How to Write an Essay Introduction: The Best Approach

Soniya Jain
November 20, 2022

What you'll learn

What you'll need

Most people struggle to write essay introductions and spend too much time messing around with fluff and not getting to the point in their intros. Follow this simple 3-step approach to write a captivating opening for your essay.

What makes a great essay introduction?

For starters, it is more than just a paragraph full of unorganized statements.

A well-written essay introduction states the main idea, creates interest, and makes the reader want to read the body.

Believe it or not, you can break down the process of writing any essay introduction into a three-part strategy.

We will show you what these parts are and how you should approach each so you can craft a truly captivating first paragraph.

Keep reading.

What is an essay introduction, and what makes it so important?

An essay introduction is the first paragraph of any essay.

A good essay introduction is like a good cover letter. It gives the reader a sense of what your paper is about but doesn't give the whole story away.

At the very least, it should be interesting enough to draw a reader in, so they want to keep reading.

Think of your introduction as a summary of your thesis statement, but with enough information to elaborate more in later body paragraphs.

While there is no set rule, an essay introduction can be between three and a few sentences long. The length will differ depending on the type of essay and how much information you need to provide.

What should be the structure of a good essay introduction?

The structure of an essay introduction should be simple and logical. The reader will not comprehend a paragraph that has no beginning or end. 

You should include the following elements in your paragraph to create a comprehensive structure.

We have explained in detail how to write each of these parts to make the resulting introduction paragraph powerful and compelling.

How do you write a strong hook for your essay introduction?

Use a strong hook in a good essay introduction


A hook is an attention-grabbing opening of your essay that allows you to capture and hold your reader's interest.

Your opening hook is your first impression, the piece of information that a reader receives first and has to make an immediate judgment about whether or not to continue reading your essay.

If you can make a solid first impact with your introduction, you'll have more time later in the essay to present arguments supporting your thesis statement.

Writing good hooks for essays can be challenging and intimidating. It's a lot of pressure to get the reader's attention instantly.

Thankfully, we have compiled a list of different types of hooks you can use to start your essay introduction. You can use the best one for your specific essay topic and audience.

Ask an intriguing question

A question hook is a short sentence at the beginning of a paragraph that poses a question for the reader to answer.

Question hooks are a great way to get your reader interested in what you have to say. A good hook will capture your audience's attention while making them want to read more.

You want your readers to feel like they are part of the conversation when they read your essay because it will make them more likely to enjoy what you've written and want to keep reading. A question hook can help you engage with the reader and make them feel like they are part of the conversation.

A question hook can also encourage readers to think about things from different perspectives.

It lets you start writing with a question in mind and focus on the answer, which helps you avoid rambling or going off tangents.

You can also make use of rhetorical questions to act as hooks.

A rhetorical question does not expect an answer. This question emphasizes a point by asking the audience to take into consideration something they might not normally consider.

Examples of engaging question hooks

  • What does "happy" mean to you?
  • How would you define a "good life?”
  • Can you think of a time when you had to make a difficult decision?
  • When have you felt the most alive?
  • What is your favorite memory from childhood?
  • What is your biggest fear?

Share an anecdote or personal story

An anecdote is a brief, often humorous, or touching account of an incident or event.

They usually describe an event or series of events in some personal way rather than providing a general statement about the topic.

Anecdotes are particularly useful when you're trying to establish a connection between your topic and your audience. 

You might want to start your essay by telling a story that establishes this connection, then move on to other points without losing it altogether.

Most people will remember anecdotes better than factual statements or arguments because they're more memorable and easier to understand.

If you've ever heard someone tell stories at a party, you know how effectively anecdotes can engage an audience and get them interested in what you have to say.

For example, if you're writing an essay about the importance of hard work and perseverance in getting ahead in life, you might tell a story about a time when someone didn't give up, even though it seemed impossible to succeed.

