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How to Create a Thesis Statement for a Persuasive Essay
A strong thesis statement is key to writing a persuasive essay. The thesis statement presents your topic to the reader, provides your opinion on that topic and summarizes the argument you’ll make in the paper by offering evidence for your opinion. A good thesis statement should capture all of these essential details in just one or two sentences. The thesis statement generally appears after a brief introduction of your topic, often as the last sentence of your first paragraph. The following information will help you write a thesis statement for a persuasive essay.
Express an Opinion
When you sit down to write a thesis statement, make sure that you have a clear opinion about your topic. That’s because a thesis statement must include a claim that others might dispute. Your thesis summarizes the argument you’ll be making in your paper, so you want to make sure that your point of view is clear and debatable. An easy way to test your thesis is to ask yourself whether your reader could challenge or oppose your thesis statement. If your thesis simply states facts that someone couldn’t disagree with, you may simply be summarizing an issue rather than presenting a clear point of view.
A strong thesis statement is focused and specific. The reader should know exactly what you’re going to argue and why. “Online education is a great choice for students” is a weak thesis because it’s not specific or focused enough. A stronger thesis would be, “Online classes are a better choice than traditional classroom learning because they’re more flexible for students and teachers, they're less expensive and they let students works at their own pace.”
It’s important to include evidence in your thesis statement to help support your opinion. Doing so tells readers that you understand the topic and have performed some research, which gives you more credibility as a persuasive writer. It also creates a road map for readers, so they know what evidence you’ll discuss with more detail in the paper. For example, if your thesis is, “Companies should not test their products on animals because it’s inhumane and unethical, and it doesn’t always lead to accurate results,” the reader knows right away what your opinion is and what evidence you'll provide to support that opinion in your paper.
Pass the "How and Why" Test
Your thesis statement should answer one or both of two key questions: “how” and “why.” For example, if you think that online learning is more effective for students than traditional instruction, then your thesis should tell readers how or why it’s more effective. If a reader can't determine the "how" or "why" from your thesis statement, your thesis might be too open-ended, and you may need to revise it to be more specific or to clarify your point of view.
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Thesis Statements
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
- Odyssey: From Paragraph to Essay; William J. Kelly and Deborah L. Lawton.
Amy Mahoney has been a writer for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines including “The Boston Globe,” “Reader’s Digest” and the “Miami Herald.” She holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction.
6 Successful Persuasive Writing Strategies
Persuasive writing is any written work that tries to convince the reader of the writer’s opinion. Aside from standard writing skills, a persuasive essay author can also draw on personal experience, logical arguments, an appeal to emotion, and compelling speech to influence readers.
Persuasive writing relies on different techniques and strategies than other written works: In a persuasive essay, it’s not enough to simply inform; you also have to convince the reader that your way of thinking is best. So to help you get started, this guide explains all the basics and provides persuasive writing examples.
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What is persuasive writing?
Unlike other forms of writing meant to share information or entertain, persuasive writing is specifically written to persuade , which is to say it convinces the reader to agree with a certain point of view.
Persuasive essays are most closely related to argumentative essays , in that both discuss a serious issue with logical arguments and offer conclusive resolutions. The main difference between a persuasive essay and an argumentative essay is that persuasive essays focus more on personal experience and appeal to emotions, whereas argumentative essays mostly stick to the facts.
Moreover, argumentative essays discuss both sides of an issue, whereas persuasive essays focus only on the author’s point of view. The language and tone in persuasive essays tend to be more conversational as well—a tactic of persuasive speech intended to build a more personal and intimate relationship between the author and reader.
>>Read More: The Only Guide to Essay Writing You’ll Ever Need
Why is persuasive writing important?
For starters, there’s always a demand for persuasive writing in the world of business. Advertising, website copywriting, and general branding all rely heavily on persuasive messaging to convince the reader to become a customer of their company.
But persuasive writing doesn’t always have to be self-serving. Historically speaking, persuasive essays have helped turn the tide in many political and social movements since the invention of the printing press.
As you can see from the persuasive writing examples below, the techniques of persuasive speech can help change or challenge majority beliefs in society. In fact, if you look into any major cultural movement of the last few centuries, you’ll find persuasive writing that helped rally the people behind a cause.
Ethos, logos, and pathos in persuasive writing
There are lots of ways to persuade people, but some methods are more effective than others. As we mention in our guide on how to write a persuasive essay , good persuasive writing utilizes what’s known as the modes of persuasion : ethos, logos, and pathos.
First put forth by Aristotle in his treatise Rhetoric from 367–322 BCE, ethos, logos, and pathos have since become the core of modern persuasive speech and should be incorporated into any persuasive essay. Let’s break them down individually.
The ancient Greek word for “character” or “spirit,” ethos in persuasive writing refers to how the author presents themself. Authorities on an issue are most likely to convince the reader, so authors of persuasive writing should establish their credibility as soon as possible.
Aristotle suggests that the author demonstrates their useful skills, virtue, and goodwill toward the reader to present themselves in the best light.
