Carnegie Mellon University

Thesis Statements and Topic Sentences

Thesis statements and topic sentences give readers high-level information about the claims you make in your paper. Ideally, a reader should be able to read only the thesis statement and topic sentences of your text and still be able to understand the main ideas and logical progression of your argument. This means it’s your job to make sure your main points are easy to understand. Information that is buried in the bottom of a dense paragraph can easily go overlooked by a skimmer. These handouts explain the strategy of putting your bottom line up front (BLUF) to ensure that readers don’t skip your most important information.

These handouts will teach you about:

  • BLUF in the context of whole papers and individual paragraphs
  • The function of a strong thesis statement
  • The function of a strong topic sentence
  • How to craft your own high-level ideas

To see these strategies in action, click the link in the sidebar to watch the video or to view, download, and print the PDFs.

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