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How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose

Published on July 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 5, 2023.

How to Write Topic Sentences

Every paragraph in your paper needs a topic sentence . The topic sentence expresses what the paragraph is about. It should include two key things:

  • The  topic of the paragraph
  • The central point of the paragraph.

After the topic sentence, you expand on the point zwith evidence and examples.

To build a well-structured argument, you can also use your topic sentences to transition smoothly between paragraphs and show the connections between your points.

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Table of contents

Writing strong topic sentences, topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs, topic sentences that introduce more than one paragraph, where does the topic sentence go, frequently asked questions about topic sentences.

Topic sentences aren’t the first or the last thing you write—you’ll develop them throughout the writing process. To make sure every topic sentence and paragraph serves your argument, follow these steps.

Step 1: Write a thesis statement

The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement . The thesis statement sums up the purpose and argument of the whole paper.

Thesis statement example

Food is an increasingly urgent environmental issue, and to reduce humans’ impact on the planet, it is necessary to change global patterns of food production and consumption.

Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences

Next, you should make an outline of your essay’s structure , planning what you want to say in each paragraph and what evidence you’ll use.

At this stage, you can draft a topic sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in each paragraph. The topic sentences should be more specific than the thesis statement, but always clearly related to it.

Topic sentence example

Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has a significant environmental impact .

Step 3: Expand with evidence

The rest of the paragraph should flow logically from the topic sentence, expanding on the point with evidence, examples, or argumentation. This helps keep your paragraphs focused: everything you write should relate to the central idea expressed in the topic sentence.

In our example, you might mention specific research studies and statistics that support your point about the overall impact of the meat industry.

Step 4: Refine your topic sentences

Topic sentences usually start out as simple statements. But it’s important to revise them as you write, making sure they match the content of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence is specific enough to give a clear sense of what to expect from the paragraph, but general enough that it doesn’t give everything away. You can think of it like a signpost: it should tell the reader which direction your argument is going in.

To make your writing stronger and ensure the connections between your paragraphs are clear and logical, you can also use topic sentences to create smooth transitions. To improve sentence flow even more, you can also utilize the paraphrase tool .

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As you write each topic sentence, ask yourself: how does this point relate to what you wrote in the preceding paragraph? It’s often helpful to use transition words in your topic sentences to show the connections between your ideas.

Emphasize and expand

If the paragraph goes into more detail or gives another example to make the same point, the topic sentence can use words that imply emphasis or similarity (for example, furthermore , indeed , in fact , also ).

Indeed , cattle farming alone is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.

Summarize and anticipate

If the paragraph turns to a different aspect of the same subject, the topic sentence can briefly sum up the previous paragraph and anticipate the new information that will appear in this one.

While beef clearly has the most dramatic footprint, other animal products also have serious impacts in terms of emissions, water and land use.

Compare and contrast

If the paragraph makes a comparison or introduces contrasting information, the topic sentence can use words that highlight difference or conflict (for example, in contrast , however , yet , on the other hand ).

However , the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.

You can also imply contrast or complicate your argument by formulating the topic sentence as a question.

Is veganism the only solution, or are there more sustainable ways of producing meat and dairy?

Sometimes you can use a topic sentence to introduce several paragraphs at once.

All of the examples above address the environmental impact of meat-eating versus veganism. Together, they make up one coherent part of a larger argument, so the first paragraph could use a topic sentence to introduce the whole section.

In countries with high levels of meat consumption, a move towards plant-based diets is the most obvious route to making food more sustainable. Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has significant environmental impacts.

The topic sentence usually goes at the very start of a paragraph, but sometimes it can come later to indicate a change of direction in the paragraph’s argument.

Given this evidence of the meat industry’s impact on the planet, veganism seems like the only environmentally responsible option for consumers. However, the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.

In this example, the first sentence summarizes the main point that has been made so far. Then the topic sentence indicates that this paragraph will address evidence that complicates or contradicts that point.

In more advanced or creative forms of academic writing , you can play with the placement of topic sentences to build suspense and give your arguments more force. But if in doubt, to keep your research paper clear and focused, the easiest method is to place the topic sentence at the start of the paragraph.

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topic sentence with a thesis

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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topic sentence with a thesis

How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

topic sentence with a thesis

What’s Covered:

What is the purpose of a thesis statement, writing a good thesis statement: 4 steps, common pitfalls to avoid, where to get your essay edited for free.

When you set out to write an essay, there has to be some kind of point to it, right? Otherwise, your essay would just be a big jumble of word salad that makes absolutely no sense. An essay needs a central point that ties into everything else. That main point is called a thesis statement, and it’s the core of any essay or research paper.

You may hear about Master degree candidates writing a thesis, and that is an entire paper–not to be confused with the thesis statement, which is typically one sentence that contains your paper’s focus. 

Read on to learn more about thesis statements and how to write them. We’ve also included some solid examples for you to reference.

Typically the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, the thesis statement serves as the roadmap for your essay. When your reader gets to the thesis statement, they should have a clear outline of your main point, as well as the information you’ll be presenting in order to either prove or support your point. 

The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence , which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though.

Since the thesis statement is the most important sentence of your entire essay or paper, it’s imperative that you get this part right. Otherwise, your paper will not have a good flow and will seem disjointed. That’s why it’s vital not to rush through developing one. It’s a methodical process with steps that you need to follow in order to create the best thesis statement possible.

Step 1: Decide what kind of paper you’re writing

When you’re assigned an essay, there are several different types you may get. Argumentative essays are designed to get the reader to agree with you on a topic. Informative or expository essays present information to the reader. Analytical essays offer up a point and then expand on it by analyzing relevant information. Thesis statements can look and sound different based on the type of paper you’re writing. For example:

  • Argumentative: The United States needs a viable third political party to decrease bipartisanship, increase options, and help reduce corruption in government.
  • Informative: The Libertarian party has thrown off elections before by gaining enough support in states to get on the ballot and by taking away crucial votes from candidates.
  • Analytical: An analysis of past presidential elections shows that while third party votes may have been the minority, they did affect the outcome of the elections in 2020, 2016, and beyond.

Step 2: Figure out what point you want to make

Once you know what type of paper you’re writing, you then need to figure out the point you want to make with your thesis statement, and subsequently, your paper. In other words, you need to decide to answer a question about something, such as:

  • What impact did reality TV have on American society?
  • How has the musical Hamilton affected perception of American history?
  • Why do I want to major in [chosen major here]?

If you have an argumentative essay, then you will be writing about an opinion. To make it easier, you may want to choose an opinion that you feel passionate about so that you’re writing about something that interests you. For example, if you have an interest in preserving the environment, you may want to choose a topic that relates to that. 

