How to Write an Opening Statement for an Essay

The saying goes that you only get one chance to make a first impression. In an essay, the same is true, with the first words functioning as the first impression a reader sees. An opening statement helps to set the tone for your overall essay. It also gives the reader a sense of the direction you will be taking in your essay. Essay writing is different from most other types of writing you will be required to write in school and college. The opening statement sets the tone for the rest of the essay. If a professor assigns a personal essay, he may expect your personal perspective on a topic. In an academic essay, using first person to explain that same personal perspective is not part of the guidelines. Because of those different expectations in essay content, your essay opening statement may vary in tone and perspective. However, the actual writing process involves many of the same ideas.

Develop Your Essay Outline

Develop an outline for your overall essay. Developing an outline is an important step in bringing together your ideas on a subject and making sure that you cover the topic as thoroughly as possible. Since most opening statements summarize or at least foreshadow the contents of the essay, this outline will help you formulate your opening statement as well as the body of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the development of the Roman legions, the topic headings you use in the outline can also be used as the core of your opening statement.

Develop Your Essay Thesis

Next, develop the thesis for your opening statement. Write a thesis that will help to encapsulate the theme of your essay for the reader. The opening statement should make clear what the essay is about and what approach you are going to take. In a general way, you can also give your opinion on the subject while still leaving the details to the main body of the essay's text.

Essay Opening Statement

When appropriate to the essay type, try thinking outside the box to get creative with your opening statement based on the assignment's expectations. Keep in mind that academic essays may have different requirements than a personal essay. This means that the respective opening statements also vary with each essay's guidelines. Creativity is more relevant to a personal essay. One of the main purposes of any opening statement is to grab the reader's attention. For instance, if you are writing an essay in a history or social science class against war or materialism, you might want to quote a line from a John Lennon song like “Imagine" or start with a quote from Gandhi.