Essay Writing Guide

How To Start An Essay

Nova A.

How to Start an Essay- A Step-by-Step Guide

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how to start an essay

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Starting an essay can be quite a challenge. It's a hurdle many writers stumble over, yet it's a crucial one. 

Crafting an introduction that's not only attention-grabbing but also compelling is the cornerstone of successful essay writing . 

In this blog, we will explain everything about starting an essay. We will discuss how to begin different types of essays and what are some common ways to start an essay. Additionally, we'll highlight some common mistakes to avoid in your essay's introduction.

So let's get started!

Arrow Down

  • 1. How to Start an Essay Introduction?
  • 2. How to Start an Essay With a Quote?
  • 3. How to Start an Essay With a Question?
  • 4. How to Start an Essay With a Fact?
  • 5. How to Start an Essay With an Anecdote?
  • 6. Words To Start An Essay Introduction
  • 7. Sentences To Start An Essay
  • 8. How to Start an Essay - Examples
  • 9. Other Common Ways of Starting an Essay
  • 10. Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Essay

How to Start an Essay Introduction?

In academic writing, the only chance to make readers stick to your paper is to start off with an interesting and engaging introductory paragraph.

The introduction typically starts by setting the stage and presenting vital background information about your specific topic.

Make your introduction catchy and interesting to both inform and motivate your readers. In this way, you can make your opening of the essay as compelling as possible.

Here are the steps that you need to follow to create an engaging essay introduction: 

  • Start With an Interesting Hook
  • Provide Background Information 
  • Write Your Thesis Statement 
  • Map the Structure of Your Essay 
  • Edit and Revise at the End 

Let’s explain these steps in detail below.

Step 1: Start With an Interesting Hook 

An essay hook is an opening statement that strives to grab people’s interest and attention. Always start an essay introduction with a hook to make your essay appealing.    Here are different types of hooks that can be used in your introduction paragraph:

  • Rhetorical Questions
  • Or a random funny statement

The kind of hook that should be used in the essay depends on the topic and type of your essay. If addressing a serious and sad issue, do not use a casual or funny statement. It would be better to use quotations or anecdotes for such essays. 

Likewise, if your topic is casual and humorous, try to open your essay lightly and casually.  You can ask a funny question or start with a random funny statement. 

You can also go through an interesting hook example and learn how to start a paragraph with interesting hooks. 

Step 2: Provide Background Information

After starting the introduction with a compelling hook, you need to provide background information about your topic. 

The background information is provided to familiarize your audience with the topic and the main argument. 

Providing background knowledge in the introduction is not as easy as it seems. You have to stop yourself from sharing excess information in the introductory paragraph. This will bore your audience, and they will stop reading for sure.    Just slightly give an idea about your topic and move on. You should not spoil the surprise coming for readers in the body paragraphs. 

Step 3: Write Your Thesis Statement

The last component of an introduction is the thesis statement. It is a 1-2 line sentence statement that sums up the main concept and the argument of your essay.    A thesis statement is considered a road map for your essay and provides your reader with an idea about the essay. It sets the tone of the essay, and the reader gets a slight hint about what they are going to read further. 

The rest of the paragraphs that come before the conclusion are the body of your essay. They contain all the reasons and shreds of evidence that support and back your thesis statement. 

Quick Tip: Always firmly present your argument in the thesis statement. Do not fill it with excessive information. The thesis statement is meant to convey your stance!

Step 4: Map the Structure of Your Essay

This is especially helpful for longer essays as it informs the readers about what is to come in each section of the essay. Keep this part concise and to the point, and give your readers a clear direction of your essay.

If your essay is short or discusses fewer ideas, this step may not be necessary. But, in the case of a longer essay, the mapping will inform the readers about the things being further discussed in the essay.

Step 5: Edit and Revise at the End

Once done with the writing, edit and revise the introduction. Make sure that you have added a compelling hook, adequate background information, and a thesis statement.

Furthermore, keep in mind that your introduction should be according to the type of essay that you are writing. 

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How to Start an Essay With a Quote?

