers

14. Online Readings

16. Research Writing

20. Major/Work Writing




Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998;, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
Permission is hereby granted for nonprofit educational copying and use without a written request.
Images courtesy of Barry's Clip Art, Clip Art Warehouse, The Clip Art Universe, Clipart Collection, MS Clip Art Gallery and Design Gallery Live, School Discovery, and Web Clip Art
Click here to contact the author: Richard Jewell.  Questions and suggestions are welcome.