Your introduction should include the following points (be aware that not all points may be relevant for your project):
- Introduce your topic
- Place your topic in a context
- Provide background information
- Point out the aim of the text
- Describe how you will fulfill the aim
- Provide a thesis statement or research question
- Suggest what your findings are
- Explain why your topic is interesting, necessary or important
- Give the reader a guide to the text
- Catch your reader’s interest
The statements you make in the introduction are to be developed in the body of the text and returned to in the conclusion.
You may write the introduction at the beginning or at the end of the writing process. If you write it early in the process it can serve as a guide to your own writing, but be aware that you most likely will have to go back to it and edit it as the writing progresses.
More advice about introductions
This is the main section of your text and it should also be the longest. Depending on the length of the text, the body may be divided into subsections. If your text is divided into subsections, remember to briefly introduce each section. For longer works you may also need to conclude sections.
The body of the text is where you as a writer and researcher are the most active. It is the most substantial part of the text; this is where the research or findings are presented, discussed and analyzed. This is also where you present your arguments that support your thesis or answer your question. The structure and contents of this main part may differ depending on your discipline.
More advice and tips on how to write the body of the text
In the conclusion you should return to the thesis or problem that you presented in the introduction. But be careful to not merely repeat what you wrote in the introduction; instead, show your reader how what you have written sheds new light on the problem presented at the beginning. For longer works a brief summary of your findings may be in place, but this should not be necessary for shorter texts. Be careful that your conclusion is not just a repetition of what you have already written. In your conclusion, you may also evaluate and explain whether or not you have reached the aim or solved the problem presented in the introduction, and how. No new material should be introduced in the conclusion, but it is quite common to suggest topics for further studies.
More tips and examples of conclusions
PART I: THE INTRODUCTION
An introduction is usually the first paragraph of your academic essay. If you’re writing a long essay, you might need two or three paragraphs to introduce your topic to your reader. A good introduction does three things:
- Gets the reader’s attention. You can get a reader’s attention by telling a story, providing a statistic, pointing out something strange or interesting, providing and discussing an interesting quote, etc. Be interesting and find some original angle via which to engage others in your topic.
- Provides necessary background information. Don’t start too broad, for instance by talking about how literature helps us understand life, but do tell your readers what they need to know to get their bearings in your topic, e.g. who wrote the story you’re writing about, when it was published, where it was published, etc.
- Provides a specific and debatable thesis statement. The thesis statement is usually just one sentence long, but it might be longer—even a whole paragraph—if the essay you’re writing is long. A good thesis statement makes a debatable point, meaning a point someone might disagree with and argue against. It also serves as a roadmap for what you argue in your paper.
PART II: THE CONCLUSION
A conclusion is the last paragraph of your essay, or, if you’re writing a really long essay, you might need two or three paragraphs to conclude. A conclusion typically does one of two things—or, of course, it can do both:
- Summarizes the argument. Some instructors expect you not to say anything new in your conclusion. They just want you to restate your main points. Especially if you’ve made a long and complicated argument, it’s useful to restate your main points for your reader by the time you’ve gotten to your conclusion. If you opt to do so, keep in mind that you should use different language than you used in your introduction and your body paragraphs. The introduction and conclusion shouldn’t be the same.
- Explains the significance of the argument. Some instructors want you to avoid restating your main points; they instead want you to explain your argument’s significance. In other words, they want you to answer the “so what” question by giving your reader a clearer sense of why your argument matters.
- For example, your argument might be significant to studies of a certain time period.
- Alternately, it might be significant to a certain geographical region.
- Alternately still, it might influence how your readers think about the future. You might even opt to speculate about the future and/or call your readers to action in your conclusion.
PART III: THE BODY PARAGRAPHS
Body paragraphs help you prove your thesis and move you along a compelling trajectory from your introduction to your conclusion. If your thesis is a simple one, you might not need a lot of body paragraphs to prove it. If it’s more complicated, you’ll need more body paragraphs. An easy way to remember the parts of a body paragraph is to think of them as containing the MEAT of your essay:
Main Idea. The part of a topic sentence that states the main idea of the body paragraph. All of the
sentences in the paragraph connect to it. Keep in mind that main ideas are…
- like labels. They appear in the first sentence of the paragraph and tell your reader what’s inside the paragraph.
- arguable. They’re not statements of fact; they’re debatable points that you prove with evidence.
- focused. Make a specific point in each paragraph and then prove that point.
Evidence. The parts of a paragraph that prove the main idea. You might include different types of
evidence in different sentences. Keep in mind that different disciplines have different ideas about what counts as evidenceand they adhere to different citation styles. Examples of evidence include…
- quotations and/or paraphrases from sources.
- facts, e.g. statistics or findings from studies you’ve conducted.
- narratives and/or descriptions, e.g. of your own experiences.
Analysis. The parts of a paragraph that explain the evidence. Make sure you tie the evidence you provide back to the paragraph’s main idea. In other words, discuss the evidence.
Transition. The part of a paragraph that helps you move fluidly from the last paragraph. Transitions
appear in topic sentences along with main ideas, and they look both backward and forward in order to help you connect your ideas for your reader. Don’t end paragraphs with transitions; start with them.
Keep in mind that MEAT does not occur in that order.The “Transition” and the “Main Idea” often combine to form the first sentence—the topic sentence—and then paragraphs contain multiple sentences of evidence and analysis. For example, a paragraph might look like this:
TM. E. E. A. E. E. A. A.