An introductory paragraph often includes introductory devices to lead into the thesis. Introductory devices serve to stimulate a reader’s interest in the subject of the essay. Some of the most common introductory devices are listed in the chart. Usually the introductory device precedes the thesis statement.
Selected Device for Introductory Paragraphs:
Ø Provide relevant background information
Ø Tell an interesting brief story or anecdote
Ø Give a pertinent statistic or statistics
Ø Ask a provocative question or questions
Ø Use an appropriate quotation
Ø Make a useful analogy
Ø Define a term used throughout the essay
Ø Identify the situation
The key to the effectiveness of an introductory device is how well it relates to the essay’s thesis and the material in the supporting paragraphs. An introductory device must be well integrated into the paragraph, not mechanically slotted in for its own sake.
An effective introduction has no room for self-conscious statements or overused expressions. Guidelines on what to avoid in introductory paragraphs are given below.
What to Avoid in Introductory Paragraphs:
Do not be too obvious. Avoid
bald statements such as “In this paper I will discuss the causes of falling
oil prices” or “My
assignment asks me to discuss Hamlet’s inability to take action.”
Do not apologize. Avoid
self-critical statements such as “I do not have much background in this
subject” or “I’m not sure if I
am right, but here is my opinion.”
Ø Do not use over-worn expressions. Avoid statements such as “haste makes waste” or “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
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This page last updated on 3/07/03