If you’re writing your college essay and they ask why you want to attend that school, you may want to have a main point and back it up with information, something along the lines of:

“Attending Harvard University would benefit me both academically and professionally, as it would give me a strong knowledge base upon which to build my career, develop my network, and hopefully give me an advantage in my chosen field.”

Step 3: Determine what information you’ll use to back up your point

Once you have the point you want to make, you need to figure out how you plan to back it up throughout the rest of your essay. Without this information, it will be hard to either prove or argue the main point of your thesis statement. If you decide to write about the Hamilton example, you may decide to address any falsehoods that the writer put into the musical, such as:

“The musical Hamilton, while accurate in many ways, leaves out key parts of American history, presents a nationalist view of founding fathers, and downplays the racism of the times.”

Once you’ve written your initial working thesis statement, you’ll then need to get information to back that up. For example, the musical completely leaves out Benjamin Franklin, portrays the founding fathers in a nationalist way that is too complimentary, and shows Hamilton as a staunch abolitionist despite the fact that his family likely did own slaves. 

Step 4: Revise and refine your thesis statement before you start writing

Read through your thesis statement several times before you begin to compose your full essay. You need to make sure the statement is ironclad, since it is the foundation of the entire paper. Edit it or have a peer review it for you to make sure everything makes sense and that you feel like you can truly write a paper on the topic. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin writing your paper.

When writing a thesis statement, there are some common pitfalls you should avoid so that your paper can be as solid as possible. Make sure you always edit the thesis statement before you do anything else. You also want to ensure that the thesis statement is clear and concise. Don’t make your reader hunt for your point. Finally, put your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph and have your introduction flow toward that statement. Your reader will expect to find your statement in its traditional spot.

If you’re having trouble getting started, or need some guidance on your essay, there are tools available that can help you. CollegeVine offers a free peer essay review tool where one of your peers can read through your essay and provide you with valuable feedback. Getting essay feedback from a peer can help you wow your instructor or college admissions officer with an impactful essay that effectively illustrates your point.

topic sentence with a thesis

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

topic sentence with a thesis

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence) 

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim 

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim 

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis 

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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Thesis Statements

A thesis statement defines the scope and purpose of the paper. It needs to meet three criteria: 1. It must be arguable rather than a statement of fact. It should also say something original about the topic.     Bad thesis: Lily Bart experiences the constraints of many social conventions in The House of Mirth . [Of course she does. What does she do with these social conventions, and how does she respond to them? What's your argument about this idea?]     Better thesis: Lily Bart seeks to escape from the social conventions of her class in The House of Mirth , but her competing desires for a place in Selden's "republic of the spirit" and in the social world of New York cause her to gamble away her chances for a place in either world. [You could then mention the specific scenes that you will discuss.] 2. It must be limited enough so that the paper develops in some depth.     Bad thesis: Lily Bart and Clare Kendry are alike in some ways, but different in many others. [What ways?]     Better thesis: Lily Bart and Clare Kendry share a desire to "pass" in their respective social worlds, but their need to take risks and to reject those worlds leads to their destruction. 3. It must be unified so that the paper does not stray from the topic.     Bad thesis: Lily Bart gambles with her future, and Lawrence Selden is only a spectator rather than a hero of The House of Mirth . [Note: This is really the beginning of two different thesis statements.]     Better thesis: In The House of Mirth, Lawrence Selden is a spectator who prefers to watch and judge Lily than to help her. By failing to assist her on three separate occasions, he is revealed as less a hero of the novel than as the man responsible for Lily's downfall. [Note: Sometimes thesis statements are more than one sentence long.] 4. Statements such as "In this essay I will discuss " or "I will compare two stories in this paper" or "I was interested in Marji's relationship with God, so I thought I would talk about it in this essay" are not thesis statements and are unnecessary, since mentioning the stories in the introduction already tells the reader this. Topic Sentences Good topic sentences can improve an essay's readability and organization. They usually meet the following criteria: 1. First sentence. A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph, not the last sentence of the previous paragraph. 2. Link to thesis . Topic sentences use keywords or phrases from the thesis to indicate which part of the thesis will be discussed. 3. Introduce the subject of the paragraph. They tell the reader what concept will be discussed and provide an introduction to the paragraph. 4. Link to the previous paragraph. They link the subject of the present paragraph to that of the previous paragraph. 5. Indicate the progression of the essay. Topic sentences may also signal to the reader where the essay has been and where it is headed through signposting words such as "first," "second," or "finally." Good topic sentences typically DON'T begin with the following. 1. A quotation from a critic or from the piece of fiction you're discussing. The topic sentence should relate to your points and tell the reader what the subject of the paragraph will be. Beginning the paragraph with someone else's words doesn't allow you to provide this information for the reader. 2. A piece of information that tells the reader something more about the plot of the story. When you're writing about a piece of literature, it's easy to fall into the habit of telling the plot of the story and then adding a sentence of analysis, but such an approach leaves the reader wondering what the point of the paragraph is supposed to be; it also doesn't leave you sufficient room to analyze the story fully. These "narrative" topic sentences don't provide enough information about your analysis and the points you're making.

Weak "narrative" topic sentence: Lily Bart next travels to Bellomont, where she meets Lawrence Selden again. Stronger "topic-based" topic sentence: A second example of Lily's gambling on her marriage chances occurs at Bellomont, where she ignores Percy Gryce in favor of Selden. [Note that this tells your reader that it's the second paragraph in a series of paragraph relating to the thesis, which in this case would be a thesis related to Lily's gambling on her marriage chances.]

3. A sentence that explains your response or reaction to the work, or that describes why you're talking about a particular part of it, rather than why the paragraph is important to your analysis. 

Weak "reaction" topic sentence: I felt that Lily should have known that Bertha Dorset was her enemy. Stronger "topic-based" topic sentence: Bertha Dorset is first established as Lily's antagonist in the train scene, when she interrupts Lily's conversation with Percy Gryce and reveals that Lily smokes.

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How to write a thesis statement + examples

Thesis statement

What is a thesis statement?

Is a thesis statement a question, how do you write a good thesis statement, how do i know if my thesis statement is good, examples of thesis statements, helpful resources on how to write a thesis statement, frequently asked questions about writing a thesis statement, related articles.

A thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or thesis.

The thesis statement is one of the most important elements of any piece of academic writing . It is a brief statement of your paper’s main argument. Essentially, you are stating what you will be writing about.

You can see your thesis statement as an answer to a question. While it also contains the question, it should really give an answer to the question with new information and not just restate or reiterate it.

Your thesis statement is part of your introduction. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our introduction guide .

A thesis statement is not a question. A statement must be arguable and provable through evidence and analysis. While your thesis might stem from a research question, it should be in the form of a statement.

