Writing Effective Introductions

A blank page can be intimidating. Students may look at the assignment and stare at a blank piece of paper or a computer screen for hours simply because they do not know where to begin… they are not clear on how to start. Introductions are often most important part of a paper.

Introductions serve several functions in writing:

· They draw in readers and catch their attention.

· They tie ideas together and “introduce” your position.

· They make a first impression.

Many students are afraid of writing only because they simply do not know where to start. Follow the tips below to write an introduction that is sure to accomplish the task.

Writer’s tip: Begin in the middle! We often know what we want to say but don’t know how to get started. Try starting in the middle; pencil in headings for the major points you want to cover and write about each of them. As you write, your introduction will take shape (remember those starts-and-stops in section 1J). You may write a temporary introduction as a starter, knowing you will rewrite it to match the paper that takes shape as you go.

Writer’s tip: Know your assignment! What is your instructor asking for in your paper? What are the key elements that must be included? List them-they may even suggest the headings you pencil in or define the sequence of information you will present.

You can introduce a paper several ways:

  • Start with an unusual fact that will draw your readers’ attention and make them curious.
  •  Give background information that will grab your reader’s attention and serve as the foundation for your thesis and paper.
  •  Respond to questions that your instructor asks for in the assignment; use those to develop your thesis. They may be key points in the introduction. Expand on them in the essay.
  •  Make your first sentence (the lead sentence) interesting and useful.

Writer’s tip: Open with confidence! “Students excel when they develop good study habits” is more effective than “I think students would do better if they studied more.”