An essay introduction needs to have three main parts. The components arranged in order include an opening statement (hook) to catch the reader’s attention. The second part of an introduction is relevant background information to help the reader identify what’s important in the writing. The last part of the introduction is the thesis statement where you present the reader with the main argument in the essay.
There are a few items that should be on the checklist when writing your essay introduction. Make sure the intro fulfills all the following requirements:
- The first sentence is relevant to the essay and is engaging.
- You have provided sufficient background information to the reader.
- You’ve explained key phrases that will be used.
- The thesis statement comes as the last sentence in the paragraph.
- Information contained in the introduction is relevant to the body of your essay.
Here, we believe that a perfect academic essay is impossible without a good introduction. If you cannot set up your professor or tutor to the argument in the essay, don’t expect them to read it to the end.
Make the reader have some expectations.
Your introduction in the essay should serve the following goals:
- Grab the attention of the reader.
- Give a brief overview of the background on your topic.
- Present the central argument (also known as the thesis statement).
How to Write an Essay Introduction
- Hook the reader
- Provide background information (2-4 sentences)
- Write the thesis statement
- Map the structure of the essay (signposting)
- Re-read the introduction
Step 1: Hook the reader
The first sentence should be the pacesetter. It sets the tone for the entire paper. That is why you need to spend a little bit more time on the introductory hook to come up with a creative one.
Don’t be too clever unless you want to ruin the essay.
Also, you can’t afford to be a boring writer. Your professor needs to read the essay to award you marks.
Some of the mistakes to avoid in the first sentence:
- Long, dense sentences.
- Failing to spark curiosity.
- Not going straight to the topic.
- Starting with an irrelevant statement.
- Making broad claims
Avoid using dictionary meanings as the hook (unless required by your teacher)
Related Article: 6 Essay Introduction Examples
Examples: Writing a great hook
Take a look at the introductory sentences that we consider weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
Example 1: The airplane was a very important invention.
Example 2: The invention was a major turning point not only in globalization but also in military growth.
The first example is plain, dry, and fails to captivate the reader’s attention.
The second sentence gives a clue to the reader that we are headed towards something interesting, either in air travel or military weapons.
Here is another example to give you an idea of what to do.
Example 1: The popular 19th-century book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is quite famous.
Example 2: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale pointing out the dangers of scientific advancement.
Related Article: 9 Words to Start an Essay Introduction
It is easy to see where the second example is heading to. The hook is much better and sets up the writer to make a claim about the statement. It also opens up the reader to multiple interpretations of Frankenstein implying that the essay writer might include different views of the book.
Step 2: Provide background information (2-4 sentences)
The second step in writing your essay introduction is to provide background information. This will help the teacher to understand your topic and the reason you’re taking a particular view on the subject.
Things that could go in this section include:
- Historical context.
- The meaning of key phrases.
- An outline of the argument you’re about to explore.
- Some theories to bed included.
- Statistical data to spice it up.
Only add information that is relevant to the essay topic.
Giving too much detail at this stage is also a bad idea. There will be time to include finer details later in the body paragraphs. Avoid making interpretations too in these first few sentences.
So, how many sentences should be in the background information?
Use between 2-4 sentences to provide background information in the essay introduction.
Let us use our invention of the airplane example.
Example: Background information.
High-speed air travel using jets was introduced in the 1930s by Frank Whittle and then later von Ohain. In a society that was kept apart by long distances, trade and travel were particularly hampered. Lack of access to distant countries was a significant hindrance to economic growth and social participation. The idea of fast-speed flight was not entirely new, but the new methods enabled by jet engines were general ideas whose time had come.
Step 3: Write the thesis statement
Make the thesis statement narrow and focused. It should show exactly what you want to argue for or against. A thesis statement is one sentence long.
The most important part of an essay introduction is the thesis. It isn’t just a statement to make a broad claim. It requires accompanying evidence and detailed explanations. Read more on how to write a thesis for the introduction of an essay.
A thesis statement serves one clear purpose – convey your position in the argument or a central claim about the chosen topic.
Step 4: Map the structure of your essay using signposting
The fourth step is to signpost. This works well if it is a long essay. You need to indicate what items will be covered in each section of the paper.
Keep the signposting concise. It should enable the reader to get a simple and clear view of where the argument is headed.
This essay begins by explaining the origins of airplanes and the factors that enhanced the need for faster air travel. It will proceed to proceed with some of the limitations society had to overcome to streamline air travel. Subsequently, the essay will explore the significant contributions of jet engines to the military field and global travel.
Step 5: Re-read the introduction
We’ve finally come to the end of how to write an essay introduction.
It’s easy to make mistakes when writing even a single paragraph. Also, proofreading the introduction paragraph in your essay will allow you to determine whether it is worth changing direction as you learn.
Because of that, you might have to wait until you’ve finished the essay to come back and read the introduction again. It makes it easy to gauge whether the essay introduction makes sense or not.