No matter what type of essay you have been assigned to write, how you begin your paper is extremely important. Why? Because you need to be able to both capture the attention of the reader and leave no doubt about the purpose of your essay. This can be a daunting task, but if you know how to write an introduction paragraph for an essay, the process will become like second nature every time you are assigned one. The best authors know how to express themselves in a way that keeps readers interested. Read the following tips on how to start a paragraph, and you too can write like a pro!

A great first sentence is key in hooking the reader. If you can come up with a sentence that evokes certain emotions and really speaks to the reader, they will want to know more. For essays that are intended to be both informative and entertaining, start with an interesting quote that is directly tied to what you’re planning to discuss. The Internet is full of websites where you can find quotes associated with virtually every topic. A little anecdote, little-known facts, and quirky manners of expression can also do the trick. You are welcome to start the paper off by discussing the topic in general terms; you don’t need to use laser-like precision right off the bat. You will have plenty of time to get more specific once you get to your thesis statement.

How to start an essay

As you brainstorm for ideas, consider how you would like to present your argument or the information related to the topic. In particular, you will need to think about what intriguing questions the paper intends to explore and explain to the reader why they should want to become informed on these issues. I could be helpful to start the paper with the body paragraphs and conclusion, then turn around, and write the introduction. The essay version of reverse engineering, so to speak. This would ensure that you understand your arguments.

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Quick Tip 1# How to write an academic introduction: Quickly establish your authority as you introduce the topic, discuss it with a more narrow focus, and finish the paragraph with a compelling thesis.

Keep in mind that your thesis statement is not meant to be a factual observation. For instance, nobody needs to be convinced that the whale is the largest animal. Instead, you are making an assertion that can be debated, but the intent is to persuade the reader that your argument sounds logical and credible. If you want a good idea on how to write an introduction to a research paper, here is an example: “Due to the culture of polarization that has engulfed American politics today; the focus is on political party success rather than on formulating a policy that best serves the country’s citizens.”

Quick Tip #2 How to write an introduction for a scientific research paper: Unlike narrative essays and other papers meant to both inform and entertain, a research paper should remain technical and scientific. This does not mean it has to be entirely dry, but nonetheless, it would be inappropriate to include a whimsical quote or humorous anecdote.

Whom are you addressing? In most cases, your professor or instructor is the target reader, but imagine the paper will also be read by a broader audience. Keeping that in mind, think about what background information or context is required. If you are writing about a story that is widely known such as the works of Shakespeare or Dickens, it isn’t necessary to spoon-feed the reader. They will want to proceed to the meat of the essay. However, if the topic involves some complexity and deals with subject matter that is less known, you might need to define some terms, explain the main theme of a particular story, or discuss the importance of certain events that might otherwise be obscure to the reader. But no matter the approach, avoid making generic, empty comments like, “After reading Beowulf, my mind was filled with lots of thoughts” or “Technology is important in society today…” If the information does nothing to enhance your argument, it is best to leave it on the cutting room floor.

Quick Tip #3 How to write an introduction letter about yourself: Begin with a quote or observation about a general experience and then make it personal by informing the reader how it applies to your life.

Every introduction should contain the thesis statement or argument at or near the end of the paragraph. For the best results, choose a thesis that is unique. Professors spend their working days reading the same kinds of argument; thinking outside the box will put you in their good graces. Essays are not generally philosophical exercises, so your thesis should actually be provable as opposed to engaging in subjective musings such as the meaning of our existence. Of course, make sure that your thesis is neither too general to lack focus nor too narrow that you are unable to find enough information to support your arguments. Thus, instead of examining the movie industry as a whole, a thesis on the evolution of summer Hollywood blockbusters is both specific enough to allow for proper focus without lacking the supporting material.

Quick Tip #4 How to write an introduction for a speech: Although introduction for a speech will not differ all that much from an essay, remember that you are not simply reading a paper to the audience. As you write a speech, you will want to take into account the body language and pauses that you will utilize as you present it.

Finish the introduction by making a transition to the first paragraph of the body of the paper. While a lot of students include the thesis in the last sentence of the paragraph, adding one more sentence that guides the reader towards the first argument is a nice way to keep him or her engaged.

Essay Introduction Examples

Now that you have a better idea on how to write an intro paragraph, we can briefly discuss some intro examples.

  • Literary Essay: Society has been growing more sophisticated in terms of entertainment, with special effects ruling the big screen and brilliant writing dominating drama series on NetFlix. But in spite of the fact that we live in an age where terror can be depicted in realistic terms through Hollywood entertainment, the horror tales by Edgar Allen Poe – which date back more than a century ago – continue to fascinate and scare readers in ways that no modern movie can.”
  • Research Essay: “With the rise of nationalism in Europe, there is great fear that 70+ years of unprecedented peace on the Continent is being shaken to its foundations. Are Brexit and the rise of far-right parties in France and Germany the end of harmonious alliances based on tolerance and beginning of the new normal? Or is it merely a phase that will quietly pass? The latter is clearly true, and victories by moderate parties in the Netherlands and France over far-right parties is evidence of this.”
  • Personal Essay: “I have always been of the belief that you should never settle for second best. So when I applied for graduate school, the University of Michigan was the only one on my list. My father insisted that I apply to a couple other schools just in case, but I was convinced that if I did not get into my top and only choice, graduate school wasn’t meant to be. The acceptance e-mail that eventually arrived confirmed this philosophy.”

Armed with suggestions on how to write a good introduction as well as some sample essay introductions, you are ready to give it a try yourself. Good luck and here’s hoping for some essay writing success!