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How To Write A Great Introduction For An Essay: Guidelines And Examples

Essay introductions can be the most difficult part of an academic piece of writing to get right. But it is very important that they are as good as they can be since they are the first thing that the reader encounters and, therefore, they form the first impression of your essay. There are a number of quick and easy guidelines for writing a brilliant introduction:

  • Keep it short and sweet!
  • For a 2000 word essay, for example, the introduction should not exceed 200 words and is ideally closer to 100 words. Just less than 10% of any is plenty.

  • Know what you want to say before you write anything.
  • If you are going to condense the ideas in your entire essay into 100 - 200 words, you are going to have to know exactly what you are trying to say. For this reason, some people find it helpful to write the introduction last, i.e. after the main body of the text. That way you know what you are trying to argue before summarising it in fewer words.

  • Hint at your conclusion, but don’t give it all away!
  • The reader should be able to gauge your argument from just your introduction. This means that you need to hint at what you will later say in the conclusion. Once again, this means that you might want to write the rest of the essay before the introduction so that you know for certain what you’re arguing and what your conclusion are.

Examples of a great introduction:

  • 1. Consider the ways in which authors use nature in their work/literature.
  • Natural images are often used in literature to highlight the hidden side of characters, their situations and emotions through metaphor and symbolism. In this way, we can better understand the different relationships they have with one another and even the author’s opinion on the events in their work.

  • 2. Some critics have described Sylvia Plath as a feminist writer. With reference to the poems, you have read so far, to what extent do you agree?
  • Sylvia Plath writes on many subjects and most of them with dark and negative undercurrents, including her poems on her children and motherhood. She writes poems about herself, showing her to be a determined, strong woman. Intent on becoming a poet, but also shows what would be considered the opposite of the typical feminist views by writing about her longing for children and for her husband, Ted Hughes, to be a ‘patriarch’.

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