Here is how to start your essay with a quote:

  • Begin with a relevant quote that ties directly to your essay's topic.
  • Provide context for the quote to help readers understand its significance.
  • Properly cite the author, source, and publication date of the quote.
  • Transition smoothly from the quote to your thesis statement.
  • Analyze the quote's meaning and how it supports your argument.
  • Ensure the content of your essay's body aligns with the quote and analysis.

Here are some expert tips for putting a quote at the start of an essay:

  • Avoid adding frequently used quotes that are familiar to everyone.
  • Explain how the quote relates to your main point.
  • Select a quote that your target audience can easily understand and relate to.

How to Start an Essay With a Question?

The easiest way to start an introduction is to ask a question to your readers to engage them immediately. Asking questions gives an image of a one-on-one conversation, which is super effective.    Seeing a question first will make your audience look for the answer in the content. 

A rhetorical question is a good kickstart to your essay, as such a type of beginning is attractive to readers. 

If you start with an intriguing question, the answer of which is not clear, then you should provide the answer within the text. Keep in mind that the rhetorical question does not require any specific reply. 

How to Start an Essay With a Fact?

Including interesting facts or statistics in your introduction helps you to take hold of your readers. Facts and stats are good attention grabbers for any piece of writing. Everyone gets entertained by the interesting and fun facts as they provide the context and background information of the topic. 

For serious issues that are global, you can present shocking statistics or news to instantly grab your reader’s attention. 

Choose facts and figures from credible and trustworthy sources. Your facts should support or prove your point of view or argument being presented later on in the essay. 

Starting an essay with a shocking fact from a credible source is an effective way to start an essay, followed by explanations to convince the readers.

How to Start an Essay With an Anecdote?

Another interesting way to start an essay is with a brief anecdote. It is about setting a short story at the start to show how it reveals the important features of your theme. 

This hook is appropriate to use if you are writing descriptive or narrative essays. The anecdote should be short, simple, and to the point. Make sure it relates to the central idea of your essay. 

Words To Start An Essay Introduction

Here are some effective words and phrases to begin an essay introduction:

  • Intriguingly: Intriguingly, the concept of...
  • Unquestionably: Unquestionably, the most critical issue is...
  • Surprisingly: Surprisingly, the data reveals...
  • Notably: Notably, this phenomenon has far-reaching implications.
  • Evidently: Evidently, the evidence suggests...
  • Arguably: Arguably, one of the most contentious topics is...
  • It is imperative to: It is imperative to address the issue of...
  • Historically: Historically, this problem has persisted for centuries.
  • In today's context: In today's context the relevance of this cannot be overstated.
  • To illustrate: To illustrate, consider the following example….
  • In contemporary society: In contemporary society, the issue of...
  • Remarkably: Remarkably, few have explored the implications of...
  • Undoubtedly: Undoubtedly, this problem warrants immediate attention.
  • Consequently: Consequently, this leads us to question...
  • In light of this: In light of this, it becomes evident that...
  • Fundamentally: Fundamentally, the core issue revolves around...
  • In recent years: In recent years, there has been a growing interest in...
  • In an ever-changing world: In an ever-changing world, it is crucial to consider...
  • To shed light on: To shed light on this matter, we will delve into...
  • As a result: As a result, we are compelled to explore the implications of…

Sentences To Start An Essay

Here are some interesting sentences to start an essay: 

  • Have you ever wondered about the impact of climate change on our planet?
  • In a remote village nestled among the mountains, a young girl's journey began.
  • "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," said Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Shockingly, 70% of marine life is threatened by plastic pollution.
  • While some embrace technology, others yearn for a simpler, analog life.
  • Democracy, the cornerstone of modern societies, is often misunderstood.
  • A tranquil dawn, with the sun's first rays painting the sky in hues of gold.
  • Did you know that octopuses have three hearts and blue blood?
  • As a child, I often marveled at the stars, wondering about the cosmos.
  • Society teeters on the brink of a digital revolution that will redefine human existence.

How to Start an Essay - Examples

Examining various essay introduction examples provides valuable insights into captivating your reader's interest right from the start. 

