Almost every assignment you complete for a history course will ask you to make an argument. Your instructors will often call this your "thesis" -- your position on a subject. An argument takes a stand on an issue. It seeks to persuade an audience of a point of view in much the same way that a lawyer argues a case in a court of law.
Writing an effective introduction is an art form. The introduction is the first thing that your reader sees. It is what invests the reader in your paper, and it should make them want to continue reading. It also helps focus the reader on your central point. An effective thesis establishes a tone and a point of view for a given purpose and audience.
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But other questions, too, demand an answer. For whom am I writing? For what purpose? Your answers to questions about audience and purpose will influence every choice that you make in writing, from organization to tone to diction to citation style.
A thesis statement is one sentence that expresses the main idea of a research paper or essay, such as an expository essay or argumentative essay. It makes a claim, directly answering a question. As you can see in the thesis statement examples below, you must be very specific, summarizing points that are about to be made in your paper, and supported by specific evidence.