essay introduction steps

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

essay introduction steps

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

essay introduction steps

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

essay introduction steps

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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How to write an Essay Introduction (5-Step Formula)

How to write an Essay Introduction

One of my friends – a high-up professor in an English university – told me he can tell the grade a student will get within the first 90 seconds of reading a paper.

This makes the introduction the most important paragraph in your whole paper.

The introduction orients your reader to how well you understand academic writing, your skills in critical thinking, your ability to write professionally with minimal errors, and the depth of knowledge you have on the topic.

All in one fantastic paragraph! No pressure.

No wonder introductions are so difficult to write. If you’re like me, you find that you can sit and stare at a blank page as the moments tick by. You’re just not sure how to write an introduction!

After reading the top 30 online articles on how to write an essay introduction, I synthesized the five most common steps that universities give on how to write an introduction.

The five steps I am going to introduce to you in this paragraph are from my I.N.T.R.O. method. The intro method provides an easy-to-use acronym for how to write an introduction that the top universities recommend.

The INTRO method’s steps are:

  • [I] Interest: Provide an opening sentence that shows why the topic is of interest to everyday human beings
  • [N] Notify: Notify the reader of background or contextual information
  • [T] Translate: Translate the essay topic or question by paraphrasing it
  • [R] Report: Report on your position or argument
  • [O] Outline: Provide an outline of the essay structure

Below, I go through each step one by one. Each step is designed to be written in order, although you may feel free to mix them up after you’ve written each sentence to make it feel and read just the way you like.

Use the INTRO method as a guide for how to write an introduction and get words down on paper. As I often argue on this website, just writing something is often the hardest part .

You may also find that some essay introductions work better without one or more of these 5 steps. That is okay, too. Use these 5 steps as advice on points to include in an introduction and adjust them as you need. You may find in your specific area of study you need to add or remove other sentences. Play around with your introduction until you feel comfortable with it.

So don’t be too hard on yourself: have a go at a draft of your introduction with no pressure to use it in the end. You’ll find by the time you’ve written these five sentences you’ll have the creative juices flowing and a compelling introduction will be down on paper in no time.

1. Interest

Provide an opening sentence that shows why the topic is interesting to everyday human beings

Nearly every source on how to write an introduction that I found online recommended that your first sentence be an engaging ‘hook’ . Most sources highlight that the ‘hook’ sentence should draw in the reader’s interest in order to make your piece stand out.

The marker wants to see if you understand why this topic is of interest is in the first place. They want to see if you ‘get it’ from the very start.

I also recommend that you view the hook as an opportunity to show why the topic is interesting to everyday human beings . This makes it relevant to your reader.

To show you understand why the topic is of interest in the first place, aim to do one of the following things:

  • Show what makes the topic worth discussing. Your ‘Interest’ sentence might help show why someone should care about the topic. Will it affect our livelihoods? Will it harm us? Make our work lives easier? The more relatable this point is to real human lives, the better.
  • Highlight the single most interesting point in the essay. You might notice that you have already pointed out this interesting ‘hook’ somewhere in your essay. Find that interesting, relatable point and make it the opening sentence of your introduction.
  • Use an interesting fact or figure to show the topic’s importance. Percentages or real numbers about how many people are or would be impacted by the issue help to show the topic’s importance. This will create reader interest with a ‘wow’ factor.
  • Show how the essay topic is relevant to today’s world. If you’re struggling to identify this interesting ‘hook’, go onto google and find news reports related to your topic. How has the topic made it into the news recently? The news report will help you to brainstorm why this topic is of interest to the everyday lives of real human beings.

However, do not overstate the issue. You should provide a clear, reasonable perspective in this first sentence rather than an over-the-top claim. For example, aim to avoid hyperbolic or overly emotional phrases:

Too much hyperbole and emotion:
“For the sake of the survival of humankind, …“A prosperous future may require…”
“The outrageous murder of whales by fishermen in the Pacific is a tragedy for mankind.”“The killing of whales in the Pacific is condemned internationally by respected bodies such as the United Nations.”
“It has always been the case that…”“There has long been scientific consensus that…”

To find out more about retracting over-the-top emotion and hyperbole, we have put together a guide on academic language that you may like to read.

To summarize, I recommend that your first step in how to write an introduction is to write a ‘hook’ sentence that focuses on why the topic is interesting to everyday human beings . Use sober, clear facts about the importance of the topic to real human lives to get yourself started.

Read Also: My Suggested Best Words to Start a Paragraph
Notify the reader of background or contextual information

Nearly every source I found also recommended that you provide brief ‘background’ or ‘contextual’ information.

‘Background’ or ‘contextual’ information shows your depth of knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Here are some examples of ‘context’ for a few topics:

Climate Change

Climate change only made its way into the world’s focus in the early 2000s, even though scientists knew about it as early as the 1980s.

Harry Potter

JK Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a train in Britain.

Snowboarding

In the mid-1980s snowboarding was considered a rebellious, anti-social sport that was banned on many ski resorts through the 1990s.

United States History

The United States was settled by British-born Europeans in the 1500s, although it had been inhabited for many thousands of years previously by the Indigenous people of North America.

Hopefully, you can see here that giving ‘context’ is a way of showing that you have a really strong or deep knowledge of the history or background story of the topic. This is your chance to differentiate your depth of knowledge from other students. A sentence or two giving some of this context also helps to show off your knowledge right from the start.

Most sources recommend only providing one or two sentences of background information. This will help you to show off your knowledge without stealing content from the body of your essay. The body of the essay will add depth and detail to your points in the introduction, so feel free to leave out examples and explanations beyond your engaging sentence or two: you will have time in the body of the essay to elaborate.

3. Translate

Translate the essay topic or question

This point was mentioned by more than half the websites I found giving advice on how to write an introduction.

Many universities recommend re-stating the essay topic or question in your own words. This helps your marker to see that you understand the topic and are directly addressing it.

Here are some examples of essay questions and ways you can re-state the essay question in your introduction:

How can knowledge about history help us to improve our lives in the future?

The study of history is important because it helps civilization

not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Paying attention to the mistakes of history will improve the lives of millions of people in

.

Critique how the struggle between capitalism and communism shaped the second half of the 20 Century.

After World War 2, the world’s focus quickly shifted to the uneasy relationship between the communist ideology of the Soviet Union and the capitalist ideology of the United States. The were heavily the conflicts and proxy wars . (See also: ).

What is the lasting impact of European Colonisation in the 21 Century?

European colonization

lasted between the 1500s and 1800s. At this time, French, Dutch, British, Spanish, and Portuguese naval powers raced to assert domination over the world. The Americas, Asia, Africa, and Antipodes were rapidly colonized by European powers. This European colonization

on the livelihoods, health, and welfare of hundreds of millions of Indigenous peoples.

Something to keep in mind is that you do not want to appear to be re-stating the essay question simply to take up extra words. We call this ‘padding’. An example of padding is when a student drops the essay question in as a question, word-for-word:

  • How can knowledge about history help us to improve our lives in the future? This is the question that will be answered in this essay.
  • This essay will answer the question “What is the lasting impact of European Colonisation in the 21 st Century?”

Do not drop the essay question into the introduction without paraphrasing or surrounding explanation. If you do this, your marker will think you’re just trying to add words to the introduction because you’re not sure of anything interesting to say

Report your position or argument

Most essays do not require you to take a stance on an issue.

Essays that do require you to take a stance are called either ‘argumentative essays’ or ‘persuasive essays’.

If you are writing a persuasive essay, you will need to include Step 4: Report. For this step, you’ll need to state where you stand on the issue:

Can knowledge about history help us to improve our lives in the future?

This essay demonstrates that knowledge about history is invaluable in helping current generations learn the lessons of the past in order that

have a safer, healthier,

and more prosperous future.

Did the 20 Century prove that communism does not work?

The cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union concluded with the fall of the Soviet Union and the movement of democratic capitalism further into Eastern Europe. This essay argues that the long decades of suffering, government corruption, and limited individual freedoms in the Soviet Union demonstrated that communism is impractical when put into practice.

Should Europe have Colonised Africa?

While many scholars argue that European colonization

of Africa brought increased opportunities and healthcare to Indigenous peoples, the argument that European colonization also brought disease, mass slavery, and disrupted livelihoods convincingly demonstrate that European colonization

should not have occurred.

Keep in mind that essays should never leave a reader confused. Essay writing is not like creative writing: your reader must always know what’s going to be said right from the start. When reading to gather information, readers don’t like to be surprised. They want the facts up-front. Therefore, your marker will expect to know what your stance is on the issue right from the introduction onwards.

Provide an outline of the Essay Structure

This last point on how to write an introduction is important and separates average students from top students.

Introductions should always highlight the key points that will be made in an essay. Academic writing should never surprise the reader.

The fact that steps 4 and 5 both highlight that you should orient your marker reinforces the importance of this. Always, always, guide your marker’s reading experience.

Your essay should signpost all key concepts, theories, and main sections that make up your essay. If an important point is made in the essay but not signposted in the introduction, you are likely to confuse your marker. A confused marker very rapidly lowers your mark.

Too often, students fail to outline key points of their essays in the introduction. Make a habit of signposting your key ideas, points, theories, or concepts you will cover in the introduction in order to gain marks.

It is always easier to write this outline once the essay plan is written. You will then be able to gather together the key points that you listed in your essay plan and include them in the introduction.

The outline of the essay structure can only be one or two sentences long. You can state as your last sentence in your introduction:

  • “Firstly, this essay … then, …, and finally …”
  • “The essay opens with …, then, …, and then closes with …”
  • “After exploring …, … and …, this essay will conclude with …”

Try to outline the issues you will cover in order. Providing an orderly outline of your essay is very helpful for your reader.

Now, I know that some people don’t like this method. Let me reassure you with this study from Theresa Thonney in 2016. Thonney examined 600 top-ranking articles in fields including Literature, Music, Environmental Sciences, Nutrition, Inter-Cultural Studies, and more to see how many articles used this method. In other words, she completed a comprehensive study of whether professional, published authors use this method of orientating the reader to the structure of the article.

Thonney found that 100% of top-ranking articles she looked at in the Astronomy field used this method. 98% of articles in Sociology journals used this method. In fact, the field with the lowest amount of authors who use this method is Art, which had 76% of authors use this method. In other words, even the lowest result she found showed that three in every four professional authors use this method.

So, you should too.

Let’s sum point 5 up by reinforcing this very important rule: your marker should always be very clear about what they will read, and in what order, to improve their reading experience.

A short list of things to Avoid in Introductions

I want to conclude this post with an outline of some of the worst things you can do in an introduction. The introduction sets the scene, so you want to make a good impression. You don’t want your marker taking away marks due to one of these top mistakes:

  • Rhetorical Questions.
  • Vague padding.
  • Dictionary definitions.

Sometimes, teachers also recommend avoiding referencing in introductions. I have colleagues who absolutely refuse to let students include references in their introductions. Personally, I think that’s absurd – if a reference is required, include it! However, check with your teacher on their personal preferences here as I know this is a point of contention in faculty lounges.

How to write an introduction

The introduction is important for creating a strong first impression, especially since markers often make up their mind about your grade very early on in the marking process.

Introductions are best written last. That way, you will be able to include all the signposting you need to do (step 5), have a good understanding of the context (step 2), and be more certain about what your stance is on the issue (step 4).

