Autism Education Project

How to write an essay introduction

In the opinion of a great deal of academics, the most important paragraph in any essay is the introduction. This puts a lot of emphasis on the composition and the content. An introduction, therefore, needs to perform the function for which it was designed. But, what is that purpose? Below are a few guides for writing a great college essay introduction.

Know Your Mind

Before you begin your introduction you must know what it is that you want it to say. There is no point beginning before you have decided, very precisely, what your topic is, and how you will approach that topic. Take time to think through your argument.

Introduce the General Area

In the first sentences you must introduce the general area: i.e. ‘United States Policies on immigration have historically been divisive issues’. This is where you place your reader in the broad context of your topic.

Introduce Your Thesis

Following the general context, introduce your thesis, very clearly: ‘That said, it could be suggested that current legislation is complicating the issue because …’. Then say, explicitly, what you will argue: ‘I will provide support for this position, and will argue that…’.

Provide a Roadmap

The third step is to tell your reader how you will do that; never leave your reader wondering where you are taking them guide them every step of the way: ‘Firstly, I will cite X as an example, followed by a further discussion of Y, before a summary of X and Y, concluding with Z’.

Be Clear

Do not use jargon, or try to write in a ‘clever’ way; an introduction sets up your essay, and if it is unclear, your essay cannot work. Use simple, plain language, and introduce your terms in the essay body.


When you finish your essay, you must return and ensure that your introduction is still adequate. Very often, in writing, we can modify our position, and must take the time to check that the introduction is still introducing the existing argument. If not, rewrite it!

Introductions are important, even the most important aspect of essays. First impressions, they say, are lasting, and your intro establishes your relationship with your reader, and determines how they perceive your work!