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10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
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- How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples
How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.
A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.
The main goals of an introduction are to:
- Catch your reader’s attention.
- Give background on your topic.
- Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.
This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Table of contents
Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.
Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.
Examples: Writing a good hook
Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
- Braille was an extremely important invention.
- The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.
- The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
- The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.
Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.
Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.
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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- An outline of the debate you’re addressing
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
- Definitions of key terms
The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.
How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:
Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.
This is the most important part of your introduction. A good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.
The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.
Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.
As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.
For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.
When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.
It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.
To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .
You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.
Checklist: Essay introduction
My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
I have defined any important terms.
My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.
You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.
- Literary analysis
This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
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Essay Introduction Examples
Written by Scribendi
Always have a road map for an essay introduction . Having a strong essay introduction structure is critical to a successful paper. It sets the tone for the reader and interests them in your work. It also tells them what the essay is about and why they should read it at all.
It shouldn't leave the reader confused with a cliffhanger at the end. Instead, it should generate interest and guide the reader to Chapter One. Using the right parts of an essay introduction can help with this.
Check out an effective essay introduction structure below. It’s a road map for writing an essay—just like the parts of essay introductions are road maps for readers.
Essay Introduction Structure
Outline of argument
Some academics find the beginning the most difficult part of writing an essay , so our editors have created some examples of good essay introductions to guide you. Let's take a look at the samples below to see how the essay introduction structures come together.
If you are unsure about your paper, our essay editors would love to give you some feedback on how to write an essay introduction.
 According to Paul Ratsmith, the tenuous but nonetheless important relationship between pumpkins and rats is little understood: "While I've always been fascinated by this natural kinship, the connection between pumpkins and rats has been the subject of few, if any, other studies" (2008).  Ratsmith has been studying this connection, something he coined "pumpkinology," since the early 1990s. He is most well known for documenting the three years he spent living in the wild among pumpkins and rats.  Though it is a topic of little recent interest, the relationship has been noted in several ancient texts and seems to have been well understood by the Romans. Critics of Ratsmith have cited poor science and questionable methodology when dismissing his results, going so far as to call pumpkinology "rubbish" (de Vil, 2009), "stupid" (Claw, 2010), and "quite possibly made up" (Igthorn, 2009).  Despite these criticisms, there does appear to be a strong correlation between pumpkin patches and rat populations, with Ratsmith documenting numerous pumpkin–rat colonies across North America, leading to the conclusion that pumpkins and rats are indeed "nature's best friends" (2008).
Let's break down this example of a good essay introduction structure. The beginning hooks our attention from the get-go in section one. This is because it piques our curiosity. What is this strange relationship? Why has no one studied it? Then, section two gives us context for the topic. Ratsmith is an expert in a controversial field: pumpkinology. It's the study of the connection between pumpkins and rats.
The second half of the paragraph also demonstrates why this is a good essay introduction example. Section three gives us the main argument: the topic is rarely studied because critics think Ratsmith's work is "rubbish," but the relationship between pumpkins and rats has ancient roots. Then section four gives us the thesis statement: Ratsmith's work has some merit.
The parts of an essay introduction help us chart a course through the topic. We know the paper will take us on a journey. It's all because the author practiced how to write an essay introduction.
Let’s take a look at another example of a good essay introduction.
 Societies have long believed that if a black cat crosses one's path, one might have bad luck—but it wasn't until King Charles I's black cat died that the ruler's bad luck began (Pemberton, 2018).  Indeed, for centuries, black cats have been seen as the familiars of witches—as demonic associates of Satan who disrespect authority (Yuko, 2021). Yet, they have also been associated with good luck, from England's rulers to long-distance sailors (Cole, 2021).  This essay shows how outdated the bad luck superstition really is. It provides a comprehensive history of the belief and then provides proof that this superstition has no place in today's modern society.  It argues that despite the prevailing belief that animals cause bad luck, black cats often bring what seems to be "good luck" and deserve a new reputation.
This example of a good essay introduction pulls us in right away. This is because section one provides an interesting fact about King Charles I. What is the story there, and what bad luck did he experience after his cat passed away? Then, section two provides us with general information about the current status of black cats. We understand the context of the essay and why the topic is controversial.
Section three then gives us a road map that leads us through the main arguments. Finally, section four gives us the essay's thesis: "black cats often bring what seems to be 'good luck' and deserve a new reputation."
Still feeling unsure about how to write an essay introduction? Here's another example using the essay introduction structure we discussed earlier.
 When the Lutz family moved into a new house in Amityville, New York, they found themselves terrorized by a vengeful ghost (Labianca, 2021). Since then, their famous tale has been debunked by scientists and the family themselves (Smith, 2005).  Yet ghost stories have gripped human consciousness for centuries (History, 2009). Scientists, researchers, and theorists alike have argued whether ghosts are simply figments of the imagination or real things that go bump in the night. In considering this question, many scientists have stated that ghosts may actually exist.  Lindley (2017) believes the answer may be in the quantum world, which "just doesn’t work the way the world around us works," but "we don’t really have the concepts to deal with it." Scientific studies on the existence of ghosts date back hundreds of years (History, 2009), and technology has undergone a vast evolution since then (Lamey, 2018). State-of-the-art tools and concepts can now reveal more about ghosts than we've ever known (Kane, 2015).  This essay uses these tools to provide definitive proof of the existence of ghosts in the quantum realm.
This example of a good essay introduction uses a slightly different strategy than the others. To hook the reader, it begins with an interesting anecdote related to the topic. That pulls us in, making us wonder what really happened to the Lutzs. Then, section two provides us with some background information about the topic to help us understand. Many people believe ghosts aren't real, but some scientists think they are.
This immediately flows into section three, which charts a course through the main arguments the essay will make. Finally, it ends with the essay's thesis: there is definitive proof of the existence of ghosts in the quantum realm. It all works because the author used the parts of an essay introduction well.