Here’s the five INTRO steps I’d encourage you to use every time:

Once you have written your introduction, it is a good idea to put it away for a few days and then come back to edit it with fresh eyes . Remember that grammar and punctuation are important in the introduction. You want to leave a good impression.

If you have a friend who can read the draft for you and give you tips, or if your teacher has drop-in hours, use them to get some tips on how to write an introduction, what sounds right, want sounds off, and how you might be able to improve your introduction.

Once you have written your introduction, you might want to have a look at our guidance on how to write conclusions in order to end your piece as strongly as you started! People often think conclusions are just like introductions. That’s not true. Conclusions are unique paragraphs, so head over to our guidance on conclusions now to get the support you need on writing the best conclusion you can.

Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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  • Writing Tips

How to Write an Excellent Essay Introduction

How to Write an Excellent Essay Introduction

3-minute read

  • 27th September 2022

Love it or hate it, essay writing is a big part of student life. Writing a great essay might seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re staring at a blank document, but there are formulas you can follow to make sure your paper hits the mark.

When you plan your essays , don’t neglect your introduction! It might seem like a trivial part of the paper, but it can make it or break it. A badly written introduction can leave your reader feeling confused about the topic and what to expect from your essay.

To help your writing reach its full potential, we’ve put together a guide to writing an excellent essay introduction.

How to Write an Essay Introduction

An essay introduction has four main steps:

●  Hook your reader

●  Provide context

●  Present your thesis statement

●  Map your essay

Hook Your Reader

The first part of your introduction should be the hook. This is where you introduce the reader to the topic of the essay. A great hook should be clear, concise, and catchy. It doesn’t need to be long; a hook can be just one sentence.

Provide Context

In this section, introduce your reader to key definitions, ideas, and background information to help them understand your argument.

Present Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement tells the reader the main point or argument of the essay. This can be just one sentence, or it can be a few sentences.

Map Your Essay

Before you wrap up your essay introduction, map it! This means signposting sections of your essay. The key here is to be concise. The purpose of this part of the introduction is to give your reader a sense of direction.

Here’s an example of an essay introduction:

Hook: Suspense is key for dramatic stories, and Shakespeare is well-known and celebrated for writing suspenseful plays.

Context: While there are many ways in which Shakespeare created suspension for his viewers, two techniques he used effectively were foreshadowing and dramatic irony. Foreshadowing is a literary device that hints at an event or situation that is yet to happen. Dramatic irony is a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader, although it is unknown to the character.

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Thesis statement: Foreshadowing and dramatic irony are two powerful techniques that Shakespeare used to create suspense in literature. These methods have been used to keep the reader intrigued, excited, or nervous about what is to come in many of his celebrated works.

Essay mapping: In this essay, I will be detailing how Shakespeare uses foreshadowing and dramatic irony to create suspense, with examples from Romeo and Juliet and Othello.

Pro tip: Essays take twists and turns. We recommend changing your introduction as necessary while you write the main text to make sure it fully aligns with your final draft.

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Steps To Write An Essay Introduction With Examples

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A well-crafted introduction sets the stage for a compelling essay. It captures the reader’s attention, provides essential background information, and outlines the central argument or thesis. This essay writing guide will help you write an essay introduction that engages your readers and clearly presents your essay’s purpose.

Understanding the Importance of an Essay Introduction

Before understanding how to begin an essay introduction, knowing its role in your essay is crucial. The introduction serves several vital purposes:

  • Engages the reader: A well-crafted introduction grabs the reader’s attention and encourages them to read further.
  • Introduces the topic: It provides a brief overview of the topic discussed, setting the context for the essay.
  • Presents the thesis statement: This is the crux of your introduction, where you state your main argument or point of view.

What to Include in an Essay Introduction

Essay introductions vary based on the type of essay you’re writing, but in general, they all should include some common elements that are vital for setting the right tone and direction for your essay. Here is what to include in an essay introduction:

  • Engaging Hook: Keep the reader interested from the start.
  • Relevant Background: Only include information that directly supports understanding your argument.
  • Clear Thesis Statement: Make your main argument concise, unambiguous and straightforward.
  • Signposting: Guide the reader through your essay’s structure.

Steps to Write an Essay Introduction

Now, using this essay writing guide, let’s explore how to create a well-structured introduction in ten steps. Each step is crucial in writing an essay introduction that captures attention and presents the thesis.

  • Start with a hook: Begin with something that is engaging. Use a startling fact, a quote from a well-known figure, or a riveting story related to your topic. This technique is vital in understanding how to begin an essay introduction as it draws the reader in and piques their curiosity.
  • Provide context: Offer a backdrop to the issue at hand. It could involve historical context, current events, or a summary of necessary research. It’s about setting the stage for your thesis and helping readers understand the broader conversation in which your essay participates. Providing context is a fundamental part of any essay writing guide because it frames the significance of your discussion.
  • Introduce the topic: Specify what your essay will explore. This clarification ensures that your audience understands the specific aspect of the broader topic you will address. It’s crucial in essay introductions to prepare the reader for what is to come.
  • Define key terms: Clarify any terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to your readers. This step is essential to prevent misunderstandings and make your essay easier for a broader audience.
  • Address the significance: Explain why the topic matters. Discuss its relevance to societal issues, its importance within academic fields, or its impact on future research. Highlighting the significance helps justify why the topic warrants discussion and is crucial in writing an essay introduction.
  • State your thesis: Articulate your main argument or the position you will be taking in the essay. This thesis statement should be precise and assertive, providing a clear direction for the entire essay. It encapsulates the central theme of your essay introduction and sets expectations for the following analysis.
  • Outline the structure: Give your readers a roadmap of what to expect in the essay. Outline the essential points that will be talked about in each section. This part of the introduction helps orient the reader and is recommended in any essay writing guide to enhance understanding of the essay’s structure.
  • Highlight the stakes: Detail what is at risk in the discussion. What might change based on the outcomes of your argument? This element raises engagement by showing the essay topic’s real-world implications.
  • Pose a rhetorical question: Introduce a thought-provoking question reflecting your topic. This technique can effectively challenge your readers and make them think critically about the issue at hand. It adds depth to your introduction and involves the audience in the conversation.
  • Transition smoothly: End with a sentence that leads naturally into the main body of your essay. It could be a brief mention of the first point you will discuss or a sentence that seamlessly bridges the introduction to the body paragraphs. For your writing to flow and make sense, you need to use smooth transitions.

Introduction Examples for an Essay

To better illustrate how to begin an essay introduction, here are a few introduction examples for an essay:

  • Narrative Essay : “As I navigated through the bustling streets of Tokyo, enveloped by the neon glow and the chorus of city sounds, it struck me: travel isn’t just about places; it’s about the people and experiences that shape our views and ourselves. This essay delves into how my experiences in Japan have profoundly influenced my understanding of culture and self.”
  • Argumentative Essay : “While many argue that fracking is a highly effective method of extracting natural gas, its environmental and public health costs are too significant to ignore. This essay argues against the continued use of fracking techniques in the United States.”
  • Expository Essay : “Technology has irrevocably changed the workplace, affecting how tasks are performed and redefining the nature of work. This essay examines the impact of technology on productivity and employee engagement.”

Key Takeaways

Mastering the craft of writing an essay introduction is crucial for any successful essay. By following the steps outlined in this essay writing guide and using the provided essay introduction examples, you can enhance your ability to engage and persuade your readers. Remember that the introduction is the first chance you have to make a good impact, so make it count by writing an opening that is clear, informative, and interesting.

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Mastering Academic Essay Writing: Proven Tips for Professional-Level Essays

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How to Write an Essay in APA Format: A Comprehensive Guide with Examples

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Top Resources to Improve Your Academic Writing Skills

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Introductions

What this handout is about.

This handout will explain the functions of introductions, offer strategies for creating effective introductions, and provide some examples of less effective introductions to avoid.

The role of introductions

Introductions and conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write. Usually when you sit down to respond to an assignment, you have at least some sense of what you want to say in the body of your paper. You might have chosen a few examples you want to use or have an idea that will help you answer the main question of your assignment; these sections, therefore, may not be as hard to write. And it’s fine to write them first! But in your final draft, these middle parts of the paper can’t just come out of thin air; they need to be introduced and concluded in a way that makes sense to your reader.

Your introduction and conclusion act as bridges that transport your readers from their own lives into the “place” of your analysis. If your readers pick up your paper about education in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of Chapel Hill, television, e-mail, and The Daily Tar Heel and to help them temporarily enter the world of nineteenth-century American slavery. By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying. Similarly, once you’ve hooked your readers with the introduction and offered evidence to prove your thesis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. (See our handout on conclusions .)

Note that what constitutes a good introduction may vary widely based on the kind of paper you are writing and the academic discipline in which you are writing it. If you are uncertain what kind of introduction is expected, ask your instructor.

Why bother writing a good introduction?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work. A vague, disorganized, error-filled, off-the-wall, or boring introduction will probably create a negative impression. On the other hand, a concise, engaging, and well-written introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and your paper.

Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion. In many academic disciplines, your introduction should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. Your introduction should also give the reader a sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs and pages that will follow. After reading your introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper.

Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper. The introduction should capture your readers’ interest, making them want to read the rest of your paper. Opening with a compelling story, an interesting question, or a vivid example can get your readers to see why your topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an engaging intellectual conversation (remember, though, that these strategies may not be suitable for all papers and disciplines).

Strategies for writing an effective introduction

Start by thinking about the question (or questions) you are trying to answer. Your entire essay will be a response to this question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end. Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will likely be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point. Imagine that you are assigned the following question:

Drawing on the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , discuss the relationship between education and slavery in 19th-century America. Consider the following: How did white control of education reinforce slavery? How did Douglass and other enslaved African Americans view education while they endured slavery? And what role did education play in the acquisition of freedom? Most importantly, consider the degree to which education was or was not a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

You will probably refer back to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay, and the prompt itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction. Notice that it starts with a broad statement and then narrows to focus on specific questions from the book. One strategy might be to use a similar model in your own introduction—start off with a big picture sentence or two and then focus in on the details of your argument about Douglass. Of course, a different approach could also be very successful, but looking at the way the professor set up the question can sometimes give you some ideas for how you might answer it. (See our handout on understanding assignments for additional information on the hidden clues in assignments.)

Decide how general or broad your opening should be. Keep in mind that even a “big picture” opening needs to be clearly related to your topic; an opening sentence that said “Human beings, more than any other creatures on earth, are capable of learning” would be too broad for our sample assignment about slavery and education. If you have ever used Google Maps or similar programs, that experience can provide a helpful way of thinking about how broad your opening should be. Imagine that you’re researching Chapel Hill. If what you want to find out is whether Chapel Hill is at roughly the same latitude as Rome, it might make sense to hit that little “minus” sign on the online map until it has zoomed all the way out and you can see the whole globe. If you’re trying to figure out how to get from Chapel Hill to Wrightsville Beach, it might make more sense to zoom in to the level where you can see most of North Carolina (but not the rest of the world, or even the rest of the United States). And if you are looking for the intersection of Ridge Road and Manning Drive so that you can find the Writing Center’s main office, you may need to zoom all the way in. The question you are asking determines how “broad” your view should be. In the sample assignment above, the questions are probably at the “state” or “city” level of generality. When writing, you need to place your ideas in context—but that context doesn’t generally have to be as big as the whole galaxy!

Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that isn’t necessarily true, and it isn’t always the most effective way to craft a good introduction. You may find that you don’t know precisely what you are going to argue at the beginning of the writing process. It is perfectly fine to start out thinking that you want to argue a particular point but wind up arguing something slightly or even dramatically different by the time you’ve written most of the paper. The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument. However, an introduction written at the beginning of that discovery process will not necessarily reflect what you wind up with at the end. You will need to revise your paper to make sure that the introduction, all of the evidence, and the conclusion reflect the argument you intend. Sometimes it’s easiest to just write up all of your evidence first and then write the introduction last—that way you can be sure that the introduction will match the body of the paper.

Don’t be afraid to write a tentative introduction first and then change it later. Some people find that they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. That’s fine, but if you are one of those people, be sure to return to your initial introduction later and rewrite if necessary.

Open with something that will draw readers in. Consider these options (remembering that they may not be suitable for all kinds of papers):

  • an intriguing example —for example, Douglass writes about a mistress who initially teaches him but then ceases her instruction as she learns more about slavery.
  • a provocative quotation that is closely related to your argument —for example, Douglass writes that “education and slavery were incompatible with each other.” (Quotes from famous people, inspirational quotes, etc. may not work well for an academic paper; in this example, the quote is from the author himself.)
  • a puzzling scenario —for example, Frederick Douglass says of slaves that “[N]othing has been left undone to cripple their intellects, darken their minds, debase their moral nature, obliterate all traces of their relationship to mankind; and yet how wonderfully they have sustained the mighty load of a most frightful bondage, under which they have been groaning for centuries!” Douglass clearly asserts that slave owners went to great lengths to destroy the mental capacities of slaves, yet his own life story proves that these efforts could be unsuccessful.
  • a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote —for example, “Learning about slavery in the American history course at Frederick Douglass High School, students studied the work slaves did, the impact of slavery on their families, and the rules that governed their lives. We didn’t discuss education, however, until one student, Mary, raised her hand and asked, ‘But when did they go to school?’ That modern high school students could not conceive of an American childhood devoid of formal education speaks volumes about the centrality of education to American youth today and also suggests the significance of the deprivation of education in past generations.”
  • a thought-provoking question —for example, given all of the freedoms that were denied enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Frederick Douglass focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy?

Pay special attention to your first sentence. Start off on the right foot with your readers by making sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and polished way.

How to evaluate your introduction draft

Ask a friend to read your introduction and then tell you what they expect the paper will discuss, what kinds of evidence the paper will use, and what the tone of the paper will be. If your friend is able to predict the rest of your paper accurately, you probably have a good introduction.

Five kinds of less effective introductions

1. The placeholder introduction. When you don’t have much to say on a given topic, it is easy to create this kind of introduction. Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don’t really say much. They exist just to take up the “introduction space” in your paper. If you had something more effective to say, you would probably say it, but in the meantime this paragraph is just a place holder.

Example: Slavery was one of the greatest tragedies in American history. There were many different aspects of slavery. Each created different kinds of problems for enslaved people.

2. The restated question introduction. Restating the question can sometimes be an effective strategy, but it can be easy to stop at JUST restating the question instead of offering a more specific, interesting introduction to your paper. The professor or teaching assistant wrote your question and will be reading many essays in response to it—they do not need to read a whole paragraph that simply restates the question.

Example: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass discusses the relationship between education and slavery in 19th century America, showing how white control of education reinforced slavery and how Douglass and other enslaved African Americans viewed education while they endured. Moreover, the book discusses the role that education played in the acquisition of freedom. Education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.

3. The Webster’s Dictionary introduction. This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition of one or more of the words in the assigned question. Anyone can look a word up in the dictionary and copy down what Webster says. If you want to open with a discussion of an important term, it may be far more interesting for you (and your reader) if you develop your own definition of the term in the specific context of your class and assignment. You may also be able to use a definition from one of the sources you’ve been reading for class. Also recognize that the dictionary is also not a particularly authoritative work—it doesn’t take into account the context of your course and doesn’t offer particularly detailed information. If you feel that you must seek out an authority, try to find one that is very relevant and specific. Perhaps a quotation from a source reading might prove better? Dictionary introductions are also ineffective simply because they are so overused. Instructors may see a great many papers that begin in this way, greatly decreasing the dramatic impact that any one of those papers will have.

Example: Webster’s dictionary defines slavery as “the state of being a slave,” as “the practice of owning slaves,” and as “a condition of hard work and subjection.”

4. The “dawn of man” introduction. This kind of introduction generally makes broad, sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time, throughout the world, etc. It is usually very general (similar to the placeholder introduction) and fails to connect to the thesis. It may employ cliches—the phrases “the dawn of man” and “throughout human history” are examples, and it’s hard to imagine a time when starting with one of these would work. Instructors often find them extremely annoying.

Example: Since the dawn of man, slavery has been a problem in human history.

5. The book report introduction. This introduction is what you had to do for your elementary school book reports. It gives the name and author of the book you are writing about, tells what the book is about, and offers other basic facts about the book. You might resort to this sort of introduction when you are trying to fill space because it’s a familiar, comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers details that your reader probably already knows and that are irrelevant to the thesis.

Example: Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave , in the 1840s. It was published in 1986 by Penguin Books. In it, he tells the story of his life.

And now for the conclusion…

Writing an effective introduction can be tough. Try playing around with several different options and choose the one that ends up sounding best to you!

Just as your introduction helps readers make the transition to your topic, your conclusion needs to help them return to their daily lives–but with a lasting sense of how what they have just read is useful or meaningful. Check out our handout on  conclusions for tips on ending your paper as effectively as you began it!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Douglass, Frederick. 1995. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself . New York: Dover.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How To Write An Essay Introduction: A Step-by-Step Guide

Writing a strong introduction is one of the most important parts of crafting a polished essay. The opening paragraph sets the tone for your argument and piques the reader’s interest right from the start. This article will break down the step-by-step process for writing an effective essay introduction, including determining your essay statement, hooking the reader with an attention-grabbing opening, providing an overview of the essay, and revising your writing. Relevant examples will be provided for each step to illustrate how it can be implemented. By following these guidelines and examples to write essay introduction, you’ll be well on your way to starting your essay off strong.

Determine Your Essay Statement:

The foundation of any solid academic paper or essay comes from having a clear, focused statement. Your statement should present the central argument you will explore and prove over the course of the essay. It conveys the perspective or conclusion you have reached regarding the topic at hand and contains the key points or ideas you will analyse in your body paragraphs.

For example, let’s say the topic is police brutality in America . A weak statement might be:

“This paper will discuss police brutality.”

This statement is too broad and does not take a clear stance. A stronger statement could be:

“This paper argues that systemic racism within American police departments has led to disproportionate violence against people of colour and proposes policy reforms such as mandatory de-escalation training, community oversight boards, and bans on chokeholds as ways to promote racial justice and restore trust in law enforcement.”

This statement is clearer, narrower, and takes a definitive position that can be supported over the course of the essay. It outlines the key points that will be analysed in the body paragraphs. Some tips for crafting a strong essay statement include:

  • Narrow your topic to a single, manageable claim rather than a broad topic area. Ask yourself what specific point you want to make or prove.
  • Keep your essay statement concise – usually one sentence that is between 10-15 words. Short, sweet, and right to the point is best.
  • Use definitive language that takes a stance rather than presenting both sides. State your perspective overtly rather than hinting at it.
  • Include elements that will structure your essay, such as key terms, concepts, individuals, events, or works that you will analyse in depth.
  • Place the statement at the end of your introductory paragraph so readers have context before your central argument.
  • Check that your statement gives a sense of direction for the essay by tying back to the prompt or guiding question if one was provided. Make sure any contents or claims mentioned in the statement are logically argued and proven over the body paragraphs.

With conscious effort focused on these strategies, you can craft a crystal clear statement that sets an achievable roadmap for your essay’s structure and analysis. It’s the linchpin that holds everything together.

Hook the Reader:

Now that you have identified your central argument, the next important element is hooking the reader right away with an engaging opening sentence. Your essay introduction only has a few short lines to capture attention and establish a compelling tone – so make them count!

For example, in an essay analysing the themes of power and corruption in George Orwell’s Animal Farm , you may begin with:

“While on the surface a simple fable about barnyard insurrection, George Orwell’s Animal Farm contains deeper parallels to the corruption of the Russian Revolution that have cemented its status as a classic of political satire.”

This opening directly references the subject work and piques curiosity about its deeper significance. Another essay, on debates over police funding, may start with:

“In June of 2020, as national protests against police brutality erupted across America, the Minneapolis City Council made a bold claim – they would dismantle the police department entirely.”

This current events reference establishes relevance while surprising readers on where the introduction may lead. Some other attention-grabbing techniques may include:

  • Quotes, statistics or facts: Drop an interesting snippet of evidence right off the bat to surprise and intrigue readers.
  • Rhetorical questions: Pose an open-ended query to make readers think and get them invested in the topic.
  • Vivid scenarios: Paint a picture with descriptive details to transport readers visually into your world.
  • Counterintuitive claims: Challenge conventional wisdom in a thought-provoking manner from the start.
  • Relevant anecdotes: Share a brief personal story that builds empathy and relevance.
  • Current events: Reference a newsworthy development to show timeliness of discussion.
  • Humour: Start off on a lighter note if your tone allows for a bit of levity to capture smiles.
  • Definitions: Clarify how you are using important terms in an original way.

The goal is to pique natural human curiosity by teasing just enough context without giving everything away. Make readers want to lean in and keep reading to learn more. With practice, you’ll develop your own signature style for captivating opener sentences tailored to your voice and content area.

Provide Overview and Preview:

After generating initial intrigue, use the next couple lines of your introductory paragraph to offer readers direction about where you aim to lead them. Provide a brief overview of key facts and background necessary to establish context for the topic. You can state the main themes, schools of thought, influential figures, opposing viewpoints or any other defining characteristics that help orient readers. Moreover, it’s helpful to give a quick preview of how the remainder of your paper is structured by stating the main supporting points and ideas you will expand upon in subsequent paragraphs. This overview transitions the reader smoothly into the body while retaining suspense about which evidence or analyses might surprise them along the way. You can also state the main themes or ideas that will structure your paper by saying something like:

“This paper examines three prevailing schools of thought on the debate, analyses the flawed assumptions behind popular arguments, and ultimately argues that sustainable policy reforms are necessary to make progress.”

A quick preview helps transition the reader into the body of the essay while retaining suspense about how your unique analysis and evidence will unfold. It gives them direction without revealing all your cards.

For a humanities essay on morality in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, an overview may be:

“This essay explores how Steinbeck portrays the human need for dignity and companionship through the lens of 1930s migrant work. It analyses the complex relationships between George, Lennie, and other characters to ultimately argue Steinbeck uses their plight to comment on the dehumanizing realities of the Great Depression.”

Providing a lightly detailed synopsis serves as a useful roadmap and entices continued learning without “spoiling” your full analysis and argumentative strategies still to unfold. It gives structure without giving everything away too quickly. Try to keep this final sentence of your introductory paragraph under 2-3 concise sentences for optimal impact and flow.

