How to Start an Essay: Guide to Writing an Introduction

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When you start writing an essay, you write an introduction first. Its mission is to present your viewpoint on the topic you are about to cover. Although it sounds pretty simple, it is actually quite tricky. It may take time and effort to create a brief, informative, and captivating paragraph that will encourage the reader to check the rest of the essay.

If you are not sure how to present your topic, you can start an essay by writing the body paragraphs. Once you are done with them, you will come back to the introduction. This approach is quite popular among students because it allows them to understand where an essay goes before they come up with an introduction for it.

Your decision on when and how to write your initial paragraph will determine the sequence of the writing process. So, before you get down to work, make sure that you know how to set your working process on the right track. Read on to get a useful piece of advice.

How to Start an Essay: the Introduction

An introduction of an essay is your abstract plan for the whole essay. A good welcoming paragraph serves two strategic functions. Firstly, it informs the reader about the essay topic and gives some explanation to the major idea. Secondly, it encourages the reader to check the rest of your essay. Thanks to a well-written introduction, you will make your work’s “first impression” positive. No need to say how crucial it is! Your first words determine the tone of the further content. It will make your reader involved right from the very beginning.

Regardless of the general size of your essay, the introduction shouldn’t be too long. If you are writing a brief personal essay that follows the standard structure, you may limit the introduction to a single paragraph. If you are writing an extensive research essay, you can have just several paragraphs in the welcoming section. Ideally, you should make it cover around 8% of the total length.

Ways to Start an Essay

Now that you are about to know how to start off an essay, you know what to include in it. A good welcoming part should have an intriguing hook, smart connections, and a clear thesis statement. Let’s see how you can include all these elements into a single piece of work.

Essay Hook

A hook is probably the most popular starter for an essay. It aims to catch the reader’s attention with a single phrase or sentence. Of course, it is not that easy to find a creative hook that sounds interesting, intriguing, and motivating at the same time. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to create something worthy, though. Fortunately, there are more than enough tactics you can use to develop an excellent attention grabber:

  • Statistical data
  • A surprising fact
  • A funny story
  • A question
  • A brief summary
  • A citation
  • A popular stereotype
  • A personal experience

Meanwhile, some strategies need to be ignored since they make your essay sound boring or even stupid. These include:

  • A cliché
  • A definition borrowed from the dictionary
  • A general, well-known fact

Once you know which hook to use, you should use it before presenting the main topic and providing some background information about it. After giving a broad explanation of your theme, you can lead the reader into particular points. This way, you will make a story flow as smooth as possible.


In order to let the reader know what you are going to talk about in your essay, you can briefly state your major ideas. They need to be put in the same order in which you will cover them in your paper. The key questions to be answered here include:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?
  • Why?

By covering these questions, you will provide the reader with the basic information about your topic. If you move from general to specific details step by step, you will keep the narration straight to the point.

When you begin an essay about the importance of physical activity for a human body, you should focus the central question on it. After asking “What do you know about the role of physical activity in your well-being?” you can mention some general facts and statistical data.

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the most crucial part of your introduction, as your entire essay will be based on it. The aim of the core sentence is to review the major problem, namely what you are going to state in the body section of your paper. An excellent thesis statement should be contextually accurate. Ideally, you integrate it into the end of your introductory paragraph just before you proceed with the explanation in the body section.

In order to gain a clear vision of the thesis statement, check out a sample thesis: “To boost your overall well-being, you should make physical activity part of your everyday life.”

Steps for Starting an Essay

How to start essay from scratch? What needs to be done to create a worthy piece of content? Here are several useful tips to be followed:

  • Know your topic. Before you start writing an introductory paragraph, conduct thorough research on the selected topic. Without knowing what you want to write about, you won’t be able to create something worthy. You need to know as much as possible about your topic to express the right opinion to the reader.
  • Conduct the research. It is hardly possible to trust your personal knowledge if you don’t have sufficient expertise in the field you are writing about. Doing through research will help you make your thesis statement. And it will also guide you in outlining the content of your essay. So, be careful with the details that you are adding to your introduction. Make sure that they are relevant to the main topic of your narration.
  • Set the tone of narration. Whether you want to lead the narration in a formal or informal way, you will need to set the tone at the very beginning. Formal writing will have a polite and emotionless tone because the focus is set on facts themselves. Meanwhile, informal writing will be filled with emotions due to the integration of “fancy” words, slang, and figures of speech. The tone of an introduction will determine the format of relationship between you and your reader.
  • State the purpose and frame up the context. A good introduction indicates the context and direction for the reader. It explains why you are writing about the topic, and what you are going to achieve with it. This way, you show why your essay is worth the reader’s attention.
  • Express a clear point of view. An introduction must demonstrate your attitude to the specific topic. You must mention your thoughts and opinions, as well as your personal feelings about the subject matter. Ideally, a well-written introductory paragraph should do this in a single sentence, namely a thesis statement. It’s reasonable to put your main statement at the beginning or the end of the introductory paragraph. As the practice shows, an average reader pays most attention to these parts.
  • Lead the reader throughout the narration. The reader should be guided throughout the essay. And your goal is to be his/her guide by explaining what to expect in the body of your essay. By mentioning the major ideas and thoughts in the introduction, you will let the reader focus on them in the following paragraphs.

Good Ways to Start an Essay

Being left in a difficult situation of countless efforts to create a decent piece of academic work, you need a proper solution. When you are totally lost, the best way to start an essay is to follow the instructions that are mentioned in the given guide. This way, you will gain a clear understanding of what to do and how to behave throughout the writing process.

Let’s try to overcome your academic challenge here and now! You have everything for taking the first step. Once you get the introductory paragraph written, it will be easier to move on. So, don’t hesitate to take action!