Having a good introduction paragraph is a very important part of an academic essay as it sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect in the rest of the essay. An introduction is responsible for both the reader’s first impression and setting up the stage for the rest of the work. It is the most important paragraph in an essay.
Having great introduction writing skills is important to writers, researchers, and students. In this blog post, we will explain everything you need to know to write a perfect introduction. We will also expound on what to include in your introduction paragraph and even give you a step-by-step guide to writing a perfect introduction.
What is an Introduction?
An introduction is the first paragraph of an essay that prepares the readers. As the first paragraph, it makes the first impression and set’s the reader’s tone, voice, and writing style. It also provides the necessary background so the reader can understand the purpose of an essay and its key points.
An introduction engages and captivates your reader. It should be interesting, thought-provoking, and entertaining to excite your reader and keep them reading to the end of the essay. Always remember that an eager reader is an attentive reader. Thus, as long as your reader is eager, you can be sure that they will read your essay to the end.
What do I include in an Introduction?
In most cases, an introduction will follow the writing style of the author and the format for the type of paper. For instance, an essay can begin with a joke but this might be inappropriate for a research paper. On the other hand, a good introduction must include at least three parts no matter the writing style or the kind of paper being written. A good introduction must have these three parts:
- A hook to capture the attention of the reader.
- Background of the context.
- A clearly defined thesis statement.
How to write a hook
The hook refers to anything that grabs the reader’s attention making them interested. It can either be a mystery such as posing a question and only answering it in the body of your paper. Your hook could also be a shocking statistic or something that makes the reader rethink what they knew and become curious for more information.
The first sentence in your essay sets the tone for the whole essay and thus you should spend time writing an effective hook. Start with something clear, concise, and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity. Always avoid long, dense sentences when writing your introduction. The following strategies can aid you in creating a powerful hook.
- A shocking fact
- An anecdote
- A question
- A summary
- A quote
Avoid the following when writing a hook
- Dictionary definitions
- Sweeping statements that include words like “everywhere”, “everyone”, “always”, etc.
The five types of hooks for writing
Apart from the strategies mentioned above, there are 5 other types of hooks that can be used:
- A common misconception. A good trick to use here is by starting your introduction with a statement that claims that something your readers believe is not true.
- Statistical data can be a perfect way to hook your reader in persuasive essays and serious topics that require delving into numbers.
- Personal story. Personal stories can be an appropriate hook but that can only happen if the story can fit into a few brief sentences.
- This type of hook requires making the readers imagine the things you are writing about. It is usually suitable when used in descriptive and narrative essays.
- Thesis statement. Some writers start their essays directly with their thesis statements. In this case, there is no trick.
How to add background information
Once you have hooked the reader, it’s time to give background information. Sometimes the reader needs to catch up or understand the context before moving to your main points. Give the reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, the information can be:
- Historical, geographical, or social context.
- An outline of the debate you are addressing.
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic.
- Definitions of key terms.
The background information you give should be broad, focused, and relevant to your argument. Avoid giving too much information but you can mention points that you will expound on later. In such a case, save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of your essay.
Please note that not all papers require background information and thus it is not a must-have for every essay you write.
How to write a thesis statement
When writing your thesis statement, you narrow down your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. A thesis statement should be made up of one or two sentences that sum up your overall argument. It is the most important part of an introduction. A good thesis is not just a statement of fact but a claim that needs evidence and explanation.
Learning to write a great thesis statement is an essential writing skill both in college and the world of work and thus you should take your time to learn. The secret behind writing a great thesis statement is not to give out everything at once. A thesis statement should be short and to the point. Save the other information for the body.
The aim of giving a thesis statement is to convey your position in a debate or your central point about a certain topic.
How to write an introduction in 6 simple steps
- Decide on the tone and formality of your paper.
The style used in writing an essay is determined by what is being written. For instance, the guidelines on how to write an introduction for a report are different from how to write an introduction for an English essay. Different types of essays have their limitations. For instance, slang language can be accepted for a personal essay but it is unacceptable when writing a serious argumentative essay.
