Introduction Paragraphs

The introduction announces the main point the body of that the essay will later develop.  For most writing assignments, your introduction will be a single paragraph that will conclude with your thesis.  Remember, you can always go back and edit the introduction and thesis if the focus of your paper changes during the writing process.  Some writers even prefer to write the introduction after the body of the paper is done.

When writing your introduction, consider the following issues:

  • Who is the likely audience?  Do you think your introduction will appeal to that audience?
  • What personality does the writer project?  Is the author’s tone suitable for the subject and the audience?
  • Remember, the introduction is where the author should hook his/her audience, so is the introduction interesting?  Informative?
  • Does the introduction flow smoothly into the paper?  Does it introduce ideas that will be supported throughout the body of the paper?

Here are a few options for making the most of your introduction:

  • Start with a dramatic incident
  • Start by telling a story
  • Start with a contrast
  • Start by setting the scene
  • Start with a question
  • Start with a description
  • Start with unusual facts and figures
  • Start with a definition (though this doesn’t necessarily require quoting a dictionary – paraphrase or create your own definition)
  • Start with a quotation
  • Start with a brief historical background

Remember to gear your writing towards your audience. Avoid clichés and opening with questions that are directed at the reader (for example, “Have you ever thought about…?”). Make sure your point is expressed clearly, and explain the body and purpose of your essay.  This is your chance to hook the readers; you need to keep their interest and avoid confusing them.

See the Writing Center’s handout on thesis statements for further ideas.


Source: O’Hare, Frank and Dean Memering.  The Writer’s Work.  3rd ed.  New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990.

                Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.