Tip: A thesis statement is typically 1-2 sentences. For a longer project like a thesis, the statement may be several sentences or a paragraph.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences.
  • Answer your project’s main research question.
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic .
  • Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

Once you have written down a thesis statement, check if it fulfills the following criteria:

  • Your statement needs to be provable by evidence. As an argument, a thesis statement needs to be debatable.
  • Your statement needs to be precise. Do not give away too much information in the thesis statement and do not load it with unnecessary information.
  • Your statement cannot say that one solution is simply right or simply wrong as a matter of fact. You should draw upon verified facts to persuade the reader of your solution, but you cannot just declare something as right or wrong.

As previously mentioned, your thesis statement should answer a question.

If the question is:

What do you think the City of New York should do to reduce traffic congestion?

A good thesis statement restates the question and answers it:

In this paper, I will argue that the City of New York should focus on providing exclusive lanes for public transport and adaptive traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion by the year 2035.

Here is another example. If the question is:

How can we end poverty?

A good thesis statement should give more than one solution to the problem in question:

In this paper, I will argue that introducing universal basic income can help reduce poverty and positively impact the way we work.

  • The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina has a list of questions to ask to see if your thesis is strong .

A thesis statement is part of the introduction of your paper. It is usually found in the first or second paragraph to let the reader know your research purpose from the beginning.

In general, a thesis statement should have one or two sentences. But the length really depends on the overall length of your project. Take a look at our guide about the length of thesis statements for more insight on this topic.

Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how to write them.

Every good essay should include a thesis statement as part of its introduction, no matter the academic level. Of course, if you are a high school student you are not expected to have the same type of thesis as a PhD student.

Here is a great YouTube tutorial showing How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements .

topic sentence with a thesis

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Paragraphs & topic sentences.

A paragraph is a series of sentences that are organized and coherent, and are all related to a single topic. Almost every piece of writing you do that is longer than a few sentences should be organized into paragraphs. This is because paragraphs show a reader where the subdivisions of an essay begin and end, and thus help the reader see the organization of the essay and grasp its main points.

Paragraphs can contain many different kinds of information. A paragraph could contain a series of brief examples or a single long illustration of a general point. It might describe a place, character, or process; narrate a series of events; compare or contrast two or more things; classify items into categories; or describe causes and effects. Regardless of the kind of information they contain, all paragraphs share certain characteristics. One of the most important of these is a topic sentence.

TOPIC SENTENCES

A well-organized paragraph supports or develops a single controlling idea, which is expressed in a sentence called the topic sentence. A topic sentence has several important functions: it substantiates or supports an essay’s thesis statement; it unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences; and it advises the reader of the subject to be discussed and how the paragraph will discuss it. Readers generally look to the first few sentences in a paragraph to determine the subject and perspective of the paragraph. That’s why it’s often best to put the topic sentence at the very beginning of the paragraph. In some cases, however, it’s more effective to place another sentence before the topic sentence—for example, a sentence linking the current paragraph to the previous one, or one providing background information.

Although most paragraphs should have a topic sentence, there are a few situations when a paragraph might not need a topic sentence. For example, you might be able to omit a topic sentence in a paragraph that narrates a series of events, if a paragraph continues developing an idea that you introduced (with a topic sentence) in the previous paragraph, or if all the sentences and details in a paragraph clearly refer—perhaps indirectly—to a main point. The vast majority of your paragraphs, however, should have a topic sentence.

PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE

Most paragraphs in an essay have a three-part structure—introduction, body, and conclusion. You can see this structure in paragraphs whether they are narrating, describing, comparing, contrasting, or analyzing information. Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in communicating your meaning to your reader.

Introduction : the first section of a paragraph; should include the topic sentence and any other sentences at the beginning of the paragraph that give background information or provide a transition.

Body : follows the introduction; discusses the controlling idea, using facts, arguments, analysis, examples, and other information.

Conclusion : the final section; summarizes the connections between the information discussed in the body of the paragraph and the paragraph’s controlling idea.

The following paragraph illustrates this pattern of organization. In this paragraph the topic sentence and concluding sentence (CAPITALIZED) both help the reader keep the paragraph’s main point in mind.

SCIENTISTS HAVE LEARNED TO SUPPLEMENT THE SENSE OF SIGHT IN NUMEROUS WAYS. In front of the tiny pupil of the eye they put , on Mount Palomar, a great monocle 200 inches in diameter, and with it see 2000 times farther into the depths of space. Or they look through a small pair of lenses arranged as a microscope into a drop of water or blood, and magnify by as much as 2000 diameters the living creatures there, many of which are among man’s most dangerous enemies. Or , if we want to see distant happenings on earth, they use some of the previously wasted electromagnetic waves to carry television images which they re-create as light by whipping tiny crystals on a screen with electrons in a vacuum. Or they can bring happenings of long ago and far away as colored motion pictures, by arranging silver atoms and color-absorbing molecules to force light waves into the patterns of original reality. Or if we want to see into the center of a steel casting or the chest of an injured child, they send the information on a beam of penetrating short-wave X rays, and then convert it back into images we can see on a screen or photograph. THUS ALMOST EVERY TYPE OF ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION YET DISCOVERED HAS BEEN USED TO EXTEND OUR SENSE OF SIGHT IN SOME WAY. George Harrison, “Faith and the Scientist”

In a coherent paragraph, each sentence relates clearly to the topic sentence or controlling idea, but there is more to coherence than this. If a paragraph is coherent, each sentence flows smoothly into the next without obvious shifts or jumps. A coherent paragraph also highlights the ties between old information and new information to make the structure of ideas or arguments clear to the reader.

Along with the smooth flow of sentences, a paragraph’s coherence may also be related to its length. If you have written a very long paragraph, one that fills a double-spaced typed page, for example, you should check it carefully to see if it should start a new paragraph where the original paragraph wanders from its controlling idea. On the other hand, if a paragraph is very short (only one or two sentences, perhaps), you may need to develop its controlling idea more thoroughly, or combine it with another paragraph.

A number of other techniques that you can use to establish coherence in paragraphs are described below.

Repeat key words or phrases. Particularly in paragraphs in which you define or identify an important idea or theory, be consistent in how you refer to it. This consistency and repetition will bind the paragraph together and help your reader understand your definition or description.

Create parallel structures. Parallel structures are created by constructing two or more phrases or sentences that have the same grammatical structure and use the same parts of speech. By creating parallel structures you make your sentences clearer and easier to read. In addition, repeating a pattern in a series of consecutive sentences helps your reader see the connections between ideas. In the paragraph above about scientists and the sense of sight, several sentences in the body of the paragraph have been constructed in a parallel way. The parallel structures (which have been emphasized ) help the reader see that the paragraph is organized as a set of examples of a general statement.

