wikiHow to Write Introductions

Six Methods:Sample IntroductionsBasic Tips for Writing an Essay Introduction Writing a Personal Essay Introduction Writing a Lab Report Introduction Writing a Literary or Film Review IntroductionWriting a Research Paper Introduction

A well-written introduction gives the reader a feel for what you are going to be writing about. It lays out the scope of the argument. It asks questions that will be answered later on. It provokes thought. If you want to write an excellent introduction and you have no idea where to start, read on. You'll learn how to start an introduction, what to put in the middle, and how to wrap it all up.

Sample Introductions

Sample Scientific Research Introduction

Sample Research Introduction for Humanities

Sample Research Introduction Starters

Method 1
Basic Tips for Writing an Essay Introduction

  1. Image titled Write Introductions Step 1
    Hook the reader with a great first sentence. Your first sentence should draw the reader in and make them want to read more. If your sentence is uninteresting or clichéd, the person reading your essay may not be motivated to continue. Set the tone right from the beginning with a stellar hook.
    • Ask a question. A great question will make the reader want to stick around to hear the answer.
      • Example: "What do dolphins and military fighter jets have in common?"
    • Lead with a great fact or statistic. A great fact or statistic will put the discussion of what you're writing about into context.
      • Example: "The Golden Gate Bridge is continuously painted, 365 days a year. That's 50,000 gallons (189,270.6 L) of paint per coat."
    • Use a quotation. A quotation from a famous (or infamous) person might pique the reader if they know something about him or her.
      • Example: "Machiavelli once wrote: 'Never was anything grand achieved without danger.'"
    • Define a keyword or phrase. If a keyword or phrase you're using is uncommon, specific, or technical, you may want to define it first.
      • Example: "Merriam-Webster defines tenacity as 'a persistence in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.'"
  2. Image titled Write Introductions Step 2
    Discuss briefly what you'll be talking about the rest of the essay. After your hook, and perhaps one or two sentences about your hook, you'll want to briefly explain what it is that your essay will touch upon. This will give the reader a roadmap, or guide, that they'll be able to use as they continue on reading.
    • You don't have to come out and say "This essay is about x" if you don't want to. You can frame this summary briefly and elegantly without saying that's what you're doing.
      • Example: "Early American settlers experienced a wide variety of diseases in the 17th century. These diseases led them to experiment with home-grown medicines."
    • Don't give away every single detail in your brief summary. It's called a brief summary for a reason. You want to tell the reader enough without giving away every significant fact or theme of your essay.
  3. Image titled Write Introductions Step 3
    Transition to your thesis. Your thesis is probably the most important part of the introduction. Your thesis is your argument boiled down to one sentence. If someone were to ask you to describe your position using only one sentence, you'd tell them your thesis. Here are two examples of a thesis statement:
    • "So-called 'gap years' are becoming increasingly necessary for good reason: they allow young students to experience grown-up responsibilities in an atmosphere of fun before going to college, where learning these skills can be difficult."
    • "E. B. White's Charlotte's Web argues strongly that women deserve to have equal rights and input into society's decisions as men, even if the characters in the book are animals.
  4. Image titled Write Introductions Step 4
    Don't make these mistakes when writing your thesis. Your thesis is your most important introductory sentence, so you want to be sure it's formatted the right way and doesn't contain any of the following common mistakes:
    • Your thesis is not a fact or observation. Your thesis should take a stand; it is an argument that someone could could argue against.
    • Your thesis isn't written as a list, as a question, or as a springboard to talk about something else. Your thesis is focused on a single idea, or argument of ideas, and is a statement.
    • Unless given permission to do so, your thesis should never be put in the first-person (contain the word "I," as in "I think...").
  5. Image titled Write Introductions Step 5
    If necessary, transition from the thesis to the first body paragraph. Usually, your thesis will be the last sentence in your introduction. This isn't always the case, however. Sometimes, you'll have a sentence or two after your thesis, as a way of transitioning from the introduction to your body paragraph.
    • Example: "After elephants received widespread environmental protection in key parts of Africa, their numbers started significantly growing."