For attention-grabbing introductions, an understanding of essay introduction structure and how to write an essay introduction is required.
Our essay introduction examples showing the parts of an essay introduction will help you craft the beginning paragraph you need to start your writing journey on the right foot.
If you'd like more personalized attention to your essay, consider sending it for Essay Editing by Scribendi. We can help you ensure that your essay starts off strong.
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Do you want to know how to write an effective essay introduction? Are you unsure of where to start? Don’t worry; we are here to help! We will explore what makes a good introduction, how to structure your introduction and what to include in it. We will also consider what not to include when writing one, so you know how…
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- Digital Resources
- Ethical Issues In Data Collection
- Formulate Questions
- Internet Search Engines
- Literary Analysis
- Personal Writing
- Print Resources
- Research Process
- Research and Analysis
- Technical Writing
- Action Verbs
- Adjectival Clause
- Adverbial Clause
- Appositive Phrase
- Argument from Authority
- Auditory Description
- Basic Rhetorical Modes
- Begging the Question
- Building Credibility
- Causal Flaw
- Causal Relationships
- Cause and Effect Rhetorical Mode
- Central Idea
- Chronological Description
- Circular Reasoning
- Classical Appeals
- Close Reading
- Coherence Between Sentences
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- Coherences within Sentences
- Complex Rhetorical Modes
- Compound Complex Sentences
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- Consistent Voice
- Counter Argument
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- Description Rhetorical mode
- Direct Discourse
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- False Connections
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- Faulty Analogy
- Faulty Causality
- Fear Arousing
- Gustatory Description
- Hasty Generalization
- Induction Rhetoric
- Levels of Coherence
- Line of Reasoning
- Missing the Point
- Modifiers that Qualify
- Modifiers that Specify
- Narration Rhetorical Mode
- Non-Testable Hypothesis
- Objective Description
- Olfactory Description
- Parenthetical Element
- Participial Phrase
- Personal Narrative
- Placement of Modifiers
- Post-Hoc Argument
- Process Analysis Rhetorical Mode
- Red Herring
- Reverse Causation
- Rhetorical Fallacy
- Rhetorical Modes
- Rhetorical Question
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- Spatial Description
- Straw Man Argument
- Subject Consistency
- Subjective Description
- Tactile Description
- Tense Consistency
- Tone and Word Choice
- Twisting the Language Around
- Unstated Assumption
- Verbal Irony
- Visual Description
- Authorial Intent
- Authors Technique
- Language Choice
- Prompt Audience
- Prompt Purpose
- Rhetorical Strategies
- Understanding Your Audience
- Auditory Imagery
- Gustatory Imagery
- Olfactory Imagery
- Tactile Imagery
- Main Idea and Supporting Detail
- Statistical Evidence
- Communities of Practice
- Cultural Competence
- Gender Politics
- Intercultural Communication
- Research Methodology
- Object Subject Verb
- Subject Verb Object
- Syntactic Structures
- Universal Grammar
- Verb Subject Object
- Author Authority
- Direct Quote
- First Paragraph
- Historical Context
- Intended Audience
- Primary Source
- Second Paragraph
- Secondary Source
- Source Material
- Third Paragraph
- Character Analysis
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- Text Structure Analysis
- Vocabulary Assessment
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Do you want to know how to write an effective essay introduction? Are you unsure of where to start? Don’t worry; we are here to help! We will explore what makes a good introduction, how to structure your introduction and what to include in it. We will also consider what not to include when writing one, so you know how to improve your work and avoid common mistakes.
A definition of an essay introduction is
An opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your essay. This is followed by the main body of your essay and then a conclusion.
Think of an introduction as the starting line.
Types of Introduction in an essay
There are different types of essay introductions, depending on what you are writing about and the goal of your essay. Some examples of different introduction purposes include:
- Explaining why your chosen topic is interesting or important.
- Explaining how your essay will change misconceptions about your topic.
- Explaining the elements of your topic that may be unusual to the reader.
Essay Introduction structure
It is important to note that there are many different ways to write an essay introduction. This is simply a suggested structure for your paragraph. Your introduction may closely follow this structure, or it could differ from it. The choice is up to you - it depends on what you feel is the best way to present your writing to the reader.
So what could you include in an introduction paragraph?
An example of an introduction paragraph structure contains the following aspects:
2. Background information
3. Introduction of essay brief and outline of your argument's main goal.
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
This is a memorable opening line that draws the reader in and intrigues them. It is important to catch the reader's attention from the beginning, as this sets the tone for the rest of the essay to follow. A hook could be written in a variety of ways, such as:
A statement can be used to make a declaration that will either support your argument or go against it.
‘Comprehensible input is considered one of the most effective ways to learn a language.’
A question is an excellent way to interest the reader and suggests that the reader will find out the answer to the question if they keep reading. This will keep them engaged throughout your essay.
‘How does the language used in the media affect the way we communicate daily?’
A quotation provides the reader with information from a source that relates to your brief
‘According to linguist David Crystal (2010), "most people entering their teens have a vocabulary of at least 20,000 words."'
A fact/statistic could immediately impress the reader as it shows knowledge of the topic and provides them with real evidence from the start. You should ensure that the quote is from a reliable source and is relevant to your thesis statement and argument.
'Worldwide, around 1.35 billion people speak English.’
Background information provides the reader with context , so they gather more of an understanding of the topic you are exploring. This could be done in a variety of ways, for example:
Explaining a term - e.g. providing a definition.
Providing information about important events or dates - e.g historical context, social context etc.
Research about the topic - e.g. introducing a key theory and theorists.
Outline and set the context of past work - e.g. previous studies on your essay topic .
