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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

how do i start an introduction in an essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

how do i start an introduction in an essay

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

how do i start an introduction in an essay

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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How to write an Essay Introduction (5-Step Formula)

How to write an Essay Introduction

One of my friends – a high-up professor in an English university – told me he can tell the grade a student will get within the first 90 seconds of reading a paper.

This makes the introduction the most important paragraph in your whole paper.

The introduction orients your reader to how well you understand academic writing, your skills in critical thinking, your ability to write professionally with minimal errors, and the depth of knowledge you have on the topic.

All in one fantastic paragraph! No pressure.

No wonder introductions are so difficult to write. If you’re like me, you find that you can sit and stare at a blank page as the moments tick by. You’re just not sure how to write an introduction!

After reading the top 30 online articles on how to write an essay introduction, I synthesized the five most common steps that universities give on how to write an introduction.

The five steps I am going to introduce to you in this paragraph are from my I.N.T.R.O. method. The intro method provides an easy-to-use acronym for how to write an introduction that the top universities recommend.

The INTRO method’s steps are:

  • [I] Interest: Provide an opening sentence that shows why the topic is of interest to everyday human beings
  • [N] Notify: Notify the reader of background or contextual information
  • [T] Translate: Translate the essay topic or question by paraphrasing it
  • [R] Report: Report on your position or argument
  • [O] Outline: Provide an outline of the essay structure

Below, I go through each step one by one. Each step is designed to be written in order, although you may feel free to mix them up after you’ve written each sentence to make it feel and read just the way you like.

Use the INTRO method as a guide for how to write an introduction and get words down on paper. As I often argue on this website, just writing something is often the hardest part .

You may also find that some essay introductions work better without one or more of these 5 steps. That is okay, too. Use these 5 steps as advice on points to include in an introduction and adjust them as you need. You may find in your specific area of study you need to add or remove other sentences. Play around with your introduction until you feel comfortable with it.

So don’t be too hard on yourself: have a go at a draft of your introduction with no pressure to use it in the end. You’ll find by the time you’ve written these five sentences you’ll have the creative juices flowing and a compelling introduction will be down on paper in no time.

1. Interest

Provide an opening sentence that shows why the topic is interesting to everyday human beings

Nearly every source on how to write an introduction that I found online recommended that your first sentence be an engaging ‘hook’ . Most sources highlight that the ‘hook’ sentence should draw in the reader’s interest in order to make your piece stand out.

The marker wants to see if you understand why this topic is of interest is in the first place. They want to see if you ‘get it’ from the very start.

I also recommend that you view the hook as an opportunity to show why the topic is interesting to everyday human beings . This makes it relevant to your reader.

To show you understand why the topic is of interest in the first place, aim to do one of the following things:

  • Show what makes the topic worth discussing. Your ‘Interest’ sentence might help show why someone should care about the topic. Will it affect our livelihoods? Will it harm us? Make our work lives easier? The more relatable this point is to real human lives, the better.
  • Highlight the single most interesting point in the essay. You might notice that you have already pointed out this interesting ‘hook’ somewhere in your essay. Find that interesting, relatable point and make it the opening sentence of your introduction.
  • Use an interesting fact or figure to show the topic’s importance. Percentages or real numbers about how many people are or would be impacted by the issue help to show the topic’s importance. This will create reader interest with a ‘wow’ factor.
  • Show how the essay topic is relevant to today’s world. If you’re struggling to identify this interesting ‘hook’, go onto google and find news reports related to your topic. How has the topic made it into the news recently? The news report will help you to brainstorm why this topic is of interest to the everyday lives of real human beings.

However, do not overstate the issue. You should provide a clear, reasonable perspective in this first sentence rather than an over-the-top claim. For example, aim to avoid hyperbolic or overly emotional phrases:

To find out more about retracting over-the-top emotion and hyperbole, we have put together a guide on academic language that you may like to read.

To summarize, I recommend that your first step in how to write an introduction is to write a ‘hook’ sentence that focuses on why the topic is interesting to everyday human beings . Use sober, clear facts about the importance of the topic to real human lives to get yourself started.

Read Also: My Suggested Best Words to Start a Paragraph
Notify the reader of background or contextual information

Nearly every source I found also recommended that you provide brief ‘background’ or ‘contextual’ information.

‘Background’ or ‘contextual’ information shows your depth of knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Here are some examples of ‘context’ for a few topics:

Hopefully, you can see here that giving ‘context’ is a way of showing that you have a really strong or deep knowledge of the history or background story of the topic. This is your chance to differentiate your depth of knowledge from other students. A sentence or two giving some of this context also helps to show off your knowledge right from the start.

Most sources recommend only providing one or two sentences of background information. This will help you to show off your knowledge without stealing content from the body of your essay. The body of the essay will add depth and detail to your points in the introduction, so feel free to leave out examples and explanations beyond your engaging sentence or two: you will have time in the body of the essay to elaborate.

3. Translate

Translate the essay topic or question

This point was mentioned by more than half the websites I found giving advice on how to write an introduction.

Many universities recommend re-stating the essay topic or question in your own words. This helps your marker to see that you understand the topic and are directly addressing it.

Here are some examples of essay questions and ways you can re-state the essay question in your introduction:

Something to keep in mind is that you do not want to appear to be re-stating the essay question simply to take up extra words. We call this ‘padding’. An example of padding is when a student drops the essay question in as a question, word-for-word:

  • How can knowledge about history help us to improve our lives in the future? This is the question that will be answered in this essay.
  • This essay will answer the question “What is the lasting impact of European Colonisation in the 21 st Century?”

Do not drop the essay question into the introduction without paraphrasing or surrounding explanation. If you do this, your marker will think you’re just trying to add words to the introduction because you’re not sure of anything interesting to say

Report your position or argument

Most essays do not require you to take a stance on an issue.

Essays that do require you to take a stance are called either ‘argumentative essays’ or ‘persuasive essays’.

If you are writing a persuasive essay, you will need to include Step 4: Report. For this step, you’ll need to state where you stand on the issue:

Keep in mind that essays should never leave a reader confused. Essay writing is not like creative writing: your reader must always know what’s going to be said right from the start. When reading to gather information, readers don’t like to be surprised. They want the facts up-front. Therefore, your marker will expect to know what your stance is on the issue right from the introduction onwards.

Provide an outline of the Essay Structure

This last point on how to write an introduction is important and separates average students from top students.

Introductions should always highlight the key points that will be made in an essay. Academic writing should never surprise the reader.

The fact that steps 4 and 5 both highlight that you should orient your marker reinforces the importance of this. Always, always, guide your marker’s reading experience.

Your essay should signpost all key concepts, theories, and main sections that make up your essay. If an important point is made in the essay but not signposted in the introduction, you are likely to confuse your marker. A confused marker very rapidly lowers your mark.

