The introduction of every academic essay or paper plays a significant role, which is why it comes first. An introduction or introductory paragraph allows the writer/author to present the ideas in a paper to the readers or audience. It simply sets up your argument and informs the readers of the best that is yet to come.
Your essay’s introduction has three main goals:
With this understanding, it is imperative to understand how to write a great introduction as it is the entry point for your readers. In this article, we explore:
An introduction paragraph, otherwise known as the opening paragraph, is the first paragraph of your essay. It comprises the hook, context/background, topic sentence, facts, and thesis statement. It introduces the main idea of your essay. A good introductory paragraph captures your reader's attention and interest and tells them the importance of the selected topic.
Here is an example of an opening paragraph or an introduction to a short essay:
Hockey has been part of the social life in Canada for over ten decades (Attention Grabber). It has historically evolved into a prevalent sport played and watched by millions of Canadians (Background/context). The game had grown significantly since when it was first played in the country (Thesis Statement).
To write a powerful introduction, ensure that it features these five mandatory parts, including:
Let us dive into each of these five parts of an introduction paragraph for essays or any academic paper.
Your first sentence always sets the tone and direction of the entire essay. Therefore, you should spend much time writing a compelling hook that can attract and keep your readers.
It is best to avoid writing dense and long sentences. Instead, make it simple, nimble, clear, concise, and catchy. It is a sentence meant to spark the curiosity of the readers.
The hook leads your readers to your essay, giving them a sense of the essay's topic and enlists their interest in the essay or paper. As such, avoid using broad claims of plain statements that end up boring your readers. Also, avoid dry facts.
Here are examples of good essay hooks:
As highlighted in our article on how to write the best hooks for essays, you can grab your readers' attention using hooks such as statistics, statements, facts, rhetorical questions, literary quotes, scene or setting, definition, metaphor, analogies, or personal narratives.
The hooks are your opening sentence. If poorly written, they fail to evoke the readers' emotions or spark their curiosity, which makes them reluctantly skim through it.
A well-written opening statement is your first impression to the reader. It determines whether they will read. Whether you choose to use a question, statement, statistics, or any other hook, make sure to keep it interesting. As well, stick to the scope and purpose of your essay.
After grabbing your readers' attention, it is now time to introduce them to your selected topic. Without wasting words, you need to tell your reader more about the topic you intend to explore in your essay. It also sets your essay's tone, which defines the type of essay you will be writing.
It comes second after the attention grabber or essay hook to ensure that the reader connects to the topic while still at the arousal state. Some people call it the introductory paragraph's transition section, which is right because it brings out the purpose of selecting the topic and the essay.
It helps the readers understand why you have selected the topic, contextualizes the topic, and envision what to expect in the body paragraphs.
Ensure that you have relevant background information on the purse of the essay or paper for a flawless transition to the main ideas of your paper.
Having introduced the topic to your readers, the relevance sentence serves to define the relevance of the topic to your readers. It is sandwiched between the thesis statement and the opening sentence.
The background information section of the introduction gives the readers the context they need to understand the topic or argument. Given your chosen subject for an assigned essay, the background section can contain:
This section transitions the readers from their curiosity state to a point where they now yearn to learn more about the topic. A very curious reader would directly jump to the body paragraphs.
As you give facts on the topic, strive to establish its relevance to the readers given the problem or issue. It cements the attention of the reader, and they can now flow to the end seamlessly. It also connects the grabber to the topic. Avoid giving too many details because you will be returning to the points later. Besides, you need to save your evidence, facts, and interpretations for the body paragraphs.
The space and scope of your background depending on the topic you have selected. It can be one or two sentences long as it is only a sketch.
This section can briefly be followed by stating the main points of your essay, which outlines the body of your essay.
Before writing the thesis statement, you need to outline the main points. Even though this is unnecessary for short essays 100-words and less, longer essays such as extended essays need to signpost what is to come.
Write a blueprint or roadmap for your essay to give your readers a clear sense of the direction of your argument. Some people call it the purpose statement for an essay.
An example is:
This essay commences with looking at the problems that older adults face when in nursing homes. It then extends a discussion on how in-home aging is a preferred model for the elderly today. Subsequently, it explores the pros and cons of aging in place from various points of view.
If you are writing a short essay, we need to include this because we are limited with the already brief word count.
A thesis statement is a roadmap for your essay; it indicates the controlling idea you are focusing on. In this respect, it defines your response to the essay prompt question and outlines the main arguments for each of the body paragraphs.
A genuinely effective thesis statement should:
Your thesis statement narrows down to what you want to say about a topic. It can be a sentence or two long.