Be consistent in point of view, verb tense, and number. Consistency in point of view, verb tense, and number is a subtle but important aspect of coherence. If you shift from the more personal "you" to the impersonal “one,” from past to present tense, or from “a man” to “they,” for example, you make your paragraph less coherent. Such inconsistencies can also confuse your reader and make your argument more difficult to follow.

Use transition words or phrases between sentences and between paragraphs. Transitional expressions emphasize the relationships between ideas, so they help readers follow your train of thought or see connections that they might otherwise miss or misunderstand. The following paragraph shows how carefully chosen transitions (CAPITALIZED) lead the reader smoothly from the introduction to the conclusion of the paragraph.

I don’t wish to deny that the flattened, minuscule head of the large-bodied "stegosaurus" houses little brain from our subjective, top-heavy perspective, BUT I do wish to assert that we should not expect more of the beast. FIRST OF ALL, large animals have relatively smaller brains than related, small animals. The correlation of brain size with body size among kindred animals (all reptiles, all mammals, FOR EXAMPLE) is remarkably regular. AS we move from small to large animals, from mice to elephants or small lizards to Komodo dragons, brain size increases, BUT not so fast as body size. IN OTHER WORDS, bodies grow faster than brains, AND large animals have low ratios of brain weight to body weight. IN FACT, brains grow only about two-thirds as fast as bodies. SINCE we have no reason to believe that large animals are consistently stupider than their smaller relatives, we must conclude that large animals require relatively less brain to do as well as smaller animals. IF we do not recognize this relationship, we are likely to underestimate the mental power of very large animals, dinosaurs in particular. Stephen Jay Gould, “Were Dinosaurs Dumb?”

SOME USEFUL TRANSITIONS

(modified from Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference )

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Humanities LibreTexts

5.2: Identifying Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

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Being able to identify the purpose and thesis of a text, as you’re reading it, takes practice. This section will offer you that practice.

One fun strategy for developing a deeper understanding the material you’re reading is to make a visual “map” of the ideas. Mind maps, whether hand-drawn or done through computer programs, can be fun to make, and help put all the ideas of an essay you’re reading in one easy-to-read format.

Your understanding of what the “central” element of the mind map is might change as you read and re-read. Developing the central idea of your mind map is a great way to help you determine the reading’s thesis.

The center is a yellow star-shaped human form, labeled Dave. Primary lines leading away from it include "free," "Aranya," and "Anger." Color-coded lines lead to phrases that are difficult to see clearly.

Figure 2.5. 1

- Hand-drawn Mind Map

Locating Explicit and Implicit Thesis Statements

In academic writing, the thesis is often explicit : it is included as a sentence as part of the text. It might be near the beginning of the work, but not always–some types of academic writing leave the thesis until the conclusion.

Journalism and reporting also rely on explicit thesis statements that appear very early in the piece–the first paragraph or even the first sentence.

Works of literature, on the other hand, usually do not contain a specific sentence that sums up the core concept of the writing. However, readers should finish the piece with a good understanding of what the work was trying to convey. This is what’s called an implicit thesis statement: the primary point of the reading is conveyed indirectly, in multiple locations throughout the work. (In literature, this is also referred to as the theme of the work.)

Academic writing sometimes relies on implicit thesis statements, as well.

This video offers excellent guidance in identifying the thesis statement of a work, no matter if it’s explicit or implicit.

Topic Sentences

We’ve learned that a thesis statement conveys the primary message of an entire piece of text. Now, let’s look at the next level of important sentences in a piece of text: topic sentences in each paragraph.

A useful metaphor would be to think of the thesis statement of a text as a general: it controls all the major decisions of the writing. There is only one thesis statement in a text. Topic sentences, in this relationship, serve as captains: they organize and sub-divide the overall goals of a writing into individual components. Each paragraph will have a topic sentence.

Graphic labeled Parts of a Paragraph. It shows a hamburger separated into different layers. From the top down, they are labeled "topic sentence (top bun)"; "supporting details (tomatoes, lettuce, and meat)"; "colourful vocabulary (mustard, ketchup, and relish)"; "concluding sentence (bottom bun)."

Figure 2.5. 2

It might be helpful to think of a topic sentence as working in two directions simultaneously. It relates the paragraph to the essay’s thesis, and thereby acts as a signpost for the argument of the paper as a whole, but it also defines the scope of the paragraph itself. For example, consider the following topic sentence:

Many characters in Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun have one particular dream in which they are following, though the character Walter pursues his most aggressively.

If this sentence controls the paragraph that follows, then all sentences in the paragraph must relate in some way to Walter and the pursuit of his dream.

Topic sentences often act like tiny thesis statements. Like a thesis statement, a topic sentence makes a claim of some sort. As the thesis statement is the unifying force in the essay, so the topic sentence must be the unifying force in the paragraph. Further, as is the case with the thesis statement, when the topic sentence makes a claim, the paragraph which follows must expand, describe, or prove it in some way. Topic sentences make a point and give reasons or examples to support it.

 The following diagram illustrates how a topic sentence can provide more focus to the general topic at hand.

Placement of Topic Sentences

What if I told you that the topic sentence doesn’t necessarily need to be at the beginning? This might be contrary to what you’ve learned in previous English or writing classes, and that’s okay. Certainly, when authors announce a topic clearly and early on in a paragraph, their readers are likely to grasp their idea and to make the connections that they want them to make.

However, when authors are writing for a more sophisticated academic audience—that is an audience of college-educated readers—they will often use more sophisticated organizational strategies to build and reveal ideas in their writing. One way to think about a topic sentence, is that it presents the broadest view of what authors want their readers to understand. This is to say that they’re providing a broad statement that either announces or brings into focus the purpose or the meaning for the details of the paragraph. If the topic sentence is seen as the broadest view, then every supporting detail will bring a narrower—or more specific—view of the same topic.

With this in mind, take some time to contemplate the diagrams in the figure below. The widest point of each diagram (the bases of the triangles) represents the topic sentence of the paragraph. As details are presented, the topic becomes narrower and more focused. The topic can precede the details, it can follow them, it can both precede and follow them, or the details can surround the topic. There are surely more alternatives than those that are presented here, but this gives you an idea of some of the possible paragraph structures and possible placements for the topic sentence of a paragraph.

Consider some of the following examples of different topic sentence placements in a paragraph from a review essay of the beloved children’s book, The Cat in the Hat , by Dr. Seuss. Paragraph structures are labeled according to the diagrams presented above, and topic sentences are identified by red text.