Check out these examples for guidance on crafting powerful opening lines.

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How to Start a Paragraph in an Essay?

The best way to start a paragraph in an essay is to write the topic sentence. The topic sentence tells the reader what the paragraph is going to be about. After the topic sentence, the supporting details are further provided.

Read this example to know how to start a paragraph. 

How to Start a Conclusion in an Essay?

To start a conclusion in an essay, you should write a rephrased thesis statement first. As it is the crux of your whole essay. Further on, the points discussed in the essay can be summarized one by one in the concluding paragraph. 

Here is an example of how to write a conclusion to help you understand this better. 

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Other Common Ways of Starting an Essay

Besides the ones given above, here are some common ways of beginning your essay on a strong and engaging footing.

Stating the Thesis Statement Briefly

Instead of adding your thesis statement plainly, make the tone engaging and keep it brief.

Beginning with an Interesting Discovery

Discoveries and little-known details always interest the readers. They are curious and they want to know more. This makes this kind of essay very interesting and irresistible for your readers.

Describe the Setting of Your Essay

Presenting the setting of your essay to set the mood of your audience. This helps them know where your essay is heading.

Recount an Event

Recount an event to add drama to your essay. This also helps the readers to connect with you on a deeper level.

Use the Narrative Delay Technique

This technique works best in piquing your audience’s interest and keeping them on the edge of their seats. However, do not linger on it too much and use this technique carefully.

Present a Historical Event in the Present Tense

Use historical present tense to add weightage to your narrative. It makes the readers feel as if the event is taking place at the present moment.

Describe a Process Briefly

Describe a process briefly that leads to your main essay topic.

Reveal a Secret

“How to start an essay about yourself for college?”

People are always interested in knowing secrets. This is what makes this technique so good. Use it to reveal some secrets about yourself, if you are writing an essay about yourself.

Present a Comparison between the Past and Present

It is a very effective technique as it helps the readers see the comparison between past and present situations.

Give a Contrast between Virtual & Actual Reality

There are many things that we believe to be true, a.k.a. Virtual reality. This technique helps you in presenting what a myth is and what reality is. Breaking the myths is an effective technique to grab someone’s attention.

Mistakes to Avoid When Starting an Essay

Here are a few mistakes that should be avoided for writing a great essay introduction. 

  • Starting Without a Plan: Launching into your essay without a clear outline is a recipe for confusion.
  • Weak, Generic Hooks: Using clichés or dull openings that fail to grab your reader's attention.
  • Excessive Formality: Overloading your intro with formal language can bore your audience.
  • Info Overload: Bombarding readers with too much background information can overwhelm them.
  • Unclear Thesis: Failing to state your essay's purpose upfront leaves readers puzzled.
  • Irrelevant Quotes: Using quotes that don't connect directly to your topic is a misstep.
  • Ignoring Your Audience: Neglecting your audience's interests can lead to disengagement.
  • Procrastinating Intro: Leaving the intro for last often results in rushed, ineffective beginnings.
  • Repetitive Content: Repeating what's in the body of your essay makes the intro redundant.
  • Skipping Proofreading: Overlooking errors in grammar and punctuation undermines your intro's credibility.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good introduction sentence for an essay.

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A good instruction sentence for an essay is one that captures the reader's attention with an interesting hook. After writing the hook, give them some context by providing background information that will help set up what is to come in later paragraphs or sections of the paper/essay.

Finally, conclude your introduction with a thesis statement that states both concisely and specifically what main point(s) are being made about this topic along with why it matters.

What are 3 ways of starting your essay?

The three most recommended ways to start off an essay are: 

  • Quotation: By a famous person that fits the context of your essay. 
  • Question: That engages the reader to find the answer in your essay. 
  • Facts or Statistics: That is startling so that the reader’s attention can be grabbed. 

What words can you use to start an essay?

Some words that can be used to start an essay are once, next, then, in fact, similarly, or a time word like first, second, third. You can also use sequential transitions to merge your hook to the rest of the introduction paragraph. These transition words include, for example, consequently, for this reason, or another addition transition.