Remember, a good thesis statement is not just a statement of facts. Instead, it is a claim that must be substantiated and explained using strong evidence. It helps convey your position in a debate, outlines your solutions, presents your argument, persuades your reader, informs your reader, or defines a central point on a topic.
With knowledge of the parts of an introduction, you also need to understand how to write an introduction paragraph that earns you readership or grades.
Mainly, understanding the main parts of the introduction is not just enough. If you want to write an outstanding essay introduction, ensure that you begin by hooking your reader for them to read the entire paper or essay.
You as well need to describe the topic, explain its relevance/contextualize the topic, and elaborate everything that is to come in the body paragraphs.
The introduction should establish credibility or your authority as the author of the essay. If there are new perspectives to a given topic, make sure to expound on them. Furthermore, ensure that you have clear, concise, and creative sentences devoid of filler phrases.
Your introduction should also name your topic. As you do this, ensure that your level of writing tallies with that of the audience. For instance, a paper written for marking by an instructor should demonstrate some professional or academic tone. On the other hand, a paper targeting your peers should be formal but with a toned-down academic tone.
Once you begin presenting the main points in your essay, use the funnel approach where you begin from general to specific facts to establish and ground your introduction paragraph.
Finally, after writing the introduction, you need to check and revise it so that the thesis statement accurately presents the facts or arguments in the body paragraphs. If your essay has taken a different stance, tweak the thesis statement to match the body. Use our checklist to ensure that your introduction has every aspect of an excellent essay introduction.
Even though there is no perfect way to write an introduction, there are a few best practices that you should consider, as we have already outlined. Likewise, there are a few things you need to avoid, including:
Let us look at some examples of well-written essay introductions to help us synthesize the information we have written in this guide further.
Remember, with a clear introduction; your essay writing war is halfway won. Therefore, invest more wits and time in the introduction, and as you do so, make sure the body of the essay counts.
Here is a short introduction to an expository essay that leads you into the topic of replacing stem cells with induced pluripotent cells:
The issue of stem cell research evokes controversial debates among healthcare providers, regulators, the scientific community, and the general public (Hook). The historical beginning of the ethical dilemma began in the 1980s when stem cell research found its way into the mainstream media. Scientists then discovered the methods and techniques to derive stem cells from human embryos and grow the cells in laboratory settings. Whether or not stem cell research is ethical does not matter; what matters is the potential that stem cell research poses on the advancement of medicine (Background). However, scientists will most likely address the cons of stem cell research for the better (relevance/topic sentence). Replacing stem cell research with induced pluripotent cells is promising means to avoiding the associated ethical dilemmas that have delayed the development of stem cell therapy (Thesis Statement).
Argumentative Essay Introduction Example
We now present another example of an introduction to an argumentative essay, which sets up a debate about online learning during the pandemic.
The proliferation and later advancement of technology and the internet have had a world-changing effect, as a witness in the realm of primary and higher education (Hook). Even though institutions had been using internet technology for learning before the pandemic, technology has proven significant during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit, a series of lockdowns were witnessed, schools closed offline or onsite learning for online learning and many students went far from schools. For administrators, adopting online learning was a feasible means to maintain learning (topic/relevance sentence). It was a means to ensure no time was lost in between amidst the pandemic that came with unforeseeable risks for students. With the prospects already shown during blended learning, adopting online learning was not challenging (Background). Eventually, it emerged that online learning has advantages to the students, teachers, and other stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic – learning proceeded well, students graduated, and policymakers learned the need to shift focus for the future (Thesis Statement).
From our research, analysis of preferences, and discussion with top scholars, it has emerged that the introduction is 10% of the entire word count. So, for instance, a 1000-word essay will have a 100-word introduction. A 2000-word essay will have a 200-word introduction paragraph. Here is a brief table that details the number of words of an introduction and conclusion, given the word count.
Introduction (10% of the total word count)
Like the introduction, the conclusion also comprises 10% of the entire word count, leaving 80% of the word count of an essay, research paper, or term paper to the body paragraphs.
A recent internal survey we conducted with our top essay writers revealed that the most preferred approach is writing an introduction in one paragraph. However, there are also instances where two paragraphs are acceptable as an introduction, which is determined by the length of the essay.
Going by the above insights, a short essay paper should only have a one-paragraph introduction. However, it is up to the writer to decide whether to have one long paragraph or two paragraphs for a long paper.
For longer papers such as research papers or term papers, there must be a more substantial introduction. In this case, the first paragraph will grab the attention of the reader and offer some narrative or context of the problem. The second and maybe third paragraphs can then provide the background of the main topics of the paper, present an outline, display the overall argument, and conclude with the thesis statement.
Below are important Videos showing various aspects of writing an effective intro to an essay