Topic Sentence-Details-Topic Sentence

A good children’s book requires an exciting plot and a problem with which children can sympathize. In The Cat in the Hat there is plenty of action, depicted in the wild antics of the cat, and later in the amazing but dangerous and messy tricks of Thing 1 and Thing 2. All this excitement and action naturally draws children into the story and keeps the plot moving forward at a pace that maintains their interest. There is also tension to be resolved. The fish senses danger and constantly warns the children not to participate in the cat’s perilous stunts. And later, as the mother’s return becomes more imminent, the children begin to heed the fish’s warning and finally wish to contain the chaos and clean up the mess, but how? While this plot is fantastic enough to fuel any child’s imagination, it also contains a problem with which any child can relate: a mess and the threat of a parent’s disapproval. The careful balance of action, tension, and relatability is what makes this book an enduring childhood favorite.

Topic Sentence-Details

The careful balance of action, tension, and relatability is what makes Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat an enduring childhood favorite. In The Cat in the Hat there is plenty of action, depicted in the wild antics of the cat, and later in the amazing but dangerous and messy tricks of Thing 1 and Thing 2. All this excitement and action naturally draws children into the story and keeps the plot moving forward at a pace that maintains their interest. There is also tension to be resolved. The fish senses danger and constantly warns the children not to participate in the cat’s perilous stunts. And later, as the mother’s return becomes more imminent, the children begin to heed the fish’s warning and finally wish to contain the chaos and clean up the mess, but how? While this plot is fantastic enough to fuel any child’s imagination, it also contains a problem with which any child can relate: a mess and the threat of a parent’s disapproval.

You can relocate the topic sentence to the end here, and you’ll have an example of the Details-Topic Sentence method of organizing the paragraph.

Details-Topic Sentence-Details

In The Cat in the Hat there is plenty of action, depicted in the wild antics of the cat, and later in the amazing but dangerous and messy tricks of Thing 1 and Thing 2. All this excitement and action naturally draws children into the story and keeps the plot moving forward at a pace that maintains their interest. The careful balance of action, tension, and relatability is what makes Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat an enduring childhood favorite. There is definitely tension to be resolved here. The fish senses danger and constantly warns the children not to participate in the cat’s perilous stunts. And later, as the mother’s return becomes more imminent, the children begin to heed the fish’s warning and finally wish to contain the chaos and clean up the mess, but how? While this plot is fantastic enough to fuel any child’s imagination, it also contains a problem with which any child can relate: a mess and the threat of a parent’s disapproval.

Explicit and Implicit Topic Sentences

Similar to thesis statements, topic sentences may be explicit or implicit.

Consider the following paragraph from an essay titled “The Bothersome Beauty of Pigeons,” by author and Boise State writing professor, Bruce Ballenger. It’s important to note that this is a personal narrative essay rather than a more traditional academic essay, but the paragraph provides a good example of an implied topic. In this essay Ballenger takes the time to consider the beauty of pigeons, a bird that’s usually thought of as nothing more than a nuisance. Just prior to this paragraph, Ballenger talks about how he used a fake owl to scare away pigeons on his property. He goes on to explain,

My pigeons moved next door where an elderly couple feed them bird seed and have the time and willingness to clean up after their new charges; so it seems, in this case, things have worked out for everyone. But the large flocks still haunt the piazzas in Florence and Venice, the squares in London, and similar places in nearly every city across the globe. Despite their ability to distinguish between a Van Gogh and a Chagall, pigeons still deposit droppings that deface the great marble statues and facades–the works of art and architecture that are part of our human heritage–and yet people still buy bags of seed for about a dollar and pose for photographs, drenched in doves. Meanwhile, officials in these cities continue, sometimes quietly, to wage war against the birds (“Introduction”).

Here, Ballenger seems to be saying that in spite of the attempts of so many to rid themselves of the pigeons, others are still drawn to them and will feed them and encourage them to come back. His main idea seems to be that the battle against pigeons is a losing proposition, but he doesn’t come out and say so. His message in this paragraph is implied. Do you think this paragraph would be improved with an explicit topic sentence?

EXERCISE 1: Identify the Topic and Focus

Choose a piece of writing, perhaps an essay or some news articles found online, and for each paragraph identify (1) the topic and (2) the more focused idea. Remember, the topic sentence applies more focus to the broader topic to help narrow the scope of the paragraph. For example, the topic of a paragraph might be school lunches. The more focused idea of that same paragraph might be the idea of having students plant school gardens as a way to help incorporate more fresh produce in the menu.

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CC licensed content, Previously shared:

Basic Reading and Writing. Authored by: Lumen. Located at:  https://human.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Composition/Book:_Basic_Reading_and_Writing_(Lumen)/ Module_2:_Critical_Reading/2.05:_Identifying_Thesis_Statements   License: CC BY: Attribution.

Adaptions: Reformatted, some content removed to fit a broader audience.

Michael Davis given life sentence for murdering his baby son - who suffered a 'snapped neck'

Ollie Davis was just a month old when he was found lifeless in his bedroom in Leicester with 37 fractures, including more than 20 broken ribs.

topic sentence with a thesis

Home affairs reporter and feature writer @Henry_Vaughan

Wednesday 10 April 2024 15:10, UK

Ollie Davis. Pic: Leicestershire Police

A father who murdered his month-old baby son - who died after suffering a "snapped neck" - has been sentenced to life in prison.

Ollie Davis was found lifeless in his crib in the bedroom he shared with his parents in Leicester in October 2017 with more than 20 broken ribs and fractures to his skull, collar bone, both arms and the joints of all his limbs.

Michael Davis, 29, was found guilty of his murder and two counts of grievous bodily harm last month, while the baby's mother Kayleigh Driver, 31, was convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child and causing or allowing serious physical injury.

The pair were found guilty after a two-month trial which heard Ollie's "neck was snapped between four and eight days prior to his death".

Davis was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 22 years today, as the judge said the murder had involved a "devastating" fatal spinal injury and other injuries usually seen after a "high-energy car crash".

Michael Davis and Kayleigh Driver. Pic: Leicestershire Police

Mr Justice Cotter said he was sure Davis had inflicted all of the injuries during four overnight "episodes" of violence and had shown "callous indifference" to Ollie's suffering by not seeking medical help.

'You assaulted him on multiple occasions'

"I have no doubt that during the night you became frustrated and angry and this led to terrible violence," the judge told him.

"You assaulted him on multiple occasions. The attacks in their various forms were also brutal - in particular the fatal neck injury."

Driver, who was cleared by a jury of murder and causing grievous bodily harm, was jailed for seven years as she appeared for sentence on a mobility scooter due to a chronic neurological condition.

The judge told her: "You must have heard Ollie's cries after he was assaulted, as you were together in the bedroom. This must have woken you up."

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Michael Davis

Abuse left baby with broken bones and brain injury

Prosecutor John Hankin KC told the jury: "Ollie could not have caused the injuries to himself - he was a five-week-old pre-mobile baby.

