Term Paper Writing Tutorial: Introduction
The introduction of your term paper is possibly the most important part of the whole essay. This is where you set up the topic and the whole structure of the essay. More importantly, this is where you grab the reader’s attention so that they are interested and ready to read the rest of your essay. A poorly written introduction can ruin the whole essay, even if every other paragraph is pristine and perfect. So make sure you give yourself the time to write a strong, intriguing introduction and follow these helpful tips during the process:
- Structure the introduction: A high quality introductory paragraph (or paragraphs for longer papers) will include three parts: background, statement of the issue, and your thesis.
- Be concise: A strong introduction is a brief one. You shouldn’t have a long-winded introduction full of unnecessary tangents and non sequiturs. Just stick to the main points and get the reader prepared. You will have the opportunity to go into further detail later on. A good rule of thumb for the length of your introduction is that it should be no more than 1/5th of your total essay. This means that if you have a five page term paper, your introduction should be about one page. Alternatively, if it is only a one page paper, your introduction should be no more than a few sentences.
- Be clear: Make sure each component of the introduction is clearly separated. Each of the three parts should be discussed on its own. Don’t blend background information with your thesis.
The background is all the important information necessary to contextualize the topic. You don’t need to give the entire history or describe it in thorough detail. You just need to include a few important elements to help the reader understand the larger context of the issues.
Then, after you have given some background, explain the issue. Again, don’t explain it in elaborate detail. Your paper is not directly about the issue (it is about your thesis) so you just need to give enough information for your reader to be able to follow your line of reasoning.
Your thesis statement will come at the end of your introduction. After you have set up the background and the issue, write your clearly worded, well thought out thesis statement. This will make it easier for you to transition from your introduction into the meat of your essay.