Whenever you read any essay for the first time - speed reading or conducting research - you run the search for it, without thinking about it, without even realizing it: We search for the thesis statement in anything that we read. The thesis statement is essentially the entire argument in a nutshell.

Most, if not all essays should have a thesis statement as it will help you in a number of different ways. The first is by helping you to organize your thoughts and develop your argument by providing your readers with a clear, logical and concise guide to your arguments.

In many cases, you will have an assigned topic to work with, which means you will have to come up with a thesis statement in some way related to the topic. The simple fact is that any assignment, on any topic can be boiled down to one question. This is the first step and you will have to craft the assignment into that one specific question. For example, if your Human Resource Management assignment is to "Compose a report for the Director of Human Resources explaining the benefits of using computers for corporate training," The question will probably look similar to this:

What are the benefits of using computers in corporate training?

Your answer will probably range between one to several sentences in length. That is your thesis statement.

In some cases, your assignment might not ask or have a specific question, leaving you with the task of generating a question and answering it, based on a topic; that may or may not have been provided. This gives you a lot of leeway and latitude to write on a topic that interests you. Just remember that any good thesis statement meets four criteria:

  1. The subject must be something reasonable people can discuss, and disagree.
  2. Deal with a subject that can be covered in adequate depth and detail given the length of the assignment (Word count).
  3. Express an argue one main idea or position on a topic.
  4. Present conclusions about the subject in question.

We will start with a random topic: American dietary habits, and for example, you have been asked to write about sugar consumption. This leads you to your topic: Sugar Consumption.

Of course, this is just a subject and your reader will not have a clue what exactly your topic or line of argument might be. To craft the thesis statement from this general topic, you must first narrow the focus, based on what you are reading and research will define your topic:

Reducing Sugar Consumption amongst high school students.

This has taken a general subject and narrowed its focus to high school students, and has created a subject upon which normal people can disagree, but it fails to be a thesis statement because you have not presented any conclusion about the topic. For this sentence to become a thesis statement, you must take a stance or adopt a position on the topic. You make a few changes and your thesis statement emerges as you add your argument using specific language to support your argument:

More than half of all American high school students consumed five times the recommended daily allowance of sugar. High school cafeterias should provide healthier food and drink choices in their cafeterias and vending machines.

Notice how research and reading has helped you develop a specific topic, a question, a solution, and a then present all of that as a statement that reasonable people can disagree on. However, one question remains: Is this a good thesis statement? A strong thesis statement will take a position, argue and defend it in detail.