Crafting Your Outline:

As highlighted in the previous sections, it’s crucial your introduction tightly links back to your overall essay’s content and fulfils its signposting purpose. That’s why outlining both your introduction as well as the overall essay structure simultaneously is advised. Determine the flow of ideas for your body paragraphs first so the introduction can adequately mirror that intended progression and put forth clues about what’s to come without fully revealing your hand. Some tips for outlining:

  • Jot down your main points, analyses and support in note form in whatever sequential order makes the most logical sense based on how the evidence flows together.
  • Assign each chunk of information a corresponding letter or number to use as headings to structure the physical writing later.
  • Consider how long you want each body paragraph or section to be – aim for Uniformity but allow flexibility if needed.
  • Fill in any gaps where transitions between ideas may fall flat by inserting more research or brainstorming.
  • Note sources and direct quotations or examples you plan to incorporate with their corresponding place in the outline.
  • Leave space after each point to type out the full paragraphs once you begin physically writing up the essay.

For example, an outline analysing political themes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth may group as:

I. Introduction

Statement: Shakespeare uses…to critique early modern politics etc.

II. Royal Misconduct

A. Ambition

  • Quotes on Lady Macbeth’s speech
  • Examples of Macbeth’s soliloquies

B. Ethical Failures

  • Scene of murdering Duncan
  • Banquo’s ghost

III. Downfall of a Leader

A. Isolation of a Tyrant

  • Macbeth’s madness
  • Example of the witches’ final prophecies

B. Fall from Grace

  • Macduff’s return
  • Scene of final battle

A carefully mapped outline lays the essential roadmap for your essay and ensures each new section builds cohesively upon the last. Returning to review your essay introduction paragraph against this master plan before finalizing it is a great way to guarantee it delivers on signposting duties effectively.

Edit and Revise:

Like any other part of the writing process, allow time for careful editing and revising your introduction. The advice of trusted writing consultants or professors can highlight areas where clarity or flow could be improved. When editing:

  • Evaluate the strength and focus of your statement. Revise as needed.
  • Check introductory paragraph follows a logical progression from start to finish.
  • Ensure any defined terms, names or background are clearly explained at first mention.
  • Evaluate your opening sentence – is it still an effective hook or could a stronger technique be swapped in?
  • Trim any excess wordiness that does not directly serve orienting the reader.
  • Proofread spelling, grammar punctuation to eliminate issues that break reading flow.
  • Consider reworking sentence structure for variances and eloquent phrasing.
  • Have your introduction mimic the organization and tone of the essay to follow.

Evaluate whether it successfully previews your paper’s substantive content and leave enough for the reader to discover on their own. Getting constructive outside eyes on your introduction is invaluable for perfecting its impact and quality prior to submission. Keep refining until you’re proud of each elegant, cohesive element!

Conclusion:

In conclusion, crafting an introduction is as much an art as a strategic process. With practice and conscious attention to these elements, your opening paragraphs can set the stage for a strong essay that grabs reader attention from the very start and invites them into your perspective. Remember – determination of a focused statement that ties back to the essay’s key aims, hooking curiosity with an intriguing lead sentence, orienting with context and previews of what’s to come, and allowing time for revision will set your work up for success. Following these guidelines for writing an effective introduction lays the foundation for proficient academic and professional communications. Continue challenging yourself to develop your signature voice and writing excellence.

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How to Write an Essay Introduction

Last Updated: January 15, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 4,233,547 times.

The introduction of your essay serves two important purposes. First, it gets your reader interested in the topic and encourages them to read what you have to say about it. Second, it gives your reader a roadmap of what you're going to say and the overarching point you're going to make – your thesis statement. A powerful introduction grabs your reader's attention and keeps them reading.

Sample Essay Hooks & Introductions

essay introduction steps

Hooking Your Reader

Step 1 Identify your audience.

  • If you're writing a paper for a class, don't automatically assume your instructor is your audience. If you write directly to your instructor, you'll end up glossing over some information that is necessary to show that you properly understand the subject of your essay.
  • It can be helpful to reverse-engineer your audience based on the subject matter of your essay. For example, if you're writing an essay about a women's health issue for a women's studies class, you might identify your audience as young women within the age range most affected by the issue.

Step 2 Use the element of surprise.

  • For this hook to be effective, your fact needs to be sufficiently surprising. If you're not sure, test it on a few friends. If they react by expressing shock or surprise, you know you've got something good.
  • Use a fact or statistic that sets up your essay, not something you'll be using as evidence to prove your thesis statement. Facts or statistics that demonstrate why your topic is important (or should be important) to your audience typically make good hooks.

Step 3 Tug at your reader's heart-strings.

  • For example, if you were writing an essay proposing a change to drunk driving laws, you might open with a story of how the life of a victim was changed forever after they were hit by a drunk driver.

Step 4 Offer a relevant example or anecdote.

  • For example, if you're writing an essay about a public figure, you might include an anecdote about an odd personal habit that cleverly relates back to your thesis statement.
  • Particularly with less formal papers or personal essays, humorous anecdotes can be particularly effective hooks.

Step 5 Ask a thought-provoking question.

  • For example: "What would you do if you could play God for a day? That's exactly what the leaders of the tiny island nation of Guam tried to answer."
  • If your essay prompt was a question, don't just repeat it in your paper. Make sure to come up with your own intriguing question.

Step 6 Avoid clichés and generalizations.

  • Broad, sweeping generalizations may ring false with some readers and alienate them from the start. For example, "everyone wants someone to love" would alienate someone who identified as aromantic or asexual.

Creating Your Context

Step 1 Relate your hook to a larger topic.

  • Use an appropriate transitional word or phrase, such as "however" or "similarly," to move from your specific anecdote back out to a broader scope.
  • For example, if you related a story about one individual, but your essay isn't about them, you can relate the hook back to the larger topic with a sentence like "Tommy wasn't alone, however. There were more than 200,000 dockworkers affected by that union strike."

Step 2 Provide necessary background information.

  • For example, if your thesis relates to how blackface was used as a means of enforcing racial segregation, your introduction would describe what blackface performances were, and where and when they occurred.
  • If you are writing an argumentative paper, make sure to explain both sides of the argument in a neutral or objective manner.

Step 3 Define key terms for the purposes of your essay.

  • Definitions would be particularly important if your essay is discussing a scientific topic, where some scientific terminology might not be understood by the average layperson.
  • Definitions also come in handy in legal or political essays, where a term may have different meanings depending on the context in which they are used.

Step 4 Move from the general to the specific.

  • If you're using 2 or 3 sentences to describe the context for your thesis, try to make each sentence a bit more specific than the one before it. Draw your reader in gradually.
  • For example, if you're writing an essay about drunk driving fatalities, you might start with an anecdote about a particular victim. Then you could provide national statistics, then narrow it down further to statistics for a particular gender or age group.

Presenting Your Thesis

Step 1 Make your point.

  • For example, a thesis for an essay on blackface performance might be "Because of its humiliating and demoralizing effect on African American slaves, blackface was used less as a comedy routine and more as a way of enforcing racial segregation."
  • Be assertive and confident in your writing. Avoid including fluff such as "In this essay, I will attempt to show...." Instead, dive right in and make your claim, bold and proud.
  • Your outline should be specific, unique, and provable. Through your essay, you'll make points that will show that your thesis statement is true – or at least persuade your readers that it's most likely true.

Step 2 Describe how you're going to prove your point.

  • If you've created an outline for your essay, this sentence is essentially the main subjects of each paragraph of the body of your essay.
  • For example, if you're writing an essay about the unification of Italy, you might list 3 obstacles to unification. In the body of your essay, you would discuss details about how each of those obstacles was addressed or overcome.
  • Instead of just listing all of your supporting points, sum them up by stating "how" or "why" your thesis is true. For example, instead of saying, "Phones should be banned from classrooms because they distract students, promote cheating, and make too much noise," you might say "Phones should be banned from classrooms because they act as an obstacle to learning."

Step 3 Transition smoothly into the body of your essay.

  • To figure out if you need a transition sentence, read the introduction and the first paragraph out loud. If you find yourself pausing or stumbling between the paragraphs, work in a transition to make the move smoother.
  • You can also have friends or family members read your easy. If they feel it's choppy or jumps from the introduction into the essay, see what you can do to smooth it out.

Bringing It All Together

Step 1 Read essays by other writers in your discipline.

  • If you're writing your essay for a class assignment, ask your instructor for examples of well-written essays that you can look at. Take note of conventions that are commonly used by writers in that discipline.
  • Make a brief outline of the essay based on the information presented in the introduction. Then look at that outline as you read the essay to see how the essay follows it to prove the writer's thesis statement.

Step 2 Keep your introduction short and simple.

  • For shorter essays under 1,000 words, keep your introduction to 1 paragraph, between 100 and 200 words.
  • Always follow your instructor's guidelines for length. These rules can vary at times based on genre or form of writing.

Step 3 Write your introduction after you write your essay.

  • As you write your essay, you may want to jot down things you want to include in your introduction. For example, you may realize that you're using a particular term that you need to define in your introduction.

Step 4 Revise your introduction to fit your essay.

  • Delete any filler or unnecessary language. Given the shortness of the introduction, every sentence should be essential to your reader's understanding of your essay.

Step 5 Structure your introduction effectively.

  • The first sentence or two should be your hook, designed to grab your reader's attention and get them interested in reading your essay.
  • The next couple of sentences create a bridge between your hook and the overall topic of the rest of your essay.
  • End your introduction with your thesis statement and a list of the points you will make in your essay to support or prove your thesis statement.

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • If you are answering or responding to an assigned question, make sure you've interpreted the question correctly. The quality of your writing is irrelevant if your essay doesn't answer the question. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 1
  • Have friends or family members read your essay and provide you with feedback. If you're writing for a class, you might want to exchange essays with another classmate and give each other feedback on your work. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 1

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  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/audience/
  • ↑ http://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/planning/intros-and-conclusions/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-an-introduction/
  • ↑ https://www.esu.edu/writing-studio/guides/hook.cfm
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/cliches/
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185917
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/introductions-conclusions
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/planning/intros-and-conclusions/

About This Article

Jake Adams

Start your introduction with a relevant story, fact, or quote that will engage readers. Then, add 2-3 sentences of background information to give your essay context, and include important dates, locations, or historical moments where applicable. Finally, include your thesis statement, which is a specific, arguable, and provable statement that answers a question about your essay topic. For example, your thesis might read: "In the modern age, online dating apps like Tinder provide a wider variety of romantic options than young people have ever had before." For more tips and examples on how to craft your thesis and put your introduction together, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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It’s the roadmap to your essay, it’s the forecast for your argument, it’s...your introduction paragraph, and writing one can feel pretty intimidating. The introduction paragraph is a part of just about every kind of academic writing , from persuasive essays to research papers. But that doesn’t mean writing one is easy!

If trying to write an intro paragraph makes you feel like a Muggle trying to do magic, trust us: you aren’t alone. But there are some tips and tricks that can make the process easier—and that’s where we come in.

In this article, we’re going to explain how to write a captivating intro paragraph by covering the following info:  

  • A discussion of what an introduction paragraph is and its purpose in an essay
  • An overview of the most effective introduction paragraph format, with explanations of the three main parts of an intro paragraph
  • An analysis of real intro paragraph examples, with a discussion of what works and what doesn’t
  • A list of four top tips on how to write an introduction paragraph

Are you ready? Let’s begin!

body-question-mark-think-wonder-cc0

What Is an Introduction Paragraph? 

An introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of an essay , paper, or other type of academic writing. Argumentative essays , book reports, research papers, and even personal  essays are common types of writing that require an introduction paragraph. Whether you’re writing a research paper for a science course or an argumentative essay for English class , you’re going to have to write an intro paragraph. 

So what’s the purpose of an intro paragraph? As a reader’s first impression of your essay, the intro paragraph should introduce the topic of your paper. 

