How To Write Good Introduction For Essay

Last Updated on August 30, 2023

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How To Write Good Introduction For Essay

How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay. It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

  • Catch your reader’s attention.
  • Give background on your topic.
  • Present your thesis—the central point of your essay.

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille. Essay introduction example

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Table of contents

Step 1: Hook your reader

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

  • Braille was an extremely important invention.
  • The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.

  • The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
  • The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

Step 2: Give background information

Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

  • Historical, geographical, or social context
  • An outline of the debate you’re addressing
  • A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
  • Definitions of key terms

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument.
Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:Example: Background informationThe writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use.

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Step 3: Present your thesis statement

Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement—a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.Example: Thesis statementAs the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.

Step 4: Map your essay’s structure

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.Example: SignpostingThis essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Step 5: Check and revise

As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion, you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

  • My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
  • I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
  • I have defined any important terms.
  • My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
  • Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

More examples of essay introductions

  • Argumentative
  • Expository
  • Literary analysis

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

Hook

Argumentative essay introduction

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction

What goes in an essay introduction?

What is a hook?

What is a thesis statement?

Why do I need a thesis statement?

What is the structure of an essay?

How to Write an Essay

Essays are common in middle school, high school and college. You may even need to write essays in the business world (although they are usually called reports at that point). An essay is defined as a short piece of writing that expresses information as well as the writer’s opinion. Learn how to write an essay using 8 simple steps.

student reading how to write an essay

8 Steps to Writing an Essay

For some, writing an essay is as simple as sitting down at their computer and beginning to type. But a lot more planning goes into writing an essay successfully. If you have never written an essay before, or if you struggle with writing and want to improve your skills, it is a good idea to follow a number of important steps in the essay writing process.

For example, to write an essay, you should generally:

  • decide what kind of essay to write
  • brainstorm your topic
  • research the topic
  • choose a writing style
  • develop a thesis
  • outline your essay
  • write your essay
  • edit your writing to check spelling and grammar

While this sounds like a lot of steps to write a simple essay, if you follow them you will be able to write more successful, clear and cohesive essays.

1. Choose the Type of Essay

The first step to writing an essay is to define what type of essay you are writing. There are four main categories into which essays can be grouped:

  • Narrative essay – Tell a story or impart information about your subject in a straightforward, orderly manner, like in a story.
  • Persuasive essay – Convince the reader about some point of view.
  • Expository essay – Explain to the reader how to perform a given process. You could, for example, write an expository essay with step-by-step instructions on how to make a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Descriptive essay – Focus on the details of what is going on. For example, if you want to write a descriptive essay about your trip to the park, you would give great detail about what you experienced: how the grass felt beneath your feet, what the park benches looked like, and anything else the reader would need to feel as if he were there.

Knowing what kind of essay you are trying to write can help you decide on a topic and structure your essay in the best way possible. Here are a few other types of essays:

  • Argumentative essay – Take a position on a controversial issue and present evidence in favor of your position. If you’ve been assigned an argumentative essay, check out these top 10 argumentative essay topics.
  • Compare and contrast essay – Identify similarities and differences between two subjects that are, typically, under the same umbrella.
  • Problem solution essay – Describe a problem, convince the reader to care about the problem, propose a solution, and be prepared to dismantle objections.
  • Informative essay – Educate the reader on a particular topic with facts.

2. Brainstorm Your Topic

You cannot write an essay unless you have an idea of what to write about. Brainstorming is the process in which you come up with the essay topic. You need to simply sit and think of ideas during this phase.

  • Write down everything that comes to mind as you can always narrow those topics down later.
  • Use clustering or mind mapping to brainstorm and come up with an essay idea. This involves writing your topic or idea in the center of the paper and creating bubbles (clouds or clusters) of related ideas around it.
  • Brainstorming can be a great way to develop a topic more deeply and to recognize connections between various facets of your topic.
  • Once you have a list of possible topics, it’s time to choose the best one that will answer the question posed for your essay. You want to choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow.

If you are given an assignment to write a one-page essay, it would be far too much to write about “the history of the U.S.,” since that could fill entire volumes of books. Instead, you could write about a specific event within the history of the United States: perhaps signing the Declaration of Independence or when Columbus discovered the Americas.

Choose the best topic idea from among your list and begin moving forward on writing your essay. But, before you move forward, take heed of these topics to avoid.

3. Research the Topic

Once you have done your brainstorming and chosen your topic, you may need to do some research to write a good essay. Go to the library or search online for information about your topic. Interview people who might be experts in the subject.

Keep your research organized so it will be easy for you to refer back to. This also makes it easier to cite your sources when writing your final essay.

4. Choose a Writing Style

The writing style that you choose for your essay is dictated by your teacher or the topic of your paper. In general, there are three writing styles you might come across in high school and college.

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) is designed for humanities and language arts essays. It uses the author-page number citation style. This is the most common writing style used by high school and college students.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) uses the author-date citation style and was created for social science and psychology research papers and essays. It is the second most common writing style out there.
  • Chicago Manual of Style, also known as Turabian, has two writing styles: author-date and notes-bibliography. Mostly used by college students and professionals, the author-date style works for scientific papers, while notes-biblio makes arts and humanities papers a breeze.

Each different writing style has its own unique format for in-text and reference list citations.

