A good thesis statement is a single sentence contained in the introduction of a paper that provides the reader with some idea of what the writer is trying to convey in the body of the paper. The thesis statement is a condensed summary of the writer's arguments about the subject.
Typically, the thesis statement answers a single question that the rest of the paper answers in greater detail. To write a good thesis statement, the writer must know beforehand just what question or statement the paper is intended to make. For many papers needing a thesis statement, the question is not necessarily one in dispute. All that is requires is supportive facts to put more weight to the accuracy of the statement.
If the paper calls for a contrast between two or more subjects then the thesis statement needs to reveal the nature of the conflict as well as the method used to cover all sides of the subject matter. This method is also used when writing a persuasive paper that attempts to convince the reader of a certain stance over others. Regardless of the nature of the paper, a thesis statement should be short and concise. However, an overly vague statement leaves the reader uncommitted to the remainder of the paper.
Instructors and tutors can be consulted for their evaluation of a working thesis statement, but there are some general criteria to be aware of. Chiefly, the thesis statement must directly address the topic or question provided. It should also invite discussion by making an argument. If the topic is the Civil War, for instance, a good thesis statement might compare or contrast the opposing forces' divergent reasons for fighting each other, rather than simply state that their reasons were sometimes shared and sometimes different.
Making the thesis statement specific is important to focus the paper, but it should always be related back to the broader context.