How to write term papers: pay attention to the introduction

There are many important parts of a term paper – the thesis, the discussion points, the conclusion. But what ultimately sets the tone for your paper – and determines its effectiveness – is the introduction.

The Hook

The best way to grab a reader’s attention is to start your introduction with a “hook”. This will grab their interest right away – and keep them interested in the overall point of your paper. Without an effective hook, it can be difficult to get readers engaged.

There are many ways to include a “hook” in your introduction paragraph:

  • Quote: Use an inspiring or intriguing quote from one of your sources. The quote can be obvious – but it should leave the reader wondering what the paper is about. It shouldn’t tell them everything they need to know about the paper or they won’t read it.
  • Statistic: If you find a crazy or compelling statistic, use it as your hook. Hearing a surprising statistic will leave readers wanting to know your solution or reasoning why the numbers show what they do.
  • Poem: If you’re writing has anything to do with literature, or you have a literary source that speaks to your topic, consider using an excerpt or poem. Literary works are attention grabbers – especially if the piece is particularly compelling.
  • Question: Ask a question of your readers. The important thing with questions is asking one that the reader wants an answer to. Compel them to read more by making it clear you will provide an answer.

  • The Thesis

    Your thesis is your argument or point. It should be condensed into one, maybe two, sentences and be a clear message as to the direction of your paper.

    How to create an effective thesis:

    • Take a side. If your paper is about a controversial topic, pick a side and make a statement about why it is the right side of the argument.
    • Make a statement. State, strongly, why the facts in the paper are true.
    • Avoid questions. Thesis statements should never be in the form of a question. Your statement needs to be strong – and question form implies that there are multiple answers.
    • Write it as a conclusion. Form your thesis as if it were a conclusion drawn by the review of all of your facts. As supporting evidence, those facts will be what supports your thesis.
    • Don’t write lists. It’s important not to create a list in your thesis. Your listed items will be available as you back up your statement with facts, but the list of facts should never be present within your thesis statement.
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