Essay Lab Essay Writing Tips

How to Write an Introduction for Your Essay

The most crucial part of your essay is the introduction: it can tell readers how well your thoughts are put together, how well organized your entire essay is, and how well you write. And if they don’t like what they see...well, they probably won’t read any further. Follow these 6 easy steps to make sure no one will be able to put your essay down.

1) Research, take notes, and outline. Prepare before you actually start writing your introduction. First, do some initial research, which should establish what it is you will be writing about, what issue you will argue for or against, and why you will take this position. Then actively research by taking notes on your topic. Outline the ideas and arguments that you will make so that you’ll know what to include in your introduction. Ideally, you should be able to roughly outline at least three to five ideas or arguments that you can successfully address in your essay. 

2) Indicate your topic. When you write an introduction, you need to clearly indicate the topic (i.e., the subject matter) that you will be writing about. Be careful that you do not confuse your topic with your thesis. For example, if you are writing an essay that argues for renewable energy, you will need to briefly explain or define renewable energy because that is your topic.

3) Set the foundation for the structure. After you have clearly stated your topic, you will need to address how you’ve organized the body of your essay. You should use the notes and outline you made during your initial research and write a few sentences explaining the order in which your essay will be structured. This will be your readers’ road map. They will know where they will be going as they read and in what order your ideas will be presented.

4) Writing the thesis. Every good introduction has a clearly stated thesis. The thesis statement is where you will let your readers know what position you will take on your topic. When you write your thesis, don’t be shy: make a bold and factual statement that expresses your position.

5) Keep it short. An introduction must not be so detailed that it includes everything you want to say. Remember that you’re introducing an idea or topic, your structure of the essay, and your thesis statement. A general rule to follow is that the introduction should be about 10% (or less) of your whole paper. So if you’re writing a 2,000-word essay, your introduction should not be much longer than 200 words.

6) Be creative! An introduction should be structured and follow a format, but that does not mean it has to be boring. One (and only one) of the following techniques can draw people in and really make them want to read your entire essay:

  • Start with a quote that is related to your topic, and make sure it's a powerful attention getter.
  • Start with a question, perhaps a question you had yourself before you began your initial research.
  • Begin with an interesting fact that is related to your topic.
  • Use an analogy, but make sure it is concise and easy to understand. You don't want to get too lengthy, because your introduction should be about 10% of your entire essay.
  • Try presenting a paradox if it is related to your topic; readers are interested in the unusual and seemingly unanswerable.