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A Writer's Handbook

The Thesis

Most important sentence in the introduction

  • Structure for the entire paper
  • Suggests your point of view or argument

Two different types

  • X, Y, Z thesis
    • Very specifically lays out the 3 or more points in the body
    • Follows specific “blueprint”
  • General thesis
    • Lays out general argument that allows for a little bit of freedom in the organization of the body paragraphs
    • No specific “blueprint”

XYZ Thesis

  • X, Y, and Z refer to the three or more body paragraph topics a writer wishes to discuss within the paper
  • Will have topic sentences corresponding to each of the points listed in this type of thesis:  this is its blueprint
    • "Topical argument/stance on topic" + body topic X, body topic Y, and body topic Z.


Although many people think of addiction as drug or alcohol related, Jane’s story shows that "even work can be an addiction" because it ruins relationships, creates mental suffering, and causes health problems.

"Topical argument/stance on topic:  even "work" can be an addiction"

Body topic X:  ruins relationships

Body topic Y:  creates mental suffering

Body topic Z:  causes health problems

General Thesis

  • A general thesis sentence carries no specific blueprint, but still holds idea of entire paper
  • Although there are no specific points to follow, a general thesis will have logical body paragraph topics that will fall in line under the thesis argument


Although many people think of addiction as something geared toward alcohol or drugs, Jane’s story illustrates how "work can become an addiction."

"Idea of paper:  work can become an addiction"

Other Thesis Types Notes

Compare and Contrast

  • Whichever (compare or contrast) you will be focusing on the most, will need to be in the last part of the sentence, and the other will need to be mentioned first
  • Example:  want to focus on differences of 2 cars

Although the Camaro and the Tahoe are both vehicles made by Chevrolet, they differ in price, body style, and performance.  (X, Y, Z thesis)

Cause and Effect

  • Same rule as above:  whichever topic your paper will be focusing more on will need to be the last mentioned
  • Example:  want to focus on effects of smoking

Due to the smoking in most restaurants, even the non-smoking guests are turning up with lung disease and other problems caused by smoking.  (General Thesis)


  • Same rule as above:  whichever side of the argument you will be more focused on will need to be the last mentioned
  • Example:  pros and cons of tougher immigration laws with a heavier argument toward the pros

Many people who are against immigration policy think the laws violate civil and human rights; however, tougher immigration laws would decrease crime instances and provide better access to citizenship for those who legally enter the country.

  • Example: pros and cons of tougher immigration laws with a heavier argument toward the cons

Although tougher immigration laws may decrease crime rate, the new immigration policy discussion is a violation of many human beings’ basic civil rights.


  • If you are writing about a piece of literature, always include the name of the author and the name of the work in the thesis statement
  • If you are comparing and contrasting items or talking about two different ideas within one paper, be sure to mention both ideas or both items in the thesis
  • As a general rule, a thesis is ALWAYS the last sentence of the introduction
  • A thesis is NEVER a quote or a question
  • A thesis NEVER uses the phrase(s) “This paper will show you…” or “I will now tell you about…” etc.
  • Even if a thesis does not have a blue print, it MUST have a point or argument