How to Write an Introduction

Certainly, every essay must include an opening paragraph, and this is your introduction. It plays an important role in drawing the reader’s attention to what your essay will discuss. Writing the introduction can seem difficult because you might feel that you need to take a long time to sit and think about what initial word or sentence you should use. A concise, coherent and well-organised introduction can give the reader a positive initial impression of your work. In contrast, a vague, disorganised or grammatically incorrect introduction can lower the reader’s interest as well as your grades!

The introduction paragraph of an essay provides the reader with overall information on the topic that the essay will discuss. In academic writing, a thesis statement must be included in the introduction. The thesis statement answers the essay question and presents the main argument of the essay. The introduction also needs to introduce the topics that will be discussed in your essay in the correct order.

To write an introduction, you can use a brief anecdote, a provocative question, a statement, or a quotation to grab the reader’s interest. Remember that the selected quotation that is used in your introduction should be neither too broad nor too narrow for your essay topic. For example, if your essay topic is the causes of Holocaust in World War II, your selected quotation might be: ‘The Holocaust was the most evil crime ever committed’, and you would reference Stephen Ambrose. Or, ‘The United Nations was founded in the aftermath of World War II, just as the world was beginning to learn the full horrors of history's worst genocide, the Holocaust that consumed 6 million Jews and 3 million others in Europe’ and you would reference Linda Chavez’. (This is approach is only recommended for first year undergraduates and high school students. Advanced essay writers should avoid using any quotations in their introduction.)

Brief background information on your topic should be provided to the reader through the introduction to show the significance of your thesis statement. You do not need to give the whole background or history in the introduction. Just keep it short, concise and well written.

Give the reader a preview of how you are going to demonstrate your argument in the essay. You should give a brief list of the points you will discuss to substantiate your thesis statement. This should be given in the order they will be discussed, and it should be clear how each topic relates to your thesis statement and helps you to answer your essay question.

Ask your friends to read it after you have finished. This is a good idea to double check your work. If your friends can understand what the rest of the essay will be discussing about just from reading the introduction, you have written an effective introduction.

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