Getting the introduction to your essay just right can be a challenge. It’s your first chance to make a good impression on the reader and grab their attention. A well-written, informative and imaginative introduction will convince the audience that your paper is worthy of interest. A good introduction should provide a broad overview of your topic, why it matters, and how you will approach it. Here are some tips on how to write an effective introduction that informs and grabs the reader’s attention.

Be broad but relevant

Your introduction should provide some background information on the chosen subject as well as defining any potentially ambiguous terms or concepts. This should set the scene and help bring the reader up to speed before you jump into the main body of your essay. It can be tempting to try and cover too much in your introduction, but this runs the risk of making your introduction feel irrelevant and confusing in the context of your essay as a whole. Your introduction should tell the reader what to expect, not provide a history of the universe. Similarly, don’t engage the main facets of your argument in your introduction. Ask yourself “is this providing context or evidence?”, if it’s mainly there to support your argument then it probably belongs further down in your essay.


Generally you want to avoid sticking too religiously to a set structure as your introduction may appear formulaic. However, it is good practice to begin by stating the problem you wish to address, followed by background information on the general topic and why it is important. Then explain the focus and purpose of the paper, and conclude with a thesis statement and/or a brief summary of the essay’s contents.

Avoid clichés

A good introduction should be original and grab the reader’s attention. A worn-out and uninspired phrase used in your first paragraph is guaranteed to make your reader lose interest. Clichés are neither informative, nor interesting. Avoid simply re-stating the question. Include the question in your own words if you must, but remember that any marker has likely already been through a stack of papers beginning, “Does X, do X?”. It doesn’t sound very inspired. Perhaps the biggest offender of them all is, “The dictionary defines X as…”, which has become so common it’s almost laughable. It can be important to clarify certain terms and concepts, and how they will be used early on, but try to do this in a more creative manner. The “Since the beginning of time…” introduction is particularly vague and suggests that the writer likely has little interesting to say about their chosen topic, which is exactly the message you want to avoid. If you can delete your opening lines without losing any information, it’s time for a rethink.

Be engaging

Set the scene with interesting background information. Try including some controversial information that the reader may question or disagree with. This will make them think about the topic in depth and be excited to read more. If appropriate, offer some kind of hook, perhaps an interesting anecdote, shocking data, or a startling fact, for example. Ask yourself why you have chosen this topic and what has led you to your position on it. Transfer your interest in the problem to the reader.

Try writing it last

Just because it’s the first thing the reader comes across, that doesn’t mean you have to write it first. Often by the time you finish your essay, your thesis or certain focal points will have changed significantly. The best way to write an informative and relevant introduction is to do it once you already know what the paper includes in its entirety. It is a good idea to have a rough draft introduction including general points you want to address in your paper, but it should be one of the last things you finalise.