An introduction should introduce the topic, catch the reader's attention and answer the question: So what? In your introduction begin to gradually narrow down the topic and focus by introducing the specific elements pertaining to your essay, such as articles that will be analyzed and debates or issues which will be dealt with. Here you are introducing all the relevant issues that the essay will touch upon. Finally, the introduction can end with a thesis statement, which explains the issue and shows the side or argument that the essay will follow.

An introduction does not:

  • List everything that is in your essay.
  • Present specific details of the argument or issue which will be discussed in the essay.
  • Give a full report on all of the history of a particular issue.
  • Discuss a topic other than that developed in the essay.

An introduction does:

  • Define your purpose.
  • Focus your topic.
  • Catch your audience’s interest.
  • Establish a common understanding.
  • Introduce the context or rhetorical situation by answering: what you are writing about, why you are writing and who you are writing to.

Tips for WritingIntroductions

  • The introduction should tell your readers where you’re going and how you’ll get there.
  • Start with a general idea, and use the introduction as a free writing exercise to get into the body of the essay.
  • Or, start with the thesis in mind and go straight to the body of the essay; write the introduction last to fit the rest of the essay.
  • Either way, go back and revise the introduction after you have finished the essay to make sure the style and the promises it makes follow through in your essay.