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How to Write an Essay Introduction

Understanding Our Assignment

As a student, knowing how to write an essay introduction is very important because every essay must start with an introduction and essays are some of the most common high school, college and university assignments. An introduction is the opening or first paragraph of an essay. This paragraph is very important because it serves the purpose of stimulating the interest of the reader while providing relevant background information that is necessary in understanding the entire essay. It also acts like a map that guides the reader while presenting the thesis statement of the essay. To be effective, an essay introduction should address the “why,” “what,” and “how” of the essay topic.

How to write an essay introduction that accomplishes its purpose

To ensure that the essay that you write accomplishes its purpose, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the essay about to discuss?
  • Why is the topic useful or important?
  • How will the point be argued out?

At first, answering these questions through the introduction can seem intimidating. However, when you prepare yourself properly and work a little bit harder, the task of writing an excellent introduction becomes easy. While writing the introduction of your essay, try to give readers a summary of the problem that you will be addressing, provide contextual information, discuss the previous studies on your essay topic and tell readers the approach that you will take in discussing the topic. Apart from motivating your readers to continue reading the essay, the introduction should enable readers to judge the importance or relevance of your essay.

A guide on how to write an essay introduction in three major steps

Step 1: Pre-write your essay introduction

1. Consider the angle to take on your essay topic

By the time you start writing the introduction, you already know the topic of your essay. You also have an idea of what you intend to tell readers about the topic. For your essay to be good, it must have an angle or a specific way of presenting information or argument to the readers. Therefore, think about the question that you will be addressing in the essay and what makes it important.

2. Know the target audience

Perhaps, your target audience includes your professor or teacher but it is important that you consider a general audience too. Determine the most appropriate information to convey to the audience or what will make your discussion helpful to them. For instance, is providing certain background information important to your target audience? Do you need to define certain terms? Your answers to these questions will enable you to determine the best information to include in the introduction.

3. Determine the most appropriate hook to use

The first sentence that pulls readers in is the hook. It should make readers interested in reading the rest of the essay by making them intrigued, outranged or fascinated. You can open your essay introduction with a provocative statistic or a catchy saying. However, make the opening sentence related to the overall purpose and topic of your essay. There are different hooks that you should consider for your introduction. They include an interesting statistic or fact, an anecdote, a question or a quotation. You can also start with a definition but avoid a dictionary definition because this will have nothing to add to your essay.

4. Create an outline for your introduction

Outlining the introduction might be helpful especially if you want to present comprehensive information through it. By creating an outline, you will know where to put different information pieces that you want to convey through the introduction. For instance, after the hook, you can provide background information and information about your essay topic that will make understanding your argument easier. This can be followed by a thesis statement which will end your introduction.

Step 2: Structure your introduction

This is the second but most important step of a guide on how to write an essay introduction.

To structure your introduction:

1. Start with a hook

After deciding which hook to use in your introduction in step 1, use it as the opening sentence of your introduction. Maybe your hook is a self-explanatory quote or it needs an explanation. For instance, a question or a quotation might need an explanation. Remember that how you will explain the hook will determine the effectiveness of your thesis statement as well as whether it will make sense.

2. Follow the hook with relevant background information

After hooking the readers, add information that you consider relevant to your topic. Remember that the opening sentence or the hook of your introduction should prepare readers for a thesis statement. Therefore, choose the contextual or background information to include in your introduction carefully.

3. Present a thesis statement

Usually, a thesis statement comes at the end of an introduction. It is advisable that you stick to this approach unless you are advised otherwise by your professor or teacher. However, before including a thesis statement, you might want to provide a roadmap or to outline your argument briefly. Although this is not a must, you can give brief information of the essay or ideas of the key points that will be covered in the essay.

Step 3: Check your introduction

Note that writing the introduction first does not mean that you must stick to what it says. You can always change the introduction of your essay as you develop your argument in the essay. It is therefore important that you re-read your essay or go back to it to ensure that it reflects what you say in the essay. It is normal for an introduction to evolve as you develop your essay. Therefore, check your introduction to ensure that it introduces what you write and that it does not have fluffs.

How to Write an Essay Introduction: Examples

To master the steps of this guide on how to write an essay introduction, you should review an example of a well-written essay introduction.

Here is such an essay introduction sample:

“Although Christopher Nolan, the Batman, has received critical acclamation, the fact is that the version of Tim Burton of Batman, Michael Keaton, is still the most successful version of Batman ever. 

Since making his debut in 1939 in the comic book of Batman, this star has been featured in the hit show on the television in the 1960s and in several feature-long movies that have A-list actors including George Clooney, Christian Bale and Michael Keaton. In these movies, Batman has played a lead role. However, all actors had their unique styles but Michael Keaton portrayed the best performance. The on-screen presence, delivering flawless lines and comic timing makes Batman’s version by Keaton the most effective.”


This is an effective essay introduction because it starts with a catchy line that hooks the readers. It also introduces the topic briefly while including a focused and strong thesis that tell readers what makes the Batman version by Keaton the best and most effective which is what the essay is all about.

Bonus hints and reminders on how to write an essay introduction

  • If you have been assigned an essay assignment by your professor or teacher, make sure that your introduction interprets the question. This is very important because the introduction should show that you know what the teacher or professor wants you to write about.
  • Start writing the introduction when you already have a thesis statement for your essay. It can also be helpful if you write the introduction after writing the body paragraphs of your essay because you will be fully aware of what you are supposed to introduce.
  • Check the introduction of your essay to ensure that it addresses the topic that you will be explaining or talking about in the entire essay. Make your introduction more understandable, helpful and exciting to your readers.
  • Ensure that after reading your introduction, readers know what they will read in the essay without struggling to find this out.
  • Check your introduction against the entire essay to ensure that it introduces what you have written in the essay.
  • Always use a sample introduction if you find following this guide for writing an essay introduction difficult. You can find another example of an essay introduction here.
  • Ensure that your introduction establishes a territory by pointing out the importance of the topic, establishing the context and reviewing previous studies. The introduction should do this briefly.
  • Avoid a long paragraph unless you are writing a long essay. Usually, an introduction should not exceed one paragraph and an introduction that covers a whole page is too long. Limit your introduction to a half page or even less.

How to Write an Essay Introduction: References

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