While the body is often easier to write, it needs a frame around it. An introduction and conclusion frame your thoughts and bridge your ideas for the reader. Such a conclusion will help them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down.
Usually when you sit down to respond to an assignment, you have at least some sense of what you want to say in the body of your paper. You might have chosen a few examples you want to use or have an idea that will help you answer the main question of your assignment; these sections, therefore, are not as hard to write.
If your readers pick up your paper about education in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of Chapel Hill, television, e-mail, and The Daily Tar Heel and to help them temporarily enter the world of nineteenth-century American slavery.
By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying. See our handout on conclusions. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
The opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work.
A vague, disorganized, error-filled, off-the-wall, or boring introduction will probably create a negative impression.
On the other hand, a concise, engaging, and North carolina writing center introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and your paper.
This impression is especially important when the audience you are trying to reach your instructor will be grading your work.
Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion.
In most academic disciplines, your introduction should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. It should also, ideally, give the reader a sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs and pages that will follow.
After reading your introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper. Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper.
Opening with a compelling story, a fascinating quotation, an interesting question, or a stirring example can get your readers to see why this topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an interesting intellectual conversation.
Your entire essay will be a response to this question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end.
Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point.
Imagine that you are assigned the following question: Education has long been considered a major force for American social change, righting the wrongs of our society.
Drawing on theNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, discuss the relationship between education and slavery in 19th-century America. How did white control of education reinforce slavery? How did Douglass and other enslaved African Americans view education while they endured slavery?
And what role did education play in the acquisition of freedom? Most importantly, consider the degree to which education was or was not a major force for social change with regard to slavery. You will probably refer back to your assignment extensively as you prepare your complete essay, and the prompt itself can also give you some clues about how to approach the introduction.
Notice that it starts with a broad statement, that education has been considered a major force for social change, and then narrows to focus on specific questions from the book. One strategy might be to use a similar model in your own introduction—start off with a big picture sentence or two about the power of education as a force for change as a way of getting your reader interested and then focus in on the details of your argument about Douglass.
Of course, a different approach could also be very successful, but looking at the way the professor set up the question can sometimes give you some ideas for how you might answer it.
See our handout on understanding assignments for additional information on the hidden clues in assignments. Decide how general or broad your opening should be. If you have ever used Google Maps or similar programs, that experience can provide a helpful way of thinking about how broad your opening should be.
Try writing your introduction last.Chancellor announces $2 million fund, new hub to help students affected by hurricane. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction implements the State's public school laws and State Board of Education's policies governing pre-kindergarten through 12th grade public education.
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