The ancient Greek word for “logic” or “rationale,” logos refers to using logical arguments and evidential data. A good writer doesn’t rely only on persuasive speech—they also back up their perspective with statistics and facts.
Logos isn’t just about backing up arguments with plenty of research (although that is essential). In persuasive writing, logos also refers to structuring your argument in the best way possible. That includes knowing how to start an essay , progressing your points in the right order, and ending with a powerful conclusion .
The ancient Greek word for “suffering” or “experience,” pathos involves an author’s appeal to emotion. As much as we’d like to think of ourselves as logical creatures, study after study has shown that humans tend to make decisions more from emotions than from reason—and a good persuasive writer is well aware of this.
Persuasive speech often “tugs at the heartstrings.” The author might share a personal experience, such as describing a painful event to either win the reader’s sympathy or urge them to consider someone else’s feelings.
Aristotle emphasizes the importance of understanding your reader before employing pathos, as different individuals can have different emotional reactions to the same writing.
Persuasive writing tips and strategies
1 choose wording carefully.
Word choice —the words and phrases you decide to use—is crucial in persuasive writing as a way to build a personal relationship with the reader. You want to always pick the best possible words and phrases in each instance to convince the reader that your opinion is right.
Persuasive writing often uses strong language, so state things definitively and avoid “ hedging .” Persuasive writing also takes advantage of emotive language—words and phrases that describe feelings—to encourage the reader to form sentimental connections to the topic.
Wordplay like puns, rhymes, and jokes also works as a good memory tool to help the reader remember key points and your central argument.
2 Ask questions
Questions are great for transitioning from one topic or paragraph to another , but in persuasive writing, they serve an additional role. Any question you write, your reader will instinctively answer in their head if they can, or at least they’ll wonder about it for a moment.
Persuasive writers can use questions to engage the reader’s critical thinking. First, questions can be used to plant ideas and lead the reader straight to the author’s answers. Second, if you’ve presented your evidence clearly and structured your argument well, simply asking the right question can lead the reader to the author’s conclusion on their own—the ultimate goal of persuasive writing.
3 Write a clear thesis statement
A thesis statement openly communicates the central idea or theme of a piece of writing. In a persuasive essay, your thesis statement is essentially the point of view that you’re trying to convince the reader of.
It’s best to include a clear, transparent thesis statement in the introduction or opening of your essay to avoid confusion. You’ll have a hard time trying to convince the reader if they don’t know what you’re talking about.
4 Draw a persuasion map
A persuasion map is like an outline of your argument, designed as a writing tool to help writers organize their thoughts. While there are different formats to choose from, they all typically involve listing out your main points and then the evidence and examples to back up each of those points.
Persuasion maps work great for people who often lose track of their ideas when writing or for people who have trouble staying organized. It’s a great tool to use before you write your outline, so you know everything you want to include before deciding on the order.
5 Speak directly to the reader
As we’ve mentioned above, the relationship between the author and reader is quite significant in persuasive writing. One strategy to develop that bond is to speak directly to the reader, sometimes even addressing them directly as “you.”
Speaking to the reader is an effective strategy in writing. It makes the writing feel more like a conversation, even if it is one-sided, and can encourage the reader to lower their defenses a little and consider your points with an open mind.
6 Repeat your main arguments
Repetition is a classic technique in persuasive writing as a way to get ideas into your readers’ heads. For one thing, repetition is an excellent memory aid, as any teacher will tell you. The more someone hears something, the more likely they are to remember it. In persuasive writing, however, repetition can also influence readers’ way of thinking.
Repeating the same idea over and over essentially normalizes it. When combined with substantial evidence and rationality, repetition can make even radical ideas seem more grounded.
Examples of persuasive writing
As mentioned above, persuasive essays have assisted in many major historical events and movements, often when society was undergoing a significant shift in beliefs. Below are three such persuasive writing examples from different periods of American history:
- Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776): Not all colonial Americans thought a revolution against England was a good idea. Thomas Paine released this forty-seven-page pamphlet to the general public to convince them the American Revolution was not only a good idea but also an ethical one.
- Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, et al. (1876): Written in the style of the Declaration of Independence, this document outlined the requests of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). Mentioning the hardships of women and calling out the inequality between genders, this printed pamphlet was distributed illegally at the centennial Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia.
- Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963): Imprisoned for a nonviolent protest, King wrote this persuasive essay in response to published criticism of the Civil Rights Movement by Southern religious leaders. Although the essay addressed the critics directly, it was simultaneously approachable to anyone interested in King’s point of view.
Persuasive writing FAQs
What is persuasive writing?
Persuasive writing is a text in which the author tries to convince the reader of their point of view. Unlike academic papers and other formal writing, persuasive writing tries to appeal to emotion alongside factual evidence and data to support its claims.
What is an example of persuasive writing?
Some famous examples of persuasive writing throughout history include Common Sense by Thomas Paine, the Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, et al., and Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
What are different types of persuasive writing?
While persuasive essays are the most famous example of persuasive writing, the same style also applies to writing in advertising, journalistic op-ed pieces, public speeches, public service announcements, and critical reviews.
Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Parts of a Paper / How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
A thesis can be found in many places—a debate speech, a lawyer’s closing argument, even an advertisement. But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay.
Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. Without a thesis, your argument falls flat and your information is unfocused. Since a thesis is so important, it’s probably a good idea to look at some tips on how to put together a strong one.
What is a “thesis statement” anyway.
- 2 categories of thesis statements: informative and persuasive
- 2 styles of thesis statements
- Formula for a strong argumentative thesis
- The qualities of a solid thesis statement (video)
You may have heard of something called a “thesis.” It’s what seniors commonly refer to as their final paper before graduation. That’s not what we’re talking about here. That type of thesis is a long, well-written paper that takes years to piece together.
Instead, we’re talking about a single sentence that ties together the main idea of any argument . In the context of student essays, it’s a statement that summarizes your topic and declares your position on it. This sentence can tell a reader whether your essay is something they want to read.
2 Categories of Thesis Statements: Informative and Persuasive
Just as there are different types of essays, there are different types of thesis statements. The thesis should match the essay.
For example, with an informative essay, you should compose an informative thesis (rather than argumentative). You want to declare your intentions in this essay and guide the reader to the conclusion that you reach.
To make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you must procure the ingredients, find a knife, and spread the condiments.
This thesis showed the reader the topic (a type of sandwich) and the direction the essay will take (describing how the sandwich is made).
Most other types of essays, whether compare/contrast, argumentative, or narrative, have thesis statements that take a position and argue it. In other words, unless your purpose is simply to inform, your thesis is considered persuasive. A persuasive thesis usually contains an opinion and the reason why your opinion is true.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the best type of sandwich because they are versatile, easy to make, and taste good.
In this persuasive thesis statement, you see that I state my opinion (the best type of sandwich), which means I have chosen a stance. Next, I explain that my opinion is correct with several key reasons. This persuasive type of thesis can be used in any essay that contains the writer’s opinion, including, as I mentioned above, compare/contrast essays, narrative essays, and so on.
2 Styles of Thesis Statements
Just as there are two different types of thesis statements (informative and persuasive), there are two basic styles you can use.
The first style uses a list of two or more points . This style of thesis is perfect for a brief essay that contains only two or three body paragraphs. This basic five-paragraph essay is typical of middle and high school assignments.
C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the richest works of the 20th century because it offers an escape from reality, teaches readers to have faith even when they don’t understand, and contains a host of vibrant characters.
In the above persuasive thesis, you can see my opinion about Narnia followed by three clear reasons. This thesis is perfect for setting up a tidy five-paragraph essay.
In college, five paragraph essays become few and far between as essay length gets longer. Can you imagine having only five paragraphs in a six-page paper? For a longer essay, you need a thesis statement that is more versatile. Instead of listing two or three distinct points, a thesis can list one overarching point that all body paragraphs tie into.
Good vs. evil is the main theme of Lewis’s Narnia series, as is made clear through the struggles the main characters face in each book.
In this thesis, I have made a claim about the theme in Narnia followed by my reasoning. The broader scope of this thesis allows me to write about each of the series’ seven novels. I am no longer limited in how many body paragraphs I can logically use.
Formula for a Strong Argumentative Thesis
One thing I find that is helpful for students is having a clear template. While students rarely end up with a thesis that follows this exact wording, the following template creates a good starting point:
___________ is true because of ___________, ___________, and ___________.
Conversely, the formula for a thesis with only one point might follow this template:
___________________ is true because of _____________________.
Students usually end up using different terminology than simply “because,” but having a template is always helpful to get the creative juices flowing.
The Qualities of a Solid Thesis Statement
When composing a thesis, you must consider not only the format, but other qualities like length, position in the essay, and how strong the argument is.
Length: A thesis statement can be short or long, depending on how many points it mentions. Typically, however, it is only one concise sentence. It does contain at least two clauses, usually an independent clause (the opinion) and a dependent clause (the reasons). You probably should aim for a single sentence that is at least two lines, or about 30 to 40 words long.
Position: A thesis statement always belongs at the beginning of an essay. This is because it is a sentence that tells the reader what the writer is going to discuss. Teachers will have different preferences for the precise location of the thesis, but a good rule of thumb is in the introduction paragraph, within the last two or three sentences.
Strength: Finally, for a persuasive thesis to be strong, it needs to be arguable. This means that the statement is not obvious, and it is not something that everyone agrees is true.
Example of weak thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are easy to make because it just takes three ingredients.
Most people would agree that PB&J is one of the easiest sandwiches in the American lunch repertoire.
Example of a stronger thesis:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are fun to eat because they always slide around.
This is more arguable because there are plenty of folks who might think a PB&J is messy or slimy rather than fun.
Composing a thesis statement does take a bit more thought than many other parts of an essay. However, because a thesis statement can contain an entire argument in just a few words, it is worth taking the extra time to compose this sentence. It can direct your research and your argument so that your essay is tight, focused, and makes readers think.
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