BlogProWritingAid in the ClassroomHow to Write an Introduction for Your Essay or Dissertation

How to Write an Introduction for Your Essay or Dissertation

Kathy Edens
Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist
Published Aug 28, 2019

Academic paper

You have seconds to grab your reader’s attention. Regardless if you’re writing content for the web or a dissertation for academia, draw your reader in from the beginning or risk losing them. Whether you want to grab your professor’s interest or the reader who found your essay on Medium, your introduction should give them plenty of interesting reasons to read your work.

Contents:
  1. Research the best
  2. Figure out how to grab the reader’s attention
  3. Lay out your reason
  4. Give a sneak peek at your solution
  5. Final thoughts

Research the best

A good introduction is one of the most important elements of your paper. Academic articles with great introductions gather widespread favor, as do blog posts, articles, essays, and other digital content.

The best way to learn how to write a great introduction is by studying those done well. Ask your professor to recommend published articles they believe include well-written introductions. If you’re writing blog posts, study leading bloggers in your topic or arena and analyze how they structure their introductions to grab the reader’s attention.

For copywriters writing digital business content, read top articles in trade magazines and on respected online sources. Dissect how the writer introduces the topic, its context for the article’s purpose, and how he or she claims the topic will solve problems, meet challenges, excite customers, or other benefits.

There must be a point to every paper, and your introduction better make it enticing.

Figure out how to grab the reader’s attention

You have plenty of options for rousing interest in your work. You can take the empathetic route where you point out common emotions readers might feel and align your content for the biggest resonance. For example, most writers dread the blank page. You could start your paper with "Don’t you hate that blinking cursor that mocks you every morning?"

You could also start with a surprising fact that the reader might not know. For example, did you know that almost 90% of participants don’t finish online courses they purchase?

Or you could tell a story. An anecdote that happened to you might resonate with a reader and move him or her to read more.

Lay out your reason

Whether you’re writing a dissertation or an article for a trade magazine, you have a reason. Maybe you’re addressing a business challenge common to most trade magazine readers or a specific problem you’ve found the solution to thanks to your academic career.

You need to detail the purpose for your writing, but don’t give away the result or ending just yet. Use the body of your content to prove your opinion or validate your reasoning so your readers keep turning the pages until the end.

Give a sneak peek at your solution

While you don’t want to lay it out in the introduction, you want to tease your readers that your article, essay, or paper will provide the answer quickly.

The point of the introduction is to set your readers’ expectations. Lay out your reasoning and point at your solution, but most importantly, make sure the body of your work lives up to those expectations. If you tell readers in the introduction you will show a simple solution to a problem, you better deliver one.

Final thoughts

You might not want to write your introduction first. Sometimes it helps to get a feel for where your paper is going before you write both the introduction and conclusion. And you might not know at the outset where your research and findings will lead you.

The most important thing about your introduction is to convince readers it’s worth their time. Appeal to their interests, emotions, career choices, lifestyle preferences, etc. to draw them into your topic. A lot of papers and articles today present a stance that readers might not agree with to engage them to read the rest of the essay.

Regardless of the approach you take to grab someone’s attention, make sure the rest of your paper lives up to their expectations. The worst thing you can do is to tickle their interest in the introduction but provide irrelevant information in the body of your work. Keep it interesting and above all relevant.

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Kathy Edens
Copywriter, ghostwriter, and content strategy specialist

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything. Check out her books: The Novel-Writing Training Plan: 17 Steps to Get Your Ideas in Shape for the Marathon of Writing and Creating Legends: How to Craft Characters Readers Adore... or Despise.