Essay brief and main goal of argument
An essay brief refers to the main idea of your essay. When introducing your essay brief, think of the following questions:
What is my essay about?
What is the purpose of this essay?
Outlining the main goal of your argument will let the reader know what to expect in the body of the essay and will give your essay a structure to follow. When doing this, think of the following questions:
Am I arguing for or against something?
What am I trying to prove to the reader?
What are the key points that I can further expand on in the body of my essay?
Which theories am I going to be discussing/analysing?
It is important to remember that this part of your introduction provides a summary of the essay by outlining the main points that you will develop in the main body of your essay. For example, stating something like this:
This essay will discuss the positives and negatives of deductive learning. It will critically analyse Sinclair and Coulthard's IRF model and provide some future recommendations.
What not to do in an Introduction paragraph
Although it is helpful to know examples of effective introduction paragraphs, it is also important to be aware of what not to include in your introduction. This will give you a clearer idea of how to improve your writing.
Don't make your introduction too long.
Your introduction should be brief and concise . If you go into too much detail straight away, this leaves you no opportunity for you to expand on ideas and develop your argument further in the body of your essay.
Don't be too vague
You want to make it clear to the reader that you know what you are talking about and are sure of your argument. If you don't make your intentions clear from the beginning, it may confuse the reader or imply that you are unsure of the direction of your essay.
How long should an Introduction paragraph be?
Depending on how long your essay is, your introduction could vary in length. In relation to the other parts of your essay (main body and conclusion paragraphs), it should be roughly the same length as your conclusion. It is suggested that your introduction (and conclusion) should each be around ten percent of the total word count. For example, if you write 1000 words, your introduction and conclusion should be around 100 words each. Of course, this may vary depending on how detailed your essay is and what you are writing about.
Essay Introduction example
Below is an example of an essay introduction. It has been colour coded in the following way:
Blue = Hook
Pink = Background information
Green = Essay brief and goal of argument
Essay question example: Explore the ways in which the English language has either positively or negatively impacted the world.
Worldwide, around 1.35 billion people speak English. The use of the English language is becoming increasingly prominent, particularly within political and economic communication around the world. Due to its global influence, English is now regarded as a lingua franca (global language). But how and why has English become so powerful? Through the analysis of language globalisation, this study will explore the positive effect English has on both global communication and language learning. It will also consider the ways in which English could be used in the future to further develop learning potential.
Introduction - Key Takeaways
- An introduction is an opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your essay.
- An introduction is followed by the main body of the essay and the conclusion .
- A structure of an essay introduction can include: a hook, background information, and a thesis statement/outline of your argument's main goal.
- An introduction shouldn't be too long, or too vague.
An introduction should be around 10% of your whole word count.
Frequently Asked Questions about Introduction
--> what is an introduction.
An opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your writing.
--> How to write an introduction?
To write an introduction, you could include the following elements:
- A memorable hook
- Relevant background information
- Essay brief and argument's main goal
--> How to write a hook for an essay?
A hook can be written in multiple ways, e.g. a statement, a question, a quotation, a fact/statistic. It should be memorable for the reader and relevant to the topic of your essay!
--> What comes after an introduction in an essay?
An introduction is followed by the main body of the essay, which expands on the points made in the introduction and develops your argument.
--> How long should an introduction be?
Final introduction quiz, introduction quiz - teste dein wissen.
What is an introduction?
An opening paragraph that states the purpose and outlines the main objectives of your work.
What is an introduction followed by?
Main body and conclusion
What is a hook?
A memorable opening line that draws the reader in and intrigues them.
A hook can be written in a variety of ways. What are they?
Statement, question, quotation, fact/statistic
What does background information do?
Provide the reader with context.
Fill in the blanks:
Background information allows the reader to gain more of an ________ of the _____ you are exploring.
What does an essay brief refer to?
The main idea of your essay.
Outlining the main goal of your argument lets the reader know what?
What to expect in the body of the essay.
Your introduction should be long.
True or false?
Your introduction should be brief and concise, not too long.
An introduction should be around __% of your overall word count.
True or false, there is a set formula you should follow when writing an introduction?
False. It is up to you how you write your introduction.
Why is it important to provide background information in the introduction?
Because it sets the context for your reader
Roughly how long should your introduction be?
10% of the final word count
What could happen if your introduction is too vague?
- Your readers will be confused
- It could look like you haven't done enough research
List three things a hook sentence could be;
- A quotation
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Awesome Guide on How to Write an Essay Introduction
'I'd like to recall the day I nearly burned myself in flames in my automobile while going 250 mph and escaping the police'. – Thankfully, we don't have a story like that to relate to, but we bet we piqued your interest.
That's what we refer to as an efficient hook. Fundamentally, it's an attention-grabbing first sentence that piques an audience's interest and encourages them to keep reading. While writing an essay, a strong hook in essay introductions is essential.
Delve into the article if you're wondering how to start an essay with a strong introduction. This is the ultimate guide for writing the parts of a introduction paragraph from our custom dissertation writing service to engage your readers.
The introduction paragraph, to put it simply, is the first section of an essay. Thus, when reading your essay, the reader will notice it right away. What is the goal of an opening paragraph? There are two things that an excellent introduction achieves. It initially informs the reader on the subject of your work; in other words, it should describe the essay's topic and provide some background information for its main point. It must also spark readers' interest and persuade them to read the remainder of your article.
To provide you with essay writing services , we only need your paper requirements to create a plagiarism-free paper on time.
How Long Should an Introduction Be
Typically, there are no strict restrictions on how long an opening paragraph should be. Professional essay writers often shape the size of it with the paper's total length in mind. For instance, if you wonder how to make introduction in essay with five paragraphs, keep your introductory sentence brief and fit it inside a single section. But, if you're writing a longer paper, let's say one that's 40 pages, your introduction could need many paragraphs or even be pages long.
