Humanities › English The Introductory Paragraph: Start Your Paper Off Right Begin with a great first sentence Share Flipboard Email Print moodboard / Getty Images English Writing Writing Research Papers Writing Essays Journalism English Grammar By Grace Fleming Education Expert M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia B.A., History, Armstrong State University Grace Fleming, M.Ed., is a senior academic advisor at Georgia Southern University, where she helps students improve their academic performance and develop good study skills. our editorial process Grace Fleming Updated February 19, 2020 The introductory paragraph of any paper, long or short, should start with a sentence that piques the interest of your readers. In a well-constructed first paragraph, that first sentence leads into three or four sentences that provide details about the subject you address in the body of your essay. These sentences should also set the stage for your thesis statement. Writing a good thesis statement is the subject of much instruction and training, as it's the driver of your research and the subject of your paper. The entirety of your paper hangs on that sentence, which is generally the last sentence of your introductory paragraph and is refined throughout your research and drafting phases. Writing an Intro Paragraph It's often easier to write the introductory paragraph after you've written the first draft of the main part of the paper (or at least sketched out a detailed outline, section by section or paragraph by paragraph). After the drafting stage, your research and main points are fresh in your mind, and your thesis statement has been polished to gleaming. It's typically honed during the drafting stage, as research may have necessitated its adjustment. At the start of a large writing project, it can also be intimidating to put those first words down, so it's often easier to begin composing in the middle of the paper and work on the introduction and conclusion after the meat of the report has been organized, compiled, and drafted. Construct your introductory paragraph with the following: An attention-grabbing first sentenceInformative sentences that build to your thesisThe thesis statement, which makes a claim or states a view that you will support or build upon Your First Sentence As you researched your topic, you probably discovered some interesting anecdotes, quotes, or trivial facts. This is exactly the sort of thing you should use for an engaging introduction. Consider these ideas for creating a strong beginning. Surprising fact: The Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as are necessary. The famous government building was constructed in the 1940s when segregation laws required that separate bathrooms be installed for people of African descent. This building isn’t the only American icon that harkens back to this embarrassing and hurtful time in our history. Across the United States, there are many examples of leftover laws and customs that reflect the racism that once permeated American society. Humor: When my older brother substituted fresh eggs for our hard-boiled Easter eggs, he didn’t realize our father would take the first crack at hiding them. My brother’s holiday ended early that particular day in 1991, but the rest of the family enjoyed the warm April weather, outside on the lawn, until late into the evening. Perhaps it was the warmth of the day and the joy of eating Easter roast while Tommy contemplated his actions that make my memories of Easter so sweet. Whatever the true reason, the fact remains that my favorite holiday of the year is Easter Sunday. Quotation: Hillary Rodham Clinton once said, “There cannot be true democracy unless women's voices are heard.” In 2006, when Nancy Pelosi became the nation’s first female Speaker of the House, one woman’s voice rang out clearly. With this development, democracy grew to its truest level ever in terms of women’s equality. The historical event also paved the way for Senator Clinton as she warmed her own vocal cords in preparation for a presidential race. Finding the Hook In each example, the first sentence draws the reader in to find out how the interesting fact leads to a point. You can use many methods to capture your reader’s interest. Curiosity: A duck’s quack doesn’t echo. Some people might find a deep and mysterious meaning in this fact… Definition: A homograph is a word with two or more pronunciations. Produce is one example… Anecdote: Yesterday morning I watched as my older sister left for school with a bright white glob of toothpaste gleaming on her chin. I felt no regret at all until she stepped onto the bus… Supporting Sentences The body of your introductory paragraph should fulfill two functions: It should explain your first sentence and should build up to your thesis statement. You'll find that this is much easier than it sounds. Just follow the pattern you see in the above examples. During the revision stage for the paper as a whole, you can make further refinements to the introduction as needed.