Essay Introduction Writing Guide

Essay introduction is an inevitable part of academic-level writing. In many ways, it’s as important as the quality of material a writer is going to present because it helps readers decide about reading or rejecting a paper. Some people prefer to jump straight to the topic, but this isn’t how things work in college or university assignments. Students should explain everything clearly, moving from point to point in a logical manner and at a mild pace. 

At the start, explain what this paper is going to be about and indicate what position you’ve chosen in a debate – this gives your readers an opportunity to skip an essay they aren’t interested in or understand your perspective. So, introduction is the first part of a writing task where you present your topic, outline its main features, and demonstrate your argument. Every student should know the rules that could help them make their introduction mesmerizing. 

Why Is a Good Introduction In an Essay Essential?

Lots of students treat introduction like an annoying draft of a whole work. They write down several ideas, proofread them dutifully, and then they focus on the body, launching their actual research and not bothering to go back toward the first section of a paper. Such an approach rarely brings positive results because the relevance of introduction cannot be overestimated. Let’s take a quick overview. This article presents two essential reasons proving why writing an introduction is important.  


  • It makes an initial and most important impression

Introduction has the power of intriguing an audience or pushing them away. Imagine submitting a college application essay for a committee’s evaluation. Professors must sit and look through paper after paper for hours, and while they’re obligated to read them all, in reality, some parts are skipped, and some essays receive less attention than others. Since introduction is the first section, this is what most people concentrate on.

Generic text instantly kills off any interest, so even if the body has great quality, its significance will likely pale or remain under-evaluated in case introduction was boring. Knowing how to start off an essay is your chance of standing out and show why your work should be read. You must put enough interesting facts in it for drawing readers’ attention and intriguing them, encouraging them to read everything carefully.

  • It has a thesis

Introduction ends with thesis statement: it’s an argumentative statement that presents the main viewpoint on which your work is based. As many academic experts state, it’s the strongest claim of the entire essay, and if a potential reader doesn’t have time for reading everything, they could look over thesis and decide after that. This fact emphasizes the value introduction has. 

Interesting Facts About Essay Introduction

Now, before you learn how to write an introduction paragraph, you should keep two fun facts about it in mind.

  • It should have a perfect introduction size.

The length of introduction has strict limits that students and even scholars have to obeyIt is a common mistake when students compose just two sentences or create a huge paragraph that serves as an info dump site. In reality, acceptable introduction ranges from 5-10% of the overall essay word count. Experts, in their attempts to establish the perfect length, determined that people who wonder how to begin an essay achieve the best balance only by sticking to 10% point. It allows expressing all crucial details without going overboard.

  • It should be written last and edited heavily.

Another unexpected fact is that in most cases, introduction should be composed last. Yes, it is technically the first section of a paper, but think about information it covers. If you’ve already found an answer to a question of how to write an introduction for an essay, then you know that major points of your research, brief outline of conclusion or argument you’re proving, mention of findings, relevance of the topic, etc. are mentioned there. But the tricky thing is, you formulate clear pictures of these elements only after you complete the paper. 

So, one cannot know beforehand where research will lead them, even if they have approximate ideas. Absolute clarity comes only during the final stage, which is why you should either write an intro afterward or be prepared to edit it, adjusting it based on the twists and turns your research has taken.

Four Parts of Introduction

 After learning definition and importance of introduction, it is time for seeing how to write a good intro to an essay. In most cases, it has four elements that serve different functions. We’ll describe them below: pay attention to each and keep all this info in mind because without it, you won’t be able to write a comprehensive introduction.

1. Hook

Hook is the starting point of any writing assignments. Within your first sentences, you should point out some engaging facts that will stimulate the fascination of your audience. It could be a quote, piece of stunning statistics, a joke, metaphor, or even strong declaration that’s bound to amaze people reading it. If you can’t think of anything, look for essay introduction examples and you’ll see all types of hooks. The name of this element is telling: a writer must ‘hook’ their reader by dangling an attractive lure in front of them, promising more research-related delicacies to come if they choose to take it.

2. Background

Next is the outlining of a topic background. In a simple paper with 5 paragraphs, this will be two or three sentences disclosing some basic facts about your chosen subject. You should write this background while keeping in mind that your audience might not know anything about the topic, so they’ll need a quick and easy explanation. For example, if you’re exploring one of Tolstoy’s novels, it would be suitable to mention its title, the date when it was written, and some quick descriptions of the major plot and/or characters. 

3. Relevance

How to start an introduction and prove that your topic deserves attention? It’s easy — you should explain why you chose it in the first place. Point out what makes it valuable: maybe researching it could help make the minorities’ voices heard or shine the light on the issue lots of people know nothing about. It could have a scientific or cultural value — inform your audience about it and trigger their interest.  If there is no immediate value obvious to you, consider it from another angle: why is it interesting, fun, or tragic? Almost anything could be made relevant, people just need to find the right words to express it. 

4. Thesis and overview

A vital part of every manual detailing how to write an essay introduction is thesis. Like we explained above, it’s a strong statement that you’ll be proving in all other paragraphs. It has to be argumentative, challenging, and it must address the “so what?” or “why” questions. What evidence supports your claim? Why does point 1 lead to point 2? In which ways do you intend to prove everything?

But there might be another paper type where overview would be more appropriate than thesis. In essays, overview is a plan that a writer intends to follow. It is usually suitable for large works like dissertations, where you cannot focus on one specific point because research scope is much bigger. Remember that first person pronouns shouldn’t be used, though — you’ll require a formal academic language instead!

How to Start an Essay With a Quote? 

As a student, you probably heard that direct quotes should not be present at the start or at the end of a paragraph sentence. True, but this rule doesn’t stretch to introduction. In the body, each paragraph should be framed by logical opening and closing sentences that introduce and then conclude an essay part. Conclusion recycles information that was already discussed in other sections, so you cannot use new quotes here. Introduction differs from them— more than that, you are encouraged to apply quotes there as a hook.

There are several good ways to start an essay with a quote. For instance, you can offer some context for it, making it clear who said it and what tone they used. “President Trump once announced…” gives people an idea of what they can expect next. They are already curious, so you follow up with a quote and an explanation of its meaning. You could choose a shocking, surprising, interesting, thought-provoking, or even funny quote — all of them could make the start of your paper exciting.   

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Elizabeth Baldridge
Elizabeth Baldridge

Elizabeth provides educational materials, conducts research, explores and solves student challenges. Her posts are always helpful, innovative, and contain interesting insights.

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