Method 2
Writing a Personal Essay Introduction

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    Start off with your hook. As mentioned above, your hook can pretty much be whatever you want it to — especially in a personal essay — as long as it sets the scene and touches on what the essay is going to be about. You might find some of the following hooks to be profitable starting points or examples to you in your introduction:
    • "I was walking down our driveway when disaster struck."
    • "Though she wouldn't know it at the time, my mother was poised to make a far-reaching political statement on the morning of June 4th, 1976, without even saying a word."
    • "I've made a few mistakes in my young life, but none of them ended up teaching me as much as when I first disobeyed the law."
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    Don't be afraid to get really personal. Personal essays are powerful because we share information in them that often isn't shared. This can be anything from a phobia to a love affair. Don't be afraid to provide that sort of information in your intro if it has to do with the story you're telling. Without sharing too much, give your side of the story while staying true to what happened and being honest.
  3. Image titled Write Introductions Step 8
    Know that a personal essay won't necessary contain a traditional thesis. Although your introduction might contain a thesis of sorts, it won't ever look like a thesis you put into an expository essay or an argumentative essay. And that's okay. Your personal essay introduction may just be a story, or an explanation of events. As long as it helps tell your story, or gives some helpful background information that will play a part in the story later, your introduction does not need to contain a traditional thesis.

Method 3
Writing a Lab Report Introduction

  1. Image titled Write Introductions Step 9
    Know the difference between an abstract and an introduction. An abstract is a summary of the experiment. It assumes that the reader knows something about the subject area, but has not read the paper itself. It should be around 200 words.[1] An introduction, meanwhile, details the type of experiment, its objects and importance, along with general background information needed to understand the experiment. It has nothing to do with the findings of the experiment.
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    Briefly explain the experiment. Whether you're working on temperature models, DNA/RNA replication, or plate-tectonics, a good introduction adequately explains what the experiment is going to be about. A great introduction will make it clear which factors will determine whether the experiment is going to be successful.
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    Explain the experiment's objectives. What do you aim to figure out by undertaking this experiment? These objectives should be related to, but not synonymous with, your hypothesis. Your objectives will be analyzed in your conclusion, and are therefore extremely important to be clear about.
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    Provide any theoretical predictions for what the results will yield, if applicable. It may be helpful to list any theoretical predictions for what the experiment might yield, especially if your experiment resulted in a groundbreaking finding. This provides a contrast between what's expected and what is actually true.

Method 4
Writing a Literary or Film Review Introduction

  1. Image titled Write Introductions Step 13
    Start off with a declaration. This declaration can be about the work itself, or a conclusion you've come to about the theme or significance of the piece. A declaration has the benefit of sounding authoritative and should grab the reader's attention. Some examples of good declarative first sentences:
    • "There is such a thing as too much beauty in a film, as Terrance Malick's The Tree of Life illustrates."
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    If possible, plug your thesis into your introduction. Your thesis will be an analysis and presentation of the artistic work you are reviewing. Broadly speaking, you can endorse or reject an artistic work, or choose to avoid giving a general verdict and instead focus on painting a picture. Because many film review readers, however, expect a verdict of the film you are reviewing, it's best to at least mention that in the introduction if you do plan on offering one.
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    Situate the work in its literary or filmic context, if necessary. Many readers of serious artistic review expect critics to put the piece(s) of art being written into a literary or filmic context. What does this mean? This means talking about what other books or movies influenced it, whether it firmly owes to one artistic movement, or whether it has any political aspirations, for example. Many readers appreciate this fitting into a framework to at least begin to happen in the introduction.

Method 5
Writing a Research Paper Introduction

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    Start by introducing your topic. Research papers can come from science or the Humanities, so whatever your topic is about, narrow it down a bit to give the readers of your paper a clue about what part of the sciences or Humanities you'll be focusing on. Some examples could include:
    • "Dedicated scholars have been studying language and culture in parallel ever since the connection between the two was first established."
    • "Throughout the 20th century, our views of life on other planets has drastically changed."
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    Consider mapping out the direction your research paper will take. If your research paper is complex and deals with a lot of different material, it could be helpful to spell out in your introduction where you research paper will go for the rest of the paper. This will help the reader structure the basic argument of your research paper before s/he reads it, ultimately making it easier to understand.
  3. Image titled Write Introductions Step 18
    Include your thesis in a clear spot. Usually toward the end, include a clear thesis that is supported by evidence if possible. Because research papers rely on evidence so heavily, putting this front and center will help bolster your argument.


  • Don't use stereotypes, cliches (over-used expressions with little meaning left in them), or boring constructions when writing your introduction.

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