Your introduction will also state any claims, questions, or issues that your paper will focus on. This is commonly known as your paper’s thesis . This condenses the overall point of your paper into one or two short sentences that your reader can come back and reference later.

But intro paragraphs need to do a bit more than just introduce your topic. An intro paragraph is also supposed to grab your reader’s attention. The intro paragraph is your chance to provide just enough info and intrigue to make your reader say, “Hey, this topic sounds interesting. I think I’ll keep reading this essay!” That can help your essay stand out from the crowd.

In most cases, an intro paragraph will be relatively short. A good intro will be clear, brief, purposeful, and focused. While there are some exceptions to this rule, it’s common for intro paragraphs to consist of three to five sentences . 

Effectively introducing your essay’s topic, purpose, and getting your reader invested in your essay sounds like a lot to ask from one little paragraph, huh? In the next section, we’ll demystify the intro paragraph format by breaking it down into its core parts . When you learn how to approach each part of an intro, writing one won’t seem so scary!

body-piece-of-cake

Once you figure out the three parts of an intro paragraph, writing one will be a piece of cake!

The 3 Main Parts of an Intro Paragraph

In general, an intro paragraph is going to have three main parts: a hook, context, and a thesis statement . Each of these pieces of the intro plays a key role in acquainting the reader with the topic and purpose of your essay. 

Below, we’ll explain how to start an introduction paragraph by writing an effective hook, providing context, and crafting a thesis statement. When you put these elements together, you’ll have an intro paragraph that does a great job of making a great first impression on your audience!

Intro Paragraph Part 1: The Hook

When it comes to how to start an introduction paragraph, o ne of the most common approaches is to start with something called a hook. 

What does hook mean here, though? Think of it this way: it’s like when you start a new Netflix series: you look up a few hours (and a few episodes) later and you say, “Whoa. I guess I must be hooked on this show!” 

That’s how the hook is supposed to work in an intro paragrap h: it should get your reader interested enough that they don’t want to press the proverbial “pause” button while they’re reading it . In other words, a hook is designed to grab your reader’s attention and keep them reading your essay! 

This means that the hook comes first in the intro paragraph format—it’ll be the opening sentence of your intro. 

It’s important to realize  that there are many different ways to write a good hook. But generally speaking, hooks must include these two things: what your topic is, and the angle you’re taking on that topic in your essay. 

One approach to writing a hook that works is starting with a general, but interesting, statement on your topic. In this type of hook, you’re trying to provide a broad introduction to your topic and your angle on the topic in an engaging way . 

For example, if you’re writing an essay about the role of the government in the American healthcare system, your hook might look something like this: 

There's a growing movement to require that the federal government provide affordable, effective healthcare for all Americans. 

This hook introduces the essay topic in a broad way (government and healthcare) by presenting a general statement on the topic. But the assumption presented in the hook can also be seen as controversial, which gets readers interested in learning more about what the writer—and the essay—has to say.

In other words, the statement above fulfills the goals of a good hook: it’s intriguing and provides a general introduction to the essay topic.

Intro Paragraph Part 2: Context

Once you’ve provided an attention-grabbing hook, you’ll want to give more context about your essay topic. Context refers to additional details that reveal the specific focus of your paper. So, whereas the hook provides a general introduction to your topic, context starts helping readers understand what exactly you’re going to be writing about

You can include anywhere from one to several sentences of context in your intro, depending on your teacher’s expectations, the length of your paper, and complexity of your topic. In these context-providing sentences, you want to begin narrowing the focus of your intro. You can do this by describing a specific issue or question about your topic that you’ll address in your essay. It also helps readers start to understand why the topic you’re writing about matters and why they should read about it. 

So, what counts as context for an intro paragraph? Context can be any important details or descriptions that provide background on existing perspectives, common cultural attitudes, or a specific situation or controversy relating to your essay topic. The context you include should acquaint your reader with the issues, questions, or events that motivated you to write an essay on your topic...and that your reader should know in order to understand your thesis. 

For instance, if you’re writing an essay analyzing the consequences of sexism in Hollywood, the context you include after your hook might make reference to the #metoo and #timesup movements that have generated public support for victims of sexual harassment. 

The key takeaway here is that context establishes why you’re addressing your topic and what makes it important. It also sets you up for success on the final piece of an intro paragraph: the thesis statement.

Elle Woods' statement offers a specific point of view on the topic of murder...which means it could serve as a pretty decent thesis statement!

Intro Paragraph Part 3: The Thesis

The final key part of how to write an intro paragraph is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is the backbone of your introduction: it conveys your argument or point of view on your topic in a clear, concise, and compelling way . The thesis is usually the last sentence of your intro paragraph. 

Whether it’s making a claim, outlining key points, or stating a hypothesis, your thesis statement will tell your reader exactly what idea(s) are going to be addressed in your essay. A good thesis statement will be clear, straightforward, and highlight the overall point you’re trying to make.

Some instructors also ask students to include an essay map as part of their thesis. An essay map is a section that outlines the major topics a paper will address. So for instance, say you’re writing a paper that argues for the importance of public transport in rural communities. Your thesis and essay map might look like this: 

Having public transport in rural communities helps people improve their economic situation by giving them reliable transportation to their job, reducing the amount of money they spend on gas, and providing new and unionized work .

The underlined section is the essay map because it touches on the three big things the writer will talk about later. It literally maps out the rest of the essay!

So let’s review: Your thesis takes the idea you’ve introduced in your hook and context and wraps it up. Think of it like a television episode: the hook sets the scene by presenting a general statement and/or interesting idea that sucks you in. The context advances the plot by describing the topic in more detail and helping readers understand why the topic is important. And finally, the thesis statement provides the climax by telling the reader what you have to say about the topic. 

The thesis statement is the most important part of the intro. Without it, your reader won’t know what the purpose of your essay is! And for a piece of writing to be effective, it needs to have a clear purpose. Your thesis statement conveys that purpose , so it’s important to put careful thought into writing a clear and compelling thesis statement. 

body_essayfeaturelist

How To Write an Introduction Paragraph: Example and Analysis

Now that we’ve provided an intro paragraph outline and have explained the three key parts of an intro paragraph, let’s take a look at an intro paragraph in action.

To show you how an intro paragraph works, we’ve included a sample introduction paragraph below, followed by an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.

Example of Introduction Paragraph

While college students in the U.S. are struggling with how to pay for college, there is another surprising demographic that’s affected by the pressure to pay for college: families and parents. In the face of tuition price tags that total more than $100,000 (as a low estimate), families must make difficult decisions about how to save for their children’s college education. Charting a feasible path to saving for college is further complicated by the FAFSA’s estimates for an “Expected Family Contribution”—an amount of money that is rarely feasible for most American families. Due to these challenging financial circumstances and cultural pressure to give one’s children the best possible chance of success in adulthood, many families are going into serious debt to pay for their children’s college education. The U.S. government should move toward bearing more of the financial burden of college education. 

Example of Introduction Paragraph: Analysis

Before we dive into analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of this example intro paragraph, let’s establish the essay topic. The sample intro indicates that t he essay topic will focus on one specific issue: who should cover the cost of college education in the U.S., and why. Both the hook and the context help us identify the topic, while the thesis in the last sentence tells us why this topic matters to the writer—they think the U.S. Government needs to help finance college education. This is also the writer’s argument, which they’ll cover in the body of their essay. 

Now that we’ve identified the essay topic presented in the sample intro, let’s dig into some analysis. To pin down its strengths and weaknesses, we’re going to use the following three questions to guide our example of introduction paragraph analysis: 

  • Does this intro provide an attention-grabbing opening sentence that conveys the essay topic? 
  • Does this intro provide relevant, engaging context about the essay topic? 
  • Does this intro provide a thesis statement that establishes the writer’s point of view on the topic and what specific aspects of the issue the essay will address? 

Now, let’s use the questions above to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this sample intro paragraph. 

Does the Intro Have a Good Hook? 

First, the intro starts out with an attention-grabbing hook . The writer starts by presenting  an assumption (that the U.S. federal government bears most of the financial burden of college education), which makes the topic relatable to a wide audience of readers. Also note that the hook relates to the general topic of the essay, which is the high cost of college education. 

The hook then takes a surprising turn by presenting a counterclaim : that American families, rather than students, feel the true burden of paying for college. Some readers will have a strong emotional reaction to this provocative counterclaim, which will make them want to keep reading! As such, this intro provides an effective opening sentence that conveys the essay topic. 

Does the Intro Give Context?

T he second, third, and fourth sentences of the intro provide contextual details that reveal the specific focus of the writer’s paper . Remember: the context helps readers start to zoom in on what the paper will focus on, and what aspect of the general topic (college costs) will be discussed later on. 

The context in this intro reveals the intent and direction of the paper by explaining why the issue of families financing college is important. In other words, the context helps readers understand why this issue matters , and what aspects of this issue will be addressed in the paper.  

To provide effective context, the writer refers to issues (the exorbitant cost of college and high levels of family debt) that have received a lot of recent scholarly and media attention. These sentences of context also elaborate on the interesting perspective included in the hook: that American families are most affected by college costs.

Does the Intro Have a Thesis? 

Finally, this intro provides a thesis statement that conveys the writer’s point of view on the issue of financing college education. This writer believes that the U.S. government should do more to pay for students’ college educations. 

However, the thesis statement doesn’t give us any details about why the writer has made this claim or why this will help American families . There isn’t an essay map that helps readers understand what points the writer will make in the essay.

To revise this thesis statement so that it establishes the specific aspects of the topic that the essay will address, the writer could add the following to the beginning of the thesis statement:

The U.S. government should take on more of the financial burden of college education because other countries have shown this can improve education rates while reducing levels of familial poverty.

Check out the new section in bold. Not only does it clarify that the writer is talking about the pressure put on families, it touches on the big topics the writer will address in the paper: improving education rates and reduction of poverty. So not only do we have a clearer argumentative statement in this thesis, we also have an essay map!  

So, let’s recap our analysis. This sample intro paragraph does an effective job of providing an engaging hook and relatable, interesting context, but the thesis statement needs some work ! As you write your own intro paragraphs, you might consider using the questions above to evaluate and revise your work. Doing this will help ensure you’ve covered all of your bases and written an intro that your readers will find interesting!

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4 Tips for How To Write an Introduction Paragraph

Now that we’ve gone over an example of introduction paragraph analysis, let’s talk about how to write an introduction paragraph of your own. Keep reading for four tips for writing a successful intro paragraph for any essay. 

Tip 1: Analyze Your Essay Prompt

If you’re having trouble with how to start an introduction paragraph, analyze your essay prompt! Most teachers give you some kind of assignment sheet, formal instructions, or prompt to set the expectations for an essay they’ve assigned, right? Those instructions can help guide you as you write your intro paragraph!

Because they’ll be reading and responding to your essay, you want to make sure you meet your teacher’s expectations for an intro paragraph . For instance, if they’ve provided specific instructions about how long the intro should be or where the thesis statement should be located, be sure to follow them!

The type of paper you’re writing can give you clues as to how to approach your intro as well. If you’re writing a research paper, your professor might expect you to provide a research question or state a hypothesis in your intro. If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you’ll need to make sure your intro overviews the context surrounding your argument and your thesis statement includes a clear, defensible claim. 

Using the parameters set out by your instructor and assignment sheet can put some easy-to-follow boundaries in place for things like your intro’s length, structure, and content. Following these guidelines can free you up to focus on other aspects of your intro... like coming up with an exciting hook and conveying your point of view on your topic!

