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The 4C Thesis Statement Solution

Your thesis statement is the backbone of your entire paper.  Get it right, and you are set up to write a great paper.  A good thesis statement not only clearly states your position on the topic, it also provides a quick outline for the rest of your paper.  But how do you write a thesis statement that works? You could use a thesis statement generator, but you still need to do the thinking involved to know what to put into it.

That’s where the 4C Thesis Statement Solution comes into play.

What is the 4C Thesis Statement Solution?

The 4Cs stand for: Choose a topic, Collect evidence, make a Claim, and Convince your audience of your claim.

The thesis statement itself has 3 parts, Topic, Claim, and Evidence List, but to get to those parts, you have to go through the 4Cs.

The following shows you how to go through the 4Cs and arrive at a well written thesis statement at the end:

1. Choose a topic

Your purpose in stating your topic is to let your reader know what the paper will be about.

Have you ever been lost somewhere without a quick way of finding out where you are? It is confusing and frustrating.  Similarly, if you don’t state your topic in the beginning of your thesis statement, your reader will feel lost before he or she even gets to the meat of your paper.

If you have an open ended assignment in which you are asked to choose a topic yourself, make sure your topic is not too broad.  It is really hard to form an opinion on a very broad topic. You can start with a broad topic and narrow it down.

For example:

The 1960s –> music –> rock and roll –> The Beatles

Shakespeare plays –> Romeo and Juliet –>major characters –> Mercutio

Are you writing a thesis statement now?  If so, write your paper topic at the top of your document.

2. Collect evidence

Imagine a detective pinpointing a perpetrator without collecting any evidence first.  Impossible, right?  The evidence has to be gathered before the crime is solved. So then why do so many students feel that they have to write their opinion before they have enough evidence to form a valid one?

Before you can make a claim and write your thesis statement, you need to be very knowledgeable about the topic at hand.  If you are writing about a book, find quotes in the book that address your theme.  If you are writing about a broader topic, find articles and other sources that give you multiple views on the topic.

In the process of gathering evidence, you may find yourself narrowing your topic even further.  Let’s take the example of The Beatles.  While it’s already narrowed down from 196os history, The Beatles still may be too large a topic to form a meaningful opinion.  You may decide to focus on their influence on the world.  Or perhaps you want to discuss one of their albums and its influences.  Don’t be afraid to discard some evidence in order to focus on a more coherent and manageable topic.

3. Make a Claim

What do your pieces of evidence have in common?  What do they say about your topic?  These relationships should form the basis for your claim.

For example, in rereading scenes from Romeo and Juliet, you may find that Mercutio is always a good friend to Romeo.  That can be your opinion:

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio is a great friend to Romeo

You’ll notice that the topic is clearly stated, and the claim almost hits you over the head with its directness.  That’s good.  Your thesis statement should be extremely clear.

4. Convince your audience of your claim

Now that you’ve made a claim, it’s time to convince your reader that you are right. You do this by compiling a brief list of the evidence you will use to prove your claim.

You may want to include all of your evidence in your list, but you may also want to leave some of it out if it doesn’t prove your opinion.  Remember, everything in your paper should prove your claim.  This is especially important for your list of evidence, because it tells your reader where you are going with your paper.

Look through the evidence you have gathered and pull out 3-5 main ways of proving your opinion.  Then list them out:

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (topic), Mercutio is a great friend to Romeo (claim). This is shown when Romeo is pining after Rosamond in the beginning of the book and Mercutio helps him lighten up, when Mercutio supports Romeo in his fight with Tybalt, and when Romeo is devastated at Mercutio’s death (list of evidence).

The Beatles’ music (topic) made a huge impact on the world (claim). They changed music forever with their unique sound,  influenced 1960s fashion, and have appeared on numerous forms of media, including video games and television shows (list of evidence).

To recap:

The 4Cs of thesis development are:

Choose a topic (not to broad!)

Collect evidence on your topic

Make a claim based on your evidence

Convince your reader you are right with an evidence list


The thesis statement itself has 3 parts –

Topic, Claim, Evidence List


I hope the 4Cs will help you write better thesis statements in the future!