Although there are no specific requirements, seasoned writers advise that your introduction paragraph should account for 8% to 9% of your essay's overall word length.
And, if you place an order on our coursework writing services , we will certainly comply with your introduction length requirements.
What Makes a Good Introduction
All of the following criteria should be fulfilled by a strong opening sentence:
- Start your introduction on an essay with a catchy sentence that draws the reader in.
- It needs to include baseline information about your subject.
- This should give readers a sense of the main argument(s) that your essay will address.
- It must include all necessary information on the setting, locations, and chronological events.
- By the end of your introduction, make a precise remark that serves as your essay's thesis.
What Are the 3 Parts of an Introduction Paragraph?
So, what should be in a introduction paragraph? The introduction format essay has three sections: a hook, connections, and a thesis statement. Let's examine each component in more depth.
Part 1: Essay Hook
A hook is among the most effective parts of a introduction paragraph to start an essay. A strong hook will always engage the reader in only one sentence. In other words, it is a selling point.
Let's now address the query, 'how to make an essay introduction hook interesting?'. Well, to create a powerful hook, you can employ a variety of techniques:
- A shocking fact
- An anecdote
- A short summary
And here is what to avoid when using a hook:
- Dictionary definitions
- Sweeping statements that include words like 'everywhere,' 'always,' etc.
Once you've established a strong hook, you should give a general outline of your major point and some background information on the subject of your paper. If you're unsure how to write an introduction opening, the ideal approach is to describe your issue briefly before directing readers to particular areas. Simply put, you need to give some context before gradually getting more specific with your opinions.
The 5 Types of Hooks for Writing
Apart from the strategies mentioned above, there are even more types of hooks that can be used:
- A Common Misconception — a good trick, to begin with, to claim that something your readers believe in is false.
Example: 'Although many falsely believe that people working from home are less productive – employees who get such work-life benefits generally work harder.'
- Statistics — Statistical facts may provide a great hook for argumentative essays and serious subjects focusing on statistics.
Example: 'A recent study showed that people who are satisfied with their work-life balance work 21% harder and are 33% more likely to stay at the same company.'
- Personal Story — sometimes, personal stories can be an appropriate hook, but only if they fit into a few brief sentences (for example, in narrative essays).
Example: 'When I had my first work-from-home experience, I suddenly realized the importance of having a good work-life balance; I saw plenty of the benefits it can provide.'
- Scenes — this type of hook requires making the readers imagine the things you are writing about. It is most suitable when used in descriptive and narrative essays.
Example: 'Imagine you could have as much free time as you wish by working or studying from home—and spend more time with your loved ones.'
- Thesis Statement — when unsure how to do an essay introduction, some writers start directly with their thesis statement. The main trick here is that there is no trick.
Example: 'I strongly believe there is a direct correlation between a healthy work-life balance and productivity in school or at work.'
Part 2: Connections
Give readers a clearer sense of what you will discuss throughout your article once you have given a hook and relevant background information about your essay topic. Briefly mentioning your main points in the same sequence in which you will address them in your body paragraphs can help your readers progressively arrive at your thesis statement.
In this section of your introduction, you should primarily address the following questions:
You may make sure that you are giving your readers all the information they need to understand the subject of your essay by responding to each of these questions in two to three lines. Be careful to make these statements brief and to the point, though.
Your main goal is gradually moving from general to specific facts about your subject or thesis statement. Visualize your introduction as an upside-down triangle to simplify the essay writing process. The attention-grabbing element is at the top of this triangle, followed by a more detailed description of the subject and concluding with a highly precise claim. Here is some quick advice on how to use the 'upside-down triangle' structure to compose an essay introduction:
- Ensure that each subsequent line in your introduction is more focused and precise. This simple method will help you progressively introduce the main material of your piece to your audience.
- Consider that you are writing a paper on the value of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In this situation, you may start with a query like, 'Have you ever considered how a healthy work-life balance can affect other areas of your life?' or a similar hook. Next, you could proceed by giving broad factual information. Finally, you could focus your topic on fitting your thesis statement.
Part 3: The Thesis Statement
If you're unsure of the ideal method to create an introduction, you should be particularly attentive to how you phrase your thesis statement.
The thesis of your work is, without a doubt, the most crucial section. Given that the thesis statement of your piece serves as the foundation for the entire essay, it must be presented in the introduction. A thesis statement provides readers with a brief summary of the article's key point. Your main assertion is what you'll be defending or disputing in the body of your essay. An effective thesis statement is often one sentence long, accurate, exact, unambiguous, and focused. Your thesis should often be provided at the end of your introduction.
Here is an example thesis statement for an essay about the value of a proper work-life balance to help you gain a better understanding of what a good thesis should be:
Thesis Statement Example: 'Creating flexible and pleasant work schedules for employees can help them have a better work-life balance while also increasing overall performance.'
Catchy Introductions for Different Essay Types
Although opening paragraphs typically have a fixed form, their language may vary. In terms of academic essays, students are often expected to produce four primary intro to essay examples. They include articles that are analytical, argumentative, personal, and narrative. It is assumed that different information should appear in these beginning paragraphs since the goals of each sort of essay change. A thorough overview of the various paper kinds is provided below, along with some good essay introduction samples from our argumentative essay writers:
- The writer of a narrative essay must convey a story in this style of writing. Such essays communicate a story, which distinguishes them from other essay types in a big way.
- Such a paper's hook will often be an enticing glimpse into a specific scene that only loosely links to the thesis statement. Additionally, when writing such an essay, a writer should ensure that every claim included in the introduction relates to some important moments that have significantly impacted the story's outcome.
- The thesis in narrative writing is usually the theme or main lesson learned from the story.