"A broken neck was not the only injury Ollie sustained. Medical investigation revealed Ollie had sustained a total of 37 fractures.

"They included fractures to the skull, his collar bone, both arms between the shoulder and the elbow, 23 rib fractures and fractures to the joints of all four limbs.

"He also suffered brain injuries, bleeding over the surface of the brain."

Mr Hankin said Ollie was subjected to serious physical abuse "most likely to have taken place during the last 10 days of his life".

Davis couldn't explain Ollie's injuries, telling police he was "quite shocked" and that his son had "seemed fine" when he fell asleep.

Kayleigh Driver. Pic: PA

'Our little ray of sunshine'

After Davis and Driver were found guilty, Ollie's wider family paid tribute to "our little ray of sunshine" in a statement.

"You melted our hearts with those big blue eyes," they said. "We have been left with such a void in our hearts."

Following the sentencing hearing, they told how they had "been dragged through hell for the last seven years with all the lies and deceit".

They said they had first thought Ollie had died from a cot death but were "horrified" to find out there were suspicious circumstances and the arrest of his parents "shook the family to the core".

"Ollie was perfect in every way when he was born," the family said in a statement read by Detective Inspector Natasha Batstone outside court.

"He had been beaten badly over time and was left to die with his injuries.

"This was our worst nightmare. How anybody could hurt a beautiful baby was beyond words.

"We felt sick to our stomachs and we have shed many a tear thinking what Ollie went through in his final days.

"This has changed our family forever and we suffer mentally with these evil actions."

Read more on Sky News: Hiker who found two-year-old's skull recalls 'terrifying' journey carrying it home Mother who stabbed boyfriend suspected of throwing children out of moving car

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'Let down in the most horrendous ways'

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Mark Parish added: "Ollie was a newborn baby who relied on his parents for everything he needed and it was their duty to love and protect him.

"Instead, he was let down in the most horrendous ways imaginable.

"Due to the amount of the injuries Ollie suffered and medical expertise needed to examine those injuries, it has taken more than six years for this investigation to come to court and for Ollie's parents to be held accountable for his death."

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Missouri executes Brian Dorsey despite objections by dozens of correctional officers

Brian Dorsey, the convicted Missouri murderer whose fight against a death sentence gained support from dozens of correctional officers, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday in a state prison, according to his attorney Kirk Henderson, who was a witness.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined appeals to intervene in Dorsey’s behalf earlier in the day, and his request for clemency was turned down Monday by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson .

Dorsey, 52, was sentenced to the capital punishment for the confessed killing of his cousin and her husband in 2006. His lawyers argued he did not receive proper representation by his public defenders and had been “'fully rehabilitated’’ in prison.

Dorsey’s case drew national attention because of the unusually strong stance in favor of commutation by current and former prison staff – his lawyers said more than 70 correctional officers vouched for him – and the focus on execution protocols that could have put him at risk of extreme pain before he died.

Dorsey wrote by hand a last statement that said, "I am truly deeply overwhelmingly sorry. Words cannot hold the just weight of my guilt and shame.''

In a statement confirming Dorsey's execution would be carried out, Parson's office said he not only attacked family members who opened their home and rescued him from drug dealers seeking to collect debts, but he raped his cousin's body after killing her.

"The pain Dorsey brought to others can never be rectified, but carrying out Dorsey’s sentence according to Missouri law and the Court’s order will deliver justice and provide closure," Parson said in the statement.

Dorsey's lawyers said he was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the assaults, and they pointed out in their clemency request that more than 70 former and current corrections officers supported commuting Dorsey's death sentence. Troy Steele, the former warden at Potosi Correctional Center, where Dorsey was housed, said his record was "extraordinary," according to the filing.

“Brian Dorsey is kind, gentle, hardworking, and humble,'' Henderson said in a statement. "He has spent every day of the past 18 years trying to make up for the single act of violence he committed, serving the prison community as the staff barber and never getting in even the slightest trouble.''

Death row inmate execution: Alabama looks to perform second execution of inmate with controversial nitrogen hypoxia

Brian Dorsey charged in 2006 double-murder

Dorsey was convicted of murdering his cousin Sarah Bonnie and her husband, Ben Bonnie, on Dec. 23, 2006. The couple had taken Dorsey in because drug dealers were trying to collect money he owed them, according to court filings.

Prosecutors said Dorsey shot the couple with their own shotgun, while their 4-year-old daughter was in the home. Dorsey also stole personal property to repay drug debts, the filings said.

"Brian Dorsey punished his loving family for helping him in a time of need. His cousins invited him into their home where he was surrounded by family and friends, then gave him a place to stay. Dorsey repaid them with cruelty, inhumane violence, and murder," Parson said in the statement.

Dorsey pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in 2008. He later filed several appeals that have been denied, arguing an insufficient defense because of the state's flat-fee payment of $12,000 to his public defenders, which his lawyers said represented a conflict of interest and provided little incentive to pursue a vigorous defense.

They also said Dorsey is remorseful and changed his life behind bars.

"The correctional staff − who know Mr. Dorsey best at this point, and who know what real rehabilitation and genuine remorse look like because of their firsthand experience with and broad basis for comparison with other prisoners − consistently attest to Mr. Dorsey’s wholesale rehabilitation, his genuine remorse, and ultimately his redemption," their clemency request said.

Missouri execution protocol in spotlight

Dorsey's case has also drawn scrutiny because Missouri's single-drug protocol for execution says nothing about the use of painkillers. His lawyers say he's diabetic, obese and a former intravenous drug user, which could make it harder to locate a vein in which to inject the lethal dose.

Such instances sometimes require the use of a "cutdown,'' an incision in the body followed by pulling apart the flesh to isolate the vein. That takes place before the death row inmate has a final meeting with a spiritual adviser, and Dorsey's lawyers have argued he would be in "significant pain and anguish," so his freedom of religion would be abridged.

The Associated Press reported the state agreed to a settlement by which it would take unspecified measures to reduce Dorsey's exposure to extreme pain.

Jennifer and James Crumbley, parents of Michigan school shooter, sentenced to 10 to 15 years for manslaughter

The parents were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in separate trials.

Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Oxford High School mass shooter Ethan Crumbley, were sentenced to 10 to 15 years Tuesday after each was found guilty of four counts of involuntary manslaughter in separate trials earlier this year.

"I can and will offer my deepest and most sincere condolences for your unfathomable losses," Judge Cheryl Matthews said during sentencing.

Matthews said each action or inaction created a ripple effect and said she believes the sentences are "in the best interests of justice and are reasonable and proportionate."

