What is the purpose of the introduction in an essay – FreeEducator.com

An introduction is used to set out the purpose of the essay and the reason why it is being written. The purpose of the introduction is to provide a context for your response and summarise your topic or question.

Typically, the introduction will be made up of several paragraphs, which are related to one another. Each paragraph of the introduction is designed to establish a set of knowledge that your reader needs to refer to and encourage them to read the rest of the essay. A major challenge of an essay is to provide the reader with enough knowledge to understand what is being discussed without giving away your position and thus breaching the most fundamental rule of good writing: to provide substance rather than substance alone.

Important sections of the introduction

The purpose of the introduction will depend on the type of essay you are writing. It could be to inform the reader of the theme of the essay, to introduce the problem and propose the question. Perhaps the introduction will establish the purpose of the essay as an extension of the question or the question itself.

In these situations, you may want to begin with a specific set of facts, arguments, data or references, to give the reader a basis for understanding your issue. In some situations, such as an introduction to a history essay, a history section may also be included.

Important points of view in an introduction

A variety of points of view are sometimes included in the introduction. These are the points of view of the author and of the experts consulted by the author. All relevant points of view must be clearly and concisely stated.

While the introduction is a key section of an essay, it is not the only section of the most important essay. Other sections of the essay include an argumentative content, an assertion of knowledge, a conclusion, and an introduction of the reader’s point of view. These sections are important, but they should not be the first thing the reader reads since they are the most sensitive and challenging areas of the essay.

A subject summary and problem statement

These sections of an essay are designed to establish an overall picture of the topic of the essay. If the essay is on a general topic, then a subject summary will outline the topics covered and the main facts or arguments in the essay. For a particular topic, a problem statement will establish the fundamental problems which the essay will attempt to address. The problem statement should be relevant to the essay’s purpose and should avoid imprecisely expressing your views or speculating about future events.

The problem statement is a good starting point for a potential reader’s interpretation and will help them understand what the essay is attempting to address. If a reader should come across a problem that is not addressed in the essay or a part of the essay that seems incongruous to the context, the problem statement will point to the problem.

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Introductory clarification and considerations

Before the essay proper begins, some additional clarifications or considerations may be appropriate. This is sometimes termed the introductory note. This note should contain a brief discussion of the essay’s topic, or a section of the essay that will help the reader understand its theme. The emphasis should be on pointing the reader in the right direction. For example, if the essay is on a government, the introductory note might include an explanation of the nature of government.

An expanded paper on the issue

Sometimes an expanded version of the original paper is published. This can be of considerable benefit if the paper is of broad interest and might help bring to light a point that was overlooked in the original paper.

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A template introduction

One of the most helpful tools when composing an introduction is to refer to a template. Since there are many different types of introductions, the choice of a template should depend on the type of the paper. However, there are a number of templates for which a brief introduction is a desirable part of the composition, including Acknowledgements, Remarks and Introduction.

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An introduction should be short

The goal of an introduction is to provide a link to the essay proper. The length of the introduction depends on the importance of the essay as a whole. The longer the introduction, the higher the level of importance of the essay, and the more you need to explain the essay to the reader. However, an introductory note should not be longer than a page.

Be sure to include strong quotations

Finally, a quotation from the work of a notable author is an excellent way to establish a connection between the author’s words and your own. It can also serve as a subtle hint that the writer has great respect for your work, and a good reason for it.


All this information is fundamental to writing an essay on a particular subject. When in doubt, ask an instructor, or use one of the many essays on the subject online to help you understand what makes for a good essay.