How to Write an Effective Introduction 

You are probably accustomed to hearing that the introduction paragraph in any written piece is hugely important, whether it is an article or essay. You might wonder why this is so. You will find the answer in the old saying that first impressions really do matter. The primary aim of an introduction is to get the attention and interest of your readers so that they want to read your entire work. An introductory paragraph should additionally include the most vital part of any written piece. This is the thesis statement, the focal point of any essay or paper. You should also include any background information that is relevant to the topic. Therefore, for all these reasons, it is essential to learn how to write an effective introduction. 

The Steps Involved in Writing an Introduction

Work out the breadth and scope of your introductory paragraph. You can begin in a specific or general way according to your preference and then narrow your topic down to a central thesis statement. You will next need to figure out the main points that need to be covered in your writing, and present them in the next three to four sentences of your introductory paragraph, allowing a single point to each sentence. It is an idea to reword these so that they are not a direct repetition from your main text. Develop your thesis sentence or statement. Try to make this as specific and solid as possible since it is the most important part of your introduction paragraph. Everything you write needs to be double-checked to ensure nothing has been missed and that all essential background information has been included.

Main Points for Consideration

  • When it comes to finding ways to get your readers’ attention, there are a number of effective techniques you can use. Hence, you just need to select a method that best fits your purpose. For instance, you could provide interesting examples, include some absurd, startling, or surprising statement, or pose a thought-provoking question. You could even touch upon a controversial issue in a general way. In any case, there are plenty methods and any one of them can make your introductory paragraph engaging and eye-catching.
  • The sentences in the middle part of your introductory paragraph (generally three to four sentences) are often used to cover the main points that will be analysed in your paper. Essentially, you can decide the main points prior to beginning to write or leave these until your paper is finished and you have a clearer picture.
  • Your thesis statement should be crafted so that it unambiguously introduces your paper’s main point or idea i.e. the main message. This statement should be placed near the end of your opening paragraph. A thesis statement is usually no more than one or two sentences in length. This central statement is the element you should attend most carefully to when writing your introductory paragraph since neither you nor your readers will know what your paper is about if this is not done properly.

Dos and Don’ts

What You Should Do

  • Make your beginning strong. Use “grabbers” to get readers’ attention i.e. eye-catching sentences that encourage readers to continue to the end, whether out of curiosity, an opportunity to disagree with your claims, to get clarification, or for some other reason.
  • Remember it is not possible to satisfy every reader, so focus on those you most want to reach.
  • Show that you are confident writing about your topic and be direct. Side-stepping the issue, playing with words, or using such phrases as “I may be incorrect,” “If I am not mistaken,” etc. will reduce your credibility.
  • If required, include some background information, famous quotes, and other supporting materials in your introductory paragraph, but try and keep this section as concise and short as you can. Bear in mind that detailed explanations are more suited to the body of your paper than they are to introductions.
  • Use language to appeal to those reading your paper. Although this technique is not appropriate in every type of writing, it is still an effective way of engaging readers. For instance, it is suitable in reflective and persuasive essays. 

What You Should Not Do

  • Do not declare your paper’s purpose or your intentions in respect of it in the introductory paragraph. It is unnecessary, for instance, to make declarations like, “Within this essay, I will be talking about fish” or “My essay is about the human race.”
  • Avoid being vague. You may think a long and detailed introduction with a lot of sophisticated words and textual nuances is a nice touch, but this can cause readers to feel they are reading a textbook and not an essay or paper.
  • Do not include definitions from dictionaries or encyclopaedias. Introductions are designed to help readers understand what a piece of writing will generally be about. They are a type of roadmap, not an actual road. Undoubtedly, definitions should help later in your text, but they are not needed and appear unprofessional in an introductory paragraph.
  • Do not hesitate to alter an already-written introduction if needs be. Occasionally, when a paper is finished, you may find the introductory paragraph does not match the remainder of your paper. In such cases, you should consider rewriting the section completely, make any necessary changes, and amend your thesis statement. Alternatively, you may want to consider not writing this first paragraph, with the exception of the thesis statement, until the end.
  • Do not forget to develop a clear idea of what you will write at the start i.e. a thesis statement. An introductory paragraph that does not have a thesis statement is not complete.  

Frequent Mistakes

  • Making an introductory paragraph overly general or vague is a mistake because this has no purpose other than meeting the word count.
  • It is a mistake to use dictionary-style definitions in an opening paragraph.
  • Including too much information to the extent, you are providing explanations rather than preparing your readers for what is to come.
  • It is not advisable for a writer to declare their entire intentions in an introductory paragraph. You can find more information on writing introductions on’s website. 
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