Too often, students fail to outline key points of their essays in the introduction. Make a habit of signposting your key ideas, points, theories, or concepts you will cover in the introduction in order to gain marks.

It is always easier to write this outline once the essay plan is written. You will then be able to gather together the key points that you listed in your essay plan and include them in the introduction.

The outline of the essay structure can only be one or two sentences long. You can state as your last sentence in your introduction:

  • “Firstly, this essay … then, …, and finally …”
  • “The essay opens with …, then, …, and then closes with …”
  • “After exploring …, … and …, this essay will conclude with …”

Try to outline the issues you will cover in order. Providing an orderly outline of your essay is very helpful for your reader.

Now, I know that some people don’t like this method. Let me reassure you with this study from Theresa Thonney in 2016. Thonney examined 600 top-ranking articles in fields including Literature, Music, Environmental Sciences, Nutrition, Inter-Cultural Studies, and more to see how many articles used this method. In other words, she completed a comprehensive study of whether professional, published authors use this method of orientating the reader to the structure of the article.

Thonney found that 100% of top-ranking articles she looked at in the Astronomy field used this method. 98% of articles in Sociology journals used this method. In fact, the field with the lowest amount of authors who use this method is Art, which had 76% of authors use this method. In other words, even the lowest result she found showed that three in every four professional authors use this method.

So, you should too.

Let’s sum point 5 up by reinforcing this very important rule: your marker should always be very clear about what they will read, and in what order, to improve their reading experience.

A short list of things to Avoid in Introductions

I want to conclude this post with an outline of some of the worst things you can do in an introduction. The introduction sets the scene, so you want to make a good impression. You don’t want your marker taking away marks due to one of these top mistakes:

  • Rhetorical Questions.
  • Vague padding.
  • Dictionary definitions.

Sometimes, teachers also recommend avoiding referencing in introductions. I have colleagues who absolutely refuse to let students include references in their introductions. Personally, I think that’s absurd – if a reference is required, include it! However, check with your teacher on their personal preferences here as I know this is a point of contention in faculty lounges.

How to write an introduction

The introduction is important for creating a strong first impression, especially since markers often make up their mind about your grade very early on in the marking process.

Introductions are best written last. That way, you will be able to include all the signposting you need to do (step 5), have a good understanding of the context (step 2), and be more certain about what your stance is on the issue (step 4).

Here’s the five INTRO steps I’d encourage you to use every time:

Once you have written your introduction, it is a good idea to put it away for a few days and then come back to edit it with fresh eyes . Remember that grammar and punctuation are important in the introduction. You want to leave a good impression.

If you have a friend who can read the draft for you and give you tips, or if your teacher has drop-in hours, use them to get some tips on how to write an introduction, what sounds right, want sounds off, and how you might be able to improve your introduction.

Once you have written your introduction, you might want to have a look at our guidance on how to write conclusions in order to end your piece as strongly as you started! People often think conclusions are just like introductions. That’s not true. Conclusions are unique paragraphs, so head over to our guidance on conclusions now to get the support you need on writing the best conclusion you can.

Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Introductions

What this handout is about.

This handout will explain the functions of introductions, offer strategies for creating effective introductions, and provide some examples of less effective introductions to avoid.

The role of introductions

Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write. Usually when you sit down to respond to an assignment, you have at least some sense of what you want to say in the body of your paper. You might have chosen a few examples you want to use or have an idea that will help you answer the main question of your assignment; these sections, therefore, may not be as hard to write. And it’s fine to write them first! But in your final draft, these middle parts of the paper can’t just come out of thin air; they need to be introduced and concluded in a way that makes sense to your reader.

Your introduction and conclusion act as bridges that transport your readers from their own lives into the “place” of your analysis. If your readers pick up your paper about education in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of Chapel Hill, television, e-mail, and The Daily Tar Heel and to help them temporarily enter the world of nineteenth-century American slavery. By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying. Similarly, once you’ve hooked your readers with the introduction and offered evidence to prove your thesis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. (See our handout on conclusions .)

Note that what constitutes a good introduction may vary widely based on the kind of paper you are writing and the academic discipline in which you are writing it. If you are uncertain what kind of introduction is expected, ask your instructor.

Why bother writing a good introduction?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work. A vague, disorganized, error-filled, off-the-wall, or boring introduction will probably create a negative impression. On the other hand, a concise, engaging, and well-written introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and your paper.

Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion. In many academic disciplines, your introduction should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. Your introduction should also give the reader a sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs and pages that will follow. After reading your introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper.

Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should capture your readers’ interest, making them want to read the rest of your paper. Opening with a compelling story, an interesting question, or a vivid example can get your readers to see why your topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an engaging intellectual conversation (remember, though, that these strategies may not be suitable for all papers and disciplines).

Strategies for writing an effective introduction

Start by thinking about the question (or questions) you are trying to answer. Your entire essay will be a response to this question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end. Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will likely be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point. Imagine that you are assigned the following question:

Drawing on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , discuss the relationship between education and slavery in 19th-century America. Consider the following: How did white control of education reinforce slavery? How did Douglass and other enslaved African Americans view education while they endured slavery? And what role did education play in the acquisition of freedom? Most importantly, consider the degree to which education was or was not a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

You will probably refer back to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay, and the prompt itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction. Notice that it starts with a broad statement and then narrows to focus on specific questions from the book. One strategy might be to use a similar model in your own introduction—start off with a big picture sentence or two and then focus in on the details of your argument about Douglass. Of course, a different approach could also be very successful, but looking at the way the professor set up the question can sometimes give you some ideas for how you might answer it. (See our handout on understanding assignments for additional information on the hidden clues in assignments.)

Decide how general or broad your opening should be. Keep in mind that even a “big picture” opening needs to be clearly related to your topic; an opening sentence that said “Human beings, more than any other creatures on earth, are capable of learning” would be too broad for our sample assignment about slavery and education. If you have ever used Google Maps or similar programs, that experience can provide a helpful way of thinking about how broad your opening should be. Imagine that you’re researching Chapel Hill. If what you want to find out is whether Chapel Hill is at roughly the same latitude as Rome, it might make sense to hit that little “minus” sign on the online map until it has zoomed all the way out and you can see the whole globe. If you’re trying to figure out how to get from Chapel Hill to Wrightsville Beach, it might make more sense to zoom in to the level where you can see most of North Carolina (but not the rest of the world, or even the rest of the United States). And if you are looking for the intersection of Ridge Road and Manning Drive so that you can find the Writing Center’s main office, you may need to zoom all the way in. The question you are asking determines how “broad” your view should be. In the sample assignment above, the questions are probably at the “state” or “city” level of generality. When writing, you need to place your ideas in context—but that context doesn’t generally have to be as big as the whole galaxy!

Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that isn’t necessarily true, and it isn’t always the most effective way to craft a good introduction. You may find that you don’t know precisely what you are going to argue at the beginning of the writing process. It is perfectly fine to start out thinking that you want to argue a particular point but wind up arguing something slightly or even dramatically different by the time you’ve written most of the paper. The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument. However, an introduction written at the beginning of that discovery process will not necessarily reflect what you wind up with at the end. You will need to revise your paper to make sure that the introduction, all of the evidence, and the conclusion reflect the argument you intend. Sometimes it’s easiest to just write up all of your evidence first and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will match the body of the paper.

Don’t be afraid to write a tentative introduction first and then change it later. Some people find that they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. That’s fine, but if you are one of those people, be sure to return to your initial introduction later and rewrite if necessary.

Open with something that will draw readers in. Consider these options (remembering that they may not be suitable for all kinds of papers):

  • an intriguing example —for example, Douglass writes about a mistress who initially teaches him but then ceases her instruction as she learns more about slavery.
  • a provocative quotation that is closely related to your argument —for example, Douglass writes that “education and slavery were incompatible with each other.” (Quotes from famous people, inspirational quotes, etc. may not work well for an academic paper; in this example, the quote is from the author himself.)
  • a puzzling scenario —for example, Frederick Douglass says of slaves that “[N]othing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bondage, under which they have been groaning for centuries!” Douglass clearly asserts that slave owners went to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of slaves, yet his own life story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.
  • a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote —for example, “Learning about slavery in the American history course at Frederick Douglass High School, students studied the work slaves did, the impact of slavery on their families, and the rules that governed their lives. We didn’t discuss education, however, until one student, Mary, raised her hand and asked, ‘But when did they go to school?’ That modern high school students could not conceive of an American childhood devoid of formal education speaks volumes about the centrality of education to American youth today and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in past generations.”
  • a thought-provoking question —for example, given all of the freedoms that were denied enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Frederick Douglass focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy?

Pay special attention to your first sentence. Start off on the right foot with your readers by making sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and polished way.

How to evaluate your introduction draft

Ask a friend to read your introduction and then tell you what he or she expects the paper will discuss, what kinds of evidence the paper will use, and what the tone of the paper will be. If your friend is able to predict the rest of your paper accurately, you probably have a good introduction.

Five kinds of less effective introductions

1. The placeholder introduction. When you don’t have much to say on a given topic, it is easy to create this kind of introduction. Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don’t really say much. They exist just to take up the “introduction space” in your paper. If you had something more effective to say, you would probably say it, but in the meantime this paragraph is just a place holder.

Example: Slavery was one of the greatest tragedies in American history. There were many different aspects of slavery. Each created different kinds of problems for enslaved people.

2. The restated question introduction. Restating the question can sometimes be an effective strategy, but it can be easy to stop at JUST restating the question instead of offering a more specific, interesting introduction to your paper. The professor or teaching assistant wrote your question and will be reading many essays in response to it—he or she does not need to read a whole paragraph that simply restates the question.

Example: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass discusses the relationship between education and slavery in 19th century America, showing how white control of education reinforced slavery and how Douglass and other enslaved African Americans viewed education while they endured. Moreover, the book discusses the role that education played in the acquisition of freedom. Education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

3. The Webster’s Dictionary introduction. This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition of one or more of the words in the assigned question. Anyone can look a word up in the dictionary and copy down what Webster says. If you want to open with a discussion of an important term, it may be far more interesting for you (and your reader) if you develop your own definition of the term in the specific context of your class and assignment. You may also be able to use a definition from one of the sources you’ve been reading for class. Also recognize that the dictionary is also not a particularly authoritative work—it doesn’t take into account the context of your course and doesn’t offer particularly detailed information. If you feel that you must seek out an authority, try to find one that is very relevant and specific. Perhaps a quotation from a source reading might prove better? Dictionary introductions are also ineffective simply because they are so overused. Instructors may see a great many papers that begin in this way, greatly decreasing the dramatic impact that any one of those papers will have.

Example: Webster’s dictionary defines slavery as “the state of being a slave,” as “the practice of owning slaves,” and as “a condition of hard work and subjection.”

4. The “dawn of man” introduction. This kind of introduction generally makes broad, sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time, throughout the world, etc. It is usually very general (similar to the placeholder introduction) and fails to connect to the thesis. It may employ cliches—the phrases “the dawn of man” and “throughout human history” are examples, and it’s hard to imagine a time when starting with one of these would work. Instructors often find them extremely annoying.

Example: Since the dawn of man, slavery has been a problem in human history.

5. The book report introduction. This introduction is what you had to do for your elementary school book reports. It gives the name and author of the book you are writing about, tells what the book is about, and offers other basic facts about the book. You might resort to this sort of introduction when you are trying to fill space because it’s a familiar, comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers details that your reader probably already knows and that are irrelevant to the thesis.

Example: Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave , in the 1840s. It was published in 1986 by Penguin Books. In it, he tells the story of his life.

And now for the conclusion…

Writing an effective introduction can be tough. Try playing around with several different options and choose the one that ends up sounding best to you!

Just as your introduction helps readers make the transition to your topic, your conclusion needs to help them return to their daily lives–but with a lasting sense of how what they have just read is useful or meaningful. Check out our handout on  conclusions for tips on ending your paper as effectively as you began it!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Douglass, Frederick. 1995. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself . New York: Dover.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Awesome Guide on How to Write an Essay Introduction

how do i start an introduction in an essay

'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.

Introduction Definition

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.

What Are the 3 Parts of an Introduction Paragraph

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
  • Generalizations
  • 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:

Narrative Introduction

  • 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 Introduction

  • 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

Persuasive Introduction

  • 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. ...'

Personal Introduction

  • 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.

Don'ts

  • 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 .

Get Help With Your ESSAY INTRO!

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How To Write An Essay Introduction?

What is the purpose of the introduction in an essay, how to start an essay introduction, related articles.

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How to Write an Excellent Essay Introduction

How to Write an Excellent Essay Introduction

3-minute read

  • 27th September 2022

Love it or hate it, essay writing is a big part of student life. Writing a great essay might seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re staring at a blank document, but there are formulas you can follow to make sure your paper hits the mark.

When you plan your essays , don’t neglect your introduction! It might seem like a trivial part of the paper, but it can make it or break it. A badly written introduction can leave your reader feeling confused about the topic and what to expect from your essay.

To help your writing reach its full potential, we’ve put together a guide to writing an excellent essay introduction.

