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Types of Introductions in Essays

by Kate Beck

All essays need an introduction, a way to inform the reader about the topic and show the writer's perspective on the subject. The way you choose to write your introduction will depend on the type of essay you write and the topic itself. Knowing some of the options you have for introductions will help you write an effective opening that engages the reader and makes her want to keep reading.

Set the Scene

One type of introduction allows you to set the scene, and this works well for essays that tell a story. You might also use this style if you want to draw your reader into your topic, creating a scenario that she may identify with. Giving the sights, sounds, tastes and feel of a scene makes the reader want to know more, according to the English Language Centre at the University of Victoria.

Give an Overview

You can use the introduction to give an overview or the historical background of your topic. This grounds your reader in the facts and provides the information she needs to understand your subject matter. In this style, you might also compare and contrast ideas to show how your topic relates to others. Your goal is to provide the reader with enough information that she can focus on the points you present in the body of your essay.

Quote an Expert

Introducing your essay with a quote from an expert in the topic of your essay will help establish the credibility of your research and your viewpoint, explains the University of Victoria. The right quote will also give the reader information about the topic and establish your viewpoint on the topic, helping to create a solid foundation for your argument.

Ask a Question

The introduction may have one or more questions posed to the reader. This style may help you bring the reader closer to your topic, increasing the reader’s awareness of how she feels or reacts to your subject matter. When you pose a question in your introduction, you will to need address the answer throughout your essay. You should not ask questions that do not relate directly to the topic itself. For example, you might ask, “How would you get back on your feet if you lost your job and your home?” With this question in mind, the main part of your essay might state facts on the subject of homelessness or give ideas on how to help people faced with this situation.

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