ESSAY WRITING – INTRODUCTION
Before you write, consider your reader:
• will influence your choice of vocabulary,
sentence structure, and even the kind of
evidence you use to support your essay
• writing a paper for a university
assignment requires a greater level of
style using academic conventions
(rules) than writing a personal letter
• there are many variations so consider the
preferences of the instructor, as well as
the requirements of the essay.
• the tone of your essay depends in part by
your topic and the kind of essay you are
writing e.g. descriptive, narrative,
• another consideration is the attitude you
communicate as you express yourself.
Be careful of being either too timid or too
• do not fill your essays with superlatives
and jargons in an effort to sound as if you
can write extremely well
• your writing should be objective and
dispassionate (i.e. avoid the use of
emotional language) although on some
occasions, where appropriate, you may be
critical or adversarial
WRITING THE INTRODUCTION
An introduction is the first paragraph (or
paragraphs) of any written work.
• is to prepare the reader for the body of
writing that comes after it
• Introduces and gives a background on
• develops interest in your topic.
WRITING AN INTRODUCTION
• after you had written the body of your essay.
• before you write the body of your essay.
• an outline first and then focus and revise it once you
have written your essay.
Many people write a draft and from that find out what their
purpose really is and what they really believe. Then they
revise the focus, language, or order of their introduction.
This sequence -- of drafting an introduction and then
revising and refining it once the body of the paper is
sketched out -- is very common.
WRITING THE INTRODUCTION
• indicates the topic that the essay is about
• describes how the body of the essay is
• explains the point of writing the essay
LENGTH OF AN INTRODUCTION
• can have a few to many sentences, or even be
more than one paragraph in length, depending
on the length of your essay
• the actual number of sentences in an
introduction is not important
• what is important is that this section of your
essay can capture your reader’s attention
enough to want to read the entire essay
Essay question: Should body-checking
of athletes be banned in Olympic ice-
Here is how someone new to academic essays
may write the introduction (the topic-sentence is
in red, essay structure in blue, thesis in green):
This essay is about the issue of body-checking
athletes competing in the Olympics ice-hockey.
First, arguments for a ban on body-checking are
examined. Second, arguments against a ban are
discussed. It is shown that pro-ban arguments are
stronger than anti-ban arguments. Therefore, the thesis
of this essay is that body-checking of athletes
competing in the Olympics ice-hockey games should be
DISCUSSION OF THE EXAMPLE
The introduction is fine as it is better to have an
introduction that includes the three important
elements (topic, structure, thesis) than to have
one that does not.
Many people start out by writing essays with
introductions like this one. It does have the virtue
of being clear, and clarity is essential. The
structure-sentences are fine.
Notice that words such as first and second are
useful in helping to describe how the body of an
essay is organised.
However, if you can convey the structure of your
essay without using too many organisational
words, that is even better.
HOW TO IMPROVE
• The topic-sentence could be improved:
– Rather than writing: “This essay is about…” it would
be better to write a few topic-sentences that convey
the current state of the topic.
– This not only tells the reader what the topic is but it
also gives the impression that you are knowledgeable
about the topic and in command of your research
• The thesis-sentences could be better:
– Instead of writing: “Therefore, the thesis of this essay
is…” simply give a bold, factual sentence that
expresses your position on the issue. This conveys
an air of confidence, unlike the phrase “…the thesis of
this essay…” which is timid and non-committal.
Body-checking has always been a controversial issue.
However, the recent decision of the Olympic Ice-Hockey
Committee to allow body-checking among players as has
caused anger amongst the ice hockey community in
recent months. Perspectives fall into three main categories:
viewpoints of fans, the official standpoint of the Olympic
Ice-Hockey Committee, and positions held by the medical
community. Evaluation of the main arguments shows quite
clearly that the decision to allow body-checking of some
athletes, is a serious mistake.
• In this second introduction, the topic-sentences give an
impression of the current state of the topic (and, so,
convey the topic of the essay to the reader) without
using the words essay or topic.
• The structure-sentences inform the reader of the main
parts of the body of the essay and their order of
discussion (views of fans, the Olympic Ice-Hockey
Committee, and the medical community) without using
many organisational words.
• The thesis-sentences tell the reader where you stand on
the issue and how you arrived at your position (through
evaluation of the main arguments for and against a ban),
without including words such as essay or thesis.
• Write the introduction for this question:
“ To what extent are computers essential
in modern society?”
Source: Duigu, G. (1996). Essay writing for English tests – How to pass
the essay question in IELTS, TOEFL: TWE CULT. New South Wales:
Academic English Press
It is amazing to realise that computers have only
been in common use for the last 10 years or so. The
invention of personal computers has had such a
major effect on modern society that it is almost
impossible to imagine life without them. Business,
education and entertainment have all been
significantly affected. It is clear now that both
business and education would be unable to function
effectively without them, but there are many people
who would argue that their role in entertainment is
not so beneficial.
RED – Topic sentence BLUE – Essay structure GREEN - thesis statement