Narrative introduction example: 'My phone rang, and my mother told me that Dad had suffered a heart attack. I suddenly experienced a sense of being lifted out from under me by this immaculately carpeted flooring. After making it through, Dad left me with a sizable collection of lessons. Here are three principles that I know dad would have wanted me to uphold...'
Still Can't Think of a Perfect Intro?
When assigned to write an essay, students end up with a ton of questions, including “How to structure an essay?”, “How to choose a good topic?”. Here at EssayPro, we employ only the best essay writers who are committed to students’ success.
- Analytical essay introduction format is another popular type. In contrast to a narrative paper, an analytical paper seeks to explore an idea and educate the reader about a topic.
- Three important facts that support the analytical premise should be included in the middle section of the introduction.
- A well-researched and well-thought-out claim will form a wonderful thesis because the main goal of this paper is to study the topic and educate readers. It's crucial to remember that this assertion shouldn't initially have any real weight. Although it will still be theoretical, it has to be articulated practically.
Analytical introduction example: “... Hence even though presidents, CEOs, and generals still have their daily schedules full of economic crises and military conflicts, on the cosmic scale of history humankind can lift its eyes up and start looking towards new horizons. If we bring famine, plague, and war under control, what will replace them at the top of the human agenda? Like firefighters in a world without fire, so humankind in the twenty-first century needs to ask itself an unprecedented question: what are we going to do with ourselves? What will demand our attention and ingenuity in a healthy, prosperous, and harmonious world? In a healthy, prosperous, and harmonious world, what will demand our attention and ingenuity? This question becomes doubly urgent given the immense new powers that biotechnology and information technology are providing us with. What will we do with all that power? ...” Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari
- To persuade readers of anything is the sole goal of persuasive essay writing. This may be accomplished using persuasive strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos.
- A hook statement for this paper may be anything from a fascinating fact to even comedy. You can use whatever technique you choose. The most crucial advice is to ensure your hook is in line with your thesis and that it can bolster further justifications.
- Generally speaking, a persuasive essay must include three supporting facts. Hence, to gradually lead readers to the major topic of your paper, add a quick summary of your three arguments in your introduction.
- Last, the thesis statement should be the main claim you will be disputing in this paper. It should be a brief, carefully thought-out, and confident statement of your essay's major argument.
Persuasive introduction example: 'Recycling waste helps to protect the climate. Besides cleaning the environment, it uses waste materials to create valuable items. Recycling initiatives must be running all around the world. ...'
- The final sort of academic writing that students frequently encounter is a personal essay. In principle, this essay style is creative nonfiction and requires the author to reflect on personal experiences. The goals of such a paper may be to convey a story, discuss the lessons that certain incidents have taught you, etc. This type of writing is unique since it is the most personal.
- Whatever topic you choose can serve as the hook for such an essay. A pertinent remark, query, joke, or fact about the primary plot or anything else will be acceptable. The backdrop of your narrative should then be briefly explained after that. Lastly, a thesis statement can describe the impact of particular experiences on you and what you learned.
Personal introduction example: 'My parents always pushed me to excel in school and pursue new interests like playing the saxophone and other instruments. I felt obligated to lead my life in a way that met their standards. Success was always expected on the route they had set out for me. Yet eight years after my parents' separation, this course was diverted when my dad relocated to California...'
Tips for Writing a Winning Introduction Paragraph
You now understand how to do introduction and have specific intro example for essays to help you get going. Let's quickly examine what you should and shouldn't do during the writing process.
- Keep the assignment's purpose in mind when you write your introduction, and ensure it complies with your instructor's requirements.
- Use a compelling and relevant hook to grab the reader's attention immediately.
- Make sure your readers understand your perspective to make it apparent.
- If necessary, establish key terms related to your subject.
- Show off your expertise on the subject.
- Provide a symbolic road map to help readers understand what you discuss throughout the post.
- Be brief; it's recommended that your introduction make up no more than 8 to 9 percent of the entire text (for example, 200 words for a 2500 words essay).
- Construct a strong thesis statement.
- Create some intrigue.
- Make sure there is a clear and smooth transition from your introduction to the body of your piece.
- If you're looking for a custom writer , request assistance from the EssayPro team. We know how to write a term paper along with many other types of essays.
- Provide too much background information.
- Use sentences that are off-topic or unnecessary.
- Make your opening paragraph excessively long.
- Keep some information a secret and reveal it later in conclusion.
- Employ overused phrases or generalizations.
- Using quotation marks excessively
Now that you know what is in the introduction of an essay, we recommend reading the information on how to critique an article to gain more academic insight.
If you are still struggling with that, keep in mind that you can always send us your request to get professional assistance from our law essay writing service .
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How to write an essay: Introduction
- What's in this guide
- Essay structure
- Additional resources
An in troduction generally does three things. The first part is usually a general comment that shows the reader why the topic is important, gets their interest, and leads them into the topic. It isn’t actually part of your argument. The next part of the introduction is the thesis statement . This is your response to the question; your final answer. It is probably the most important part of the introduction. Finally, the introduction tells the reader what they can expect in the essay body. This is where you briefly outline your arguments .
Here is an example of the introduction to the question - Discuss how media can influence children. Use specific examples to support your view.
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Essay Writing Guide
Writing An Essay Introduction
A Complete Essay Introduction Writing Guide With Examples
13 min read
Published on: Feb 24, 2023
Last updated on: May 26, 2023
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Writing an essay introduction can be a daunting task, especially if you don't know where to start.
Essay introductions are the first impression that your reader will have of your paper. So, it's important to make sure they're well written and engaging. You want to draw in your readers with an interesting opening that sets the tone for the rest of your work.
If you're having difficulty crafting your essay introduction, let MyPerfectWords.com lend a hand!
We offer expert advice on how to write an effective essay introduction that will grab your reader’s attention from the very beginning and keep them engaged throughout.
