How to Write a Formal Essay Introduction

Formal essays require many well-thought-out components before they can be successful. The argument must be well-organized, focused, and built from the general to the specific. Citations and quotations are also critical in proving the argument as it connects to the rest of the paper. However, a formal paper should always start with a flawless introduction.

Begin with a "hook." A "hook" is a sentence that grabs the reader's attention. Often, this can take the form of a quote, question, or a personal connection.

Introduce the topic of the paper. In these few sentences, briefly describe the topic itself and then transition into the history of the topic. This is the point of the introduction where you will explain the "who, what, where, when, and why" of the paper, says Ella Berven of Roane State Community College.

Explain the purpose of the paper. After explaining the history of the topic, transition into the significance. In this section of the introduction, you are answering the question, "Why is this topic important?" You may want to include a short quote in this section to prove the importance of the topic.

Finish your introduction with your thesis statement. According to The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a thesis statement "tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion, and serves as a road map for the paper." The thesis statement typically belongs at the end of the introduction, although it can sometimes be found in the middle of the paragraph. The thesis statement will guide the organization of the body of the paper.


Use transition words to connect the parts of your introduction. Transition words include: however, furthermore, instead, finally, and most importantly.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Computer
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