Types of Thesis Statements

Types of Papers

Below are some common paper formats that college students are often asked to use with some hints about thesis development for each format. Most basic and common one is persuasive / argumentative essay.

Persuasive / Argumentative

Persuasive writing is designed to persuade the audience that your thesis is correct. Most papers are persuasive to some extent. An argumentative paper is designed to make the audience think differently or even take some action. The thesis should be a decisive statement or opinion about a controversial topic. It should be specific and may address a counterargument.

Descriptive / Narrative

A descriptive / narrative essay attempts to explain a specific process, event, or action in order to inform the audience about something interesting. A decisive thesis may not be necessary, but some explanation of the importance and relevance of your topic is necessary to interest the audience.


(Similar to a persuasive Essay or Book Report)

A literature paper analyzes, interprets, or evaluates some aspect of a given text. It should persuade the audience to agree with your opinion about the text by using specific examples from the text. The thesis should identify some question about the text and offer a conclusion that is supported by the text.

Compare and Contrast

(Similar to Cause and Effect)

A compare and contrast paper attempts to illustrate the similarities and the differences between two things (for example, events, ideas, individuals or works). The goal is to offer some persuasive conclusion about the relationship between the two given topics that are being compared. The thesis should be a concise generalization about the relationship between the two things.


(Specific type of persuasive writing)

A definition paper aims to offer an extended definition of a given term as a strategy to get at some truth. It explains, limits and specifies a definition of a term full of meaning and different connotations. The thesis should be a brief and generalized version of the longer definition which is developed throughout the paper.

Cause and Effect

(Similar to Compare and Contrast)

A cause and effect paper explains, examines or exposes two events or actions, which can be thought of as topics. The thesis should simplistically identify the general relationship between the two topics.

Book, Play or Film Review / Report

(Similar to Literature)

This is a paper that responds to a single work and judges its value and quality based on some standard. It is designed to offer an opinion of a work as well as to suggest a specific method for judging a work. The thesis should be your basic opinion of the work.

Research / Informative

A research paper is designed to inform an audience about a subject they may not have much background in. It offers an author's synopsis and conclusion to earlier research, allowing the audience to be informed about a given topic without having to do the research. The thesis statement offers the general conclusion based on the research.

I-Search Paper

(Similar to Research/Informative)

An I-Search paper, unlike a research paper, does not assume a detached and objective stance. Instead it allows a writer to take an active role in the search for information and the development of a conclusion. The thesis statement gives a more personalized conclusion to the research and includes the opinion of the author.

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