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What are thesis and organizational statements?

The Thesis Statement
A persuasive essay—which will many (if not all) of your writing assignments in college will be—advocates a particular position that can be argued for or against.  That position will be expressed in a thesis statement. Simply put, a thesis tells the reader your topic and your position on that topic.  For example:

  • Movies produced in the mid-1950s use obsessive behavior to depict teenage romance as something dangerous that should be avoided.

A paper based on that thesis statement would cover the general topic of  love in movies produced during the 1950s and would express the author’s view that obsessive behavior is used to portray the dangers of teenage romance.

Notice how that example expresses a particular position that can be argued for or against. Your thesis statement must express an opinion rather than a fact. It should avoid repeating anything that would be considered common knowledge. If no one could possibly disagree with your thesis, choose another topic.

In a persuasive essay, the thesis statement will typically be found toward the end of an introductory paragraph. The following paragraphs will contain the author’s argument in support of the position stated in the thesis statement and will give evidence in support of his/her viewpoint. A final paragraph will summarize the author’s argument and present the author’s conclusions about the topic (though it will not simply restate the thesis).


The Organizational Statement
Sometimes, an organization statement will be used in conjunction with the thesis.  An organizational statement is a map that tells your reader what h/she should expect to read in your essay.  It introduces the two or three main pieces of evidence that you will use to support your position. While not required in a thesis, organizational statements can make for stronger thesis statements.

An organizational statement can can take the form of a separate sentence or can be attached to your thesis in a single sentence, as seen in the examples below:

  • Movies produced in the mid-1950s use obsessive behavior to depict teenage romance as something dangerous that should be avoided.  Obsessive behavior was viewed as rebellious, uncontrollable, and harmful both to the teenagers and to the people who loved them.
  • Since obsessive behavior was viewed as rebellious, uncontrollable, and dangerous, movies produced in the mid-1950s use it to depict teenage romance as something that should be avoided for the sake of young adults and the people who loved them.

Notice how the 2nd version above strengthens the original thesis.  Try to combine your thesis and organizational statement into one sentence whenever possible.

Important: You must discuss the evidence in the same order that you introduce it in your organizational statement. In this example, it means the paper would have to discuss rebelliousness, an uncontrollable nature, and danger (as they relate to obsessive teenage romance in film) in that order.

For More Information
Now that you know what thesis and organizational statements are, how do you come up with one?  Learn different strategies by reading these two guides: Generating a Thesis and Thesis Statements: Working Backwards.

The information on this page is based on an English 102 handout by Angela Francis.  

NEXT: Generating a Thesis

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