5. Develop a Thesis

Your thesis statement is the main point of your essay. It is essentially one sentence that says what the essay is about. For example, your thesis statement might be “Dogs are descended from wolves.” You can then use this as the basic premise to write your entire essay, remembering that all of the different points throughout need to lead back to this one main thesis. You should usually state your thesis in your introductory paragraph.

Additionally, the thesis statement should be broad enough that you have enough to say about it, but not so broad that you can’t be thorough. To help you structure a perfectly clear thesis, check out these thesis statement examples.

6. Outline Your Essay

The next step is to outline what you are going to write about. This means you want to essentially draw the skeleton of your paper. Writing an outline can help to ensure your paper is logical, well organized and flows properly. If you’ve been tasked with an argumentative essay, here’s the best formula for an argumentative essay outline.

  • Start by writing the thesis statement at the top, then write a topic sentence for each paragraph below that. This means you should know exactly what each of your paragraphs is going to be about before you write them.
  • Don’t jumble too many ideas in each paragraph or the reader may become confused.
  • Ensure you have transitions between paragraphs so the reader understands how the paper flows from one idea to the next.
  • Fill in supporting facts from your research under each paragraph. Make sure each paragraph ties back to your thesis and creates a cohesive, understandable essay.

Does your teacher follow the APA guidelines for writing papers? If so, these APA outline format examples should help you pull it all together. As you progress into the meat of the essay (following our tips below), these APA format examples should prove beneficial! Or, if MLA is your teacher’s preferred style, check out these MLA format examples.

7. Write the Essay

Once you have an outline, it’s time to start writing. Write based on the outline itself, fleshing out your basic skeleton to create a whole, cohesive and clear essay.

You’ll want to edit and re-read your essay, checking to make sure it sounds exactly the way you want it to. Here are some things to remember:

  • Revise for clarity, consistency and structure.
  • Support your thesis adequately with the information in your paragraphs. Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence. This is the most important sentence in the paragraph that tells readers what the rest of the paragraph will be about.
  • Make sure everything flows together. As you move through the essay, transition words will be paramount. Transition words are the glue that connects every paragraph together and prevents the essay from sounding disjointed. You can even use a list of transition words to help get you started.
  • Reread your introduction and conclusion. Will the reader walk away knowing exactly what your paper was about?

In your introduction, it’s important to include a hook. This is the line or line that will lure a reader in and encourage them to want to learn more. For more on this, check out how to write a hook. And, to help you formulate a killer conclusion, scan through these conclusion examples.

8. Check Spelling and Grammar

Now the essay is written, but you’re not quite done. Reread what you’ve written, looking out for mistakes and typos.

  • Revise for technical errors.
  • Check for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. You cannot always count on spell check to recognize every spelling error. Sometimes, you can spell a word incorrectly but your misspelling will also be a word, such as spelling “from” as “form.”
  • Another common area of concern is quotation marks. It’s important to cite your sources with accuracy and clarity. Follow these guidelines on how to use quotes in essays and speeches.
  • You might also want to consider the difference between quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing. Quoting is reserved for lines of text that are identical to an original piece of writing. Paraphrasing is reserved for large sections of someone else’s writing that you want to convey in your own words. Summarizing puts the main points from someone else’s text into your own words.

Planning Pays Off

A lot goes into writing a successful essay. Fortunately, these tips for writing essays can help you along the way and get you on the path to a well-written essay. Out of all these “how-tos,” the worst thing you could do is plagiarize someone else’s writing (intentionally or unintentionally). Take a look at these tips and techniques for preventing plagiarism. Other than that, we wish you great success as you work your way to a perfect A!.

how to write an english essay introduction

Introductions & Conclusions

Introductions and conclusions are important components of any essay. They work to book-end the argument made in the body paragraphs by first explaining what points will be made (in the introduction) and then summarizing what points were made (in the conclusion).

Introductions

An introduction is typically the first paragraph of your paper. The goal of your introduction is to let your reader know what he or she can expect from your paper. While there is no one formula for writing a good introduction, in general, an introduction should do the following:

  1. Attract the Reader’s AttentionBegin your introduction with a “hook” that grabs your reader’s attention and introduces the general topic. Here are some suggestions on how to create a “hook”:
    • State an interesting fact or statistic about your topic
    • Ask a rhetorical question
    • Reveal a common misconception about your topic
    • Set the scene of your story: who, when, where, what, why, how?
    • Share an anecdote (a humorous short story) that captures your topic
  2. State Your Focused TopicAfter your “hook”, write a sentence or two about the specific focus of your paper. What is your paper about? Why is this topic important? This part of the introduction can include background information on your topic that helps to establish its context.
  3. State your ThesisFinally, include your thesis statement. The kind of thesis you include depends on the type of paper you are writing, but, in general, your thesis should include:
    • your specific topic
    • your main point about that topic
    • the points of discussion you will include in your paper
    Your thesis should be clear, and easy to find. Most often, it is the last sentence of the introduction.

Sample Introduction

Sample Introduction

Conclusions

A conclusion works to remind your reader of the main points of your paper and summarizes what you want your reader to “take away” from your discussion. Consider these tips when writing your conclusion:

  • Begin with your rephrased thesis statement to remind your reader of the point of your paper.
  • Summarize the points you made in your paper and show how they support your argument; tie all the pieces of your paper together.
  • Tell your reader what the significance of your argument might be. Why is the discussion important? Do you want your reader to think differently, question something, or perform some action? Make a recommendation of what your reader should “do” with the information you just gave them, or share the importance of the topic.

Sample Conclusion

Sample Conclusion

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