How to Write a Page-Long Introduction

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Upper-year college or graduate students face the challenge of filling 10 or more pages for an essay assignment. A 10-page paper requires a long introduction, roughly a page or more. Writing a one-page introduction may seem daunting, but you have several options as to what you can include. The structure and content of your page-long introduction depends on the type of assignment you are completing.

1 Grab your reader s

Grab your reader’s attention by beginning with a relevant quotation, anecdote or question. “History knows no greater display of courage than that shown by the people of the Soviet Union,” a World War II quote by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, sets the stage for a history essay that explores the role of the Soviet Union in defeating the Germans.

2 Present the historical or social context

Present the historical or social context of your topic. Most long papers require research; you have likely become an expert on your topic through your reading. However, your reader may not share your knowledge of the subject and will not be able to grasp the significance of your thesis without some context. Context answers who, what, where, when and why about a topic. For example, after the quote about the courage of the Soviet Union, you could describe the conditions under which the Soviet army fought, how long, where and why they fought and how many soldiers died. Explain the context in 50 to 200 words. Cite any references to research.

3 Frame the issue

Frame the issue. Without giving away your ultimate argument, position or focus, explain the theme or issue you will be discussing. For instance, if your essay argues that the Soviet’s role in World War II was superfluous, describe the current scholarly debate on this issue. Brief the reader on what either side believes. Frame the issue in 50 to 100 words.

4 State your thesis

State your thesis. The thesis contains the argument of your paper. In a paper on the Soviet Union’s role in World War I, the thesis might read “Despite popular belief, the Soviet Union suffered needlessly in World War II, because the Allies could have won without their effort on the Eastern front.” The thesis is usually the final sentence of an introduction.

  • Think of your introduction as preparation for your thesis, which comes at the end. All sentences prior to the thesis should build up to it.
  • Divide your introduction into paragraphs if you feel you have presented an overwhelming number of sentences in a row.
  • Your thesis can also contain your paper's three major points.

Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.