Examples of captivating anecdote hooks

  • A friend of mine once told me that her father was a great cook. One day, he decided to make a curry for his family. The curry turned out to be so spicy that it made every member of the family cry, except for my friend's father. He loved the spicy taste so much that he asked for more.
  • When I was in the hospital with my grandma when she was dying, I had never seen death before. Over the next few days, we shared stories, laughed, and cried together. That experience changed how I viewed life and death forever.

Use a powerful quote

A quote hook is a line or two taken from another person's writing or speech that you can use to introduce your work.

It can help you open your essay with a strong statement that will capture the reader's attention.

A relevant quote can be used to support your argumentative essay by demonstrating that other people have similar thoughts, beliefs, or experiences as you do.

Quotes from famous figures also give your essay a voice and personality, which is important in writing.

If you use a quote hook, make sure that it's relevant to the topic and that you're not quoting someone out of context. 

This will help your essay flow better and give the reader a thorough understanding of your ideas.

For example, if your essay is about the importance of education, you may want to begin with a quote from someone who has excelled in their field and attributes it to their extensive knowledge.

Examples of powerful quotes

  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," said Nelson Mandela.
  • Tony Robbins once said, “Take what you learn and make a difference with it.”

Share a surprising statistic or fact

A statistic hook is a statement that includes statistics or numbers to draw the reader's attention and interest.

When writing a statistical hook, ensure it is relevant to your topic and not just thrown out there for no reason. If it doesn't pertain to anything, it won't catch anyone's attention and could put off reading further into your work.

Examples of surprising stats or facts

  • The average cost of a college education has risen by $100,000 over the past 20 years.
  • More than 1 million Americans have been killed by gun violence since 1968.
  • The average American eats 9 pounds of sugar per year.

Make a strong, opinionated statement

This type of hook starts with an opinion, statement, or question that demonstrates where you stand on a particular issue or subject matter.

When you write something controversial or surprising, it immediately grabs the reader's attention. It makes them curious about what you have to say next. 

Further, it highlights your confidence in what you believe about a topic.

Here are some ways to create a strong statement.

  • State what you believe, and then explain why you think that.
  • Offer an opinion about something controversial.
  • Give your opinion on a topic related to the subject matter of your article or blog post.
  • Ask a rhetorical question.

For example, "Killing is wrong."

This statement may seem like common sense, but it works well as an opening for an essay about capital punishment.

The person reading this sentence will question why you are making such a bold claim and will want to read more to find out if they agree or disagree with your opinion.

Create a comparison using a metaphor or simile

A metaphor or simile hook is an opening statement that creates an unexpected connection between two seemingly unrelated topics and then introduces your argument.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implicit comparison between two seemingly unrelated things.

A simile is a more explicit form of comparison, which uses the words "like" or "as" to indicate that two things are similar.

Examples of using metaphors and similes to hook readers

  • His eyes were like two black holes in the universe. (simile)
  • Life is like a box of chocolates. (simile)
  • The world is a stage. (metaphor)
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. (metaphor)
  • Time flies when you're having fun. (metaphor)

Describe a scene

Describing a scene is putting words on paper to create an image in the reader's mind. 

You may be writing about something you've seen, like a forest or a river, or something you've imagined, like a fantasy world or an alien planet. Either way, you want the reader to see what you're describing and understand why it's happening.

Describing a scene will always work as a strong hook because it makes the reader feel like they're there with you and that they know exactly who you are and what you're going through at that moment in time.

The more detailed your description is, the more vivid and clear this picture becomes.

For example, if you want to describe a place you frequently visit, you can tell it as if it were a movie scene and draw attention by saying how cool it would be if somebody filmed it and made a movie out of it.

This would create an immediate interest for most people because they may have seen similar scenes in movies before and would want to know more about them.

Pro Tip: Generate strong introduction hooks with the power of artificial intelligence.

Writing strong hook sentences can be very time-consuming. However, today's AI technology can help translate your raw ideas into powerful opening lines.

