This handout will explain the functions of introductions, offer strategies for creating effective introductions, and provide some examples of less effective introductions to avoid.
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.
How to write an introduction
An introduction lays the foundation for the rest of your article, essay or blog post. As a writer, it’s important to write an introduction that will keep readers interested. Though the way you structure your introduction may vary depending on what you’re writing, consider the following steps to establish a solid framework for your introduction:
1. Get the reader’s attention
No matter what you’re writing, it’s important to grab the reader’s attention to ensure they continue reading. Start by creating a compelling hook for the beginning of your introduction. This step will look different depending on what you’re writing and the style of writing you’re going for. If you’re writing a blog post, your writing will likely be more casual. You should consider shocking your reader with a surprising statistic, creating empathy by sharing a personal experience or asking your readers a question to get their attention.
2. Detail the context and purpose of the post
While your article is providing a service to readers, the introduction of it gives them a snapshot of what they can expect. After writing a solid hook, you’ll need to let readers know what you’re going to be writing about. Essentially, you need to detail the purpose of your post. More often than not, you’ll be writing about a problem you want to bring attention to. As you write your introduction, make sure you’re clear with your words and communicating in a way that your readers will be able to comprehend.
3. Explain how your post will be helpful
Readers want to know that what they’re reading is valuable. Oftentimes, that means offering solutions to a problem or issue. When you write your introduction, you should address how you plan to resolve the matter at hand. It’s important to do this clearly and concisely. Your introduction sets up expectations for readers and as the writer, you should let them know what they’ll get out of reading it.
4. Revisit your introduction after writing your post
Though many writers start penning their introductions before the rest of their article, it’s a good idea to revisit it after you’ve finished writing your entire article or post. Oftentimes, your article can shift focus as you write. Due to this, it’s important to read your original introduction again and determine whether or not you should make adjustments to create a better flow for the rest of your article.
Make sure your introduction is still relevant and effectively sets up the article. If you mentioned certain topics you were going to address in the context of the article, make sure they were addressed. If you didn’t address them and don’t plan to, rework your introduction to better suit your article.
Catchy Introductions for Different Essay Types
Although introductory paragraphs usually follow the same set structure, the content placed within its text may differ. The differences in context are defined by the type of essay you will work on, as well as its overall purpose.
When it comes to writing an academic essay, students face four key types of papers most often. These include narrative, analytical, persuasive, and personal essays. Since the purpose of each essay type is different, it is implied that different content should appear within these introductory paragraphs. Here is a complete guide for different paper types with good essay introduction examples from our argumentative essay writers:
Narrative introduction example: “ONCE there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids. They were sent to the house of an old Professor who lived in the country, far, far away from everything. He had no wife and he lived in a very large house. He was a very old man with thick white hair. The children liked him at once.” The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
is another common essay type. Unlike narrative papers, an analytical paper aims to dissect an idea and educate its readers about a certain topic.
- When writing such a paper, students can use any valuable information that is directly related to their thesis statement as a hook for their introductory paragraph. For example, a good hook would be a rhetorical question or a relevant and informative sentence that gives its readers clues about the paper’s main point.
- The middle part of the introduction should include three critical pieces of information that help to validate the analytical thesis.
- Since the core purpose of this paper is to analyze subject matter and educate readers, a well-researched and thought-out claim will make a perfect thesis. However, it is important to ensure that this claim should not have any actual weight at the beginning. It should be phrased factually, although technically, it will still be theoretical.
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 are indeed bringing 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? 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
has only one purpose – to persuade readers of something. You can do this by means of using persuasive techniques like ethos, pathos, and logos.
- A hook statement in such a paper can really be anything – from an interesting fact to even humor – you can use whatever strategy you wish. The key tip is to keep your hook in-line with your thesis and ensure that it can also serve as a ground for further argumentation.
- As a rule, writing a persuasive essay requires providing at least three supporting facts. Therefore, you should include a brief outline of each of your three points in the middle of your introduction to gradually guide readers into the main topic of your paper.
- Lastly, the thesis statement for such a paper should be the main claim that you are going to be arguing about. It should be a well-thought-out and confidently written sentence that briefly summarizes the point of persuasion for your entire essay.
Persuasive introduction example: “Most people know that Abraham Lincoln lived in a log cabin, wore a stovepipe hat, wrote the Gettysburg Address, and led America through a terrible war. But did you know that our sixteenth president loved to tell silly stories, read funny books, collect jokes and puns, and laugh, laugh, laugh? This unusual biography reveals many reasons why Lincoln was a towering president. It wasn’t just his speeches, his wisdom, or his height. It was his rich sense of humor, too. What better way to thrive in tough times (and to lead others through) than to laugh, loudly and long?” Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country), Kathleen Krull
Tips for Writing a Winning Introduction Paragraph
As you now know how to start a good introduction and have some clear introduction examples to get you started, let’s quickly go through the key takeaways of what you should and shouldn’t do when writing your introduction.
- Keep in mind the purpose of your assignment and ensure that your introduction is in-line with it.
- Use an engaging and appropriate hook that grabs the reader’s attention from the first line.
- Be clear by letting your readers understand your stance well.
- Explain key terms related to your topic, if necessary.
- Show that you understand your subject.
- Provide your reader(s) with a metaphorical roadmap that will help them understand what you are going to cover in the paper.
- Be concise – it is recommended that you keep your introductory paragraph about 8-9 percent of the total number of words in your paper (for example, 160 words for a 2000 words essay).
- Make a clear and powerful thesis statement.
- Keep it engaging.
- Ensure that your introduction makes a logical and smooth transition into the body of your paper.
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