Writing Introductory Paragraphs For Essays


1. Writing Introductory Paragraphs For Essays

The presentation examines the essential characteristics of introductory paragraphs

Writing Introductory Paragraphs For Essays

What is the Function of an Introductory Paragraph?
Get the reader’s attention
Provide necessary background information
Shape the reader’s perspective
Present the thesis statement

2. Slide 2

Introductory paragraphs are the portion of the essay that come before the thesis statement. The Thesis statement is usually the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.


3. What is the Function of an Introductory Paragraph?

The introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention and make him or her want to read the essay. The introductory paragraph can also provide background information that is necessary for the reader to appreciate the writer’s position. The introduction is an opportunity to shape the reader’s opinion about the writer’s main idea before the reader gets to the thesis statement. Finally, the introductory paragraph presents the writer’s thesis statement.


4. Get the reader’s attention

The introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention and make him or her want to read the essay.

Get the reader’s attention
Grab your reader’s attention with something thought provoking, dramatic, or shocking

5. Provide necessary background information

The introductory paragraph can also provide background information that is necessary for the reader to appreciate the writer’s position. This information can be scientific, historical, cultural, or even personal. Use this kind of introduction when you know there are things that the reader needs to know about your topic (but doesn’t’) in order to “get” your thesis statement.

Provide necessary background information
It is important to know what your reader knows and doesn’t know about your topic.
Provide information your reader needs to know.
Be careful do not provide excessive and irrelevant information.

6. Shape the reader’s perspective

The introduction is an opportunity to shape the reader’s opinion about the writer’s main idea before the reader gets to the thesis statement. The introduction can be used to shape or manipulate the reader’s emotions so that he or she agrees with your thesis statement.

Shape the reader’s perspective
Provide information that makes the reader sympathetic to the writer’s position
Make the reader realize a need, see themselves in similar situation, feel sad, angry, pious, or patriotic

7. Present the thesis statement

Finally, the introductory paragraph presents the writer’s thesis statement. Remember the thesis statement is the main idea of the entire essay and works the way a topic sentence works in a paragraph. Often another sentence or two are needed to bridge the gap between your background information or story that you used to introduce your topic. I call these “bridge sentences.”

Present the thesis statement
Bridge Sentences
Thesis Statement

8. Different types of Introductions

Now, we are going to look at four different types of introductions. There are four questions on your final exam about these different types of introductions. Your textbook presents another four types of introductions, which are different from these.

Different types of Introductions
Anecdotal or story
Factual or historical background
Say what is mistakenly believed to be true by many people
Literary summary

9. Use an Anecdote or “Story” to introduce your Thesis Statement

A very common type of introduction is the anecdotal introduction. This type of introduction uses a short story which represents the situation the writer wants you to have in mind when he presents the thesis statement. In this case, the story represents all similar situations which could happen to anyone with a dog. Taking the dog to vet serves a bridge to the explanation of the dog’s aggressive behavior.

Use an Anecdote or “Story” to introduce your Thesis Statement
One sunny afternoon while walking Blanca, my very sociable bullterrier, I decided to introduce her to Phillip, the mailman. At first, she was friendly, but as Phillip turned to leave, Blanca treacherously leaped for his buttocks and ripped off the back of Phillip’s blue and gray trousers. Fortunately, Phillip was not injured. Nevertheless, I was very concerned about my dog’s behavior, so I took Blanca to my veterinarian to find out why she had acted so aggressively. Dr. Rios, Blanca’s veterinarian, explained that there were three factors which could trigger an aggressive response from almost any dog.

10. Provide Factual or Historical Background as an Introduction

The factual information in this introductory paragraph provides a minimum of historical background. But it also tries to shape your opinion. Who do you think were the bad guys? Who were the good guys? Who were the victims?

Provide Factual or Historical Background as an Introduction
In defiance of an 1832 Supreme Court ruling declaring the Indian Removal Act of 1830 unconstitutional, Federal and Georgian authorities proceeded to force the exodus of fifteen thousand members of the Cherokee Nation from their homes in Georgia to Oklahoma, hundreds of miles to the west. Because of their suffering, the Cherokee people called the path they were forced to follow to Oklahoma “The Trail of Tears.”


11. Say what is mistakenly believed to be true by many people; then use your thesis statement to provide correct information.

In this essay, the writer really wants to discuss the differences between two kinds of rice, but he needs a reason. The reason is educate the Americans about different kinds of rice, so he begins by telling them what they think is wrong. This can be a very effective technique for pulling the reader into the essay because most people feel challenged when someone says what they think is wrong.

Say what is mistakenly believed to be true by many people; then use your thesis statement to provide correct information.
Most Americans mistakenly believe that all rice is essentially the same. They find it very difficult to understand why people from Asian countries are so particular about the type of rice they buy. In order to understand these preferences, Americans must become familiar with other varieties of rice and their characteristics. For example, Thai rice differs from California rice in several ways.

12. Summarize the literary work or works you are writing about; then follow with your Thesis Statement

Many of the essay that you will write in literature classes will take this form. The writer begins by briefly summarizing and the story; then he connects that to his opinion about the story and one of the broader social issues the story might bring out. Often these types of essays are in response to essay questions the teacher assigned. This student might have been writing in response to “Is it morally acceptable to change the basic nature of a human being by using science or medicine?”

Summarize the literary work or works you are writing about; then follow with your Thesis Statement
Flowers for Algernon, a novel by Daniel Keyes, tells the story of Charley, a mentally handicapped young man who undergoes an experimental procedure to increase his intelligence. Charley’s operation was successful, but his new mental capabilities were only temporary. Although first published in 1966, Flowers for Algernon correctly anticipates some of the controversies regarding human experimentation we are experiencing today. As techniques such as gene splicing become more advanced, the debate over the morality of modifying life from its natural forms will heat up. Therefore, to avoid social upheaval, procedures that modify human beings, including intelligence enhancing operations such as Charley received, should be illegal.

13. Do not do the following in introductory paragraphs

Here are some things you should not do in your introductions.

Do not do the following in introductory paragraphs
Don’t make your introduction unnecessarily long.
Don’t write like are talking to the reader. Try to use third person perspective (not I, not you).
Don’t refer directly to your essay with statements like “In this essay, I will write about….”

14. Do not do the following in introductory paragraphs

Remember, your introductory paragraph is device that you made to draw the reader in to your essay, and to get them to understand your thesis statement.

Do not do the following in introductory paragraphs
Don’t include your brainstorm as part of your introduction. How you got to your thesis statement is not the same as getting the reader there.
Don’t just throw a few sentences in front of your thesis statement to say you have an introduction. One or two sentences introductory paragraphs can work very well.

15. Do not do the following in introductory paragraphs

Your introduction may actually be the last part of your essay that you finish even though it is first on the page. Don’t spend a lot of time on the introductory paragraph when you first start writing your essay. Your introductory paragraph is specifically crafted to introduce the rest of your essay. Because of that, it is hard to write an effective introductory paragraph until you finish the rest of the essay.

Do not do the following in introductory paragraphs
Don’t repeat the same idea several different ways.
Don’t confess your ignorance about the subject. If you discredit yourself, the reader will wonder why he or she should read what you wrote.