How to Write an Essay Introduction

This will help you to make your introduction an accurate preview of what is to come.

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If you keep it clear to yourself that the purpose of theintroduction to your essay is to only INTRODUCE your theoreticalframework, and your thesis statement, then the function of thebody of your essay will also become evident to the reader. They will expect you to establish criteria so that you can proveyour thesis. As a result, another important norm of theacademic essay is:

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The length of your introduction depends on the length and complexity of your project, but generally it should not exceed one page unless it is a very long project or a book.

An introduction gives the reader an idea of where you are going in your project so they can follow along.

Most of the advice in this handout pertains to argumentative or exploratory academic essays. Be aware, however, that different genres have their own special expectations about beginnings and endings. Some academic genres may not even require an introduction or conclusion. An annotated bibliography, for example, typically provides neither. A book review may begin with a summary of the book and conclude with an overall assessment of it. A policy briefing usually includes an introduction but may conclude with a series of recommendations. Check your assignment carefully for any directions about what to include in your introduction or conclusion.

If, however, you have written a good outline and stick to it, then it is fine to start writing your introduction first.


Introductions and Conclusions | Writing Advice

Establishing Criteria
In the discussion of types of argument, I made the point that thewriter will have to establish criteria that can be used to provetheir argument. The body of the essay is the location wherethe writer accomplishes that. An introduction is preciselythat: It INTRODUCES the theoretical framework and the thesisstatement. It does not DESCRIBE or DISCUSS these twothings. This is a fairly common mistake that beginningessay writers make. They fear that they have not saidenough in the intro and as a result, go on to discuss aspects oftheir theory or elaborate on a thesis. The problem withdoing so is that it screws up your organization. What comes nextis no longer clear to the reader.

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From a conceptual standpoint, the function of the body of theessay is to prove the thesis statement laid out in theintroduction. Easy enough. This section discusses howthe writer accomplishes that proof.

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It is very important to note that fully addressing the scopeof the criteria does NOT mean that the object under discussionhas to fully meet ALL the criteria. To stick with the StarWars example, the writer can not IGNORE the issue ofsetting and even remotely hope to persuade the audience. Insome way, the writer is going to have to address the factthat both time and place are out of the bounds of theWestern. This is the point precisely. The author willhave to ADDRESS that point–those criteria–notnecessarily MEET those criteria. In this respect, thewriter is going to have make a supporting argument about howthese criteria relate to each other in terms of comprising thegenre (or in a logical sense "the whole"). Theimportant point is that all criteria are addressedadequately. Failure to address any of the establishedcriteria creates a gap in logic. Subsequently, thereasoning process (and its ability to persuade) fails.

An introduction to the essay on the topic of language

Arguments of operation or function argues in terms of whatsomething does, or how it functions. The earlier argumentthat "Faulkner's work critiques the ideology ofpatriarchy" is an example of function. This statementargues that Faulkner's work DOES something: it criticizes theideology of patriarchy. Note that unlike the argument ofclassification, the writer of this essay SEEMS to have to do moreto prove their thesis. They will not only have to definewhat the ideology of patriarchy is–and thus establishcriteria–they will also have to demonstrate that Faulkner'swork DOES something with that criteria. The question of HOWleads to a discussion of the body of the essay.