Thesis Styles

Thesis writing is more than just putting arguments on a page. It’s a complicated dance that straddles the line between the academic and the personal. The thesis style is as integral a part of the paper as subject or argument.

How do I use style to insert myself?

In terms of embodying your paper, there are many ways to approach that facet of writing. Here are a few quick tips to help you become more personally entrenched in your work.

  • Use “I”. If you are writing a reflective paper, a paper about personal experience, or an opinion piece, do not shy away from using the word “I.” Many students try to be vague (or  worse, use the passive voice!) to avoid taking responsibility for their words.

  • Watch quote choice. If you can’t use “I,” the next best way to inhabit your thesis is to make conscious choices on outside material included. In a literature thesis especially, quote choices reflect your argument. Choose quotes that you feel are relevant, thereby inserting your own voice and opinions. Though you should always try to choose the strongest and most succinct words to express your argument, what you deem to be the most effective quotes indicate your own approach to the material.

  • Explain your reasoning. Elaborate on the source of each of your arguments. For instance, assume you are writing an abortion thesis. Without appealing to emotion, explain where your argument is coming from. Is it based in morality? Legality? Why is morality more important than legality, or vice versa? Explain by offering examples supporting the “greater good.”

What is an example of a thesis style?

Thesis styles are hard to explain, as there is a spectrum of formality, ranging from the stiff and academic to satirical. Many pieces of writing (this blog post, for instance) fall in the middle of this spectrum.

  • Formal. Formal writing is the stiffest, most rigid type of writing. It leaves little room for personal attachment, option more for hard facts. Appeal to emotion is not usually valid. Use for historical papers, biographies, and scientific writing.

  • Semi-Formal. Academic writing is usually touted as being stiff, but it’s possible for a paper to be moderate. It can both inform but also relate. Unless otherwise called for, semi-informal writing is often the best choice: it retains the structure of the formal essay with the emotion of the informal. Good for art/literary critique and admissions essays.

  • Informal. Informal writing is more open to slang and use of personal pronouns. It gives you options to delve into the more creative side of your topic, drawing from your own opinions and the opinions of others to create a diverse examination of your subject. And informal thesis style works for reflective papers and editorials.

  • Satire/farce. If you can get away with it, do it. If not, don’t even try for satirical. Use with extreme caution.

Thesis style is something you should always keep in mind when writing your term papers. Utilizing your skills in this way will far improve your paper.

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