How to Write an Introduction for an Essay

How to Write an Introduction for an Essay

As a student, you should know how to write an introduction for an essay because essay writing is among the most common academic tasks that you will be required to handle throughout your academic life. In academics, an essay refers to a specific genre of writing that functions within specific rules, conventions and norms-

The introduction of an essay refers to the opening paragraph- It is the first paragraph in an essay. A good essay introduction is important for various reasons and it should be written properly in order to serve its purpose effectively.

Effective strategies and guidelines on how to write an introduction for an essay

Different people write the introduction for an essay differently depending on the length, angle and content of their essay. However, there are strategies that you can use to write an introduction that will capture the attention and interest of the readers of your essay.

They are as follows:

  • Think about and introduce the topic of your essay

While writing the introduction, you already know the topic of your essay. You also know what you intend to say in the essay about the topic. This implies that you have an angle of presenting information or argument to your readers. Therefore, think about the questions or issues that you will address in the essay and their importance. Include an overview of the issues that you will address in the body of the essay in the introduction.

  • Create interest

The target audience of your essay could be your professor or teacher. However, you should consider the general audience. Consider the information that relates to your topic and one that would interest your readers. Make your introduction the attention grabber of the essay. Ensure that after reading the introduction of your essay, readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay.

You can use several techniques to make the introduction interesting to your readers including the following:

  • Using a story or anecdote: This is a nice technique especially if you are personally connected to the essay topic. An anecdote involves readers emotionally-
  • Including rhetorical questions: These are questions that place readers in a different situation so that they can start thinking about the topic of the essay differently.
  • Using an interesting quote: This is a quote that sums up the argument of the essay nicely.
  • Providing surprising statistics: These could be statistics that convey something that relates to the problem that the essay will address.
  • Provide background information

The introduction of your essay should include brief background information that gives the essay a context. Background information also gives the essay a focus- pdf file. Providing background information is important because it links readers to the topic of your essay.

The length of the background information that you include in the introduction should depend on the information that you think readers need so that they can understand the issue that you will discuss in the essay. The information that you provide should also enable readers to appreciate the issue that your essay will address in the body-

  • Identify the main idea of your essay

Everybody who knows how to write an introduction for an essay knows that the main idea or thesis statement must come out clearly in an essay introduction. A thesis statement or the main idea is the controlling view point or argument of the essay. A thesis statement of your essay should be articulated clearly and it must clearly and directly respond to the topic or question.

Among the phrases that you can use to indicate your thesis statement or your main idea include:

This essay will argue that…” or “In this essay, the idea that…will be advanced” or “The main argument in this essay is that…

Make sure that your main idea or thesis statement sums up the content of the entire essay.

  • Preview the entire essay

The introduction should also provide a clear overview of the content of the essay. It should give readers the focus of your essay. After reading the introduction, readers should know what to expect in the entire essay. Thus, the overview that you provide in the introduction should orient readers to your essay. Providing an overview of the essay in the introduction can imply answering who, where, what, why and where journalistic questions. It can also imply providing a summary of the events or the text that will follow in the body of the essay. It may also provide authentic definitions for the key terms of your essay.

In the preview, tell readers:

  • What your essay question is about.
  • Why the essay question or issue is important.
  • How you will answer the essay question.

Pitfalls to avoid when writing an introduction for an essay

Most students who do not know how to write an introduction for an essay are victims of certain pitfalls that you must know how to avoid.

They include:

  • Apologizing: Do not apologize or suggest that you do not know the topic or the issue that you will be addressing in the essay. Doing this will turn your readers away. Therefore, avoid phrases like, “I am not sure about…but…
  • Failing to announce the intentions of your essay or the main idea: Make sure that you have announced the main idea or your intention in the introduction. Say clearly what you will do in the essay by using phrases like, “In this essay, I will…” or “This essay will…
  • Using non-authentic definitions: Your definitions of key terms in long essays should be backed by authentic sources such as encyclopedia or the dictionary. Although you might devise definitions later in the essay, make sure that your definitions are authentic.
  • Dilly-dallying: Move into the essay with confidence. Do not include irrelevant sentences in the introduction as a warm-up. If you must include them, delete them after writing the introduction of your essay-
Checklist for a good introduction

After writing the introduction of your essay, you need to be certain that it will serve its purpose effectively.

To ascertain this, find out if your introduction tells your readers the following:

  • Your understanding of the topic including the key terms, background and the context.
  • The controlling idea or argument of your essay.
  • The issues that you intend to cover in the essay and if possible their order in the essay.
  • Highlight of minor and major ideas of the essay.
  • The evidence that you will include in the essay.

Any essay introduction that is written by a writer who knows how to write an introduction for an essay is concise and totally relevant. It also uses expressions and words that clearly show the plan of the essay.

Such expressions include and can be ordered as follows:

  • This essay will start by considering…
  • It will then describe…
  • In the third part, the essay will compare…
  • Finally, the essay will include the conclusions derived from…

Such an order in the introduction makes the essay easy for readers to understand and follow the writing that follows.

Example of an introduction for an essay

Using essay introduction samples will enable you to know how to write an introduction for an essay with ease.

Here is an example of an introduction for an essay to guide you:

“The general concentration of historians is the 20 years of the American Revolution. However, the consideration of the working people’s involvement in the revolution should distinguish the pre-revolutionary period which lasted from 1763 to 1774 and the actual revolution which took place between 1774 and 1788, a period that was marked by continental congress establishment. This essay will argue that assessing the aims and nature of the working people actions is difficult because they changed in every phase. The essay will also analyze the characteristics of the pre-revolution and revolutionary periods. Activities of the American Revolution period such as crowd organization, town meetings and pamphlet writing will be examined and used to demonstrate the more revolutionary actions and aims of the working people after 1775.”

In this introduction of an essay sample, the writer starts by setting the context of the topic or essay and grabbing the attention of the readers by describing the historians’ concentration as general. This is followed by an explanation of how the key term “the working people and their involvement in the American Revolution” is interpreted. The introduction also includes the main idea or thesis statement, “This essay will argue that assessing the aims and nature of the working people actions is difficult because they changed in every phase.” Finally, the introduction provides an overview of the essay by stating how the essay will be developed.

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