Tip 2: Narrow Your Topic

You can’t write an intro paragraph without first identifying your topic. To make your intro as effective as possible, you need to define the parameters of your topic clearly—and you need to be specific. 

For example, let’s say you want to write about college football. “NCAA football” is too broad of a topic for a paper. There is a lot to talk about in terms of college football! It would be tough to write an intro paragraph that’s focused, purposeful, and engaging on this topic. In fact, if you did try to address this whole topic, you’d probably end up writing a book!

Instead, you should narrow broad topics to  identify a specific question, claim, or issue pertaining to some aspect of NCAA football for your intro to be effective. So, for instance, you could frame your topic as, “How can college professors better support NCAA football players in academics?” This focused topic pertaining to NCAA football would give you a more manageable angle to discuss in your paper.

So before you think about writing your intro, ask yourself: Is my essay topic specific, focused, and logical? Does it convey an issue or question that I can explore over the course of several pages? Once you’ve established a good topic, you’ll have the foundation you need to write an effective intro paragraph . 

body-stack-of-textbooks-red

Once you've figured out your topic, it's time to hit the books!

Tip 3: Do Your Research

This tip is tightly intertwined with the one above, and it’s crucial to writing a good intro: do your research! And, guess what? This tip applies to all papers—even ones that aren’t technically research papers. 

Here’s why you need to do some research: getting the lay of the land on what others have said about your topic—whether that’s scholars and researchers or the mass media— will help you narrow your topic, write an engaging hook, and provide relatable context. 

You don't want to sit down to write your intro without a solid understanding of the different perspectives on your topic. Whether those are the perspectives of experts or the general public, these points of view will help you write your intro in a way that is intriguing and compelling for your audience of readers. 

Tip 4: Write Multiple Drafts

Some say to write your intro first; others say write it last. The truth is, there isn’t a right or wrong time to write your intro—but you do need to have enough time to write multiple drafts . 

Oftentimes, your professor will ask you to write multiple drafts of your paper, which gives you a built-in way to make sure you revise your intro. Another approach you could take is to write out a rough draft of your intro before you begin writing your essay, then revise it multiple times as you draft out your paper. 

Here’s why this approach can work: as you write your paper, you’ll probably come up with new insights on your topic that you didn’t have right from the start. You can use these “light bulb” moments to reevaluate your intro and make revisions that keep it in line with your developing essay draft. 

Once you’ve written your entire essay, consider going back and revising your intro again . You can ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your intro: 

  • Is my hook still relevant to the way I’ve approached the topic in my essay?
  • Do I provide enough appropriate context to introduce my essay? 
  • Now that my essay is written, does my thesis statement still accurately reflect the point of view that I present in my essay?

Using these questions as a guide and putting your intro through multiple revisions will help ensure that you’ve written the best intro for the final draft of your essay. Also, revising your writing is always a good thing to do—and this applies to your intro, too!

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What's Next?

Your college essays also need great intro paragraphs. Here’s a guide that focuses on how to write the perfect intro for your admissions essays. 

Of course, the intro is just one part of your college essay . This article will teach you how to write a college essay that makes admissions counselors sit up and take notice.

Are you trying to write an analytical essay? Our step-by-step guide can help you knock it out of the park.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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Awesome Guide on How to Write an Essay Introduction

essay introduction steps

'I'd like to recall the day I nearly burned myself in flames in my automobile while going 250 mph and escaping the police'. – Thankfully, we don't have a story like that to relate to, but we bet we piqued your interest.

That's what we refer to as an efficient hook. Fundamentally, it's an attention-grabbing first sentence that piques an audience's interest and encourages them to keep reading. While writing an essay, a strong hook in essay introductions is essential.

Delve into the article if you're wondering how to start an essay with a strong introduction. This is the ultimate guide for writing the parts of a introduction paragraph from our custom dissertation writing service to engage your readers.

Introduction Definition

The introduction paragraph, to put it simply, is the first section of an essay. Thus, when reading your essay, the reader will notice it right away. What is the goal of an opening paragraph? There are two things that an excellent introduction achieves. It initially informs the reader on the subject of your work; in other words, it should describe the essay's topic and provide some background information for its main point. It must also spark readers' interest and persuade them to read the remainder of your article.

To provide you with essay writing services , we only need your paper requirements to create a plagiarism-free paper on time.

How Long Should an Introduction Be

Typically, there are no strict restrictions on how long an opening paragraph should be. Professional essay writers often shape the size of it with the paper's total length in mind. For instance, if you wonder how to make introduction in essay with five paragraphs, keep your introductory sentence brief and fit it inside a single section. But, if you're writing a longer paper, let's say one that's 40 pages, your introduction could need many paragraphs or even be pages long.

Although there are no specific requirements, seasoned writers advise that your introduction paragraph should account for 8% to 9% of your essay's overall word length.

And, if you place an order on our coursework writing services , we will certainly comply with your introduction length requirements.

What Makes a Good Introduction

All of the following criteria should be fulfilled by a strong opening sentence:

  • Start your introduction on an essay with a catchy sentence that draws the reader in.
  • It needs to include baseline information about your subject.
  • This should give readers a sense of the main argument(s) that your essay will address.
  • It must include all necessary information on the setting, locations, and chronological events.
  • By the end of your introduction, make a precise remark that serves as your essay's thesis.

What Are the 3 Parts of an Introduction Paragraph

So, what should be in a introduction paragraph? The introduction format essay has three sections: a hook, connections, and a thesis statement. Let's examine each component in more depth.

What Are the 3 Parts of an Introduction Paragraph

Part 1: Essay Hook

A hook is among the most effective parts of a introduction paragraph to start an essay. A strong hook will always engage the reader in only one sentence. In other words, it is a selling point.

Let's now address the query, 'how to make an essay introduction hook interesting?'. Well, to create a powerful hook, you can employ a variety of techniques:

  • A shocking fact
  • An anecdote 
  • A short summary

And here is what to avoid when using a hook:

  • Dictionary definitions
  • Generalizations
  • Sweeping statements that include words like 'everywhere,' 'always,' etc.

Once you've established a strong hook, you should give a general outline of your major point and some background information on the subject of your paper. If you're unsure how to write an introduction opening, the ideal approach is to describe your issue briefly before directing readers to particular areas. Simply put, you need to give some context before gradually getting more specific with your opinions.

The 5 Types of Hooks for Writing

Apart from the strategies mentioned above, there are even more types of hooks that can be used:

  • A Common Misconception — a good trick, to begin with, to claim that something your readers believe in is false.

Example: 'Although many falsely believe that people working from home are less productive – employees who get such work-life benefits generally work harder.'

  • Statistics — Statistical facts may provide a great hook for argumentative essays and serious subjects focusing on statistics.

Example: 'A recent study showed that people who are satisfied with their work-life balance work 21% harder and are 33% more likely to stay at the same company.'

  • Personal Story — sometimes, personal stories can be an appropriate hook, but only if they fit into a few brief sentences (for example, in narrative essays).

Example: 'When I had my first work-from-home experience, I suddenly realized the importance of having a good work-life balance; I saw plenty of the benefits it can provide.'

  • Scenes — this type of hook requires making the readers imagine the things you are writing about. It is most suitable when used in descriptive and narrative essays.

Example: 'Imagine you could have as much free time as you wish by working or studying from home—and spend more time with your loved ones.'

  • Thesis Statement — when unsure how to do an essay introduction, some writers start directly with their thesis statement. The main trick here is that there is no trick.

Example: 'I strongly believe there is a direct correlation between a healthy work-life balance and productivity in school or at work.'

Part 2: Connections

Give readers a clearer sense of what you will discuss throughout your article once you have given a hook and relevant background information about your essay topic. Briefly mentioning your main points in the same sequence in which you will address them in your body paragraphs can help your readers progressively arrive at your thesis statement.

In this section of your introduction, you should primarily address the following questions:

You may make sure that you are giving your readers all the information they need to understand the subject of your essay by responding to each of these questions in two to three lines. Be careful to make these statements brief and to the point, though.

Your main goal is gradually moving from general to specific facts about your subject or thesis statement. Visualize your introduction as an upside-down triangle to simplify the essay writing process. The attention-grabbing element is at the top of this triangle, followed by a more detailed description of the subject and concluding with a highly precise claim. Here is some quick advice on how to use the 'upside-down triangle' structure to compose an essay introduction:

  • Ensure that each subsequent line in your introduction is more focused and precise. This simple method will help you progressively introduce the main material of your piece to your audience.
  • Consider that you are writing a paper on the value of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In this situation, you may start with a query like, 'Have you ever considered how a healthy work-life balance can affect other areas of your life?' or a similar hook. Next, you could proceed by giving broad factual information. Finally, you could focus your topic on fitting your thesis statement.

Part 3: The Thesis Statement

If you're unsure of the ideal method to create an introduction, you should be particularly attentive to how you phrase your thesis statement.

The thesis of your work is, without a doubt, the most crucial section. Given that the thesis statement of your piece serves as the foundation for the entire essay, it must be presented in the introduction. A thesis statement provides readers with a brief summary of the article's key point. Your main assertion is what you'll be defending or disputing in the body of your essay. An effective thesis statement is often one sentence long, accurate, exact, unambiguous, and focused. Your thesis should often be provided at the end of your introduction.

Here is an example thesis statement for an essay about the value of a proper work-life balance to help you gain a better understanding of what a good thesis should be:

Thesis Statement Example: 'Creating flexible and pleasant work schedules for employees can help them have a better work-life balance while also increasing overall performance.'

Catchy Introductions for Different Essay Types

Although opening paragraphs typically have a fixed form, their language may vary. In terms of academic essays, students are often expected to produce four primary intro to essay examples. They include articles that are analytical, argumentative, personal, and narrative. It is assumed that different information should appear in these beginning paragraphs since the goals of each sort of essay change. A thorough overview of the various paper kinds is provided below, along with some good essay introduction samples from our argumentative essay writers:

Narrative Introduction

  • The writer of a narrative essay must convey a story in this style of writing. Such essays communicate a story, which distinguishes them from other essay types in a big way.
  • Such a paper's hook will often be an enticing glimpse into a specific scene that only loosely links to the thesis statement. Additionally, when writing such an essay, a writer should ensure that every claim included in the introduction relates to some important moments that have significantly impacted the story's outcome.
  • The thesis in narrative writing is usually the theme or main lesson learned from the story.
Narrative introduction example: 'My phone rang, and my mother told me that Dad had suffered a heart attack. I suddenly experienced a sense of being lifted out from under me by this immaculately carpeted flooring. After making it through, Dad left me with a sizable collection of lessons. Here are three principles that I know dad would have wanted me to uphold...'

Still Can't Think of a Perfect Intro?

When assigned to write an essay, students end up with a ton of questions, including 'How to structure an essay?', 'How to choose a good topic?'. Here at EssayPro, we employ only the best essay writers who are committed to students’ success.