With our tips and examples, you can create an incredible essay introduction that will set the tone for a well-written, powerful paper.
Without further ado, let's begin!
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The Definition of an Essay Introduction
An essay introduction is the first part of your paper that introduces the main points and presents your stance on the topic.
It should provide a brief overview of what readers can expect from the body of your paper, as well as any relevant background information. It should also be concise and direct, as too much fluff can quickly detract from your overall argument.
Purpose of the Essay Introduction
The purpose of an essay introduction is to provide the reader with a brief overview of your paper and its main points.
It should also set the tone for the rest of the paper by summing up your argument or presenting any pertinent background information. Essay introductions should be written in such a way as to capture the reader’s attention and keep them interested in reading the rest of your paper.
How To Write An Essay Introduction
The beginning of the essay sets the tone for the reader. It is essential to write an essay introduction that picks your reader’s interest and encourages them to read further.
There is no one way of starting an essay. Some people prefer getting started with the essay and write the introduction at the end of the writing process.
Whenever you decide to write the introduction, always focus on the tone and purpose of your essay.
Here is a quick guide on how to write an introduction paragraph for an essay.
Step 1: Start With a Hook
Start your essay introduction with an interesting hook statement that should pull the readers in. This is usually the first sentence that sets the tone of your essay. Start with something interesting, clear, and concise to grab the reader’s attention.
Here are some expert suggestions on how to create a hook:
- Start with an interesting fact
- Share an anecdote
- Write about a common misconception about your essay topic
- Start with a rhetorical question
You can also refer to other catchy hook examples for writing a captivating start of the essay introduction.
Step 2: Background Information
Give the background of your essay topic first, and then identify the themes.
The introduction always begins with an orientation. It contains statements that show how the topic relates to bigger issues addressed in the next part of the essay.
The information you present here should be focused and must relate to the main argument of your essay. You can mention points that you will discuss in the body section. But do not give much information in this section.
Here's an example of it:
Step 3: State the Limitations of Your Essay or Discussion
Since you cannot discuss everything that is present about the given topic, it is important that you limit your discussion. Narrow down your focus and inform the readers how and why you have chosen the given topic or subject.
Here's a demonstration of it.
Step 4: Write the Thesis Statement
The last part of the introduction is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is a brief overview of the entire essay. It demonstrates the fundamental idea and approach of the writer toward the essay topic.
The thesis statement is written at the end of the introductory paragraph.
Step 5: Conclude the Essay Introduction
Finally, you must conclude your essay introduction by summarising the points mentioned in it. This should be done in such a way that readers are encouraged to read further and start exploring the rest of your paper.
Your conclusion should also include a call-to-action that encourages readers to engage in further discussion.
Here's an example of a well-crafted introduction:
Create captivating essays effortlessly!
The Essay Introduction Structure
An essay introduction serves as the first impression for your reader. It sets the tone for the rest of your paper and tells the reader what to expect from your work. The structure of an essay introduction should include a hook, contextual information, and a thesis statement.
A hook is used to grab readers' attention and draw them in. It can be a quote, an anecdote, or an interesting fact. The goal of the hook is to make your reader interested in reading your essay and keep them engaged until the end.
Contextual information gives the reader background on the subject you are writing about. This can include facts, definitions, and historical information. By providing this information, your reader will be better equipped to understand the rest of your essay.
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Your thesis statement is the main point of your paper and should be stated clearly in one sentence. It should briefly explain what you plan to discuss in the body of your paper. A good thesis statement should be specific and narrow in focus so that the reader can easily understand your argument.
Essay Introduction Outline
Essay Introduction Sample
Essay Introduction Examples
Here are some interesting introduction examples for different types of essays for you to go through and take help from.
Argumentative Essay Introduction Example
A good argumentative essay introduction is like an opening statement of the court. It involves presenting the facts at hand and the main argumentative approach in a rational and intellectual manner.
Here is an example for you to understand how to write an argumentative essay introduction.
Persuasive Essay Introduction Example
Writing a persuasive essay introduction is a tricky one. One of the reasons persuasive essay introductions are difficult to write is because it is difficult to persuade readers. As an author, you need to apply a subtle approach to your introduction.
Below is a perfect example of a persuasive essay introduction.
Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction Example
The compare and contrast essay introduction analyzes the similarities and differences between two or more subjects. They are often assigned to enhance the student’s critical abilities, analytical reasoning, and academic writing skills. A compare and contrast essay introduction is different in many ways; for instance, it introduces two elements within its first paragraph.
The following is a great introduction for a compare and contrast essay that you can refer to.
Descriptive Essay Introduction Example
Writing a descriptive essay introduction is easy when you know how to pen down your ideas. A descriptive essay provides a clear image of the topic and conveys a comprehensive understanding of the topic to the reader.
Here is an outstanding descriptive essay introduction example for your help.
Covid - 19 Essay Introduction Example
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on life in many countries. But it has also shown how resilient people can be in the face of adversity. Writing an essay on this topic requires careful analysis of the current situation and its effects.
The following is a great example of an introduction to a Covid-19 Essay.
Abortion Essay Introduction Example
The abortion debate remains one of the most controversial topics in modern society.
Pro-choice and pro-life advocates have been debating this issue for decades, with no end in sight. Writing an essay on this topic requires thoughtful research and a clear understanding of both sides.
Here's an example of how to write an abortion essay introduction.
Heritage Day Essay Introduction
Heritage Day is an important holiday that celebrates the multicultural heritage of South Africa.
It's a day to remember and appreciate the nation’s diverse culture, while also reflecting on our shared history. Writing an essay on this topic requires careful consideration of its history and purpose.
Here is an example of a great Heritage Essay Introduction:
Essay Introduction: Mistakes to Avoid
For a good introduction, here are some mistakes that you should avoid writing in your introductory paragraph.
