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Introductions & Conclusions. Writing an Essay. Introduction Paragraphs. An effective introductory paragraph accomplishes 2 main goals: it captures the reader’s interest it states the main point about your subject or topic . Think of your introductory paragraph in two ways:

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introduction paragraphs
Introduction Paragraphs
  • An effective introductory paragraph accomplishes 2 main goals:
    • it captures the reader’s interest
    • it states the main point about your subject or topic.
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Think of your introductory paragraph in two ways:

    • 1) It should serve the same purpose for your reader as the opening remarks of a speaker who is trying to capture his audience’s attention
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2) The structure of this paragraph can be compared to an invertedpyramid, which starts out broad or general and moves to the narrow or specific.
hooking the reader
Hooking the Reader
  • 1. Emphasize the importance of the topic. The writer may impress the reader by explaining the current interest in the topic or by indicating that the subject may influence our lives.
  • 2. Ask a provocative question. The reader’s interest can be stimulated by asking a question that does not have an easy answer. The essay that follows should then be concerned with finding a possible answer.
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3. Use an appropriate quotation. A quotation is an easy and effective device to use--if it is used sparingly. The daily newspapers are a good source of quotations suitable for current topics. If the subject is of a more general nature, the book Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, which you can find in the reference section of the library, may provide appropriate material.

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4. State the divisions of the topic. A brief idea of the plan of the essay, if stated in an effective manner, can hint at the interesting points which you intend to cover.

  • 5.Use a stimulating incident or anecdote. The use of an interesting incident or anecdote can act as a teaser to lure the reader into the remainder of the essay.
things not to do in introductions
Things NOT to do in introductions:
  • Apologize. Never suggest that you don't know what you're talking about or that you're not enough of an expert in this matter that your opinion would matter. Your reader will quickly turn to something else. Avoid phrases like the following:
    • In my [humble] opinion . . .I'm not sure about this, but . . .
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Announce your intentions. Do not flatly announce what you are about to do in an essay.

    • In this paper I will . . . The purpose of this essay is to . . .
    • Get into the topic and let your reader perceive your purpose in the topic sentence of your beginning paragraph.
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Use a dictionary or encyclopedia definition.

    • According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, a widget is . . .
    • Although definitions are extremely useful and it might serve your purpose to devise your own definition(s) later in the essay, you want to avoid using this worn-out beginning to an essay.
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Dilly-dally. Get to it. Move confidently into your essay. Many writers find it useful to write a warm-up paragraph (or two, even) to get them into the essay, to sharpen their own idea of what they're up to, and then they go back and delete the running start.

conclusion paragraphs
Conclusion Paragraphs
  • Because no reader likes to be jarred by an abrupt ending, a concluding paragraph should be used to give the essay a feeling of completeness. An effective conclusion should reemphasize the topic of the essay, leaving the reader with strong impressions of what has been said. Any one of the following methods may be used:
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Make a plea for a change.
  • Draw the necessary conclusions from what has been said.
  • Summarize the major points of the essay
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When choosing a method for ending an essay, remember that the conclusion should flow naturally out of the body of the paper; it should not appear to be tacked on. An effective conclusion often refers back to an image or anecdote that was used in the introduction, a method which helps to unify the whole essay. Your conclusion should not introduce completely new ideas that need explanation or support.

explanations of conclusions
Explanations of Conclusions
  • 1. Make a plea for change. A conclusion may make a plea for a change of attitude or for specific action.
  • 2. Draw the necessary conclusions from what has been said. Based on the facts given in the essay, you may use the concluding paragraph to form judgments about the topic.
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3. Summarize the major points of the essay. A restatement of the major points--using new words--will help the reader to remember what he has read. A summary is usually most effective in a long essay; it would seem repetitious at the end of a short one.

points to remember
Points to Remember:
  • Be direct and efficient in your phrasing. Avoid using expressions such as "Now I will tell you about . . . ," "I would like to discuss . . . ," or "In my paper I will explain . . . ." Such expressions make the structure of your essay too obvious.
  • To be as accurate as possible, you need to qualify general statements: "This information seems to prove that . . ." or "If we take this action, we will be helping to solve the problem." Avoid absolute statements which are difficult to prove: "This proves that . . ." or "If we take this action, the problem will be solved.“
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Use unique and fresh ideas rather than clichés and overworked quotations. An essay on marriage would not benefit from a reminder that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. "To err is human, to forgive divine" has long since lost its freshness and would add nothing to an essay.

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Be confident about your own opinions on a subject and state your ideas with conviction: "I strongly believe . . . " or "This law should be enacted because . . . ." Never apologize for what you write. If you begin your essay with "I don’t know very much about this subject," you will immediately lose the reader’s interest. In addition, if you end with "Of course, other people have different opinions on this subject, and I certainly do not know everything," you will destroy the impact of your essay. If you really do feel unsure about your opinions, change your topic to something that you can be more positive about.

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Your introduction should flow smoothly into your body paragraphs just as the conclusion should be an integral part of the whole essay. The introduction should state the topic of the entire essay, and the conclusion should relate to the general topic rather than one specific point.

  • The size of the introduction and conclusion should be appropriate to the size of the whole essay. An introduction or conclusion of 200 words would certainly be too long for an essay of about 500 words. However, a long paper may require a 200-word introduction or conclusion.