To write any kind of a paper, your essay statement is your compass since it anchors your personal stand on the topic under discussion. How long your primary argument should be in terms of word count is a matter that you cannot spell out in absolute terms.
But before we delve into the details of length, what is a thesis statement? A thesis statement is an opening statement that creates a primary focus of your argument and ideas in an essay. This primary argument shows the reader the kind of stance you have taken on an issue or topic, and it is usually placed at the start of your introduction. In brief, the thesis is your main idea and central message. However, a thesis is and should not be a summary of your ideas.
But depending on the type of paper you are writing, a thesis can either take a descriptive or argumentative form. For instance, if you are working on an argumentative essay, your thesis will be a claim that states your stand on the matter. If you are dealing with a descriptive essay, your thesis statement will be explanatory.
So, how long should it be?
Ideally, most thesis statements are usually one sentence long. But there is room for a variation depending on several factors; you may need to exceed this traditionally acceptable length. For example, if you are writing a very detailed paper, you will need to write a longer statement than if you are dealing with a shorter one. If you want to exceed the one-sentence length, you can consult your supervisors to determine the appropriate length.
What factors will determine the actual length?
From the previous paragraphs, we have seen the ideal length falling between one and two sentences. However, writing one sentence is not equal to drafting the same number of words. For instance, sentences vary in words from one-word sentences such as “Come!” to as long as between 30 and 50 words. That is why one sentence does not mean the length is the same. You can write a one-sentence thesis statement with 35 words while another person can write their statement in one sentence but with 25 words. That is why this section will delve into the factors that will determine the actual length irrespective of whether it is one or two sentences.
- Wording choice
- Being specific vs. general
The first factor is the selection of words you use to write it. Your thesis should not become a “dump site” for big and obsolete words. If you use unnecessary words, you may end up with a longer statement that does not give your readers a clear understanding. For example, what is the point in saying, “Modern medical science is loaded with a host of unparalleled benefits for patients?” You could reduce those 13 words to seven words and say, “Modern medical science offers patients many benefits.” In these two examples, the two thesis statements are specific, but one is unnecessarily longer that the other.
Another factor is your ability to balance between being specific and general. Your statement needs to be specific and without being wordy. Take these two examples.
A general, shorter, but vague statement: eight words
Forests are important hence we should conserve them
A concise but longer statement: 16 words
We need to conserve forests because they help to create a balanced ecosystem and reduce desertification.
An ideal thesis statement should be one sentence, but it can be two depending on the type of paper you are writing. Its actual length depends on factors such as wording choice and balancing between clarity and brevity.