Germanna Community College on the Introduction

The introduction is usually 3-6 sentences long, and it establishes the mood and setting of the essay. Try to utilize use one of the following creative approaches to introduce the subject:*

1. ..A meaningful quote
2. ..A personal experience (probably not in English
…..109…)
3. ..A universal idea
4. ..A vivid description
5. ..An analogy
6. ..Historical background of your topic
7. ..An anecdote (probably not in English 109…)
8. ..A question
9. ..A shocking statistic
10. A statement stressing the significance of your
…..topic

The thesis statement will usually follow the creative opening; consequently, there should be a smooth transition from one to the other. The thesis statement is conventionally placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.

Guide to Writing an Essay
Germanna Community College

Numbers 1, 3, 8, and 10 are probably most useful for English papers. Number 6 could also work well, and I can imagine number 5 providing a good opening in some cases, too.

No doubt an experienced writer could use any device on the list and make it work, but I would advise novices to steer clear of numbers 2 and 7.


* I have yet to read a passage in which the word “utilize” sounds better than the word “use.” I’m sure they’re out there, but this isn’t one of them. Not for me, at least. Hence the copy edit.

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