Effective Introductions and Thesis Statements

Writing an effective introduction is an art form. The introduction is the first thing that your reader sees. It is what invests the reader in your paper, and it should make them want to continue reading. You want to be creative and unique early on in your introduction; here are some strategies to help catch your reader’s attention:

  • Tell a brief anecdote or story

  • As a series of short rhetorical questions

  • Use a powerful quotation

  • Refute a common belief

  • Cite a dramatic fact or statistic

Your introduction also needs to adequately explain the topic and organization of your paper.

Your thesis statement PDF File Icon identifies the purpose of your paper. It also helps focus the reader on your central point. An effective thesis establishes a tone and a point of view for a given purpose and audience. Here are some important things to consider when constructing your thesis statement.

  • Don’t just make a factual statement – your thesis is your educated opinion on a topic.

  • Don’t write a highly opinionated statement that might offend your audience.

  • Don’t simply make an announcement (ex. “Tuition should be lowered” is a much better thesis than “My essay will discuss if tuition should be lowered”).

  • Don’t write a thesis that is too broad – be specific.

The thesis is often located in the middle or at the end of the introduction, but considerations about audience, purpose, and tone should always guide your decision about its placement.

Sometimes it’s helpful to wait to write the introduction until after you’ve written the essay’s body because, again, you want this to be one of the strongest parts of the paper.

Example of an introduction:

Innocent people murdered because of the hysteria of young girls! Many people believe that the young girls who accused citizens of Salem, Massachusetts of taking part in witchcraft were simply acting to punish their enemies. But recent evidence shows that the young girls may have been poisoned by a fungus called Ergot, which affects rye and wheat. The general public needs to learn about this possible cause for the hysteria that occurred in Salem so that society can better understand what happened in the past, how this event may change present opinion, and how the future might be changed by learning this new information.

By Rachel McCoppin, Ph.D.
Last edited October 2016 by Allison Haas, M.A.