- Try to avoid writing a vague introduction of irrelevant details about the topic.
- Do not provide too much information and facts in the introduction. Simply present the topic with sufficient information for the reader’s understanding.
- Avoid using informal language or slang terms in the introduction. Essay introductions should be written in formal and academic language.
- Do not make assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of the topic. Provide only basic background information to fill any gaps in understanding.
- Finally, do not introduce any new information in the introduction. The introduction should only provide an overview of what will be discussed in the essay, not dive into details.
By avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure that your essay introduction is clear and concise. It will help readers easily understand the topic and follow your argument throughout the paper.
Essay Introduction Writing Tips
The following are some expert essay writing tips that you can follow for an interesting introduction.
- The introduction should grab the reader’s attention and inculcate a sense of curiosity amongst them to read the whole essay.
- Provide background information. The background gives context to your essay. But the claims, arguments, and information should always be present within the body of the essay.
- Don’t forget to provide a thesis that is the main argument of the essay.
- Always leave out irrelevant information and use appropriate language that adds precise information.
Remember, an essay introduction is very important as it is the first element of an essay outline . However, it is not an easy task to accomplish.
Watch this video to learn the steps required for crafting a compelling essay.
Lastly, keep in mind that there are many ways you can be creative with your essay introduction. Well-composed opening lines will help you grab the reader’s attention.
Hopefully, the guidelines in this blog helped you in coming up with a strategy to engage your readers from the start.
If you are struggling to make your essay introduction engaging, look no further. We are a professional online essay writing service that guarantees top-quality essays.
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Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)
Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.
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Essay writing: Introductions
- Analysing questions
- Planning & drafting
- Revising & editing
- Essay writing videos
On this page:
“A relevant and coherent beginning is perhaps your best single guarantee that the essay as a whole will achieve its object.” Gordon Taylor, A Student's Writing Guide
Your introduction is the first thing your marker will read and should be approximately 10% of your word count. Within the first minute they should know if your essay is going to be a good one or not. An introduction has several components but the most important of these are the last two we give here. You need to show the reader what your position is and how you are going to argue the case to get there so that the essay becomes your answer to the question rather than just an answer.
What an introduction should include:
- A little basic background about the key subject area (just enough to put your essay into context, no more or you'll bore the reader).
- Explanation of how you are defining any key terms . Confusion on this could be your undoing.
- A road-map of how your essay will answer the question. What is your overall argument and how will you develop it?
- A confirmation of your position .
It is good to start with a statement that fixes your essay topic and focus in a wider context so that the reader is sure of where they are within the field. This is a very small part of the introduction though - do not fall into the trap of writing a whole paragraph that is nothing but background information.
Beware though, this only has to be a little bit wider, not completely universal. That is, do not start with something like "In the whole field of nursing...." or "Since man could write, he has always...". Instead, simply situate the area that you are writing about within a slightly bigger area. For example, you could start with a general statement about a topic, outlining some key issues but explain that your essay will focus on only one. Here is an example:
The ability to communicate effectively and compassionately is a key skill within nursing. Communication is about more than being able to speak confidently and clearly, it is about effective listening (Singh, 2019), the use of gesture, body language and tone (Adebe et al., 2016) and the ability to tailor language and messaging to particular situations (Smith & Jones, 2015). This essay will explore the importance of non-verbal communication ...
The example introduction at the bottom of this page also starts with similar, short background information.
Defining key terms
This does not mean quoting dictionary definitions - we all have access to dictionary.com with a click or two. There are many words we use in academic work that can have multiple or nuanced definitions. You have to write about how you are defining any potentially ambiguous terms in relation to your essay topic. This is really important for your reader, as it will inform them how you are using such words in the context of your essay and prevent confusion or misunderstanding.
Stating your case (road mapping)
The main thing an introduction will do is...introduce your essay! That means you need to tell the reader what your conclusion is and how you will get there.
There is no need to worry about *SPOILER ALERTS* - this is not a detective novel you can give away the ending! Sorry, but building up suspense is just going to irritate the reader rather than eventually satisfy. Simply outline how your main arguments (give them in order) lead to your conclusion. In American essay guides you will see something described as the ‘thesis statement’ - although we don't use this terminology in the UK, it is still necessary to state in your introduction what the over-arching argument of your essay will be. Think of it as the mega-argument , to distinguish it from the mini-arguments you make in each paragraph. Look at the example introduction at the bottom of this page which includes both of these elements.
Confirming your position
To some extent, this is covered in your roadmap (above), but it is so important, it deserves some additional attention here. Setting out your position is an essential component of all essays. Brick et al. (2016:143) even suggest
"The purpose of an essay is to present a clear position and defend it"
It is, however, very difficult to defend a position if you have not made it clear in the first place. This is where your introduction comes in. In stating your position, you are ultimately outlining the answer to the question. You can then make the rest of your essay about providing the evidence that supports your answer. As such, if you make your position clear, you will find all subsequent paragraphs in your essay easier to write and join together. As you have already told your reader where the essay is going, you can be explicit in how each paragraph contributes to your mega-argument.
In establishing your position and defending it, you are ultimately engaging in scholarly debate. This is because your positions are supported by academic evidence and analysis. It is in your analysis of the academic evidence that should lead your reader to understand your position. Once again - this is only possible if your introduction has explained your position in the first place.
