The American Psychological Association format is a specific writing style that's used to cite references within the social sciences. High school and college students, as well as career professionals, often use APA format when writing research papers or literature reviews. Even though APA style specifically refers to the "formatting of content, not the content itself," according to the University of North Alabama, there are some general guidelines you should follow when writing an introduction for an APA paper.

Step 1

Start your introduction with an explanation of the problem and state the purpose of your paper. The APA format requires that you clearly and concisely let your readers know what they can expect from your report. Explain the significance of the study, including any relevant background information to support your claims, and discuss the rationale behind your research, suggests David Caprette, biochemistry professor at Rice University. For example, if your paper is about the effects media violence has on children, start your introduction by explaining how studies have shown that violence on TV can lead to aggression or addictive behavior in children.

Step 2

Create a thesis statement that identifies your major point, claim or argument. Use the first-person point of view and active voice for your APA introduction and throughout the rest of your paper, recommends the Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Clearly articulate your side or stance on the argument so that there's no question in the reader's mind where you stand. Using the previous example, you might develop a thesis, such as, "Children who spend several hours a day watching violent acts on TV, such as fighting or killing, become desensitized to aggressive behavior and think it's an acceptable way to resolve conflicts." Place your thesis statement near the end of your introduction, so it leads into the body of your paper.

Step 3

Write your APA paper in the past tense, unless you're referring to common knowledge or established proven facts. If you include an abstract with your paper, put your introduction on a separate page after the abstract -- the body of your paper should follow the introduction. Remove any information from your introduction that doesn't help readers follow your argument or better understand your point of view. Use leading statements, such as, "The evidence suggests ..." or "The study indicates ..." rather than the words "proof" or "proves," according to Purdue University.