What is a good paragraph starter?

A good paragraph starter is a brief yet complete topic sentence. The topic sentence should adequately give the reader an idea about what is going to be discussed in the rest of the paragraph. The topic sentence should also prove your thesis statement.

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Nova A.

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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12 Strategies to Writing the Perfect College Essay

College admission committees sift through thousands of college essays each year. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Pamela Reynolds

When it comes to deciding who they will admit into their programs, colleges consider many criteria, including high school grades, extracurricular activities, and ACT and SAT scores. But in recent years, more colleges are no longer considering test scores.

Instead, many (including Harvard through 2026) are opting for “test-blind” admission policies that give more weight to other elements in a college application. This policy change is seen as fairer to students who don’t have the means or access to testing, or who suffer from test anxiety.

So, what does this mean for you?

Simply that your college essay, traditionally a requirement of any college application, is more important than ever.

A college essay is your unique opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees who must comb through thousands of applications each year. It is your chance to stand out as someone worthy of a seat in that classroom.

A well-written and thoughtful essay—reflecting who you are and what you believe—can go a long way to separating your application from the slew of forgettable ones that admissions officers read. Indeed, officers may rely on them even more now that many colleges are not considering test scores.

Below we’ll discuss a few strategies you can use to help your essay stand out from the pack. We’ll touch on how to start your essay, what you should write for your college essay, and elements that make for a great college essay.

Be Authentic

More than any other consideration, you should choose a topic or point of view that is consistent with who you truly are.

Readers can sense when writers are inauthentic.

Inauthenticity could mean the use of overly flowery language that no one would ever use in conversation, or it could mean choosing an inconsequential topic that reveals very little about who you are.

Use your own voice, sense of humor, and a natural way of speaking.

Whatever subject you choose, make sure it’s something that’s genuinely important to you and not a subject you’ve chosen just to impress. You can write about a specific experience, hobby, or personality quirk that illustrates your strengths, but also feel free to write about your weaknesses.

Honesty about traits, situations, or a childhood background that you are working to improve may resonate with the reader more strongly than a glib victory speech.

Grab the Reader From the Start

You’ll be competing with so many other applicants for an admission officer’s attention.

Therefore, start your essay with an opening sentence or paragraph that immediately seizes the imagination. This might be a bold statement, a thoughtful quote, a question you pose, or a descriptive scene.

Starting your essay in a powerful way with a clear thesis statement can often help you along in the writing process. If your task is to tell a good story, a bold beginning can be a natural prelude to getting there, serving as a roadmap, engaging the reader from the start, and presenting the purpose of your writing.

Focus on Deeper Themes

Some essay writers think they will impress committees by loading an essay with facts, figures, and descriptions of activities, like wins in sports or descriptions of volunteer work. But that’s not the point.

College admissions officers are interested in learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you tick.

They want to know what has brought you to this stage in life. They want to read about realizations you may have come to through adversity as well as your successes, not just about how many games you won while on the soccer team or how many people you served at a soup kitchen.

Let the reader know how winning the soccer game helped you develop as a person, friend, family member, or leader. Make a connection with your soup kitchen volunteerism and how it may have inspired your educational journey and future aspirations. What did you discover about yourself?

Show Don’t Tell

As you expand on whatever theme you’ve decided to explore in your essay, remember to show, don’t tell.

The most engaging writing “shows” by setting scenes and providing anecdotes, rather than just providing a list of accomplishments and activities.

Reciting a list of activities is also boring. An admissions officer will want to know about the arc of your emotional journey too.

Try Doing Something Different

If you want your essay to stand out, think about approaching your subject from an entirely new perspective. While many students might choose to write about their wins, for instance, what if you wrote an essay about what you learned from all your losses?

If you are an especially talented writer, you might play with the element of surprise by crafting an essay that leaves the response to a question to the very last sentence.

You may want to stay away from well-worn themes entirely, like a sports-related obstacle or success, volunteer stories, immigration stories, moving, a summary of personal achievements or overcoming obstacles.

