Got Stuck: How to Write a Good Introduction for an Academic Essay


There is doubt about it but a good Introduction will hold the reader’s attention. If you have caught their interest or curiosity then they will read through the entire document.

Most really interesting introductions will start with something that the reader may not expect. This is a really great idea because if you are writing a 1, 000 word essay then you will not have many words to spare on a big build up to the main body of your essay.

There are several thought-provoking, attention-seeking tactics you can use at this point:

  • Throw in a fact – something that relates to the essay, something that not a lot of people may know.
  • Ask a question – that will get the reader thinking right from the start. Again make it interesting, but don’t ask something that will be off putting or so controversial that your reader will want to put your work to one side rather than read it.
  • Give a very short anecdote based on a fact. Be wary here that anecdotes can take some time to describe, and you need to be wary of your word limit.
  • Add a quotation, something thought provoking and related to your essay and field of study.

Now you have got the attention of your reader, you need to keep it. Good advice would be not to follow up your brilliant start with being too specific or too broad by using weak generalities, as this could make you look like a ‘one trick pony’ . At this point you could lose your readers attention. You need to find a middle road. This skill will come easier as you get more writing experience.

The best move would be to state your thesis. Be specific. Discuss the problem as you see it. This will hold your readers interest.

Make sure that the reader knows which side you are supporting, don’t just assume that they have understood by your title or thesis, and spell it out for them. Also give your reader an idea of what you will be discussing in the main body of your essay., but a big word of warning – do not use the phrases “I will discuss ..’ or worse, “I intend to argue…”, as this not the style that you should use.

At the end of your introduction it may be a good tactic to repeat your thesis.