In the Intro…

What an Intro Paragraph Should Include:

  • Context: Answer/lay out the 4 W’s: Who/What/When/Where?
    • *For English papers, think about both the book’s setting and the setting in which the book was written and published. What were the main ideas/events of the time? Prevalent social/religious/political attitudes? How did they contribute to the main ideas of the book?
    • If the essay answers a specific question, explain how or why the question came about or is relevant. (Keep in mind this is not your thesis; rather, the background for it.)
  • Thesis Statement: The thesis statement should be the last one or two sentences of the introduction. Rarely is it further up in the introduction, as your thesis is also a wonderful transition to your first body paragraph.

Common Mistakes

Common Mistakes in Introductions:

  • “Dawn of Time” Openings: Get closer to your subject right from the start. A common mistake is to write a first sentence so broad and removed from the topic that it sounds empty, obvious, or foolish. Examples include:
    • The Renaissance was an important time in European history.
    • Hamlet by Shakespeare contains many forms of writing. In it, here are several soliloquies spoken by Hamlet.
    • Throughout the centuries, revenge has changed the course of history.


  • Using the Word “Essay”: This mistake is both unimaginative and inappropriate. Never reference that you are writing an essay, and never use any of the word packages below:
    • This essay is about…
    • The purpose of this essay is…
    • In this essay I’m going to write about…
    • I am going to prove that…
    • …will be proven

Example Intro

An Introduction Excerpted from a Paper on Pride and Prejudice (earned a 104)

**Not for reproduction or reuse. Please remember the Honor Code. Thesis bolded.
       Throughout Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen uses a blend of satirical comedy, blunt candor, and symbolism to consider certain aspects of eighteenth century society, the most prominent being the importance of a proper marriage. She explores the idea of bonding oneself to another, examining motives, outside influences, and repercussions, then presents the epitome of a perfect marriage in the form of Elizabeth and Darcy. In the 1700s, a good marriage secured an establishment in society, especially for women. As Charlotte Lucas explains, “[marriage] was the only honourable provision for…young women of small fortune, and… must be their preservative from want” (120). Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, however, is more than just the normal alliance between two families. Elizabeth’s daring and proud personality defies the patriarchal expectations of a submissive, domestic wife, and Darcy breaches the confines of his social class in his love for her. Yet despite being unconventional in every way possible, by the end they are the happiest couple in the book. Their happiness of their relationship, especially contrasted against other relationships, is unique. Through Elizabeth’s observations of the faults in her parents’ and Jane’s marriages, Austen highlights the most admirable qualities of her relationship with Darcy: a balance of personal characteristics, which leads to a deeper understanding between the partners.