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Writing Effective Introductions

Great writers know that effective and impacting essays begin with an interesting and engaging

introduction that reveals their thesis and purpose, while capturing the readers attention.

Introductions help writers...

Reveal their essays central idea or thesis

Guide readers to important ideas in the body of the essay

Provide relevant background information to help readers understand the essays purpose and


Purpose and the Introduction

Before writing your introduction, it is important to determine whether your purpose calls for a

formal introduction. For example, in narrative writing, it is often acceptable to start with the first

event in your story, instead of providing background information. But, when writing informative

or persuasive essays, it is important to provide an introductory paragraph that prepares the reader

for what lies ahead. Any introduction, though, must clearly relate to the rest of the essay.

The Thesis Statement

In college writing, many professors will require that an introductory paragraph include a thesis

statement, or a sentence (or sentences) that reveal the essays central idea. Including a thesis

statement at the end of your introduction will help you practice clear essay organization.

Strategies for Writing Introductions

An introduction should always include an introductory device that leads into the thesis and

stimulates the readers interest in the topic. The following examples are all excellent ways to

gain your readers interest in your topic.

Describe a scene or tell an anecdote

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Welcome to French class, where you must learn to juggle irregular verbs, flying chalk, and the

constant threat of bodily harm. At the age of forty-one, I am returning to school and having to

think of myself as what my French textbook calls a true debutant. After paying my tuition, I

was issued a student ID, which allows me a discounted entry fee at movie theaters, puppet

shows, and Festyland, a far-flung amusement part that advertises with billboards picturing a

cartoon stegosaurus sitting in a canoe and eating what appears to be a ham sandwich.

--David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

Provide relevant background information

To hold its own in the struggle for existence, every species of animal must have a regular source

of food, and if it happens to live on other animals, its survival may be very delicately balanced.

The hunter cannot

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[Instructor Name]

[Course Number]


[Title]: [Subtitle]

[Research papers that use MLA format do not include a cover page unless requested by

your instructor. Instead, start with the information shown. Do not bold the title or use all capital

letters. Capitalize the first and last words of the title, and all principal words. If your paper

includes a subtitle, separate it from the title by a colon and space, as shown. For more specific

guidance on capitalization, see the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition

(MLA 7th Edition).]

[All textincluding titles, quotations, notes, and list of works citeduses double line

spacing. Body text and note text use a half-inch first-line indent. The list of works cited uses a
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half-inch hanging indent. Table titles and source text use a quarter-inch indent. To access all of

these text formats, on the Home tab of the ribbon, check out Styles.]

[MLA format discourages extensive use of content notes. But, when you need to add

notes, you can use either endnotes or footnotes. MLA 7th Edition indicates that you should use a

superscript, Arabic numeral at an appropriate place in the text for the note reference. To begin

the note text, use the same numeral, not superscript, and followed by a period.]

[If you use endnotes, they should be on a separate page, at the end of your text and

preceding the list of works cited. If you use footnotes, consult your professor for preferred


[For quotations of more than four lines, indent the quote one inch from the left

margin and do not use quotation marks. This style is named Quote. Apply this or

any text style with just a tap, on the Home tab, under Styles. Note that, for shorter

quotations, you can put them in quotation marks and incorporate them directly

into text.]

Table 1

[This sample table is formatted to follow MLA guidelines. To add a new table, on the Insert tab,

tap Table. When you create a new table in this document, it will automatically use MLA


Column Heading Column Heading Column Heading

Row Heading

Row Heading
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Column Heading Column Heading Column Heading

Row Heading

Source: [This source text uses a style named Table Source.]

a. [This note text uses a style named Table Note. Table notes use a lowercase letter

instead of Arabic numerals to differentiate them from the notes to body content.]

Fig. 1. [This figure caption uses the No Indent style. Label figures with the abbreviation Fig.

and a figure number.]

[There is a sample Works Cited list that follows. The body content on that page uses the

Bibliography style. Note that MLA rules for citations and references are extensive. So its a good

idea to refer to MLA 7th Edition for further information.] (AuthorLastName Pages)
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[To use this template when creating the outline for your paper, on the Home tab, in

Styles, tap No Indent. Then, on the same tab, in the Paragraph group, tap the Multilevel List icon

and then tap the MLA Outline style that appears under List Styles. The first six levels of this list

style correspond to the outline levels defined in MLA 7th Edition.]

For additional guidance on formatting your research paper, consult MLA 7th Edition as

well as your instructor.

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Works Cited

AuthorLastName, FirstName. Title of the Book Being Referenced. City Name: Name of

Publisher, Year. Type of Medium (e.g. Print).

LastName, First, Middle. "Article Title." Journal Title (Year): Pages From - To. Print.