CopyAI's free Hook Generator is an AI tool that can generate hook sentence ideas for you in a matter of seconds.

How do you provide background information in your essay introduction?

provide background information for better understanding in a good introduction


The background information section of an essay is where you set the stage for your argument. 

You're telling the reader what they need to know before they can understand or appreciate your argument.

You want to be sure that this section is well-written, interesting, and engaging. It is also a great place to use some outside sources.

Here are some ideas for what you can include in the background information.

Definition or explanation

A definition is a statement that explains what something is or what something means.

There are many benefits of including definitions in your essay introduction.

The definition of a term can help readers understand your paper better. 

If they know what something is and how it relates to the topic, they can follow your main argument more easily. As a result, they won't have to stop and think about what something means or how it relates to what was just said.

A definition also provides clarity for other readers who may not have studied this topic extensively before reading your paper. It allows them to understand what you are talking about without having to refer back constantly or consult outside sources for explanations.

For example, in discussing feminism and how it relates to gender issues, you could first start with your definition of "feminism."

Current events and trends

There are many benefits to including current events or trends in your essay introduction.

The most obvious reason is that it helps you connect with your readers. They may not be familiar with the topic, but they will understand what you are talking about if you include information about current events.

Another benefit of including a current event is that it can help provide context for your argument. 

When developing an idea or discussing an issue, it is helpful to discuss how things have changed over time. By doing this, you can show how these changes contributed to the development or solution of an issue.

For example, if you're writing about how technology has changed our lives, it might be appropriate to mention how smartphones have changed our daily routines.

Historical context

If you are writing an essay that focuses on a historical significance, it is often helpful to include some background information about that topic. 

This may include dates, events, or people from history who are relevant to the study of your chosen topic.

The goal is to provide the reader with enough information to understand why you are writing about this particular topic and how it fits into the greater context of history.

For instance, suppose you are writing about the role of courage in success. In that case, you can include a historical detail like, "In ancient Greek mythology, there are many stories of heroes facing impossible odds and overcoming them through their courage and strength."

How do you write a clear thesis statement for your essay intro?

write a clear thesis statement for your main argument


The thesis statement is the most important part of your essay introduction. It is a sentence that states your main point and is often followed by three or four supporting points (also known as "claims") that back up this main idea.

The claims can be in the form of reasons, steps, examples, or something else.

The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the introductory paragraph, but it can also be stated at or near the beginning to act as a natural hook.

It acts as a roadmap for your essay and guides your reader through the rest of your paper.

For example, suppose you are writing an informative essay on "How to stop procrastination at work." In that case, your thesis statement may look like, "You can stop procrastination by defining SMART goals as it provides clarity, focus and accountability."

Here are some tips for writing a clear thesis statement for your essay introduction.

Be specific

Make sure that your thesis statement is not too general. You should be able to state it in one clear sentence in most cases. Avoid using filler words or unnecessary technical jargon.

State your claims

Your thesis statement should have 3-4 explicit claims that you will expand on in each body paragraph with support from a topic sentence and then restate it in the conclusion. These will provide a clear structure to your audience and how you plan to support your main point.

Use active voice

You can write a thesis statement in either an active or passive voice. The choice is up to you, but writing your thesis statement in an active voice is better for a persuasive essay.

The active voice gives your essay structure and direction. It lets you clearly state who the subject is and what they did or will do in the future. This information helps crystallize the argument that you are making by showing how one thing leads to another.

Conclusion: A great essay introduction can be written by following the three-part framework

Now you know that every great essay introduction is composed of three core parts: the hook, the background information, and the thesis statement.

It starts with a solid attention-grabber and closes with your main point, with the necessary background knowledge sandwiched between.

Following this strategy will make every introduction writing process more predictable and consistent.

We hope you can leverage this knowledge to compose powerful opening paragraphs.

If you need more help, give CopyAI's suite of AI-powered tools a free trial to simplify your essay writing process.

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