Drafting a Thesis Statement

Learning Objectives

  • Create an argumentative thesis

Argumentative Thesis Statements

Now that you’ve completed some more research about the topic of recycling on campus, you can revisit your initial stance and create a working thesis statement. Remember that a strong, argumentative thesis statement should take a stance about an issue. It should explain the basics of your argument and help your reader to know what to expect in your essay. It may change and evolve as you work through multiple drafts of your essay. The diagram below shows how the thesis statement comes into existence.

Thesis statement flowchart. Starting with a topic, initial readings, ideas and thoughts on a subject will lead to an initial stance or argument. Then more research and questioning leads to the thesis statement, which then gets evaluated further to see if it holds up, needs to be more focused, or revised.

Figure 1. Developing a thesis statement is an ongoing process and should be revisited multiple times before submitting a final draft of your essay.

Recall that a strong argumentative thesis statement should be:

  • Debatable
    • A cartoon character looking through a magnifying glass.

      Figure 1. In order to establish your credibility as a writer from the very beginning, your thesis needs to be evidence-based.

      An argumentative thesis must make a claim about which reasonable people can disagree. Statements of fact or areas of general agreement cannot be argumentative theses because few people disagree about them.

  • Assertive
    • An argumentative thesis takes a position, asserting the writer’s stance. Questions, vague statements, or quotations from others are not argumentative theses because they do not assert the writer’s viewpoint.
  • Reasonable
    • An argumentative thesis must make a claim that is logical and possible. Claims that are outrageous or impossible are not argumentative theses.
  • Evidence-Based
    • An argumentative thesis must be able to be supported by evidence. Claims that presuppose value systems, morals, or religious beliefs cannot be supported with evidence and therefore are not argumentative theses.
  • Focused
    • An argumentative thesis must be focused and narrow. A focused, narrow claim is clearer, more able to be supported with evidence, and more persuasive than a broad, general claim.

Try It

Consider this thesis statement from a student essay: “Due to a greater understanding of marijuana and its effects, American sentiment about the legalization of marijuana seems to be changing, and with good reason. With careful regulation, marijuana should be a legal drug in the state of Texas.”

Writing workshop: Argumentative thesis

Open your Working Document to the section titled “Argumentative Thesis.” Based on the previous exercises, create a thesis statement for a proposal argument addressing recycling and green initiatives on your college campus. Then, go through the checklist and write a short description as to whether or not your thesis meets the criteria.

1. Thesis statement:

2.  Is your thesis:

a. Debatable?

b. Assertive?

c. Reasonable?

d. Evidence-Based?

e. Focused?

Putting the Argument Together

Now that you’ve done some preliminary research and created a thesis statement, let’s return to the task of putting this together as an argument. Use the template below to create an outline for your essay:

  • First Piece/Introduction – In your introduction, which may be more than one paragraph, summarize the details of the problem. End with a thesis that presents your proposal.
  • Second Piece/Background – Provide a detailed history of the problem. Give your audience background on the issue.
  • Third Piece/Proposal – Present your proposal in detail. Explain how it would address the problem, be a better “fix” than current solutions, and exactly how your proposal would work. You need to think about the logistics – money, manpower, workability. This should take several paragraphs.
  • Fourth Piece/Opposition – Address the opposing views. What problems might others see in your proposal? Address those and explain why your solution is the best solution to the problem.
  • Fifth Piece/Conclusion – Finally, in your conclusion, summarize your main points of your essay. This is a good place to give your audience something to do in order to make your proposal a reality.

Let’s try this together with the legalization of marijuana proposal mentioned above.

  • First Piece/ Introduction – Marijauna has been used for thousands of years and wasn’t made illegal until the 1930s. Can be compared to alcohol, which is legal. End with thesis: “Due to a greater understanding of marijuana and its effects, American sentiment about the legalization of marijuana seems to be changing, and with good reason. With careful regulation, marijuana should be a legal drug in the state of Texas.”
  • Second Piece/Background –Due to the way it is policed, it unjustly punishes minorities and people of color. Give more history about when it became illegal.
  • Third Piece/Proposal – Marijuana should be legal because: it’s similar to alcohol and not addictive, the government can collect taxes and make more money, other states have done it successfully (explain how they’ve made it work).
  • Fourth Piece/Opposition – Address the opposing views from those who say marijuana is too dangerous or that it’s a gateway drug.
  • Fifth Piece/Conclusion – It is time for Texas to follow in making the same reasonable decision other states and legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21. We can continue to spend countless amounts of tax dollars fighting the use of a relatively safe drug, or we can make a change, legalize marijuana, and actually see a tax and revenue benefit for our state.

Extra practice: Putting Together the Argument

Recall that you were initially presented with the following prompt:

  • Gather research related to recycling in our community. Based on your findings, write an essay detailing specific recommendations for ways that your college should approach recycling in order to become more green. Your proposal may either support or oppose existing recycling programs and explain further what course of action should be considered in the future.

Use this prompt and the basic research you read about recycling to fill in this simple outline below. Jot down a few sentences about what you might write in each part of your essay:

  1. First Piece/ Introduction:
  2. Second Piece/Background:
  3. Third Piece/Proposal:
  4. Fourth Piece/Opposition:
  5. Fifth Piece/Conclusion:


Did you have an idea for improving this content? We’d love your input.

Improve this pageLearn More