How to Write an Essay Introduction

An essay introduction has four main steps:

●  Hook your reader

●  Provide context

●  Present your thesis statement

●  Map your essay

Hook Your Reader

The first part of your introduction should be the hook. This is where you introduce the reader to the topic of the essay. A great hook should be clear, concise, and catchy. It doesn’t need to be long; a hook can be just one sentence.

Provide Context

In this section, introduce your reader to key definitions, ideas, and background information to help them understand your argument.

Present Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement tells the reader the main point or argument of the essay. This can be just one sentence, or it can be a few sentences.

Map Your Essay

Before you wrap up your essay introduction, map it! This means signposting sections of your essay. The key here is to be concise. The purpose of this part of the introduction is to give your reader a sense of direction.

Here’s an example of an essay introduction:

Hook: Suspense is key for dramatic stories, and Shakespeare is well-known and celebrated for writing suspenseful plays.

Context: While there are many ways in which Shakespeare created suspension for his viewers, two techniques he used effectively were foreshadowing and dramatic irony. Foreshadowing is a literary device that hints at an event or situation that is yet to happen. Dramatic irony is a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader, although it is unknown to the character.

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Thesis statement: Foreshadowing and dramatic irony are two powerful techniques that Shakespeare used to create suspense in literature. These methods have been used to keep the reader intrigued, excited, or nervous about what is to come in many of his celebrated works.

Essay mapping: In this essay, I will be detailing how Shakespeare uses foreshadowing and dramatic irony to create suspense, with examples from Romeo and Juliet and Othello.

Pro tip: Essays take twists and turns. We recommend changing your introduction as necessary while you write the main text to make sure it fully aligns with your final draft.

Proofread and Editing

Proofreading is an essential part of delivering a great essay. We offer a proofreading and editing service for students and academics that will provide you with expert editors to check your work for any issues with:

●  Grammar

●  Spelling

●  Formatting

●  Tone

●  Audience

●  Consistency

●  Accuracy

●  Clarity

Want 500 words of your work proofread completely free of charge?

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It’s the roadmap to your essay, it’s the forecast for your argument, it’s...your introduction paragraph, and writing one can feel pretty intimidating. The introduction paragraph is a part of just about every kind of academic writing , from persuasive essays to research papers. But that doesn’t mean writing one is easy!

If trying to write an intro paragraph makes you feel like a Muggle trying to do magic, trust us: you aren’t alone. But there are some tips and tricks that can make the process easier—and that’s where we come in.

In this article, we’re going to explain how to write a captivating intro paragraph by covering the following info:  

  • A discussion of what an introduction paragraph is and its purpose in an essay
  • An overview of the most effective introduction paragraph format, with explanations of the three main parts of an intro paragraph
  • An analysis of real intro paragraph examples, with a discussion of what works and what doesn’t
  • A list of four top tips on how to write an introduction paragraph

Are you ready? Let’s begin!

body-question-mark-think-wonder-cc0

What Is an Introduction Paragraph? 

An introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of an essay , paper, or other type of academic writing. Argumentative essays , book reports, research papers, and even personal  essays are common types of writing that require an introduction paragraph. Whether you’re writing a research paper for a science course or an argumentative essay for English class , you’re going to have to write an intro paragraph. 

So what’s the purpose of an intro paragraph? As a reader’s first impression of your essay, the intro paragraph should introduce the topic of your paper. 

Your introduction will also state any claims, questions, or issues that your paper will focus on. This is commonly known as your paper’s thesis . This condenses the overall point of your paper into one or two short sentences that your reader can come back and reference later.

But intro paragraphs need to do a bit more than just introduce your topic. An intro paragraph is also supposed to grab your reader’s attention. The intro paragraph is your chance to provide just enough info and intrigue to make your reader say, “Hey, this topic sounds interesting. I think I’ll keep reading this essay!” That can help your essay stand out from the crowd.

In most cases, an intro paragraph will be relatively short. A good intro will be clear, brief, purposeful, and focused. While there are some exceptions to this rule, it’s common for intro paragraphs to consist of three to five sentences . 

Effectively introducing your essay’s topic, purpose, and getting your reader invested in your essay sounds like a lot to ask from one little paragraph, huh? In the next section, we’ll demystify the intro paragraph format by breaking it down into its core parts . When you learn how to approach each part of an intro, writing one won’t seem so scary!

body-piece-of-cake

Once you figure out the three parts of an intro paragraph, writing one will be a piece of cake!

The 3 Main Parts of an Intro Paragraph

In general, an intro paragraph is going to have three main parts: a hook, context, and a thesis statement . Each of these pieces of the intro plays a key role in acquainting the reader with the topic and purpose of your essay. 

Below, we’ll explain how to start an introduction paragraph by writing an effective hook, providing context, and crafting a thesis statement. When you put these elements together, you’ll have an intro paragraph that does a great job of making a great first impression on your audience!

Intro Paragraph Part 1: The Hook

When it comes to how to start an introduction paragraph, o ne of the most common approaches is to start with something called a hook. 

What does hook mean here, though? Think of it this way: it’s like when you start a new Netflix series: you look up a few hours (and a few episodes) later and you say, “Whoa. I guess I must be hooked on this show!” 

That’s how the hook is supposed to work in an intro paragrap h: it should get your reader interested enough that they don’t want to press the proverbial “pause” button while they’re reading it . In other words, a hook is designed to grab your reader’s attention and keep them reading your essay! 

This means that the hook comes first in the intro paragraph format—it’ll be the opening sentence of your intro. 

It’s important to realize  that there are many different ways to write a good hook. But generally speaking, hooks must include these two things: what your topic is, and the angle you’re taking on that topic in your essay. 

One approach to writing a hook that works is starting with a general, but interesting, statement on your topic. In this type of hook, you’re trying to provide a broad introduction to your topic and your angle on the topic in an engaging way . 

For example, if you’re writing an essay about the role of the government in the American healthcare system, your hook might look something like this: 

There's a growing movement to require that the federal government provide affordable, effective healthcare for all Americans. 

This hook introduces the essay topic in a broad way (government and healthcare) by presenting a general statement on the topic. But the assumption presented in the hook can also be seen as controversial, which gets readers interested in learning more about what the writer—and the essay—has to say.

In other words, the statement above fulfills the goals of a good hook: it’s intriguing and provides a general introduction to the essay topic.

Intro Paragraph Part 2: Context

Once you’ve provided an attention-grabbing hook, you’ll want to give more context about your essay topic. Context refers to additional details that reveal the specific focus of your paper. So, whereas the hook provides a general introduction to your topic, context starts helping readers understand what exactly you’re going to be writing about

You can include anywhere from one to several sentences of context in your intro, depending on your teacher’s expectations, the length of your paper, and complexity of your topic. In these context-providing sentences, you want to begin narrowing the focus of your intro. You can do this by describing a specific issue or question about your topic that you’ll address in your essay. It also helps readers start to understand why the topic you’re writing about matters and why they should read about it. 

