When you read an article or essay, what helps you decide whether you want to read all of it or not? In most cases, it is the introduction of the essay or the article that acts as a key determinant for you to decide whether you want to proceed further. If the introduction is not engaging enough or does not hook your attention, there is a minimal chance that you are going to spend any more time on the entire write-up.
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The same holds true for your essays as well. As a student, when you write different types of essays as a part of your academic assessments or for admissions purposes, the introduction of your essay is of key importance. Simply put, the introduction paragraph of your essay is the first impression you are going to create on your professors or the members of the admissions committee. Now, the real question is, what does it take to write a great introduction for your essay? What are the things you need to keep in mind while writing the introduction paragraph? This guide elucidates the stepwise process of writing a perfect essay introduction with effective examples.
Essay introduction: knowing the format
Did you know that you need to follow a proper structure or format while framing the introduction of an essay? Have you been doing that in the essays you have submitted to your professors thus far? Well, even if you did not know, it is never too late to learn something amazing.
Speaking of the format of an ideal essay introduction, it includes the following aspects
- Background brief of the essay topic
- Purpose and outline of the essay
- Thesis statement
- Explanation of the structure
Not sure if you completely understand the above elements of an essay’s introduction or not? Not to worry! We have explained each element in detail for lucid understanding.
A hook essentially refers to a strong statement at the very beginning of your essay that captures the attention of the reader. So, as a student, when you write an academic essay, the hook should create an immediate impact on your professors. But what do we include in the hook?
A hook can include a strong claim, a key stat from a credible source, an intriguing fact or revelation that can create curiosity in the mind of the reader. Besides, a hook can also be a fascinating quote, an opinion of a famous personality, something humorous, or even an anecdote. Alternatively, you can also use a definition related to your topic as a hook or create an engaging question statement as the hook for the readers.
The thumb rule is that the hook should be as concise as it can be and the purpose is to incite eagerness in the minds of the readers. When you do that effectively, it marks a perfect beginning to your essay.
For a better understanding, let us look at a few examples of what a perfect hook looks like.
Let’s say you are writing an argumentative essay on childhood obesity. So, a great example of a hook for your essay’s introduction will be:
As per the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of obesity has increased threefold since 1975, and 39 million children below the age of five are overweight. It calls for the world to address the rising prevalence of obesity with a sense of urgency.
Secondly, let’s say you are writing a nursing essay for admission to a nursing school. Provided below is an impactful hook that you can use to begin your essay with.
Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love” has been the constant inspiration of my life and has compelled me to serve mankind.
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2. Background brief of the topic
After you start strongly with a great hook, you need to include a brief background of your topic that reflects your understanding of the topic. The brief background discussion should include a little about the history of the topic, facts related to it, key concepts, definitions, or any other aspect that is a prerequisite to establishing a lucid understanding of the specific information delineated in the body paragraphs. Further, it can also include how the topic has been studied over time and what are the claims that have been made with respect to the topic. The background brief can also include a gist of the various theories that are related to the topic or its implications.
Remember, the background brief has to be brief for real. Even if you are giving substantial information on the topic, it should not be lengthier than two to three lines. The information has to be very concise and its purpose is simply to build some cohesion between the topic and how you are going about it. An effective explanation of the topic’s background should clearly establish the reason why the topic is being focused on and should further make the transition to the key talking point of the essay. Having said that, this is the reason why the background brief is also referred to as the ‘transitional’ part of the essay introduction.
Let us look at an example of a background brief to make things clearer
We can go ahead with the childhood obesity essay as discussed in the first example of the hook. With respect to the topic of the essay, let us see how an effective background brief should be.
Various causes of childhood obesity have been discussed by a host of researchers and medical practitioners in their research papers and claims. Subsequently, the cognitive effects and physical effects of childhood obesity have been discussed in the findings of various works of medical research (Wang & Veugelers, 2008). Childhood obesity is an issue of global concern and there is a large volume of ongoing works of clinical and non-clinical research on the topic for a clearer understanding of varying causes and prerequisite treatments.
As you can see, the above example of background brief gives an overview of the topic without delving deep into the information provided.
The next part of your essay’s introduction is to state the purpose of the essay. Simply put, from your introduction paragraph, readers should have a clear understanding of the aim of your essay and what are the aspects you will cover in your essay.
In continuation with the background brief, you add the purpose of the essay as shown in the example below (with respect to the same essay on childhood obesity)
This essay discusses the primary causes of obesity in children in coherence with empirical research followed by the health consequences of obesity and effective measures for treatment.