An example introduction
(Essay title = Evaluate the role of stories as pedagogical tools in higher education)
Stories have been an essential communication technique for thousands of years and although teachers and parents still think they are important for educating younger children, they have been restricted to the role of entertainment for most of us since our teenage years. This essay will claim that stories make ideal pedagogical tools, whatever the age of the student, due to their unique position in cultural and cognitive development. To argue this, it will consider three main areas: firstly, the prevalence of stories across time and cultures and how the similarity of story structure suggests an inherent understanding of their form which could be of use to academics teaching multicultural cohorts when organising lecture material; secondly, the power of stories to enable listeners to personally relate to the content and how this increases the likelihood of changing thoughts, behaviours and decisions - a concept that has not gone unnoticed in some fields, both professional and academic; and finally, the way that different areas of the brain are activated when reading, listening to or watching a story unfold, which suggests that both understanding and ease of recall, two key components of learning, are both likely to be increased . Each of these alone could make a reasoned argument for including more stories within higher education teaching – taken together, this argument is even more compelling.
Key: Background information (scene setting) Stating the case (r oad map) Confirming a position (in two places). Note in this introduction there was no need to define key terms.
Brick, J., Herke, M., and Wong, D., (2016) Academic Culture, A students guide to studying at university, 3rd edition. Victoria, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs
Grab your reader's attention with the first words
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
An introductory paragraph, as the opening of a conventional essay , composition , or report , is designed to grab people's attention. It informs readers about the topic and why they should care about it but also adds enough intrigue to get them to continue to read. In short, the opening paragraph is your chance to make a great first impression.
Writing a Good Introductory Paragraph
The primary purpose of an introductory paragraph is to pique the interest of your reader and identify the topic and purpose of the essay. It often ends with a thesis statement .
You can engage your readers right from the start through a number of tried-and-true ways. Posing a question, defining the key term, giving a brief anecdote , using a playful joke or emotional appeal, or pulling out an interesting fact are just a few approaches you can take. Use imagery, details, and sensory information to connect with the reader if you can. The key is to add intrigue along with just enough information so your readers want to find out more.
One way to do this is to come up with a brilliant opening line . Even the most mundane topics have aspects interesting enough to write about; otherwise, you wouldn't be writing about them, right?
When you begin writing a new piece, think about what your readers want or need to know. Use your knowledge of the topic to craft an opening line that will satisfy that need. You don't want to fall into the trap of what writers call "chasers" that bore your readers (such as "The dictionary defines...."). The introduction should make sense and hook the reader right from the start .
Make your introductory paragraph brief. Typically, just three or four sentences are enough to set the stage for both long and short essays. You can go into supporting information in the body of your essay, so don't tell the audience everything all at once.
Should You Write the Intro First?
You can always adjust your introductory paragraph later. Sometimes you just have to start writing. You can start at the beginning or dive right into the heart of your essay.
Your first draft may not have the best opening, but as you continue to write, new ideas will come to you, and your thoughts will develop a clearer focus. Take note of these and, as you work through revisions , refine and edit your opening.
If you're struggling with the opening, follow the lead of other writers and skip it for the moment. Many writers begin with the body and conclusion and come back to the introduction later. It's a useful, time-efficient approach if you find yourself stuck in those first few words.
Start where it's easiest to start. You can always go back to the beginning or rearrange later, especially if you have an outline completed or general framework informally mapped out. If you don't have an outline, even just starting to sketch one can help organize your thoughts and "prime the pump" as it were.
Successful Introductory Paragraphs
You can read all the advice you want about writing a compelling opening, but it's often easier to learn by example. Take a look at how some writers approached their essays and analyze why they work so well.
"As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers. However, if you want your first crabbing experience to be a successful one, you must come prepared."
– (Mary Zeigler, "How to Catch River Crabs" )
What did Zeigler do in her introduction? First, she wrote in a little joke, but it serves a dual purpose. Not only does it set the stage for her slightly more humorous approach to crabbing, but it also clarifies what type of "crabber" she's writing about. This is important if your subject has more than one meaning.
The other thing that makes this a successful introduction is the fact that Zeigler leaves us wondering. What do we have to be prepared for? Will the crabs jump up and latch onto you? Is it a messy job? What tools and gear do I need? She leaves us with questions, and that draws us in because now we want answers.
"Working part-time as a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly has given me a great opportunity to observe human behavior. Sometimes I think of the shoppers as white rats in a lab experiment, and the aisles as a maze designed by a psychologist. Most of the rats—customers, I mean—follow a routine pattern, strolling up and down the aisles, checking through my chute, and then escaping through the exit hatch. But not everyone is so dependable. My research has revealed three distinct types of abnormal customer: the amnesiac, the super shopper, and the dawdler."
– "Shopping at the Pig"
This revised classification essay begins by painting a picture of an ordinary scenario: the grocery store. But when used as an opportunity to observe human nature, as this writer does, it turns from ordinary to fascinating.
Who is the amnesiac? Would I be classified as the dawdler by this cashier? The descriptive language and the analogy to rats in a maze add to the intrigue, and readers are left wanting more. For this reason, even though it's lengthy, this is an effective opening.
"In March 2006, I found myself, at 38, divorced, no kids, no home, and alone in a tiny rowing boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I hadn’t eaten a hot meal in two months. I’d had no human contact for weeks because my satellite phone had stopped working. All four of my oars were broken, patched up with duct tape and splints. I had tendinitis in my shoulders and saltwater sores on my backside.
"I couldn’t have been happier...."
– Roz Savage, " My Transoceanic Midlife Crisis ." Newsweek , March 20, 2011
Here is an example of reversing expectations. The introductory paragraph is filled with doom and gloom. We feel sorry for the writer but are left wondering whether the article will be a classic sob story. It is in the second paragraph where we find out that it's quite the opposite.
Those first few words of the second paragraph—which we cannot help but skim—surprise us and thus draw us in. How can the narrator be happy after all that sorrow? This reversal compels us to find out what happened.
Most people have had streaks where nothing seems to go right. Yet, it is the possibility of a turn of fortunes that compels us to keep going. This writer appealed to our emotions and a sense of shared experience to craft an effective read.
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