Analytical Introduction

  • Analytical essay introduction format is another popular type. In contrast to a narrative paper, an analytical paper seeks to explore an idea and educate the reader about a topic.
  • Three important facts that support the analytical premise should be included in the middle section of the introduction.
  • A well-researched and well-thought-out claim will form a wonderful thesis because the main goal of this paper is to study the topic and educate readers. It's crucial to remember that this assertion shouldn't initially have any real weight. Although it will still be theoretical, it has to be articulated practically.
Analytical introduction example: “... Hence even though presidents, CEOs, and generals still have their daily schedules full of economic crises and military conflicts, on the cosmic scale of history humankind can lift its eyes up and start looking towards new horizons. If we bring famine, plague, and war under control, what will replace them at the top of the human agenda? Like firefighters in a world without fire, so humankind in the twenty-first century needs to ask itself an unprecedented question: what are we going to do with ourselves? What will demand our attention and ingenuity in a healthy, prosperous, and harmonious world? In a healthy, prosperous, and harmonious world, what will demand our attention and ingenuity? This question becomes doubly urgent given the immense new powers that biotechnology and information technology are providing us with. What will we do with all that power? ...” Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari

Persuasive Introduction

  • To persuade readers of anything is the sole goal of persuasive essay writing. This may be accomplished using persuasive strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos.
  • A hook statement for this paper may be anything from a fascinating fact to even comedy. You can use whatever technique you choose. The most crucial advice is to ensure your hook is in line with your thesis and that it can bolster further justifications.
  • Generally speaking, a persuasive essay must include three supporting facts. Hence, to gradually lead readers to the major topic of your paper, add a quick summary of your three arguments in your introduction.
  • Last, the thesis statement should be the main claim you will be disputing in this paper. It should be a brief, carefully thought-out, and confident statement of your essay's major argument.
Persuasive introduction example: 'Recycling waste helps to protect the climate. Besides cleaning the environment, it uses waste materials to create valuable items. Recycling initiatives must be running all around the world. ...'

Personal Introduction

  • The final sort of academic writing that students frequently encounter is a personal essay. In principle, this essay style is creative nonfiction and requires the author to reflect on personal experiences. The goals of such a paper may be to convey a story, discuss the lessons that certain incidents have taught you, etc. This type of writing is unique since it is the most personal.
  • Whatever topic you choose can serve as the hook for such an essay. A pertinent remark, query, joke, or fact about the primary plot or anything else will be acceptable. The backdrop of your narrative should then be briefly explained after that. Lastly, a thesis statement can describe the impact of particular experiences on you and what you learned.
Personal introduction example: 'My parents always pushed me to excel in school and pursue new interests like playing the saxophone and other instruments. I felt obligated to lead my life in a way that met their standards. Success was always expected on the route they had set out for me. Yet eight years after my parents' separation, this course was diverted when my dad relocated to California...'

Tips for Writing a Winning Introduction Paragraph

You now understand how to do introduction and have specific intro example for essays to help you get going. Let's quickly examine what you should and shouldn't do during the writing process.

  • Keep the assignment's purpose in mind when you write your introduction, and ensure it complies with your instructor's requirements.
  • Use a compelling and relevant hook to grab the reader's attention immediately.
  • Make sure your readers understand your perspective to make it apparent.
  • If necessary, establish key terms related to your subject.
  • Show off your expertise on the subject.
  • Provide a symbolic road map to help readers understand what you discuss throughout the post.
  • Be brief; it's recommended that your introduction make up no more than 8 to 9 percent of the entire text (for example, 200 words for a 2500 words essay).
  • Construct a strong thesis statement.
  • Create some intrigue.
  • Make sure there is a clear and smooth transition from your introduction to the body of your piece.
  • If you're looking for a custom writer , request assistance from the EssayPro team. We know how to write a term paper along with many other types of essays.

Don'ts

  • Provide too much background information.
  • Use sentences that are off-topic or unnecessary.
  • Make your opening paragraph excessively long.
  • Keep some information a secret and reveal it later in conclusion.
  • Employ overused phrases or generalizations.
  • Using quotation marks excessively

Now that you know what is in the introduction of an essay, we recommend reading the information on how to critique an article to gain more academic insight.

If you are still struggling with that, keep in mind that you can always send us your request to get professional assistance from our law essay writing service .

Get Help With Your ESSAY INTRO!

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Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

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is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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What is JavaScript?

  • Overview: JavaScript first steps

Welcome to the MDN beginner's JavaScript course! In this article we will look at JavaScript from a high level, answering questions such as "What is it?" and "What can you do with it?", and making sure you are comfortable with JavaScript's purpose.

Prerequisites: A basic understanding of HTML and CSS.
Objective: To gain familiarity with what JavaScript is, what it can do, and how it fits into a website.

A high-level definition

JavaScript is a scripting or programming language that allows you to implement complex features on web pages — every time a web page does more than just sit there and display static information for you to look at — displaying timely content updates, interactive maps, animated 2D/3D graphics, scrolling video jukeboxes, etc. — you can bet that JavaScript is probably involved. It is the third layer of the layer cake of standard web technologies, two of which ( HTML and CSS ) we have covered in much more detail in other parts of the Learning Area.

The three layers of standard web technologies; HTML, CSS and JavaScript

  • HTML is the markup language that we use to structure and give meaning to our web content, for example defining paragraphs, headings, and data tables, or embedding images and videos in the page.
  • CSS is a language of style rules that we use to apply styling to our HTML content, for example setting background colors and fonts, and laying out our content in multiple columns.
  • JavaScript is a scripting language that enables you to create dynamically updating content, control multimedia, animate images, and pretty much everything else. (Okay, not everything, but it is amazing what you can achieve with a few lines of JavaScript code.)

The three layers build on top of one another nicely. Let's take a button as an example. We can mark it up using HTML to give it structure and purpose:

Button showing Player 1: Chris with no styling

Then we can add some CSS into the mix to get it looking nice:

Button showing Player 1: Chris with styling

And finally, we can add some JavaScript to implement dynamic behavior:

Try clicking on this last version of the text label to see what happens (note also that you can find this demo on GitHub — see the source code , or run it live )!

JavaScript can do a lot more than that — let's explore what in more detail.

So what can it really do?

The core client-side JavaScript language consists of some common programming features that allow you to do things like:

  • Store useful values inside variables. In the above example for instance, we ask for a new name to be entered then store that name in a variable called name .
  • Operations on pieces of text (known as "strings" in programming). In the above example we take the string "Player 1: " and join it to the name variable to create the complete text label, e.g. "Player 1: Chris".
  • Running code in response to certain events occurring on a web page. We used a click event in our example above to detect when the label is clicked and then run the code that updates the text label.
  • And much more!

What is even more exciting however is the functionality built on top of the client-side JavaScript language. So-called Application Programming Interfaces ( APIs ) provide you with extra superpowers to use in your JavaScript code.

APIs are ready-made sets of code building blocks that allow a developer to implement programs that would otherwise be hard or impossible to implement. They do the same thing for programming that ready-made furniture kits do for home building — it is much easier to take ready-cut panels and screw them together to make a bookshelf than it is to work out the design yourself, go and find the correct wood, cut all the panels to the right size and shape, find the correct-sized screws, and then put them together to make a bookshelf.

They generally fall into two categories.

Two categories of API; 3rd party APIs are shown to the side of the browser and browser APIs are in the browser

Browser APIs are built into your web browser, and are able to expose data from the surrounding computer environment, or do useful complex things. For example:

  • The DOM (Document Object Model) API allows you to manipulate HTML and CSS, creating, removing and changing HTML, dynamically applying new styles to your page, etc. Every time you see a popup window appear on a page, or some new content displayed (as we saw above in our simple demo) for example, that's the DOM in action.
  • The Geolocation API retrieves geographical information. This is how Google Maps is able to find your location and plot it on a map.
  • The Canvas and WebGL APIs allow you to create animated 2D and 3D graphics. People are doing some amazing things using these web technologies — see Chrome Experiments and webglsamples .
  • Audio and Video APIs like HTMLMediaElement and WebRTC allow you to do really interesting things with multimedia, such as play audio and video right in a web page, or grab video from your web camera and display it on someone else's computer (try our simple Snapshot demo to get the idea).

Note: Many of the above demos won't work in an older browser — when experimenting, it's a good idea to use a modern browser like Firefox, Chrome, Edge or Opera to run your code in. You will need to consider cross browser testing in more detail when you get closer to delivering production code (i.e. real code that real customers will use).

Third party APIs are not built into the browser by default, and you generally have to grab their code and information from somewhere on the Web. For example:

  • The Twitter API allows you to do things like displaying your latest tweets on your website.
  • The Google Maps API and OpenStreetMap API allows you to embed custom maps into your website, and other such functionality.

Note: These APIs are advanced, and we'll not be covering any of these in this module. You can find out much more about these in our Client-side web APIs module .

There's a lot more available, too! However, don't get over excited just yet. You won't be able to build the next Facebook, Google Maps, or Instagram after studying JavaScript for 24 hours — there are a lot of basics to cover first. And that's why you're here — let's move on!

What is JavaScript doing on your page?

Here we'll actually start looking at some code, and while doing so, explore what actually happens when you run some JavaScript in your page.

Let's briefly recap the story of what happens when you load a web page in a browser (first talked about in our How CSS works article). When you load a web page in your browser, you are running your code (the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) inside an execution environment (the browser tab). This is like a factory that takes in raw materials (the code) and outputs a product (the web page).

HTML, CSS and JavaScript code come together to create the content in the browser tab when the page is loaded

A very common use of JavaScript is to dynamically modify HTML and CSS to update a user interface, via the Document Object Model API (as mentioned above). Note that the code in your web documents is generally loaded and executed in the order it appears on the page. Errors may occur if JavaScript is loaded and run before the HTML and CSS that it is intended to modify. You will learn ways around this later in the article, in the Script loading strategies section.

Browser security

Each browser tab has its own separate bucket for running code in (these buckets are called "execution environments" in technical terms) — this means that in most cases the code in each tab is run completely separately, and the code in one tab cannot directly affect the code in another tab — or on another website. This is a good security measure — if this were not the case, then pirates could start writing code to steal information from other websites, and other such bad things.

Note: There are ways to send code and data between different websites/tabs in a safe manner, but these are advanced techniques that we won't cover in this course.

JavaScript running order

When the browser encounters a block of JavaScript, it generally runs it in order, from top to bottom. This means that you need to be careful what order you put things in. For example, let's return to the block of JavaScript we saw in our first example:

Here we are selecting a button (line 1), then attaching an event listener to it (line 3) so that when the button is clicked, the updateName() code block (lines 5–8) is run. The updateName() code block (these types of reusable code blocks are called "functions") asks the user for a new name, and then inserts that name into the button text to update the display.

If you swapped the order of the first two lines of code, it would no longer work — instead, you'd get an error returned in the browser developer console — Uncaught ReferenceError: Cannot access 'button' before initialization . This means that the button object has not been initialized yet, so we can't add an event listener to it.

Note: This is a very common error — you need to be careful that the objects referenced in your code exist before you try to do stuff to them.

Interpreted versus compiled code

You might hear the terms interpreted and compiled in the context of programming. In interpreted languages, the code is run from top to bottom and the result of running the code is immediately returned. You don't have to transform the code into a different form before the browser runs it. The code is received in its programmer-friendly text form and processed directly from that.

Compiled languages on the other hand are transformed (compiled) into another form before they are run by the computer. For example, C/C++ are compiled into machine code that is then run by the computer. The program is executed from a binary format, which was generated from the original program source code.

JavaScript is a lightweight interpreted programming language. The web browser receives the JavaScript code in its original text form and runs the script from that. From a technical standpoint, most modern JavaScript interpreters actually use a technique called just-in-time compiling to improve performance; the JavaScript source code gets compiled into a faster, binary format while the script is being used, so that it can be run as quickly as possible. However, JavaScript is still considered an interpreted language, since the compilation is handled at run time, rather than ahead of time.

