Online Writing Lab

Introductions

A good introduction sets the stage for an interesting and well-written essay.  For the writer, the introduction provides the opportunity to present your essay as interesting and sets it apart from other essays with a similar purpose.

The most important aspect of any introduction is the ability to grab the reader’s attention.  If the introduction fails to do this, it will detract from the quality of the essay, even if the body paragraphs that follow are well written and full of supporting detail.  Additionally, an introduction should introduce the topic and tone of the essay and should lead into the thesis statement.  Since the thesis statement is the specific, central idea of the essay, it generally appears towards the end of the introduction, once the writer has introduced the topic and tone and grabbed the reader’s attention. 

Here are some possible ways to grab the reader’s attention:

  • Tell a story (or a narrative)
  • Use some eye-catching statistics
  • Use an interesting quote
  • Ask a question that provokes thought in the reader

While there are different ways to grab a reader’s attention, it is important that all writers find a way to do so.  Once a writer has been successful at grabbing the reader’s attention, it is important to begin leading into the thesis.  In other words, now that the hook has been set, bring the reader further in. 

All introductions should achieve several results:

  • Grab the reader’s attention
  • Introduce the subject matter and tone of the essay
  • Lead into the thesis (rather than beginning with it)
  • Have a clear thesis that controls the rest of the essay

Generally, the length of an introduction should match the overall length of the essay.  A shorter introduction is appropriate for a shorter essay, while a longer essay often needs to have a lengthier introduction.