When you know how to write an introductory paragraph, it starts everything off right and makes the task easier.
In an article, essay, or book, an introduction is generally the first paragraph of the paper, the beginning section -also known as prolegomenon- that states the purpose and goal of the writing.
Introductions are essential components of an essay. They complete the argument made in the body paragraphs by explaining what points will be made in the introduction. An adequate introduction paragraph is an essential part of any work, as it sets up your argument.
The goal of the introduction paragraph is to let the reader know what they can expect from the paper.
How to start an introductory paragraph
There is no one generally accepted formula for writing a good introduction. However, an introduction should:
1.) Catch the reader’s attention
Start with a “hook” to grab the reader’s attention and introduce the general topic. You can create a hook by asking a rhetorical question, stating an interesting fact/statistic about the subject, revealing a common misconception about the issue, sharing an anecdote that captures the topic, or setting the scene of the story (the 5 Ws – who, when, where, why, what? and how?)
2.) Provide topic background
After your “hook” the reader in, write a sentence or two about the specific focus of your paper. This can include background information on your topic that helps to establish its context.
3.) Present the thesis of the work
The central point of your essay varies depending on the type of paper you are doing, but, in general, a thesis should include:
- The specific topic
- The main point about that topic
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- All the discussion points you will include in your paper.
Your thesis should be easy to find and very clear. It should also be the last sentence of the introduction. The information here should be clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t provide too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later in the text. Save your interpretation and evidence for the work’s main body.
Please note that an introduction includes standard subsections like a preface, abstract/ summary, acknowledgments, and foreword in technical writing. The section labeled as introduction may be a brief section found side-by-side with an abstract, foreword, etc., rather than containing them. In this case, the sections that come before the body of the work are known as thefront matter.
When the book is divided into chapters, the introduction and any other front-matter sections are unnumbered and precede chapter 1.
No matter what kind of content you’re writing, it is essential to avoid clichés and be clear and engaging. How much space you will need for background depends on the topic and the scope of the work.
Identify the focus, topic, and context of your writing in 5 sentences or so.
- Start your introduction with an attention-grabber. The rest of this article should provide several options, like scene-setters, anecdotes, and quotations.
- Follow up with a few sentences that offer context for the essay topic and the thesis or the main focus of your work.
- Finish with a single sentence that lays out your primary point of focus for the entire work. End the introduction by outlining what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give the reader a clear sense of the direction the argument will take.
Paragraph outlines for essays
The paper’s thesis is the most important part of the essay. It has to be included in the introductory clause of the paper—as the entire essay revolves around this statement. The thesis statement provides your audience with a summary of the paper’s key claim. Your key claim is what you will be revealing or arguing about in the body section of the paper.
As a general rule, a good thesis statement is very concise (disclosed in one sentence), accurate, clear, specific, and focused. The thesis should typically appear at the end of your introductory paragraph/section.
Check out How Long is a Paragraph?
Paragraph outlines for research papers
Paragraph outlines will help provide you with structure as you learn how to write an introductory paragraph.
Beginning Sentences – Introduce the topic and grab the reader’s attention. Don’t ever start a paper by saying, “In this paper, I will,” or “This paper is about.” If you came across an odd fact or an interesting quote in your research, try starting your paper with that or use an anecdotal story/humor.
Middle Sentences – The middle sentences cover the different points in the paper. You don’t have to include all points, but make sure the important ones get mentioned.
Ending Sentences – All the previous sentences have been building up to your thesis statement, which expresses the overall idea of the paper and shows where you stand on the topic.
Paragraph outlines for literary analysis
Paragraph 1: Introduction (Use of HATMAT)
M. Main characters
A. Author’s summary
Parts of an introductory paragraph
The introductory paragraph is a paragraph that introduces the reader to the text. Well-structured introductory paragraphs contain the three basic elements necessary for all introductory paragraphs:
– the topic sentence defines the topic and “grabs” the reader into the story;
– the thesis sentence defines the writer’s point of view regarding the topic.
– and the outline sentence describes the main topics in the body paragraphs.
Often, the introductory paragraph is the first paragraph of an essay and consists of two parts. The two parts are the hook and the thesis statement. The hook has the sole purpose of drawing the reader in and giving context to the text, while the thesis statement serves as a road map for the work.
Drawing the reader in requires the use of thought-provoking quotes and questions and the sharing of personal experiences. On the other hand, a thesis statement should:
- Be the last sentence of the introductory paragraph
- Indicate the controlling area of the work
- Outline the main idea of each body paragraph in the work
- Be reviewed and rewritten if necessary.
Research Papers and Essays
There are four parts to an introduction of research papers and essays.
- The first part Introduces the topic
- The second part states why the topic is important
- The third part states the differences in opinions around the topic
- The fourth part clearly states the writer’s main premise and describes how the assignment will be structured.
The introduction of a literary analysis should also include the following:
a. Hook, Author, Title, Main Characters, Thesis, A Short Summary.
b. Ways of writing creatively:
- A fact or a bit of information&
- A meaningful quotation (from the text or from another source)
- A vivid description
- An analogy
c. In the introduction, you should identify the work of literature. At the same time, you should also mention the author and discuss in a few words the theme of the paper.
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Examples of an introductory paragraph
Examples of how to write an introductory paragraph make things so much easier to understand.
Most essays have the purpose of convincing the reader of something. Some writers gradually wade into the waters, winning the reader over with solid evidence and a soft, persuasive tone, while others get directly to the point.
Here are some examples of paragraph starters:
- We all know…
- In my opinion
- I believe
- I’m sure of
- I know
- I feel that
- We all agree
- While I agree
- You must agree that
- Some may say
- In truth
- The facts are
- The fact is
- Without a doubt
- It is certain
- The facts are clear
- It is clear
- While it’s clear that
- It has been said
To introduce the information in research papers, you can use methods like:
This essay discusses _ is defined _ is explored _.
The definition of _ is briefly outlined _ will be given _.
The issue focused on _ is demonstrated _.
In this essay, _ is explained _.
The key aspect discussed _ is justified _ are presented _.
Views on _ range from _ is examined _ is evaluated _.
The central theme _ is analyzed _ is described _.
There are several sentence starters you can choose from to begin the introductory paragraphs of your paper.
The author’s use of ________________ reveals the theme of _________________.
Insert Author’s Last Name uses literary devices like _________________ to reveal to the reader the theme of ________________.
Through the use of literary devices such as _____________________, the theme of
_________________of the work is revealed.
Conclusion of How to Write an Introductory Paragraph
A good paper should have an introductory paragraph that is not only clear and brief but also has a purpose and is focused on the matter to be discussed. It is common for introductory paragraphs to consist of three to five sentences.
The introductory paragraph is an essential part of academic writing, from persuasive essays to literary analyses to research papers. But that does not mean writing one is easy.
By Anne Matea
With a Master’s degree in Management and Communication in Business and over two decades of experience writing content for the digital world, Anne loves to play with words and create content that is fun and engaging.
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