How to craft the perfect introduction to your essay
(Last updated: 18 January 2018)
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It's impossible to overestimate how important a good introduction is. If your essay introduction is poor, your marker will begin your essay with low expectations. If your essay introduction is good, they'll approach your entire piece of work much more positively. As any skilled essay writer knows, a good start can make all the difference to the quality of your work.
But beginning your essay isn't always easy. When you're staring at a blank page, it can be very tricky to know where to begin. Fortunately, our expert UK essay writers have put together some top tips to help you get your essay introduction right every single time.
What should an introduction include?
Before we share our essay introduction writing tips, it's important to understand exactly what is expected of your introduction. There are lots of things you need to do in this first, short piece of writing, and it can be a challenge to fit them all in.
Use this list to make sure you've included all of the most important things, including some of the following:
- Evidence that you understand the question and have thought about it carefully.
You can use definitions, references or a quick summary to prove you understand the question and have given it careful consideration.
- Evidence that you will answer the question and fulfil the task that has been set.
Demonstrate that you will be providing answers, and have a good grasp of the subject by explaining what you hope to achieve.
- An outline of how you will answer the question.
Whether you will be tackling key arguments, exploring ideas from a number of sources or taking a thematic approach to your topic, explain your overall approach.
- Evidence that you have undertaken research.
Include 1-3 references (depending on the length of your essay) to prove you have researched the subject and will be using key sources throughout to back up your writing.
- Evidence that you understand the context of the question and its wider significance beyond your essay.
Briefly discuss the bigger picture, explaining how the topic relates to your area of study and its wider, real world implications. This isn’t always necessary, so you should use your judgement to see whether your essay may benefit from this holistic introductory viewpoint.
Remember, introductions are important, but they're just the beginning. Keep your introduction short, clear and concise. As a general rule, your introduction should take up no more than 10% of your essay's word count.
Essay introduction writing tips
Echo the language used in the question
This will demonstrate that you are actively engaging with the topic and understand it. For example, if your question is: “Discuss recent developments in VR technology” you could include a sentence such as: “This essay will consider contemporary developments in the field of virtual reality over the past 5 years..."
Use topic sentences
These sentences belong at the beginning of paragraphs and sum up the sense of the paragraph as a whole. They're a good way to write a logical introduction which demonstrates a clear, well-considered approach to the essay. For example, ‘There are several key reasons that global warming has become a major world debate.’ (Here, you summarise that there are ‘several reasons’ (which you will go onto discuss,) and you’ve indicated that the topic and controlling idea is ‘global warming.’
Use words that demonstrate a logical, structured approach to the question
As you outline your approach, use language which shows a logical, step-by-step methodology. For example, “This essay is divided into five sections...”, “The first/second/third section of this essay will examine...”, “The fourth section of this essay will compare and contrast...”, “In my conclusion I hope to demonstrate...”
Have a plan
The best way to write a strong introduction (and an essay which gets top marks), is to have a clear essay plan in place before you start writing. This will give you an easy-to-follow structure which you can outline in your introduction to prove you will answer the question, approach it in a logical, academic way, and that you understand the wider significance of your work.