So, what counts as context for an intro paragraph? Context can be any important details or descriptions that provide background on existing perspectives, common cultural attitudes, or a specific situation or controversy relating to your essay topic. The context you include should acquaint your reader with the issues, questions, or events that motivated you to write an essay on your topic...and that your reader should know in order to understand your thesis. 

For instance, if you’re writing an essay analyzing the consequences of sexism in Hollywood, the context you include after your hook might make reference to the #metoo and #timesup movements that have generated public support for victims of sexual harassment. 

The key takeaway here is that context establishes why you’re addressing your topic and what makes it important. It also sets you up for success on the final piece of an intro paragraph: the thesis statement.

Elle Woods' statement offers a specific point of view on the topic of murder...which means it could serve as a pretty decent thesis statement!

Intro Paragraph Part 3: The Thesis

The final key part of how to write an intro paragraph is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is the backbone of your introduction: it conveys your argument or point of view on your topic in a clear, concise, and compelling way . The thesis is usually the last sentence of your intro paragraph. 

Whether it’s making a claim, outlining key points, or stating a hypothesis, your thesis statement will tell your reader exactly what idea(s) are going to be addressed in your essay. A good thesis statement will be clear, straightforward, and highlight the overall point you’re trying to make.

Some instructors also ask students to include an essay map as part of their thesis. An essay map is a section that outlines the major topics a paper will address. So for instance, say you’re writing a paper that argues for the importance of public transport in rural communities. Your thesis and essay map might look like this: 

Having public transport in rural communities helps people improve their economic situation by giving them reliable transportation to their job, reducing the amount of money they spend on gas, and providing new and unionized work .

The underlined section is the essay map because it touches on the three big things the writer will talk about later. It literally maps out the rest of the essay!

So let’s review: Your thesis takes the idea you’ve introduced in your hook and context and wraps it up. Think of it like a television episode: the hook sets the scene by presenting a general statement and/or interesting idea that sucks you in. The context advances the plot by describing the topic in more detail and helping readers understand why the topic is important. And finally, the thesis statement provides the climax by telling the reader what you have to say about the topic. 

The thesis statement is the most important part of the intro. Without it, your reader won’t know what the purpose of your essay is! And for a piece of writing to be effective, it needs to have a clear purpose. Your thesis statement conveys that purpose , so it’s important to put careful thought into writing a clear and compelling thesis statement. 

body_essayfeaturelist

How To Write an Introduction Paragraph: Example and Analysis

Now that we’ve provided an intro paragraph outline and have explained the three key parts of an intro paragraph, let’s take a look at an intro paragraph in action.

To show you how an intro paragraph works, we’ve included a sample introduction paragraph below, followed by an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.

Example of Introduction Paragraph

While college students in the U.S. are struggling with how to pay for college, there is another surprising demographic that’s affected by the pressure to pay for college: families and parents. In the face of tuition price tags that total more than $100,000 (as a low estimate), families must make difficult decisions about how to save for their children’s college education. Charting a feasible path to saving for college is further complicated by the FAFSA’s estimates for an “Expected Family Contribution”—an amount of money that is rarely feasible for most American families. Due to these challenging financial circumstances and cultural pressure to give one’s children the best possible chance of success in adulthood, many families are going into serious debt to pay for their children’s college education. The U.S. government should move toward bearing more of the financial burden of college education. 

Example of Introduction Paragraph: Analysis

Before we dive into analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of this example intro paragraph, let’s establish the essay topic. The sample intro indicates that t he essay topic will focus on one specific issue: who should cover the cost of college education in the U.S., and why. Both the hook and the context help us identify the topic, while the thesis in the last sentence tells us why this topic matters to the writer—they think the U.S. Government needs to help finance college education. This is also the writer’s argument, which they’ll cover in the body of their essay. 

Now that we’ve identified the essay topic presented in the sample intro, let’s dig into some analysis. To pin down its strengths and weaknesses, we’re going to use the following three questions to guide our example of introduction paragraph analysis: 

  • Does this intro provide an attention-grabbing opening sentence that conveys the essay topic? 
  • Does this intro provide relevant, engaging context about the essay topic? 
  • Does this intro provide a thesis statement that establishes the writer’s point of view on the topic and what specific aspects of the issue the essay will address? 

Now, let’s use the questions above to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this sample intro paragraph. 

Does the Intro Have a Good Hook? 

First, the intro starts out with an attention-grabbing hook . The writer starts by presenting  an assumption (that the U.S. federal government bears most of the financial burden of college education), which makes the topic relatable to a wide audience of readers. Also note that the hook relates to the general topic of the essay, which is the high cost of college education. 

The hook then takes a surprising turn by presenting a counterclaim : that American families, rather than students, feel the true burden of paying for college. Some readers will have a strong emotional reaction to this provocative counterclaim, which will make them want to keep reading! As such, this intro provides an effective opening sentence that conveys the essay topic. 

Does the Intro Give Context?

T he second, third, and fourth sentences of the intro provide contextual details that reveal the specific focus of the writer’s paper . Remember: the context helps readers start to zoom in on what the paper will focus on, and what aspect of the general topic (college costs) will be discussed later on. 

The context in this intro reveals the intent and direction of the paper by explaining why the issue of families financing college is important. In other words, the context helps readers understand why this issue matters , and what aspects of this issue will be addressed in the paper.  

To provide effective context, the writer refers to issues (the exorbitant cost of college and high levels of family debt) that have received a lot of recent scholarly and media attention. These sentences of context also elaborate on the interesting perspective included in the hook: that American families are most affected by college costs.

Does the Intro Have a Thesis? 

Finally, this intro provides a thesis statement that conveys the writer’s point of view on the issue of financing college education. This writer believes that the U.S. government should do more to pay for students’ college educations. 

However, the thesis statement doesn’t give us any details about why the writer has made this claim or why this will help American families . There isn’t an essay map that helps readers understand what points the writer will make in the essay.

To revise this thesis statement so that it establishes the specific aspects of the topic that the essay will address, the writer could add the following to the beginning of the thesis statement:

The U.S. government should take on more of the financial burden of college education because other countries have shown this can improve education rates while reducing levels of familial poverty.

Check out the new section in bold. Not only does it clarify that the writer is talking about the pressure put on families, it touches on the big topics the writer will address in the paper: improving education rates and reduction of poverty. So not only do we have a clearer argumentative statement in this thesis, we also have an essay map!  

So, let’s recap our analysis. This sample intro paragraph does an effective job of providing an engaging hook and relatable, interesting context, but the thesis statement needs some work ! As you write your own intro paragraphs, you might consider using the questions above to evaluate and revise your work. Doing this will help ensure you’ve covered all of your bases and written an intro that your readers will find interesting!

