How to Write an Introduction Effectively

Many, many, many people struggle with how to write an introduction.

How many times has someone told you that first impressions are the most important? A lot right? Whether it is the first time you are meeting someone or the first sentence of your paper, it makes a lasting impression. Here is some information you need to know on how to write an introduction.

Well, the first thing you need to know is that the purpose of an introduction is to introduce the material you are going to discuss. You definitely want to draw in your reader, establish your topic and communicate clearly what the purpose of the subject is you are developing.

Believe it or not, but the introduction establishes the tone and style of your whole paper. By reading your introduction, your readers will know the type of language/ “voice” you are using. Thus, knowing how to write an introduction effectively is extremely important in setting the stage for the rest of your paper.

How to write an introduction?

Here are a few suggestions to make your introduction make that lasting impression you desire:

  1. Start with an attention grabber. This first sentence is extremely important. It hooks your readers to want to read more. It should intrigue, draw in and introduce your readers to your topic.
  2. Avoid using generalized statements for your opening sentence. For example, “All people feel that restaurant service is bad.” You sound like you are speaking for everyone! Avoid sentences that start, “According to…” or “In today's world” or “Society feels that…” or “Throughout history…”.

    All of these "sentence starters" are how generalized statments are created. Avoid these.

    Here are some examples of attention grabbers/how to start your introduction...

    -Start with a rhetorical question:

    Example: “When was the last time a waiter served you in less than 20 minutes?”

    **Be careful with rhetorical questions. Usually, it is best to avoid second person, (“you”) however, it is usually accepted at the start of an introduction.**

    -Start with a definition, quotation or statistic that is relevant to your topic:

    Example: “There is one waiter responsible for every ten tables in a restaurant.”

    -Start with an assertion statement:

    Example:“Restaurant services has gotten out of hand!”

    Start with an anecodote (story):

    Example: “Imagine you and your spouse are celebrating your one year anniversary. You both arrive at a restaurant 20 minutes before your reservation. However, as soon as you are seated, you see five other couples seated at tables that have not yet been served.”

    **NOTE: Be careful when using the second person and if you are quoting a source, be sure to cite your sources correctly.**

  3. Include some background information on the topic. After you have an attention grabber, provide some general information on your topic. This is a good point in your paper to give your readers some history about the issue you are raising. You want to give people some content they can draw on, so they can see the point you are eventually trying to make.

    For example, if you are talking about the problems with service at a restaurant, you may want to include what the problem is and if there is a particular restaurant, etc. It is very important to know who your audience is so you can determine the amount of background information you should include.

  4. Insert your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is your well thought out narrowed scope of your topic. For help writing a strong thesis, be sure to visit my thesis page. It should provide your readers with a clear idea of what your paper will focus on. Click here to learn how to write a thesis statement.
  5. Review your writing. Make sure you take the time to re-read your introduction. Feel free to follow these tips on how to write well.

Once you have your attention grabber, background information and your thesis statement, you have your introduction.

Many of my students ask me every day, how long does my introduction have to be? In short, it doesn’t matter.

As long as you have enough information to truly introduce what you are talking about, then you are fine. It seems fit that any paragraph would be between 4-5 sentences.

If you are introducing a complex topic, you may have to provide more background information; and thus your introduction would be longer.

Now that you know how to write an introduction, click here to go to the next step and learn how to write a paragraph for the body of your paper.

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