The introduction paragraph is at the beginning of a text and announces the main point or thesis. It pulls the reader into the text by giving context for the thesis, establishing the importance of the issue or topic, and stating the writer’s position. The reader then knows what to expect from the body of the paper.
- Hook the reader: immediately engage the reader by beginning with a statistic, vivid example, description, paradoxical statement, quote or dialogue, question, analogy, joke, or anecdote. This gets the reader interested in what you have to say.
- Begin or end with the thesis: If thesis is at the beginning, readers immediately grasp the main point. If thesis is at the end, the writer is able to give context to the main point.
- Aim for more than 50 words: An introduction can be one or more paragraphs, depending on the length of the paper.
- Be direct: The introduction should be specific and focused on the main point. Avoid confusion by asking, “Do the ideas in the introduction effectively announce and support the body of my paper?”
- Establish common ground: In an argumentative essay, it is important that the audience understands where you are coming from by expressing common values shared with the audience.
“To the Australian aborigines, the Dreamtime was the time of creation. It was then that the creatures of the earth, including man, came into being [The Hook and Context]. There are many legends about that mystical period, but unfortunately, the koala does not fare too well in any of them [Context]. Slow-witted though it is in life, the koala is generally depicted in myth and folklore as a trickster and a thief [Thesis].”
–Roger Caras, “What’s a Koala?”
Revising an Introduction
- Reread and ask questions: Are sentences specific and communicate your purpose? Do they lead logically to the thesis? Do they spark the readers’ curiosity?
- Cutting some of your introduction: Get to your main point. Look where your topic becomes clear and cut what comes before.
Sources: Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook for Writers: Instructor’s Annotated Edition. 3rd ed. Boston: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.
Hacker, Diana, Stephen A. Bernhardt, and Nancy Sommers. Writer’s Help. Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.