How to write an introduction
An introduction is the opening or beginning of a piece of writing, speech, or presentation. It is typically used to provide background information, set the context, and state the main idea or purpose of the text. An introduction is often designed to grab the reader’s attention and to make them interested in reading or listening to more. It serves several vital functions, including;
- Setting the stage: The introduction provides background information and context for the topic being discussed. It helps the reader or listener understand what the piece is about and why it is important.
- Grabbing attention: The introduction is often the first thing that a reader or listener will encounter, and it should be engaging and attention-grabbing to encourage them to continue reading or listening.
- Stating the main idea or purpose: The introduction should clearly state the main idea or purpose of the piece. It helps the reader or listener understand what they can expect to learn or gain from the text.
- Previewing the structure: The introduction can also give an outline of the piece, previewing the main points that will be covered. This helps the reader or listener understand the structure of the piece and follow along more easily.
The length of an introduction can vary depending on the type of piece and its purpose. A short introduction is usually sufficient for an article, while a longer introduction may be necessary for a book or research paper.
Things to include in an introduction
Here are the things to include in an introduction;
- A hook or attention-grabbing statement: The first sentence or two of an introduction should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. This can be a surprising fact, a question, a quote, or a statement that challenges a commonly-held belief.
- Background information or context: The introduction should provide enough background information so that the reader can understand the topic being discussed and its significance. This can include historical, cultural, or social context, definitions of key terms, or a brief overview of previous research on the topic.
- The main thesis or purpose: The introduction should clearly state the main thesis or purpose of the piece. This is the main argument or point that the author is trying to make. The thesis statement should be specific, clear, and concise.
- An overview of the main points or arguments: The introduction should provide an overview of the main points or arguments that will be discussed in more detail in the body of the text. It gives the reader an idea of what to expect and helps them follow the overall structure of the piece.
Tips for writing a hook in an introduction
Here are a few tips to write a hook in an introduction;
- Use a surprising fact or statistic: Starting with a surprising or interesting fact or statistic can grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on to find out more.
- Pose a thought-provoking question: Asking a question that the reader will want to know the answer to can be an effective way to hook their attention.
- Use a quote: A relevant and well-chosen quote can set the tone for the piece and make the reader want to learn more about the topic.
- Start with a story: A personal story or anecdote can be an effective way to introduce a topic and make it more relatable to the reader.
- Challenge a commonly-held belief: Starting by challenging a commonly-held belief or assumption can make the reader question their understanding of the topic and be more eager to read on.
- Use humor: Starting with a clever or witty comment or joke can grab the reader’s attention and make the piece more enjoyable to read.
- Begin with a rhetorical question: Rhetorical questions can be used to make the reader think about the topic and be more engaged with the piece.
How to write background information in an introduction
When writing background information in an introduction, it’s important to provide enough context so that the reader can understand the topic being discussed and its significance. Suggestions on how to prepare the background information for an introduction;
- Define key terms: If the piece uses any technical or specialized terms, make sure to define them clearly and accurately.
- Provide historical context: If the topic has a historical background, include a brief overview of the historical events or developments that are relevant to the topic.
- Give a brief overview of previous research: If the piece is based on research, provide a summary of the most relevant studies that have been done on the topic.
- Identify the gap in the literature: If the piece is filling a gap in the literature, mention it.
- Provide cultural or social context: If the topic is related to a specific culture or social group, including information about the culture or group’s beliefs, values, or practices that are relevant to the topic.
- Keep it brief: The introduction should be concise and to the point, so the background information should be brief and relevant to the topic at hand.
- Cite your sources: when providing background information make sure to cite your sources, this will add credibility to your work and help the readers to know where the information is coming from.
Pointers for writing the main thesis in an introduction
The main thesis or purpose of a piece is the main argument or point that the author is trying to make. Here are some pointers for writing a clear and effective thesis statement in an introduction;
- Be specific: The thesis should be specific enough to clearly state the main argument or point of the piece. Avoid overly broad or general statements.
- Be clear: The thesis should be clear and easy to understand. Prevent using jargon or technical words that the reader doesn’t understand.
- Be concise: The thesis should be concise and to the point. It should be one sentence or at most two.
- State the main point: The thesis should state the main point or argument of the piece. It should be the answer to the question “What is this piece about?”
- Be arguable: The thesis should be arguable, meaning it should be something that can be debated or discussed. Avoid statements that are too obvious or that cannot be disputed.
- Be positioned early in the introduction: The thesis should be positioned early in the introduction, usually in the first or second sentence. It’s important to make sure that the thesis is clear to the reader from the start.
- Tailor it to the audience: The thesis should be tailored to the intended audience, meaning it should be written in a way that the audience can understand and relate to.
- Provide a preview of the main points: The thesis should provide a preview of the main points that will be discussed in the body of the text.
Remember that a thesis statement is a representation of the main idea of the piece, it’s the backbone of the text, so it’s essential to make it clear, concise, and arguable.
Suggestions for writing the overview of main points in an introduction
The overview of the main points in an introduction should give the reader an idea of what to expect in the body of the text and should help them follow the overall structure of the piece. Here are some tips for writing an effective overview of the main points in an introduction:
- Be clear and concise: The overview should be clear and to the point and should provide a general idea of the main points or arguments that will be discussed in the body of the text.
- Use headings or subheadings: Use headings or subheadings that clearly state the main points or arguments that will be discussed in the body of the text.
- Use bullet points or numbered lists: Use bullet points or numbered lists to make the overview easy to read and understand.
- Provide a logical flow: The overview should provide a logical flow, meaning that the main points should be presented in a logical order that follows the overall structure of the piece.
- Mention the main findings: The overview should mention the main findings of the research if applicable.
- Tailor it to the audience: The overview should be tailored to the intended audience, meaning it should be written in a way that the audience can understand and relate to.
- Highlight the most important points: The overview should highlight the most important points, meaning that the key points should be emphasized and the less important points should be de-emphasized.
- Keep it brief: The overview should be brief and not exceed one or two paragraphs.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to write an overview of the main points that is clear, concise, and easy for the reader to understand. It will also help to guide the reader through the main arguments and the flow of the research paper.
Introduction for a research paper example
“Are computer games damaging or helping children? It’s a common question debated for decades, and as technology continues to advance, it becomes even more relevant. Recent studies have shown that children who play video games for more than two hours a day have a higher risk of developing attention problems and aggressive behavior. However, other research suggests that video games can have positive effects on children’s cognitive development and problem-solving skills.”
The example above provides a clear hook that raises a question that is relevant and interesting for the reader, background information that is brief, relevant, and cites sources, a thesis statement that is clear, specific, and arguable, and an overview of main points that provides a preview of what the reader can expect from the research paper. The thesis statement is also providing a clear direction for the research paper and the main points that will be discussed in the body of the text.