MORE: Michigan school shooting: What we know about the victims

"Parents are not expected to be psychic, but these convictions are not about poor parenting. These convictions confirm repeated acts, or lack of acts, that could have halted an oncoming runaway train -- about repeatedly ignoring things that would make a reasonable person feel the hair on the back of their neck," Matthews said.

"Guidelines in this manner do not capture of the catastrophic impact of the acts or in the action. And in these matters, the guidelines do not take into account the complete lack of insight both defendants have for their behavior to this very day," Matthews said.

The parents have already served 858 days in jail while awaiting trial, which will be deducted from their sentence. They have also been instructed to have no contact with the families of the victims.

PHOTO: James Crumbley, his attorney Mariell Lehman, Jennifer Crumbley, and her attorney Shannon Smith, sit in court for sentencing Apr. 9, 2024, at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan.

Giving a statement in court Tuesday, Jennifer Crumbley sought to walk back her testimony during trial when she said she would not have done anything differently.

James Crumbley, who wiped away tears at several points during his statement, asked to be sentenced in a "fair and just way," asking for time served.

"You know that what my son did, I was not aware of," he said.

The trials were a rare case of parents facing criminal charges, and possible jail time, over their role in a shooting carried out by their child. They could have faced up to 15 years in prison for each count, but prosecutors asked for 10 to 15 years total for each parent, according to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors last week.

"No sentence this Court can administer will fix the damage caused by the Oxford High School shooting on November 30, 2021," prosecutors wrote in requesting the sentence for Jennifer Crumbley. "As the jury found, defendant's gross negligence was a cause of this damage; she knew of the danger to another, it was reasonably foreseeable her son would shoot someone, but she failed to exercise even the smallest measure of ordinary care."

PHOTO: Jennifer Crumbley looks at her husband James Crumbley during their sentencing, Apr. 9, 2024, at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan.

Michigan's sentencing guidelines call for a maximum punishment of about seven years in jail, a sentence prosecutors said was not strong enough.

"Considering the guidelines, what those guidelines do and do not account for, and the objectives of sentencing, the severity of the circumstances in this case and defendant's total lack of remorse warrant a sentence that exceeds the applicable guidelines range," prosecutors continued. "A sentence of 10 to 15 years' imprisonment is proportionate to these offenses and this offender."

The same exact request was sent in regards to James Crumbley.

MORE: Jury finds Jennifer Crumbley guilty of involuntary manslaughter in son's school shooting

Jennifer Crumbley's attorneys had asked that she be sentenced to time served and house arrest, according to the defense's sentencing memo. James Crumbley's lawyers asked for 28 months of prison -- the amount of time he has already spent locked up -- with credit for time served as well as the maximum period of supervised release.

Prosecutors came down especially hard on James Crumbley in their ask for a sentence longer than the sentencing guidelines, pointing to threats he made over the phone from jail toward District Attorney Karen McDonald and an instance of gesturing with his middle finger toward a prosecutor during the trial.

"Defendant’s shameless lack of remorse in asking for time served as an appropriate sentence is a slap in the face to the severity of tragedy caused by his gross negligence, to the victims and their families, and to the applicable law that is premised on the concept of proportionate sentencing," prosecutors wrote.

PHOTO: Jennifer Crumbley listens as James Shilling, father of Justin Shilling, one of the four Oxford High School students who were shot and killed by mass school shooter Ethan Crumbley, reads a victim impact statement, April 9, 2024, Pontiac, Michigan.

MORE: James Crumbley convicted of involuntary manslaughter over son's school shooting

James Crumbley also apologized to the victims during his statement in court Tuesday.

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"I really want the families of Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, Tate Myre and Justin Shilling to know how truly sorry I am and how devastated I was when I heard what happened to them. I have cried for you and the loss of your children more times than I can count," James Crumbley said Tuesday.

"I cannot express how much I wish that I had known what was going on with him or what was going to happen, because I absolutely would have done a lot of things differently," James Crumbley said.

The judge will make a decision in the coming weeks over whether to impose a no-contact order on the Crumbleys and their son. James Crumbley and his son will not be housed in the same facility at any time, according to Matthews.

James Crumbley said he hasn't spoken to his son since the shooting and to his wife since they were arrested on Dec. 3.

PHOTO: James Crumbley, father of Oxford High School school shooter Ethan Crumbley, exits the courtroom while the jury begins their deliberations during his trial on March 13, 2024 at Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Mich.

Ethan Crumbley, who was only 15 years old at the time of the shooting, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting that killed four students.

He pleaded guilty to 24 charges , including first-degree premeditated murder and terrorism causing death in 2021.

The parents had ignored several warning signs in the days leading up to the shooting, and had just bought their son the weapon he used in the shooting, according to prosecutors. The prosecution argued that the parents failed to secure the weapon and limit their son's access to it.

Prosecutors argued that James Crumbley failed to use a cable lock, trigger lock or store the gun in a locked safe, any one of which could have prevented the shooting. Prosecutor Karen McDonald even demonstrated installing a cable lock for the jury during closing arguments, saying it takes "less than 10 seconds."

PHOTO: Jennifer Crumbley the mother of accused Oxford High School gunman Ethan Crumbley listens on the stand in the courtroom of Oakland County Court in Pontiac, Mich., on Feb. 2, 2024.

Oxford High School officials had called the parents to the school the morning of the shooting after disturbing drawings were found on their son's math test and he had made statements to a counselor suggesting he was considering suicide, prosecutors said.

School officials testified that the parents said they needed to return to work and could not stay home with their son, and if he left he would need to walk home and remain alone until they finished work. School officials, concerned for the Ethan Crumbley, allowed him to remain in school.

MORE: Jennifer Crumbley grilled by prosecutors over extramarital affairs in 2nd day on stand in manslaughter trial

The shooting occurred that afternoon.

In a back and forth between Matthews and Jennifer Crumbley's attorney Shannon Smith on Tuesday, the judge pushed back against the defense's argument that Jennifer Crumbley did not know anything about the gun and was not responsible for securing it. The judge pointed to texts she sent her husband regarding the gun and how much it costs, and her posting a picture of the gun as her son's Christmas present.

Jennifer Crumbley's trial largely focused on how she spent her time in the weeks and months leading up to the shooting, implying that she failed to act on warning signs or get help for her son. Her former employer testified on the stand that she could have left work the day of the shooting -- after her meeting with school officials -- to care for her son or said she could have brought her son with her to work if necessary.

PHOTO: Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, appear in court, Feb. 8, 2022, in Rochester Hills, Mich.

A man she was having an affair with in the months before the shooting also testified, with prosecutors questioning him about how the two spent their time and about their communications before and after the shooting.

Jennifer Crumbley also took the stand in her own defense , and was grilled by prosecutors over her extramarital affairs and relationship with her son.

