Skip main navigation

The introduction

Your introduction should give the reader an idea of the main focus of the essay, and include a range of features.
© University of Reading

Your introduction should give the reader an idea of the main focus of the essay, and include some of the following features:

  • a move from the general theme to the more specific focus of the essay

  • background information on the topic

  • definitions of key terminology

  • the writer’s perspective on the issues discussed in the essay (often called a thesis statement)

  • some evidence (through statistics or references to sources) to support points made in the introduction

  • an overview of the structure of the essay.

After you have taken notes and written a plan for your essay, you may find it difficult to get started with your essay.

One strategy is to start writing the main body of your essay and write the introduction later, when all of your thoughts about what you would like to say in the essay have become clearer. Another strategy is to write the introduction quickly, without worrying too much about the content or structure, then write the main body, and then return to review and edit the introduction.

Whichever approach you take, it is always a good idea to return to your introduction after writing the main body, in case the content or your viewpoint on it, has changed while you have been writing the essay.

In the next Step you will return to Patrick’s essay and analyse the structure, and functions of his introduction.

© University of Reading
This article is from the free online

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education