Typically, one of the biggest assignment challenges is to write the first sentence. That’s why a very common mistake in essay writing is skipping an introduction. Students often move straight to the question asked in the task and forget to introduce the topic. However, any academic paper requires an introduction paragraph in the beginning. Luckily, it is not that difficult to create it, especially with the recommendations given below. So keep reading the article!
The importance of an introduction
If you understand the significance of the reader’s first impression, you’ll pay more attention to the introduction. All educators agree that an introduction paragraph is a crucial element in any essay. Since this is the first thing read by a teacher, it must ‘grab’ their attention and help them understand what to expect in the body paragraphs. In general, the introduction provides some background information on the topic. You should explain the main problem in a very clear and concise way. Depending on the task assigned by your instructor, the style of your introduction must be adjusted to suit the writing style of your essay.
The goals of an introduction
If you are wondering how to write an introduction for an essay, you should be aware of its objectives first of all. They are the following:
- to get readers’ attention and inspire them to keep reading
- to set the tone for your essay
- to demonstrate your expertise in the topic
- to provide background information on the specific theme
- to orient the readers with the particular context
- to share the purpose of your essay
- to show where your argument fits into the bigger picture
- express the value of your work
- to indicate the organizing structure of your essay.
How to write an introduction paragraph for an essay?
Since the introduction is always specific to your discipline, topic, and argument, there can’t be a unique formula to follow or magic words to start an essay introduction. However, writing experts say that the introduction must be ‘funnel shape’, which means that it begins with the broadest topic and then, it narrows to the thesis statement. In some cases, the second sentence may address a part of the topic that will be discussed in your essay. Note that the last sentence of the introductory paragraph should outline the key points that will be covered in your paper. As you see, the introduction consists of three statement types: background, thesis and outline.
How long should an essay introduction be?
In most cases, an introductory paragraph should be 3-5 sentences long. Students are recommended to aim for 50-80 words. However, the length always depends on the size of your essay. While 4-5 sentences are enough for a 1,000-word paper, longer essays may require a few paragraphs. Optimally, your introduction should be about 5% of the total word count, so you can identify its perfect length on your own.
A few tips on how to write an essay introduction
As mentioned above, how exactly you need to write an introduction depends on your particular topic and subject area. However, there are some general tips that might be helpful for you.
- The tone of your writing must be engaging and educating, so choose your words very carefully.
- Don’t define general terms. Instead, give definitions to specific terms that are crucial in your argument.
- Give a relevant historical overview of the issue without using common cliches.
- Discuss a controversy associated with your argument.
- Set a question that defines your writing scope.
- Challenge an idea that is well-known for everybody.
- As your essay evolves, modify and rewrite your introduction.
Remember that a poor introduction can make people reluctant to read your essay.
A step-by-step guide to writing an introduction
📌 Start with a hook
You should start with a catchy sentence to attract the reader’s attention. It may be a provocative question that motivates readers to learn the answer or some real-life experience that can be relevant for many people. You can also write a funny joke or the latest exciting news in your introduction. This way, you will provoke interest and make people willing to keep reading. But remember that your writing style still must be formal and serious since it’s an academic paper. You can also add quotations to show that you’ve conducted in-depth research on the theme.
📌 Give the roadmap
Once you’ve grabbed the reader’s attention, it’s time to explain the structure of your essay. At this point, you should mention the major ideas you are going to explain. Note that there is no need to repeat each paragraph. Just help readers create the vision of your work and understand why it’s interesting and useful.
📌 Provide some details
To hold the attention of your audience, you should give some more important information. For example, you can explain the aim of your paper and its meaning for people. You should prove that your work is worth attention and it was really necessary to complete all your studies. To get the highest grade, you can find some new and engaging facts that will surprise your professors.
📌 Add a thesis statement
A thesis statement is one of the key elements of any essay. Generally, it expresses the main idea of your essay, so the whole paper must resonate with it. Note that a good thesis statement must be concise, specific and debatable. Importantly, it’s placed at the end of the introductory paragraph. If a thesis statement is vague, long or ambiguous, it’s considered weak.
The introduction must set the tone of your paper and inspire the reader to learn more about your opinion on a particular topic. You shouldn’t share any unnecessary extras but provide a clear idea of what you are going to discuss in a few sentences.
Remember that the introduction moves the reader into the specific world of your theme, so present the purpose of this journey and prove its significance. Craft this part of your essay carefully to increase your chances for a high grade.