However, such themes are popular for a reason. They represent the totality of most people’s lives coming out of high school. Therefore, it may be less important to stay away from these topics than to take a fresh approach.

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Write With the Reader in Mind

Writing for the reader means building a clear and logical argument in which one thought flows naturally from another.

Use transitions between paragraphs.

Think about any information you may have left out that the reader may need to know. Are there ideas you have included that do not help illustrate your theme?

Be sure you can answer questions such as: Does what you have written make sense? Is the essay organized? Does the opening grab the reader? Is there a strong ending? Have you given enough background information? Is it wordy?

Write Several Drafts

Set your essay aside for a few days and come back to it after you’ve had some time to forget what you’ve written. Often, you’ll discover you have a whole new perspective that enhances your ability to make revisions.

Start writing months before your essay is due to give yourself enough time to write multiple drafts. A good time to start could be as early as the summer before your senior year when homework and extracurricular activities take up less time.

Read It Aloud

Writer’s tip : Reading your essay aloud can instantly uncover passages that sound clumsy, long-winded, or false.

Don’t Repeat

If you’ve mentioned an activity, story, or anecdote in some other part of your application, don’t repeat it again in your essay.

Your essay should tell college admissions officers something new. Whatever you write in your essay should be in philosophical alignment with the rest of your application.

Also, be sure you’ve answered whatever question or prompt may have been posed to you at the outset.

Ask Others to Read Your Essay

Be sure the people you ask to read your essay represent different demographic groups—a teacher, a parent, even a younger sister or brother.

Ask each reader what they took from the essay and listen closely to what they have to say. If anyone expresses confusion, revise until the confusion is cleared up.

Pay Attention to Form

Although there are often no strict word limits for college essays, most essays are shorter rather than longer. Common App, which students can use to submit to multiple colleges, suggests that essays stay at about 650 words.

“While we won’t as a rule stop reading after 650 words, we cannot promise that an overly wordy essay will hold our attention for as long as you’d hoped it would,” the Common App website states.

In reviewing other technical aspects of your essay, be sure that the font is readable, that the margins are properly spaced, that any dialogue is set off properly, and that there is enough spacing at the top. Your essay should look clean and inviting to readers.

End Your Essay With a “Kicker”

In journalism, a kicker is the last punchy line, paragraph, or section that brings everything together.

It provides a lasting impression that leaves the reader satisfied and impressed by the points you have artfully woven throughout your piece.

So, here’s our kicker: Be concise and coherent, engage in honest self-reflection, and include vivid details and anecdotes that deftly illustrate your point.

While writing a fantastic essay may not guarantee you get selected, it can tip the balance in your favor if admissions officers are considering a candidate with a similar GPA and background.

Write, revise, revise again, and good luck!

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Pamela Reynolds is a Boston-area feature writer and editor whose work appears in numerous publications. She is the author of “Revamp: A Memoir of Travel and Obsessive Renovation.”

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  • If you are writing in a new discipline, you should always make sure to ask about conventions and expectations for introductions, just as you would for any other aspect of the essay. For example, while it may be acceptable to write a two-paragraph (or longer) introduction for your papers in some courses, instructors in other disciplines, such as those in some Government courses, may expect a shorter introduction that includes a preview of the argument that will follow.  
  • In some disciplines (Government, Economics, and others), it’s common to offer an overview in the introduction of what points you will make in your essay. In other disciplines, you will not be expected to provide this overview in your introduction.  
  • Avoid writing a very general opening sentence. While it may be true that “Since the dawn of time, people have been telling love stories,” it won’t help you explain what’s interesting about your topic.  
  • Avoid writing a “funnel” introduction in which you begin with a very broad statement about a topic and move to a narrow statement about that topic. Broad generalizations about a topic will not add to your readers’ understanding of your specific essay topic.  
  • Avoid beginning with a dictionary definition of a term or concept you will be writing about. If the concept is complicated or unfamiliar to your readers, you will need to define it in detail later in your essay. If it’s not complicated, you can assume your readers already know the definition.  
  • Avoid offering too much detail in your introduction that a reader could better understand later in the paper.
  • picture_as_pdf Introductions


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