Introductions Your introduction introduces the general topic of your paper as well as your specific thesis

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Your introduction introduces the general topic of your paper as well as your specific thesis (all introductions MUST HAVE a thesis to be complete). It also sets the tone of your essay (e.g. critical, humorous). Think of your introduction like a road map to the rest of your paper. By the time your audience is finished reading it, they should be able to identify the main argument of the paper, the points each of the individual paragraphs will address and the conclusion the paper is likely to reach.

Ways to introduce your topic:

  • Use an anecdote (a short story with a humorous twist)

  • Refer to some statistics

  • Ask a provocative question(s)

  • Use a quotation

  • Use an analogy

  • Define an important term (use your own words, not a generic dictionary definition)

  • Provide some historical background information

  • Make a concession to an opposing argument, but be sure your thesis makes it clear that you plan to refute it

Things to avoid:

  • Obvious statements (e.g. In this essay, I will . . .)

  • Apologies (e.g. While some may disagree . . .)

  • Generalizations (e.g. ______________ is important for many reasons)

  • Wandering off topic


The following two examples are possible introductions for an essay on alternative energy sources.

Version 1
Fossil fuels, which are harmful to our environment, will not last forever. It is time to find a safer alternative.
The writing quality in this introduction is actually quite good, but it is very underdeveloped. It introduces the general topic, but lacks any specific information about what will be discussed in the paper. It is also missing its thesis. Below is an example of an introduction that is a far better “road map” for an essay on the same topic.

Version 2
Fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, harm our environment through their extraction and use, which makes a greener alternative energy source desirable. An alternative source becomes even more desirable when we consider the fact that fossil fuels are non-renewable resources. Therefore, it is time for British Columbia to invest in its future by widely developing clean, affordable, efficient wind farms throughout the province.


The purpose of your conclusion is to summarize your argument and drive your point home. Remember, at this point, your reader has read everything you have to say, so you can be more forceful in asserting the truth of your thesis. It is essential that you do not simply paraphrase your introduction.

Ways to conclude:

  • Tell the reader how you expect them to react to the information in your paper

  • Offer a prediction, a warning or a proposal

  • Discuss the effectiveness of your argument

Things to avoid:

  • Introducing new ideas or information

  • Reusing wording from other parts of your essay, especially your introduction

  • Blunt, mechanical statements (e.g. In conclusion . . .)

  • Wandering off topic

  • Using clichés (e.g. It will all work out in the end)


The following two examples are possible conclusions for the same essay on alternative energy sources used in the sample introductions.

Version 1
In conclusion, fossil fuels are harmful to our environment. They will not last forever. It is time for BC to invest in the future of clean, affordable and efficient wind energy.

 The above conclusion is underdeveloped and stale. It sounds too much like the introduction; the audience is left wondering what they should do with all the information they just read. The following conclusion is a more effective way to wrap up the same paper.

Version 2
As BC looks towards its future, it must begin to find replacements for its fossil fuel supply. Wind, which is a clean and renewable source of energy, is in abundant supply. As citizens, we must put pressure on the government to invest in wind farms so that this valuable resource can be harnessed to meet our future energy needs. 

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