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4 Tips for How To Write an Introduction Paragraph

Now that we’ve gone over an example of introduction paragraph analysis, let’s talk about how to write an introduction paragraph of your own. Keep reading for four tips for writing a successful intro paragraph for any essay. 

Tip 1: Analyze Your Essay Prompt

If you’re having trouble with how to start an introduction paragraph, analyze your essay prompt! Most teachers give you some kind of assignment sheet, formal instructions, or prompt to set the expectations for an essay they’ve assigned, right? Those instructions can help guide you as you write your intro paragraph!

Because they’ll be reading and responding to your essay, you want to make sure you meet your teacher’s expectations for an intro paragraph . For instance, if they’ve provided specific instructions about how long the intro should be or where the thesis statement should be located, be sure to follow them!

The type of paper you’re writing can give you clues as to how to approach your intro as well. If you’re writing a research paper, your professor might expect you to provide a research question or state a hypothesis in your intro. If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you’ll need to make sure your intro overviews the context surrounding your argument and your thesis statement includes a clear, defensible claim. 

Using the parameters set out by your instructor and assignment sheet can put some easy-to-follow boundaries in place for things like your intro’s length, structure, and content. Following these guidelines can free you up to focus on other aspects of your intro... like coming up with an exciting hook and conveying your point of view on your topic!

Tip 2: Narrow Your Topic

You can’t write an intro paragraph without first identifying your topic. To make your intro as effective as possible, you need to define the parameters of your topic clearly—and you need to be specific. 

For example, let’s say you want to write about college football. “NCAA football” is too broad of a topic for a paper. There is a lot to talk about in terms of college football! It would be tough to write an intro paragraph that’s focused, purposeful, and engaging on this topic. In fact, if you did try to address this whole topic, you’d probably end up writing a book!

Instead, you should narrow broad topics to  identify a specific question, claim, or issue pertaining to some aspect of NCAA football for your intro to be effective. So, for instance, you could frame your topic as, “How can college professors better support NCAA football players in academics?” This focused topic pertaining to NCAA football would give you a more manageable angle to discuss in your paper.

So before you think about writing your intro, ask yourself: Is my essay topic specific, focused, and logical? Does it convey an issue or question that I can explore over the course of several pages? Once you’ve established a good topic, you’ll have the foundation you need to write an effective intro paragraph . 

body-stack-of-textbooks-red

Once you've figured out your topic, it's time to hit the books!

Tip 3: Do Your Research

This tip is tightly intertwined with the one above, and it’s crucial to writing a good intro: do your research! And, guess what? This tip applies to all papers—even ones that aren’t technically research papers. 

Here’s why you need to do some research: getting the lay of the land on what others have said about your topic—whether that’s scholars and researchers or the mass media— will help you narrow your topic, write an engaging hook, and provide relatable context. 

You don't want to sit down to write your intro without a solid understanding of the different perspectives on your topic. Whether those are the perspectives of experts or the general public, these points of view will help you write your intro in a way that is intriguing and compelling for your audience of readers. 

Tip 4: Write Multiple Drafts

Some say to write your intro first; others say write it last. The truth is, there isn’t a right or wrong time to write your intro—but you do need to have enough time to write multiple drafts . 

Oftentimes, your professor will ask you to write multiple drafts of your paper, which gives you a built-in way to make sure you revise your intro. Another approach you could take is to write out a rough draft of your intro before you begin writing your essay, then revise it multiple times as you draft out your paper. 

Here’s why this approach can work: as you write your paper, you’ll probably come up with new insights on your topic that you didn’t have right from the start. You can use these “light bulb” moments to reevaluate your intro and make revisions that keep it in line with your developing essay draft. 

Once you’ve written your entire essay, consider going back and revising your intro again . You can ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your intro: 

  • Is my hook still relevant to the way I’ve approached the topic in my essay?
  • Do I provide enough appropriate context to introduce my essay? 
  • Now that my essay is written, does my thesis statement still accurately reflect the point of view that I present in my essay?

Using these questions as a guide and putting your intro through multiple revisions will help ensure that you’ve written the best intro for the final draft of your essay. Also, revising your writing is always a good thing to do—and this applies to your intro, too!

feature-unsure-shrug-what

What's Next?

Your college essays also need great intro paragraphs. Here’s a guide that focuses on how to write the perfect intro for your admissions essays. 

Of course, the intro is just one part of your college essay . This article will teach you how to write a college essay that makes admissions counselors sit up and take notice.

Are you trying to write an analytical essay? Our step-by-step guide can help you knock it out of the park.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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How to write an essay: Introduction

  • What's in this guide
  • Introduction
  • Essay structure
  • Additional resources

The Introduction

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.

Example of an introduction

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How to Write an Essay Introduction?

16 January, 2021

8 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

You have been assigned to write an essay but you’re not quite sure how to get started. Don’t worry, after reading this introduction, you will have a better grasp on what you should do. The introduction of an essay is the first thing that a reader will see, so it can influence how your entire essay is received. Be sure to take your time to make it effective. Before you start, you should first identify the purpose of your introduction.

essay introduction

Why do I Need an Introduction Paragraph?

You’re writing an introduction to your essay for two reasons. First, its purpose is to hook your readers so that they will read on and see what you have to say. Second, it will provide a guideline for your topic and main argument, known as the thesis statement. Your first sentences should pull the readers in – this is the hook that tells your readers something they didn’t know before. It can be an interesting fact, a surprising statistic, or a quote from a well-known person. Basically, it can be anything that has the ability to catch your readers’ attention. Choose the right hook based on your topic and style. Your readers need enough information to understand the background of your essay. Make sure, however, to keep it short, too, not to lose their interest. Your thesis statement, on the other hand, should provide an answer to the main problem of your essay.

Goals essay introduction

How Long Should an Essay Introduction Be?

This depends on the overall length of your essay. There is no set rule for how long an introduction should be. For a 2- to a 3-page essay, the appropriate length is usually one paragraph. But in case the overall length of your essay is more, for example, 4−5 pages, two paragraphs is considered more appropriate. A general rule is that your introduction should be between 5 and 10 percent of the overall length of your essay.

How to Write a Good Essay Introduction?

Being able to write a good essay is an essential skill for your future. As many as 80 percents of corporations with employment growth potential assess their applicants’ writing skills during the hiring process.

To write a good introduction paragraph, you need to first identify your audience. You want your essay to evoke emotions and to keep your readers interested from start to finish. Before you can do that, you need to know who your readers are. If you’re writing an essay as a class assignment, you don’t necessarily have to write for your instructor. Choose your audience based on the subject matter of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about career paths, you may want to identify students and young professionals as your target audience. Your target audience determines what information you should include and what you can leave out.