There are advantages to both types of language, but we won't discuss them right now.

Server-side versus client-side code

You might also hear the terms server-side and client-side code, especially in the context of web development. Client-side code is code that is run on the user's computer — when a web page is viewed, the page's client-side code is downloaded, then run and displayed by the browser. In this module we are explicitly talking about client-side JavaScript .

Server-side code on the other hand is run on the server, then its results are downloaded and displayed in the browser. Examples of popular server-side web languages include PHP, Python, Ruby, ASP.NET, and even JavaScript! JavaScript can also be used as a server-side language, for example in the popular Node.js environment — you can find out more about server-side JavaScript in our Dynamic Websites – Server-side programming topic.

Dynamic versus static code

The word dynamic is used to describe both client-side JavaScript, and server-side languages — it refers to the ability to update the display of a web page/app to show different things in different circumstances, generating new content as required. Server-side code dynamically generates new content on the server, e.g. pulling data from a database, whereas client-side JavaScript dynamically generates new content inside the browser on the client, e.g. creating a new HTML table, filling it with data requested from the server, then displaying the table in a web page shown to the user. The meaning is slightly different in the two contexts, but related, and both approaches (server-side and client-side) usually work together.

A web page with no dynamically updating content is referred to as static — it just shows the same content all the time.

How do you add JavaScript to your page?

JavaScript is applied to your HTML page in a similar manner to CSS. Whereas CSS uses <link> elements to apply external stylesheets and <style> elements to apply internal stylesheets to HTML, JavaScript only needs one friend in the world of HTML — the <script> element. Let's learn how this works.

Internal JavaScript

  • First of all, make a local copy of our example file apply-javascript.html . Save it in a directory somewhere sensible.
  • Open the file in your web browser and in your text editor. You'll see that the HTML creates a simple web page containing a clickable button.
  • Next, go to your text editor and add the following in your head — just before your closing </head> tag: html < script > // JavaScript goes here </ script >
  • Now we'll add some JavaScript inside our <script> element to make the page do something more interesting — add the following code just below the "// JavaScript goes here" line: js document . addEventListener ( "DOMContentLoaded" , ( ) => { function createParagraph ( ) { const para = document . createElement ( "p" ) ; para . textContent = "You clicked the button!" ; document . body . appendChild ( para ) ; } const buttons = document . querySelectorAll ( "button" ) ; for ( const button of buttons ) { button . addEventListener ( "click" , createParagraph ) ; } } ) ;
  • Save your file and refresh the browser — now you should see that when you click the button, a new paragraph is generated and placed below.

Note: If your example doesn't seem to work, go through the steps again and check that you did everything right. Did you save your local copy of the starting code as a .html file? Did you add your <script> element just before the </head> tag? Did you enter the JavaScript exactly as shown? JavaScript is case sensitive, and very fussy, so you need to enter the syntax exactly as shown, otherwise it may not work.

Note: You can see this version on GitHub as apply-javascript-internal.html ( see it live too ).

External JavaScript

This works great, but what if we wanted to put our JavaScript in an external file? Let's explore this now.

  • First, create a new file in the same directory as your sample HTML file. Call it script.js — make sure it has that .js filename extension, as that's how it is recognized as JavaScript.
  • Replace your current <script> element with the following: html < script src = " script.js " defer > </ script >
  • Inside script.js , add the following script: js function createParagraph ( ) { const para = document . createElement ( "p" ) ; para . textContent = "You clicked the button!" ; document . body . appendChild ( para ) ; } const buttons = document . querySelectorAll ( "button" ) ; for ( const button of buttons ) { button . addEventListener ( "click" , createParagraph ) ; }
  • Save and refresh your browser, and you should see the same thing! It works just the same, but now we've got our JavaScript in an external file. This is generally a good thing in terms of organizing your code and making it reusable across multiple HTML files. Plus, the HTML is easier to read without huge chunks of script dumped in it.

Note: You can see this version on GitHub as apply-javascript-external.html and script.js ( see it live too ).

Inline JavaScript handlers

Note that sometimes you'll come across bits of actual JavaScript code living inside HTML. It might look something like this:

You can try this version of our demo below.

This demo has exactly the same functionality as in the previous two sections, except that the <button> element includes an inline onclick handler to make the function run when the button is pressed.

Please don't do this, however. It is bad practice to pollute your HTML with JavaScript, and it is inefficient — you'd have to include the onclick="createParagraph()" attribute on every button you want the JavaScript to apply to.

Using addEventListener instead

Instead of including JavaScript in your HTML, use a pure JavaScript construct. The querySelectorAll() function allows you to select all the buttons on a page. You can then loop through the buttons, assigning a handler for each using addEventListener() . The code for this is shown below:

This might be a bit longer than the onclick attribute, but it will work for all buttons — no matter how many are on the page, nor how many are added or removed. The JavaScript does not need to be changed.

Note: Try editing your version of apply-javascript.html and add a few more buttons into the file. When you reload, you should find that all of the buttons when clicked will create a paragraph. Neat, huh?

Script loading strategies

There are a number of issues involved with getting scripts to load at the right time. Nothing is as simple as it seems! A common problem is that all the HTML on a page is loaded in the order in which it appears. If you are using JavaScript to manipulate elements on the page (or more accurately, the Document Object Model ), your code won't work if the JavaScript is loaded and parsed before the HTML you are trying to do something to.

In the above code examples, in the internal and external examples the JavaScript is loaded and run in the head of the document, before the HTML body is parsed. This could cause an error, so we've used some constructs to get around it.

In the internal example, you can see this structure around the code:

This is an event listener, which listens for the browser's DOMContentLoaded event, which signifies that the HTML body is completely loaded and parsed. The JavaScript inside this block will not run until after that event is fired, therefore the error is avoided (you'll learn about events later in the course).

In the external example, we use a more modern JavaScript feature to solve the problem, the defer attribute, which tells the browser to continue downloading the HTML content once the <script> tag element has been reached.

In this case both the script and the HTML will load simultaneously and the code will work.

Note: In the external case, we did not need to use the DOMContentLoaded event because the defer attribute solved the problem for us. We didn't use the defer solution for the internal JavaScript example because defer only works for external scripts.

An old-fashioned solution to this problem used to be to put your script element right at the bottom of the body (e.g. just before the </body> tag), so that it would load after all the HTML has been parsed. The problem with this solution is that loading/parsing of the script is completely blocked until the HTML DOM has been loaded. On larger sites with lots of JavaScript, this can cause a major performance issue, slowing down your site.

async and defer

There are actually two modern features we can use to bypass the problem of the blocking script — async and defer (which we saw above). Let's look at the difference between these two.

Scripts loaded using the async attribute will download the script without blocking the page while the script is being fetched. However, once the download is complete, the script will execute, which blocks the page from rendering. This means that the rest of the content on the web page is prevented from being processed and displayed to the user until the script finishes executing. You get no guarantee that scripts will run in any specific order. It is best to use async when the scripts in the page run independently from each other and depend on no other script on the page.

Scripts loaded with the defer attribute will load in the order they appear on the page. They won't run until the page content has all loaded, which is useful if your scripts depend on the DOM being in place (e.g. they modify one or more elements on the page).

Here is a visual representation of the different script loading methods and what that means for your page:

How the three script loading method work: default has parsing blocked while JavaScript is fetched and executed. With async, the parsing pauses for execution only. With defer, parsing isn't paused, but execution on happens after everything is else is parsed.

This image is from the HTML spec , copied and cropped to a reduced version, under CC BY 4.0 license terms.

For example, if you have the following script elements:

You can't rely on the order the scripts will load in. jquery.js may load before or after script2.js and script3.js and if this is the case, any functions in those scripts depending on jquery will produce an error because jquery will not be defined at the time the script runs.

async should be used when you have a bunch of background scripts to load in, and you just want to get them in place as soon as possible. For example, maybe you have some game data files to load, which will be needed when the game actually begins, but for now you just want to get on with showing the game intro, titles, and lobby, without them being blocked by script loading.

Scripts loaded using the defer attribute (see below) will run in the order they appear in the page and execute them as soon as the script and content are downloaded:

In the second example, we can be sure that jquery.js will load before script2.js and script3.js and that script2.js will load before script3.js . They won't run until the page content has all loaded, which is useful if your scripts depend on the DOM being in place (e.g. they modify one or more elements on the page).

To summarize:

  • async and defer both instruct the browser to download the script(s) in a separate thread, while the rest of the page (the DOM, etc.) is downloading, so the page loading is not blocked during the fetch process.
  • scripts with an async attribute will execute as soon as the download is complete. This blocks the page and does not guarantee any specific execution order.
  • scripts with a defer attribute will load in the order they are in and will only execute once everything has finished loading.
  • If your scripts should be run immediately and they don't have any dependencies, then use async .
  • If your scripts need to wait for parsing and depend on other scripts and/or the DOM being in place, load them using defer and put their corresponding <script> elements in the order you want the browser to execute them.

As with HTML and CSS, it is possible to write comments into your JavaScript code that will be ignored by the browser, and exist to provide instructions to your fellow developers on how the code works (and you, if you come back to your code after six months and can't remember what you did). Comments are very useful, and you should use them often, particularly for larger applications. There are two types:

  • A single line comment is written after a double forward slash (//), e.g. js // I am a comment
  • A multi-line comment is written between the strings /* and */, e.g. js /* I am also a comment */

So for example, we could annotate our last demo's JavaScript with comments like so:

Note: In general more comments are usually better than less, but you should be careful if you find yourself adding lots of comments to explain what variables are (your variable names perhaps should be more intuitive), or to explain very simple operations (maybe your code is overcomplicated).

So there you go, your first step into the world of JavaScript. We've begun with just theory, to start getting you used to why you'd use JavaScript and what kind of things you can do with it. Along the way, you saw a few code examples and learned how JavaScript fits in with the rest of the code on your website, amongst other things.

JavaScript may seem a bit daunting right now, but don't worry — in this course, we will take you through it in simple steps that will make sense going forward. In the next article, we will plunge straight into the practical , getting you to jump straight in and build your own JavaScript examples.

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  • How to structure an essay: Templates and tips

How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

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Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Part Content

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

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The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

  • Thesis statement
  • Discussion of event/period
  • Consequences
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement
  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
  • Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
  • Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
  • High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
  • Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
  • Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Implications of the new technology for book production
  • Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
  • Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
  • Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
  • Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
  • Summarize the history described
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period

Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.

Alternating

In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

  • Synthesis of arguments
  • Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
  • Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
  • Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
  • Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
  • Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
  • Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
  • Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
  • Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
  • Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
  • Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
  • Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
  • Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

  • Point 1 (compare)
  • Point 2 (compare)
  • Point 3 (compare)
  • Point 4 (compare)
  • Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
  • Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
  • Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
  • Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
  • Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
  • Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
  • Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
  • Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

  • Introduce the problem
  • Provide background
  • Describe your approach to solving it
  • Define the problem precisely
  • Describe why it’s important
  • Indicate previous approaches to the problem
  • Present your new approach, and why it’s better
  • Apply the new method or theory to the problem
  • Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
  • Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
  • Describe the implications
  • Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
  • Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
  • Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
  • Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
  • Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
  • Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
  • Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
  • This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
  • This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
  • It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
  • Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it

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Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .

Transitions

Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

College essays

  • Choosing Essay Topic
  • Write a College Essay
  • Write a Diversity Essay
  • College Essay Format & Structure
  • Comparing and Contrasting in an Essay

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The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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