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A well-written introductory paragraph grabs readers, explains the topic, and convinces them to continue reading. However, you may not want to write the introduction until you have crafted a working thesis statement and a basic idea/outline of the essay's body paragraphs.

The introduction includes three basic parts: hook, background, and thesis.

Grab Readers With a Hook

The hook is like the start to a news article. It sparks interest and compels readers to keep reading. The hook should make readers think and should be relatable and engaging. The more relatable it is, the better chance of grabbing readers' attention.

Hooks can be "soft," appealing to human nature (sensory description, narrative, and dialogue) or "hard," appealing to logic (startling statistics, data, and facts). Your choice of hook depends on the purpose and tone of the writing. A formal argument may need a different hook than a casual narrative.

Learn more about strategies for "Hooking Your Reader" by reviewing this handout.

Provide Background

Next, you need to transition to your specific topic, provide context, explain why this topic is important, and prepare readers for your main point.

End With a Thesis

Now that you've set the stage, it's time for your thesis statement or purpose of your essay. This claim introduces your body paragraphs and forecasts what's ahead.

Dos and Don'ts of an Introduction

Do ... Don't ...
Begin with a strong first sentence or hook. Begin with an overused expression, such as "Since the beginning of time ..." or "In today's society ..."
Introduce your specific topic. Be vague or make readers guess.
Introduce and explain important terms. Jump blindly from hook to thesis.
Include a strong analytic thesis that introduces the topic sentences/body paragraphs. Announce, "This paper is about ..."
Meet your instructor's requirements. Lose points by not reviewing specific directions, prompts, or rubrics.
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