To make the introduction of your essay effective, you can appeal to your readers’ emotions. This is a good strategy, especially when writing a persuasive essay introduction about a personal topic. It will help you get your audience emotionally involved in the topic. For example, if you’re writing an essay about foreign aid, you can describe the tragedy of undernourished children to evoke some emotions in your readers. Another strategy is to ask thought-provoking questions. This way, you will draw your readers in by making them think about your subject matter. As long as these questions are intriguing enough, your readers will want to find out the answers.

essay introduction

Move From the General to the Specific

Perhaps you have heard of the upside-down pyramid. Place your hook at the top, and use 2 to 3 sentences to describe the wider context of your thesis. You should try to make each sentence more specific than the one before it. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the crimes committed by refugees, you could start with an anecdote about a victim of these crimes. Then you could provide statistics about the problem in a specific country, and finally narrow it down to a particular age group or social group.

Make a Smooth Transition to the Body

In many cases, you can move straight from your introduction to the first paragraph of your body. Sometimes, however, you may need a transition sentence to move naturally to the rest of your essay. You can test whether you need this transition sentence by reading your introduction and the first paragraph of your body out loud. If you find yourself pausing between the two paragraphs, it’s better to write a transition sentence.

Pay Attention to Your Structure

Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to write the introduction first. In fact, it’s often easier to write it after writing the body and conclusion. On the other hand, others find it convenient to write the introduction first and use it as an outline for the rest of the essay.

While your introduction needs to be short, it should also convey a lot of information. The first sentence is your hook that catches your readers’ attention. The next sentences build a bridge between your hook and the general topic of your essay. The ending sentence of your introduction should include your thesis statement or points that you will discuss in more detail in the body and which support the main argument of your essay. 

essay introduction structure

Remember to Revise

This is important for those who prefer to write their introduction first. Since it’s not uncommon to deviate from your outline, make sure that your introduction is in line with your completed essay. Make every sentence count and remove any unnecessary parts.

In case you’re struggling to find the time for your essay, you can always contact our essay writer . We have been in the business long enough to know the ins and outs of a perfect essay. Save your time and let us ease your burden.

Check Some Essay Introduction Examples

Now that you know the theory behind writing an effective essay introduction, it’s time to see things in practice. Samples are useful for learning how to put all the information into action. Check the samples below to figure out what your introduction should look like.

Argumentative Essay Introduction

In an argumentative essay introduction, you should present your own personal opinion on the topic based on your evaluation which you will present in the body.

argumentative essay introduction example

You can also check this argumentative essay sample.

Persuasive Essay Introduction

Persuasive essay introduction also should attempt to convince readers to believe in an idea or opinion. It needs to showcase some personal attitude to the topic.

persuasive essay introduction example

You can also check more in-depth instructions for writing a persuasive essay.

Compare and Contrast Essay Introduction

A compare and contrast essay introduction should describe two sides of a problem. It’s easier to consider two very different things. You can start with a brief description of the problem and then move on to talk about the two things.

compare and contrast essay introduction example

You can also check topic ideas for your compare and contrast essay.

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Essay writing: Introductions

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  • Analysing questions
  • Planning & drafting
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“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 .

Background information

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.

Prehistoric man with the caption "Since the dawn of man..."

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.

Student deciding if 'superpower' relates to the USA and China or Superman and Spider-man

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.

Car on a road to a place called 'Conclusion'

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.

student standing on a cross holding a sign saying "my position"

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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How to Start an Introductory Paragraph

Last Updated: April 10, 2024 References

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 69,787 times.

The introduction of your essay or article has to capture the reader’s attention right away—so it’s extremely important that you nail the start of your intro! No matter what you’re writing, it’s essential to avoid clichés and be clear and engaging. This article lists many helpful tips for starting an intro, including several “do’s” and “don’t’s” that are suited to a wide range of essay types. For example, here’s one great tip: save writing your intro for last so you can make it perfect!

Identify your topic, context, and focus.

Treat the whole of your intro as the gateway into your essay.

  • Start your intro with an attention-grabber. The rest of this article provides several good options, like scene-setters, anecdotes, and quotations .
  • Follow up with a few sentences that offer some context for the essay topic and the thesis or main focus you’re about to identify.
  • Finish with a single sentence that clearly lays out your primary argument or point of focus for the entire essay or article.

Set the scene for the reader.

Transport the reader into the world of your writing.

  • After describing the aftermath of the battle, zoom out to describe the duration of the conflict, the reasons behind it, the long-term impact, and so on.
  • Setting the scene is a great intro option for news articles , historical essays, and fiction writing, to name but a few examples.

Offer an anecdote.

Anecdotes help readers...

  • Alternately, you could provide a more literal anecdote. For instance, if your topic is the ecological crisis, you might provide a brief story about how quickly a certain species is going extinct.

Make a bold statement.

Surprise the reader to draw them into your interpretive or opinion essay.

Rely on a famous person or quote.

Lend weight to...

  • If you start your opening paragraph with a quote, you may find it helpful to make a callback to the quote in your closing statement. Consider an ending hook that addresses the meaning of your quote to bring the argument full-circle.

Provide a historical review.

This helps orient readers about the topic of a scholarly essay.

Condense the 5 W’s to their essence.

Provide clear, concise details right away in a news article or informative essay.

  • For instance, instead of writing, “President Jones declared in a joint session of Congress today that he will work with his counterparts abroad to reorganize international fiscal policy and lending practices, making it easier to distribute international aid,” you could write, “A new law aims to fast-track international aid to developing nations.”
  • Here’s an example that gives lots of details without going overboard: “On Saturday, a local librarian unexpectedly became a foster mother to 5 kittens when an unknown person left them on the library doorstep. Lucille Jenkins, 35, says she took the kittens in because ‘it was the right thing to do.’”

Offer news analysis instead of details.

This change-of-pace move for news articles can help set your story apart.

  • For instance, instead of describing or reporting on the actual details of a public policy and how it moved through the legislative process, use the start of your introductory paragraph to explain how the policy will change society or the lives of those affected.
  • An analytical lede might also include information regarding who benefits and why, but the primary focus should be on explaining how a news item or event works, rather than merely describing it.

Avoid “cosmic statement” clichés.

Focus on your topic instead of making overly broad or hackneyed statements.

  • For example, instead of “People have been making cloth since the dawn of time,” you might say, “The prehistoric Egyptians were producing high-quality linen cloth as early as 5000 BC.”

Skip dictionary definitions.

This type of intro is usually considered uninspired and trite.

  • If you feel obligated to delineate more clearly what you’re writing about, that’s fine, but do it without directly referring to dictionary definitions.
  • Once in a blue moon, it may actually be helpful to start with a dictionary definition. For example, you might do so if you are discussing an extremely difficult-to-define term or concept, or writing about the meaning or origin of a word. But consider alternatives first!

