Set V, 3

The Essay Introduction: some DO's and DON'Ts


1. Do decide on the type of introduction which best fits the theme. You may have to make the final decision and do the final writing after you have written the body (and the conclusion). Do change the type of introduction if the newer one will strengthen the theme.

2. Do funnel the first paragraph into the thesis statement (the statement of purpose) if you are inexperienced. As you grow in knowledge and self-confidence, then do try another type of introduction if it is appropriate:

a. an interesting anecdote or narration (It may refer to some experience that the writer and the audience share in common.)

b. an example or one or more striking facts

c. an unusual statement/quotation

d. a general explanation of the subject (Use specific facts and details rather than generalizations.)

e. a definition (Do use sparingly and with discretion. People do read and do own dictionaries.)

f. a cause and the result(s)

g. a comparison/contrast

h. a series of rhetorical questions or the funneling into one specific question

i. a refutation of an opinion that is commonly held.

3. If necessary, do use more than one paragraph for the introduction. The number used will depend on the type of introduction needed and on the length of the paper. Normally short papers (up to one thousand words often) will have a single introductory paragraph. If anecdotal or narrative material is used involving direct conversation, each change of speaker must be indicated by a new paragraph.

4. Do appeal to the reader (always have a definite audience in mind for the theme); try to involve the reader by grasping his/her attention, by appealing to his/her human interests, by showing him/her that the subject is a part of his/her life, that the subject is significant to him/her!

5. Do establish your purpose and your point of view with a thesis statement as often as possible (not all implied theses statements are recognized as such). Do limit your thesis so that you can deliver all that you promise for the time and the space involved--and for the assignment! Check your thesis statement to see if you understand which part controls the idea.

6. Do work in somewhere the literary title and its author if your paper is based on such a selection.

7. Do check to see if your introduction controls the type of organization which should be used in the body.

8. Above all, do believe in your thesis, especially your point of view.


1. Do not refer to your title in the introductory paragraph. The title is grammatically independent from the theme.

2. Do not use these weak beginnings: It is . . . . . There is I (are) . . . .

3. Do not use trite approaches such as these: I'm going to describe (discuss) . . . . I shall talk about . . . . The purpose of my paper is . . . . In this paper I shall . . . .

4. Do not quote from any dictionary. If necessary, give the definition of a word as you use it in the theme.

5. Do not use a series of truisms that the reader already knows.

6. Do not use a series of sentences not tied together closely through meaning relationships (and linking devices).

The Conclusion

1. If a theme naturally comes to a close at the end of the last paragraph of the discussion, no special conclusion is needed. The theme must not just stop, however. The idea must not be left hanging in the air. Therefore a special concluding paragraph is more than likely necessary.

2. The conclusion should function in several ways:

a. to give the reader the feeling that the discussion has been brought to a definite end by the writer;

b. to give the reader a final favorable impression of that which was written;

c. to restate, perhaps, the thesis in a different form for emphasis;

d. to suggest, perhaps, further avenues to be explored.

3. Several different kinds of conclusions include the following:

a. a summary of main points

b. a final generalization

c. a direct answer (solution) or an indication that there is no pat answer (solution)

d. a final inference or suggestion

e. a thought-provoking question or quotation

f. a call to action, a challenge

g. a forecast

h. a relevant analogy, anecdote, or incident

i. a striking example.

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