Narrative introduction example: “ONCE there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids. They were sent to the house of an old Professor who lived in the country, far, far away from everything. He had no wife and he lived in a very large house. He was a very old man with thick white hair. The children liked him at once.” The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
How to write an introduction
A good introduction skillfully draws the reader’s attention to the topic and arouses interest. The introductory paragraph also needs to describe the objective of your paper, and state the methods you will use to achieve your goal.
What is an introduction?
An introduction primarily states the purpose of an academic paper. It conveys the central or main points that will be covered. The thesis statement should be placed towards the end of the introduction, with any background information given beforehand. Introductions come right after the table of contents page, but before the body of the essay or thesis.
What are the contents of an introduction?
Every introduction should clearly state the purpose of your essay or thesis with a summary of the main points that will be discussed. It should be enough to give the reader an overview of the what to expect in the main body of the writing. It can also include an explanation of elements that are not mentioned within the scope of the remaining writing, such as background information that may be relevant to the thesis statement. The thesis statement should always be placed towards the end of the introduction.
How do you write a good introduction?
A good introduction captures the reader’s attention immediately, which in turn makes them want to read the remaining pages of the thesis or essay. It should clearly state the main topic, provide relevant context and explain your specific area of focus. Ultimately, it should provide the most relevant and helpful information about your research topic. The reader should be informed of any background information prior to reading the body of the thesis or essay.
How important is an introduction?
An introduction is one of the three most important sections of any academic essay or dissertation . The fact that it introduces the topic and main arguments of your text makes it very relevant. That, in essence, helps the reader to understand the explanation of the central ideas or topics covered in the remaining text.
What is the difference between a summary and an introduction?
The main difference between an introduction and a summary is their purpose. In academic writing, the introduction gives the reader a brief description of the topic and the main ideas that will be covered. A summary on the other hand, briefly explains everything that is covered in a text in a few condensed sentences. Therefore, a summary is more general while an introduction points to the main topics and relevant ideas of the academic text.
Contents of a Introduction
In short, the introduction introduces the area of research as well as the research question derived from it. A good introduction tells the reader why answering the research question will lead to new, important insights.
Derntl (2014: 110) summarizes three tasks that a good introductory paragraph needs to fulfil, which are in line with the above-mentioned (1) relevance; (2) research topic; and (3) procedure:
The University of Leicester gives a concise overview of what you need to achieve when writing a good introduction to your research paper – and when to write the introductory paragraph (University of Leicester [a]):
Like the concluding paragraph, the introductory paragraph of your bachelor’s thesis must not be a fragment but be consistent and understandable in and by itself. This means that the reader does not need to rely on insights established within the main body of the paper in order to understand the introductory paragraph (cf. Brauner & Vollmer 2004: 121).
Introduction #1: The Quote
I chose to open this post with a quote not because I’m a fan of Catcher in the Rye. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest Catcher fan (despite my personal appreciation for Salinger’s immense literary talent and commitment to being a hardcore recluse).
The real reason I chose to open with that quote is because introductory quotes are a lazy but highly effective way of grabbing your reader’s attention without doing any real work – especially when the quote in question has a negative or otherwise memorable tone, as Salinger’s (or rather, his protagonist Holden Caulfield’s) does.
Before you’ve even read the quote in its entirety, you’re already wondering what was so lousy about the quoted individual’s life, or what “all that David Copperfield crap” really means and why the person being quoted doesn’t really feel like going into it.
Why Is This Type of Introduction So Effective?
Before we get into why this technique is so effective, it’s worth mentioning that opening with a quote only works well if the quote itself is interesting. There’s no point using a quote as your introduction if it’s something boring or predictable.
Aside from the quote itself, which should ideally be as attention-grabbing as possible, the fact that quotation marks are used indicates – obviously – that a specific individual said those words. It may not sound like it, but this can be very enticing to the reader, encouraging them to read on to see who said it. This is especially true if the quote is controversial or contrarian.
Let’s say you’re writing a piece about the potential impact of artificial intelligence on human society. Sure, you could open with a bland, generic introduction about how AI and technology have revolutionized the world as we know it, but you could also let someone else do the talking for you.
“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”
The quote above is one of many such memorable insights offered by technologist Elon Musk about the potentially existential threat posed by AI. Yes, it’s a little sensationalist – Musk certainly knows how to leverage provocative language to great effect – but it’s also a lot more interesting than most of the introductions I’ve read in articles on the topic. (Note that this particular quote was not used as an introduction in any piece I’ve found or read on the topic, and is used solely for illustrative purposes.)
It’s worth noting that this technique can be a little tricky or unorthodox within the context of established journalistic conventions. As anyone who’s ever worked with me as an editor could tell you, I’m a stickler for the correct attribution of quotes, which demands that, in most cases, the person being quoted should be identified after the first complete sentence. If we follow this convention (which we should, unless we have a very good reason not to), our example quote from Musk (with additions italicized) would read:
“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,” Elon Musk said during an interview at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium in 2014. “In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”
Notice how Salinger’s opening quote from Catcher in the Rye is a single sentence? This allowed me to include it without worrying about correctly attributing the quote as I would have if I’d used Musk’s quote as my intro. If in doubt, talk to your editor – they’ll thank you for it later.
Tips for Writing a Winning Introduction Paragraph
As you now know how to start a good introduction and have some clear introduction examples to get you started, let’s quickly go through the key takeaways of what you should and shouldn’t do when writing your introduction.
- Keep in mind the purpose of your assignment and ensure that your introduction is in-line with it.
- Use an engaging and appropriate hook that grabs the reader’s attention from the first line.
- Be clear by letting your readers understand your stance well.
- Explain key terms related to your topic, if necessary.
- Show that you understand your subject.
- Provide your reader(s) with a metaphorical roadmap that will help them understand what you are going to cover in the paper.
- Be concise – it is recommended that you keep your introductory paragraph about 8-9 percent of the total number of words in your paper (for example, 160 words for a 2000 words essay).
- Make a clear and powerful thesis statement.
- Keep it engaging.
- Ensure that your introduction makes a logical and smooth transition into the body of your paper.
- Request assistance from the EssayPro team if you feel like using some professional essay help!