Eliminate qualifying language.

Writing with confidence draws in readers, so believe in yourself!

  • “In my opinion, ‘Ozymandias,’ Shelley’s famous poem, reveals the impermanence of human achievement.”
  • “‘Ozymandias,’ Shelly’s famous poem, reveals the impermanence of human achievement.”

Write the start of your intro last.

Wait so you can craft a killer intro that perfectly suits your essay.

  • The opening line of your intro is the first impression that will color how everything you write after that is perceived by the reader. So take your time and make it count!
  • Write the conclusion next-to-last and the intro last, or vice versa. Aim for them to connect and relate perfectly.

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • After crafting your intro paragraph, read the whole thing out loud. This will help you sense whether the start of the introductory paragraph meshes well with its middle and end. As you read, listen for logical inconsistencies, unclear passages, missing details, and spelling or grammar errors. [13] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Edit the intro paragraph for filler. Only keep passages that demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the topic. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Get others’ opinions. They may catch errors or inconsistencies that you missed. Let them read the intro, then ask questions like “Did the wording make sense to you?” and “Does this make you want to keep reading?” Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how do i start an introduction in an essay

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Write a Paragraph

  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/planning/intros-and-conclusions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://cas.umw.edu/historyamericanstudies/history-department-resources/general-history-writing-guidelines/introduction-and-conclusion/
  • ↑ http://spcollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=254319&p=1695313
  • ↑ https://writingcommons.org/article/how-to-write-an-engaging-introduction/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/introductions/

About This Article

Jake Adams

To start an introductory paragraph, give some background information about the subject you’ll be discussing. For example, if your essay is about the importance of tattoos in Maori culture, begin with an interesting fact about Maori society or a quote about tattoos. Alternatively, start with a brief story to capture the readers’ attention. You can also lead off with a bold or surprising statement, or a fact related to your topic, which will pique the reader’s curiosity and make them want to keep reading. For advice from our Education co-author on how to incorporate a famous quote into your introductory paragraph, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write an Introduction for a Psychology Paper

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

how do i start an introduction in an essay

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

how do i start an introduction in an essay

  • Writing Tips

If you are writing a psychology paper, it is essential to kick things off with a strong introduction. The introduction to a psychology research paper helps your readers understand why the topic is important and what they need to know before they delve deeper.

Your goal in this section is to introduce the topic to the reader, provide an overview of previous research on the topic, and identify your own hypothesis .

At a Glance

Writing a great introduction can be a great foundation for the rest of your psychology paper. To create a strong intro:

  • Research your topic
  • Outline your paper
  • Introduce your topic
  • Summarize the previous research
  • Present your hypothesis or main argument

Before You Write an Introduction

There are some important steps you need to take before you even begin writing your introduction. To know what to write, you need to collect important background information and create a detailed plan.

Research Your Topic

Search a journal database, PsychInfo or ERIC, to find articles on your subject. Once you have located an article, look at the reference section to locate other studies cited in the article. As you take notes from these articles, be sure to write down where you found the information.

A simple note detailing the author's name, journal, and date of publication can help you keep track of sources and avoid plagiarism.

Create a Detailed Outline

This is often one of the most boring and onerous steps, so students tend to skip outlining and go straight to writing. Creating an outline might seem tedious, but it can be an enormous time-saver down the road and will make the writing process much easier.

Start by looking over the notes you made during the research process and consider how you want to present all of your ideas and research.

Introduce the Topic

Once you are ready to write your introduction, your first task is to provide a brief description of the research question. What is the experiment or study attempting to demonstrate? What phenomena are you studying? Provide a brief history of your topic and explain how it relates to your current research.

As you are introducing your topic, consider what makes it important. Why should it matter to your reader? The goal of your introduction is not only to let your reader know what your paper is about, but also to justify why it is important for them to learn more.

If your paper tackles a controversial subject and is focused on resolving the issue, it is important to summarize both sides of the controversy in a fair and impartial way. Consider how your paper fits in with the relevant research on the topic.

The introduction of a research paper is designed to grab interest. It should present a compelling look at the research that already exists and explain to readers what questions your own paper will address.

Summarize Previous Research

The second task of your introduction is to provide a well-rounded summary of previous research that is relevant to your topic. So, before you begin to write this summary, it is important to research your topic thoroughly.

Finding appropriate sources amid thousands of journal articles can be a daunting task, but there are several steps you can take to simplify your research. If you have completed the initial steps of researching and keeping detailed notes, writing your introduction will be much easier.

It is essential to give the reader a good overview of the historical context of the issue you are writing about, but do not feel like you must provide an exhaustive review of the subject. Focus on hitting the main points, and try to include the most relevant studies.

You might describe previous research findings and then explain how the current study differs or expands upon earlier research.

Provide Your Hypothesis

Once you have summarized the previous research, explain areas where the research is lacking or potentially flawed. What is missing from previous studies on your topic? What research questions have yet to be answered? Your hypothesis should lead to these questions.

At the end of your introduction, offer your hypothesis and describe what you expected to find in your experiment or study.

The introduction should be relatively brief. You want to give your readers an overview of a topic, explain why you are addressing it, and provide your arguments.

Tips for Writing Your Psychology Paper Intro

  • Use 3x5 inch note cards to write down notes and sources.
  • Look in professional psychology journals for examples of introductions.
  • Remember to cite your sources.
  • Maintain a working bibliography with all of the sources you might use in your final paper. This will make it much easier to prepare your reference section later on.
  • Use a copy of the APA style manual to ensure that your introduction and references are in proper APA format .

What This Means For You

Before you delve into the main body of your paper, you need to give your readers some background and present your main argument in the introduction of you paper. You can do this by first explaining what your topic is about, summarizing past research, and then providing your thesis.

Armağan A. How to write an introduction section of a scientific article ?  Turk J Urol . 2013;39(Suppl 1):8-9. doi:10.5152/tud.2013.046

Fried T, Foltz C, Lendner M, Vaccaro AR. How to write an effective introduction .  Clin Spine Surg . 2019;32(3):111-112. doi:10.1097/BSD.0000000000000714

Jawaid SA, Jawaid M. How to write introduction and discussion .  Saudi J Anaesth . 2019;13(Suppl 1):S18-S19. doi:10.4103/sja.SJA_584_18

American Psychological Association. Information Recommended for Inclusion in Manuscripts That Report New Data Collections Regardless of Research Design . Published 2020.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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  21. How to Write an Introduction for a Psychology Paper

    At a Glance. Writing a great introduction can be a great foundation for the rest of your psychology paper. To create a strong intro: Research your topic. Outline your paper. Introduce your topic. Summarize the previous research. Present your hypothesis or main argument.