ABC News' Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

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  1. What is a Topic Sentence & How to Write it

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write Topic Sentences

    Topic sentences aren't the first or the last thing you write—you'll develop them throughout the writing process. To make sure every topic sentence and paragraph serves your argument, follow these steps. Step 1: Write a thesis statement. The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement ...

  2. PDF Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

    WhaT iS a ToPic SenTence? •A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph that signals to the reader what the para- graph's main idea will be. •Topic sentences should: » relate back to the argument of the thesis; » concisely summarize the key idea of the paragraph; » can even contain key words from the thesis statement. ToPic ...

  3. PDF Tutorial #26: Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

    5. A troublesome thesis is a fragment; a good thesis statement is expressed in a complete sentence. Example: How life is in New York after September 11th. Better: After September 11th, the city of New York tends to have more cases of post-traumatic disorder than other areas of the United States and rightfully so.

  4. PDF Topic Sentences and Thesis Statements

    Topic Sentence #1: The repeated characterization of Lilith as "too spirited" highlights her tenacity and pride, which are unusual traits for the enslaved characters to possess. Topic Sentence #2: The term "spirited" also connects Lilith to the spiritual world, foreshadowing her potential to control intangible spiritual powers.

  5. How to Write a Strong Topic Sentence + Examples

    Step 3: Make your essay outline. Once you have the points you want to make within your thesis statement hammered out, make an outline for your essay. This is where you'll start to create your topic sentence for each paragraph. You want to clearly state the main idea of that paragraph in the very first sentence.

  6. PDF Connecting Topic Sentences & Thesis Statements Handout

    A topic sentence is one part— just one element— of our thesis statement. Our thesis statement, then, should be present or emphasized within our topic sentence in order to show relevance and cohesion throughout our paper. A topic sentence consists of: Reference to thesis + one specific idea for paragraph. (order doesn't matter, but we must ...

  7. Topic Sentences

    Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 1: Strawberries are a healthy substitute for desserts because they have a much lower carbohydrate count and are rich in nutrients and fiber. Notice that the topic sentence includes the first main point of the thesis statement, but it expands on the idea with further details.

  8. Thesis Statements

    A thesis statement: tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion. is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper. directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself.

  9. How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement: 4 Steps + Examples

    The thesis statement should not be confused for a topic sentence, which is the first sentence of every paragraph in your essay. If you need help writing topic sentences, numerous resources are available. Topic sentences should go along with your thesis statement, though. Writing a Good Thesis Statement: 4 Steps

  10. Topic Sentences and Signposting

    Topic sentences and signposts make an essay's claims clear to a reader. Good essays contain both. Topic sentences reveal the main point of a paragraph.They show the relationship of each paragraph to the essay's thesis, telegraph the point of a paragraph, and tell your reader what to expect in the paragraph that follows.

  11. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper. Is generally located near the end ...

  12. Thesis

    Thesis. Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore ...

  13. PDF Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

    A strong set of topic sentences will work together to support a thesis. A . thesis statement (the main point of a whole essay) is usually found at the . end of an introduction. A . topic sentence (the main point of a paragraph) is usually at the . beginning of a paragraph. Thesis statements and topic sentences are similar in some ways: − They are

  14. Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

    They usually meet the following criteria: 1. First sentence. A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph, not the last sentence of the previous paragraph. 2. Link to thesis. Topic sentences use keywords or phrases from the thesis to indicate which part of the thesis will be discussed. 3.

  15. Writing a Thesis Statement

    The kind of thesis statement you write will depend on the type of paper you are writing. Here is how to write the different kinds of thesis statements: Argumentative Thesis Statement: Making a Claim. Analytical Thesis Statement: Analyzing an Issue. Expository Thesis Statement: Explaining a Topic.

  16. Writing

    The main idea, thesis statement, and topic sentences all provide structure to an essay. It is important for both readers and writers to understand the roles of each of these in order to maintain ...

  17. How to write a thesis statement + Examples

    A good thesis statement needs to do the following: Condense the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences. Answer your project's main research question. Clearly state your position in relation to the topic. Make an argument that requires support or evidence.

  18. How to Write a Topic Sentence

    The first step is to write the thesis statement. The next step is to outline the paper. A clear outline will help to organize the ideas, research, and evidence into paragraphs. Once the thesis statement and an outline for the paper are created, the topic sentences should be drafted. Be sure your topic sentence reviews what you wrote in the ...

  19. Paragraphs & Topic Sentences

    A topic sentence has several important functions: it substantiates or supports an essay's thesis statement; it unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences; and it advises the reader of the subject to be discussed and how the paragraph will discuss it. Readers generally look to the first few sentences in a ...

  20. 5.2: Identifying Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

    Similar to thesis statements, topic sentences may be explicit or implicit. Consider the following paragraph from an essay titled "The Bothersome Beauty of Pigeons," by author and Boise State writing professor, Bruce Ballenger. It's important to note that this is a personal narrative essay rather than a more traditional academic essay, but ...

  21. PDF Topic Sentences: Directional, Connective, and Specific

    Topic sentences make a point and often give reasons or examples to support that point. . . Consider the last paragraph about topic sentences, beginning with the topic sentence itself: Topic sentences often act like tiny thesis statements. This is my claim, or the point I will prove in the paragraph that follows.

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    Michael Davis given life sentence for murdering his baby son - who suffered a 'snapped neck' Ollie Davis was just a month old when he was found lifeless in his bedroom in Leicester with 37 ...

  24. Crumbley sentencing: Michigan mass shooter's parents get prison time

    The sentence came after the court heard statements from the family members of Tate Myre, 16, Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, and Justin Shilling, 17. The students were killed when the ...

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    Allen Weisselberg, the former finance chief of Donald Trump's family business, was sentenced Wednesday to five months in jail for lying during a civil-fraud investigation into the former ...

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    Prosecutors had asked Carney to sentence Laube to at least six months in prison. Instead, he was sentenced to time served and will pay a $2,000 fine. Violence and extremism

  27. M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition: Larissa Ramey Presents 'the footnotes: a love

    The School of Art in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition by Larissa Cheryl Ramey, the footnotes: a love practice. The exhibition will be held at the School of Art Sculpture Studio, SCUL Gallery, located at 744 Hill Avenue, in Fayetteville, April 8-12. All are invited to schedule an appointment with Ramey to view the exhibition and attend a ...

  28. Missouri executes Brian Dorsey despite prison officers' objections

    Brian Dorsey, the convicted Missouri murderer whose fight against a death sentence gained support from dozens of correctional officers, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday in a state prison ...

  29. Jennifer and James Crumbley, parents of Michigan school shooter

    "A sentence of 10 to 15 years' imprisonment is proportionate to these offenses and this offender." The same exact request was sent in regards to James Crumbley.