Write a draft of the introductory paragraph.                         
The introductory paragraph must accomplish three tasks:

1  Make at least one quote
or cite one fact.
Review how to cite your resources.

Establish the status quo

3 Establish your position in a sentence called the thesis statement.
It MUST be underlined.

See Examples

The thesis statement is one complete sentence that states
the point the writer will argue throughout the entire paper. 
This statement is usually the last sentence of the introduction. 

1. A thesis statement must be a statement, not a question. 

Just a question: Should people use abortion as a method of birth-control?   
A thesis statement: People should never use abortion as a method of birth-control. 

About the writer: I don't believe a Bigfoot could exist in the wilds of North America. 
About the topic: The facts do not support the existence of a large, unknown hominid like Bigfoot. 

About the paper: The thesis of this paper is Social Security and old age.
About the topic: Continuing changes in the Social Security System makes it almost impossible to plan intelligently for one's retirement.

2. A thesis statement is about your topic.
It is not about you. 
It is not about your paper. 

3 A thesis statement must be arguable. 
This means a reasonable person
should be able to argue against it.
This means a thesis statement cannot be merely a fact. 

Just a fact: People use many lawn chemicals.
Arguable Thesis: People are ruining the environment with chemicals merely to keep their lawns clean.

Just a fact: The first polygraph was developed by Dr. John A. Larson in 1921.
Arguable Thesis: Because the polygraph has not been proved reliable, even under the most controlled conditions, its use by private employers should be banned.  (Hacker 33)

More than one main point: The American steel industry has many problems.
One main point:  The primary problem in the American steel industry is the lack of funds to renovate outdated plants and equipment.

More than one main point: Stephen Hawking's physical disability has not prevented him from becoming a world-renowned scientist, and his book is the subject of a movie.
One main point: Stephen Hawking's physical disability has not prevented him from becoming a world renowned physicist. 

4. A thesis statement has just one main point.
Don't try to tackle two topics at once, even if they seem related.
Pick one and stick with it.

5. A thesis statement must be specific.

Specifically avoid:

  • Anything that can be answered with a list
  • Claims of goodness or badness

Merely a claim of goodness: Hemingway's war stories are very good.
A more specific claim: Hemingway's stories helped create a new prose style by employing extensive dialogue, shorter sentences, and strong Anglo-Saxon words.

Vague: Many drugs are now being used successfully to treat mental illnesses
Specific: Despite its risks and side effects, lithium is an effective treatment for depression (Hacker 33)

Leads to a list: The following guitarists have been admitted into the Guitarist Hall of Fame. 
A more specific claim:  Geddy Lee of Rush should be admitted into the Guitarist Hall of Fame. 

6. Make the thesis statement straightforward, clear cut, simplified. 
Try to limit it to twenty-five words or fewer. 

Don't start with a pronouns: They shouldn't be judged by the color of their skins. 
Do start with specific nouns: Students entering college shouldn't be judged by the color of their skins. 

Don't refer to what was written outside the thesis statement: Because of the reasons listed above, prisoners should never get the death penalty.

Don't write too much: Making it legal to test beauty products on animals that could injure or even kill them isn't fair to these precious animals; they deserve to be loved by someone who will love and care for them, to be free, and realize what life has to offer them.
Keep it crisp: It should not be legal to test beauty products on animals if those tests could injure or kill them . 

Many of these examples were taken from the excellent website from St. Cloud University or from   
Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook for Writers. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford, 1994.