The hardest part about getting started, is getting started.

-- Guy Kawasaki, author

Getting past a blank page is often half the battle when it comes to essay writing.

Blank paper on surface with hand moving pencil.

BUT...

Building your essay introduction doesn't have to be a tough task! Following a step-by-step format will help guide your writing AND set you up for an A+ essay.

The Purpose Of An Introduction

An introduction is the first paragraph in your essay. It outlines your ideas, informs your audience, and gets them interested in your essay.

A man in front of a fireplace saying,

An introduction should:

  • 👋 Introduce your topic

  • 🌎 Provide background information

  • 🎤 State your main argument (thesis)

  • 📜 List your supporting points

Why does it matter?

🤝 An introduction is like a handshake. It's the first impression your audience has of your essay!

It should tell your audience what they're going to read in the rest of the essay.

Step 1: Create A Hook

The hook— AKA "the attention-grabber" — gets your audience interested in your essay.

It's the opening section of your introduction.It should introduce the topic in 1-2 sentences that will fascinate your audience and make them curious to read on.

Alexis from Schitt's Creek looking highly interested in what a person is about to say.

A hook can include:

  • 🧠 An interesting statement

  • 🧐 A surprising fact or statistic

  • 💬 A memorable quotation

A hook should be:

  • 🔎 Clear and specific

  • 🔗 Connected to your topic

  • 👏 Interesting for your audience

Take a look at this scenario:

Flaticon Icon Lisa is writing an essay on why homework should be eliminated.

She created 3 potential hooks:

  1. "In this essay, I will talk about why homework should be eliminated."

  2. "Many people wonder if homework should be mandatory or not."

  3. "A 2013 research study found that students who receive homework experience more stress, and physical health problems."

Quiz

Which hook is the most effective for Lisa's essay?

Step 2: Provide Background & Supporting Information

You're the expert on your essay topic, but your audience might not know much about it.

Link your audience's interest in the topic with the key facts that will help them understand your argument.

Think of this section as a bridge.

It should include about 2-3 sentences of background and supporting information so there's a clear link between the hook to the thesis .

Flaticon Icon Ask yourself...

What does the audience need to know to understand the point I'm trying to make?

A bridge with a golden rail. A statue of a hand wraps around the bridge. Photo by Aleksandr Barsukov on Unsplash

Step 3: Write A Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is the most important part of your essay!

It's the main belief, idea, or argument you want to defend or persuade people with.

Everything you write in the essay has to support your main argument, so every point you make has to connect to your thesis.

A child looking out of an airplane window, saying

Features of a thesis statement:

  • Length — 1 sentence.

  • Content — Clearly presents the main argument and briefly lists supporting evidence.

  • Function — Takes a clear stand on an issue or makes an argument that the essay will support.

Why does a thesis matter?

It's the engine of your essay. If a car's engine doesn't work, it won't drive, and it's the same idea with an essay.

If your argument isn't clear, your audience will have trouble following your essay.

Flaticon Icon

Ask Yourself...

Will my audience understand exactly what my argument is from my thesis statement?

Sample Template

Drew Barrymore with a notepad, signalling for the audience to come to her. She starts writing on the notepad.

Let's get started! Check out this outline + example to help guide your own introduction.

Title:Why Homework Should Not Be Mandatory in Schools

Step 1: Create a Hook 🪝🎣

(1-2 sentences)

A 2013 research study found that students who receive homework experience more stress, and physical health problems.

Step 2: Provide Background & Supporting Information 🌉

(2-3 sentences)

To meet the demands of homework, students often spend many hours on their laptops, which contributes to eye strain and tiredness. Additionally, students may not get a chance to talk with family and friends or participate in extracurriculars because of homework expectations.

Step 3: Write a Thesis Statement 🎯

(1 sentence)

Therefore, homework should not be mandatory in schools because it leads to poor mental health, increased screen time, and less time with family and friends.

HOT TIPS! 🔥

  • Consider your audience. Who are you trying to persuade with your argument?

  • Be specific! Clearly explain your ideas to your audience, and define any words or ideas they might not be familiar with.

  • Use transition words like "additionally" and "therefore" to make your writing flow from point to point.

  • Include citations/references for words or ideas that aren't your own.

  • Read your introduction out loud. Does it make sense? Does it sound right?

Jimmy Fallon saying,

Take Action

A young woman writing in a notebook while her friend watches.

When you finish writing your introduction, edit your paragraph using this checklist:

Want to learn more about how to plan for your essay? Check out this Byte!

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This Byte has been authored by

SU

Sam Udeschini

Educator | Learning Consultant