Don’t force yourself to write in a style that you are not comfortable with. For example, if you are not good at making jokes, you do not always have to include them. Your readers will not mind your essay as long as it is interesting and all your points are clear.
- Write your thesis statement
When preparing to write your essay even before you start writing its outline, determine what your thesis statement is. If you do not have a thesis statement, it’s time to put that thesis into words by writing your thesis statement. A thesis statement is a one or two-sentence statement. It is usually the most important part of your essay as the reader can use it as an anchor to understand the rest of your essay.
Your thesis statement should be an overview and not an outline and thus you should save the details, evidence, and personal opinions for the body of your essay. In case you are still not sure how to write a thesis, ask yourself how you would explain the topic to a child. Your writing comes out more clearly and easier to understand when you simplify complex ideas and use small words. This technique helps you understand the details that are necessary upfront and what could wait for later.
- Consider the background information necessary for your readers.
Don’t take your own experience for granted as it can be helpful in some cases. By the time you get to this stage in the writing process, probably you are already done with research which means you fully understand everything about the topic. When determining the background information to use in the introduction, think about your own experience. What did you wish you knew?
Even when your topic is abstract for example an ethical debate, consider including some context about the debate itself. How long has the ethical debate been happening? What led to its beginning? Information like this can help you set the scene to ensure the readers do not miss any important information.
- Consider having a good hook
Writing a hook for an essay is one the most difficult parts of writing an introduction as this calls for some creativity. Although the other parts of your essay will be about presenting fact after fact, the hook in your introduction requires creativity as you are expected to create something from nothing.
Fortunately, several tried-and-true strategies can guide you on how to write essays as a beginner. In case you are not sure how to do it, you can use one of the methods that have been proven effective. Select the one that works best for you.
- Create a rough draft of your introduction.
Writing a rough draft for your introduction is very important. Although it might seem hard, do not put pressure on yourself. Just know that writing something that looks messy is okay as that is what makes the draft rough. The main idea in creating a rough draft is getting the words that make your points on paper. The words do not have to be perfect and that’s what revisions are for.
At this stage, you should only worry about what should be said. Just come up with your hook, background information, and thesis statement without worrying about how everything sounds. Any problems can always be fixed later.
- Revise your introduction once you are done writing your essay.
The best thing to do is to first finish the first draft of your entire paper before revising your introduction. This is important to ensure that any changes made in the structure of your paper when writing the first draft reflect in the introduction as well.
Once you are done with the first draft, it is easier to concentrate on making the paper as perfect as possible. You can now concentrate on word choice, sentence structure, spelling errors, and grammar mistakes. You can even get a friend or family member to review the paper for you.
Introduction mistakes to avoid
- Failing to follow the “introduction road map”. For most academic essays, the introduction contains the same elements. The hook, background information, and a thesis statement. If you decide to skip any of these elements you might face challenges when revising your paper and if you make it through that, you will probably leave your readers confused and uninterested in reading the whole of your essay.
- Giving too much away. Avoid including too much information in the introduction. You can simply outline your main points and then discuss them in the body of your essay using the evidence you gathered in your research.
- Providing too much background information. An introduction should be an introduction just as the name suggests. Only share something small about the topic and the rest of it if important will be added to the body of your essay.
- Failing to create curiosity in the mind of the reader. What do you want your reader to be wondering? The introduction should be able to connect the reader’s interest with the rest of your essay. Create an introduction that makes the reader want to read your essay to the end to get all the other information.
- Lacking a sense of purpose or direction. Your introduction must show clearly the purpose and direction of your essay. Let your reader know what to expect in the body of your essay just by reading your introduction.
- Floating down the river of tangents. Every word and sentence in your introduction must serve a purpose. As you edit your introduction, make sure you edit and fix any sentences that do not play the parts they are supposed to play.
- Not writing enough or writing too much. Too short introductions do not provide enough information to make the reader want to read more. A very short introduction might look incomplete as some important information might be missing.