4. Thesis statement
After the purpose of the essay comes the thesis statement. This is an important part of your introduction paragraph and you must have complete clarity about it. In a narrow and concise manner, the thesis statement represents the central idea of the essay, what the essay is about and what exactly the essay will be arguing.
Besides, the thesis statement of the essay is subject to change as per the type of the essay. However, in any case, it should put across the key the exact position that you are taking in the essay. In the ultimate sense, the essence of your body paragraphs and the conclusion of your essay should relate back to the thesis statement.
Moreover, the thesis statement should come in continuation with the purpose. Lastly, the thesis statement should be concise, coherent, and debatable. If there are still any doubts with respect to the thesis statement, you can go through our all-inclusive guide on how to write a thesis statement.
Going further, an impressive example of a thesis statement is provided below (in coherence with the essay on childhood obesity)
With respect to the causes, it is argued that there is a direct relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing prevalence of obesity in young children (Samur et al., 2022).
5. Explanation of the structure
Next, the last element of the essay’s introduction is the explanation of the structure. This part of the introduction paragraph is quite self-explanatory in itself. You simply need to define the structure of your essay to explain what the body paragraphs are about. Coherent to the thesis statement of the essay, an explanation of the structure highlights the road map of the entire essay to offer immense clarity to the readers.
An example of how to define the structure of your essay in the introduction paragraph will make things crystal clear. The example as in all cases is coherent to the childhood obesity essay.
Firstly, the essay discusses the causes of childhood obesity with special emphasis on discussing the role of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, the discussion will lay emphasis on the cognitive and physical effects of childhood obesity with a discussion on vulnerabilities to chronic diseases. Lastly, the essay explains some effective and reliable treatments with respect to childhood obesity.
So, now you know all that you ever wanted to learn about writing an effective essay introduction. We have explained each element of a great essay introduction in a detailed manner with examples. Now, let us put all those examples together to compile a wholesome introduction to the childhood obesity essay.
Complete essay introduction example
As per the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of obesity has increased threefold since 1975, and 39 million children below the age of five are overweight. It calls for the world to address the rising prevalence of obesity with a sense of urgency.Various causes of childhood obesity have been discussed by a host of researchers and medical practitioners in their research papers and claims. Subsequently, the cognitive effects and physical effects of childhood obesity have been discussed in the findings of various works of medical research (Wang & Veugelers, 2008). Childhood obesity is an issue of global concern and there is a large volume of ongoing works of clinical and non-clinical research on the topic for a clearer understanding of varying causes and prerequisite treatments.The meticulous discussion sheds light on the primary causes of obesity in children in coherence with empirical research followed by the health consequences of obesity and effective measures for treatment.With respect to the causes, it is argued that there is a direct relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing prevalence of obesity in young children (Samur et al., 2022).Firstly, the causes of childhood obesity are discussed with special emphasis on discussing the role of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, the next section underlines the cognitive and physical effects of childhood obesity with a discussion on vulnerabilities to chronic diseases. Lastly, some effective and reliable treatments with respect to childhood obesity are highlighted.
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We are quite sure that you no longer have any doubts with regard to writing essay introductions. No matter which essay you are tasked with, you now have a great knowledge of what a perfect essay introduction should look like. Still, given below are some additional tips that may come in handy.
Additional tips for writing essay introductions
1. Understand the essay type
As discussed above, there may be slight variations in essay introductions subject to the type of essay that you are tasked with. Hence, before you start with the essay introduction, it is highly recommended that you build a clear understanding of the type of essay and the topic as well.
2. Keep it concise
The introduction is only an overview of your essay and it needs to be concise and to the point. All the elaboration will come in the body paragraphs. Having said that, an introduction paragraph with a word count of 100 to 150 words would be enough (unless stated otherwise).
3. Avoid plagiarism
This is something that you need to take care of in each writing task and not just in the introduction paragraph or the essay itself. Speaking of essay introduction specifically, if your professors find plagiarism at the very beginning, it can cost you your grades. Having said that, it is important for you to know the types of plagiarism and how to avoid them.
4. Add citations
When you are adding a quote, an academic definition, or a factual claim from another author’s work or website, it is essential to give attribution to the source via citation. So, you need to add citations wherever necessary in your introduction
How can I overcome writer's block when starting an essay?
To overcome writer's block, try freewriting, brainstorming, or outlining before starting the actual essay. Taking short breaks and finding a conducive writing environment can also help.
How can I transition from the introduction to the body paragraphs smoothly?
End the introduction with a clear and concise thesis statement that introduces the main points to be discussed in the body paragraphs.