What is in a thesis statement?

I’ve noticed that by far, the most hits on this blog come from my post on thesis and outline generators, so I thought I’d take a minute and write about the formula for a good thesis statement.

A good thesis statement has 3 parts:

1. Presentation of the topic

2. Your opinion on the topic

3. Your roadmap for how you will prove your opinion

For example, if you were to write a thesis statement on the topic of kids watching TV, it might look something like this:

Topic presentation:

In the United States, the average child between the ages of 2 and 11 watches around 30 hours of television a week.


While there are some educational television shows out there, nothing can replace the learning that comes from loving human interaction; therefore, parents should spend more time with their kids and reduce the amount of television their children watch.

Roadmap (3 parts)

(1) More human interaction would benefit kids by helping them learn how to interact with and treat others in a real world context.  (2) Children who spend more time with their parents are proven to do better in school and have larger vocabularies.  (3) Also, many tasks must be learned hands-on, especially in early childhood, and a television can’t provide that type of learning experience.

(Notice that each part of the road map tied back to the opinion about learning, and didn’t just list general reasons why television watching is bad for kids.  Be specific in each part of your thesis statement!)

Put all three parts together, and there you have it – a comprehensive thesis statement, letting your reader know what your paper will be about, what your opinion on the topic is, and how you will convince him or her that you are right.


Q: I don’t even know what my opinion is on the topic.  How can I write my thesis statement before I know what research is out there?

A: You can’t.  Wait until you have researched and synthesized the information before writing your thesis statement.  Sometimes I wait until I have written the bulk of my paper before writing my thesis statement.  Then I go back and tie all of the paragraphs back to the thesis statement.

Q: What is the difference between a thesis statement and an introductory paragraph?

A: Good question.  An introductory paragraph can sometimes include only a thesis statement, but the better-written ones also have a grabber at the beginning, like a quote, a compelling question, or an interesting scenario.  Then there is a bridge connecting the grabber to the thesis statement, and finally, the thesis statement itself.

Q: What if my paper is much more complex, and I have far more than three parts to include in my roadmap?

A: First, group your subtopics together as much as possible.  Even if a section has multiple components and paragraphs, as long as all of those paragraphs relate to the same subtopic, you can mention only that main subtopic in your thesis statement roadmap.

Then, make sure that your wording is as concise as possible for your thesis statement roadmap.  You only want the main idea of the subtopic in your roadmap, not the details.

Q: Why do thesis statements matter so much?  Why do my professors seem to care about them?

A: A well-written thesis statement prepares your reader for the rest of your paper.  It tells her what you will be proving in your paper and how you will go about proving it.  Thesis statements also help you by providing you with a roadmap for your paper, as well as a central idea on which to focus.

Q: Once I’ve written my thesis statement, can I just forget about it and write the rest of the paper?

A: No.  You must tie every paragraph or subtopic back to it in some way.

Outline and thesis generators

Are you struggling to write a thesis for your paper?  Confused about how to construct an effective outline?  Here are three websites that will help you do the job.

Thesis builder/outline generator

On this website, you can generate either a thesis statement or a paper outline. The outline, for a 5 paragraph essay, is especially helpful; It not only plugs in your main points, it also gives you tips and guidance for the rest of the paragraphs.  You can extend this into a longer essay by printing the guidelines and applying them to the rest of your body paragraphs. Just plug in your main opinion, 2 supporting arguments, and one opposing argument, press the button for either the thesis or outline generator, and whallah!   

University of Phoenix thesis builder 

This is very similar to the above thesis builder, but it gives you an example before you actually plug in your own ideas.  Also, it lacks the outline generation component.  If you need a bit more guidance in coming up with your argument and supporting ideas, visit this site.

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Outline Maker

This outline generator is awesome.  Type in your thesis statement and up to 4 subtopics, with up to 3 pieces of supporting evidence for each subtopic. Then, press the button for your very own outline.  Part of why this site is so helpful is because it guides you through the outline creation process in a very accessible way (the different parts of the outline are color-coded for visual learners) and helps you to see how to generate a successful outline.

When you are done using this, you will be more than ready to begin writing your paper!

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