How do I write a good introduction?

Most of the types of texts/assignments you write for university need to have an introduction, to show the reader clearly what the topic or purpose of the whole paper is. As a rough guide, an introduction might be between 10% and 20% of the length of the whole paper.

An introduction is usually one paragraph with 3 main stages:

  • It begins with the most general information, like background and/or definitions.
  • The middle is the core of the introduction, where you show the overall topic, purpose, your point of view, hypotheses and/or research questions (depending on what kind of paper it is).
  • Finally, the introduction ends with the most specific information: a guide to the scope and structure of your paper. This is often a list (e.g. “The issue will be considered in terms of economics, politics and culture”), or a plural (e.g. “This issue will be discussed with reference to three important economic causes.”).

Note: If the main body of your paper follows a predictable template, like the Method, Results and Discussion stages of a report in the sciences, you often do not need to include a guide to the structure in the introduction.

It is sensible to write your introduction after you know both your overall point of view (if it is a persuasive paper) and the whole structure of your paper. Alternatively, you should revise the introduction when you have completed the main body.

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