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Historical Essay: Introduction

The introduction to your essay history essay serves many purposes: it opens your essay, it states your position (thesis), and it provides an overview of where you are going.


“You should write your introduction last!” How many times have you heard that, and why would you do that anyway? Well, the general idea is that you need to know what you are introducing before you introduce it. But really, when you actually write the introduction is less important than making sure your introduction serves its purpose. And you can always rewrite it after you have completed your essay and know where your arguments actually took you.

Scan through some of the tabs above and suggested tools, in order to construct a complete and compelling introduction to your essay!


Opening Statement

First of all, open your essay with “a broad general statement.” But don’t be too general. “Move up only one level of generality from your topic.” You could make a general point about the times, or use a catchy quote or idea, or even relate an experience, but make it relate to your topic.

And make it something that will “piques the interest of your readers.” You want to “grab their attention.” You could, for example… use some real but “startling” information. A few surprising facts. You could use also try an anecdote, an amusing story that is relevant to your topic. Even dialogue could be used, a few sentences in an exchange between speakers. (Source:

Jot down a few possible openers in the Intro Builder Tool.

And (easier said than done) don’t be pompous or pretentious in your opening sentence. Look back at your opening statement later, with fresh ears and eyes. Make sure it makes sense and sparks an idea that relates to your thesis and essay contents and conclusion. But you don’t want it to sound over-blown or inflated.

Overview of Main Idea

Then, trying to keep things brief, introduce your ideas! What were my ideas again?

Jot the main ones down in the Intro Builder Tool.

When you write your introduction, you want to state your main ideas without going into detail, and mention where your essay will be taking the reader, “without actually discussing the content.”

For example, if you are going to specifically show the effects of the conquest of Quebec on the Huron, well say just that and nothing more in the introduction. Don’t list the actual effects. Let the reader discover those in the “body” of the essay!

End with your thesis

“Creating an introduction paragraph becomes more easy once the thesis has been determined.” In fact, your introduction should include your thesis, your clearly stated goal or argument, the thesis that you have already “constructed.” (See How to Write a Thesis!). You should end your introductory paragraph or section with that thesis statement.

Jot down the thesis you previously created in this space in the Intro Builder Tool.

Compose various introduction drafts

So now you know the order of things in your introduction: a general but interesting statement, an overview of your ideas, and your clearly written thesis statement. All of these will get backed up by the evidence you present in the “body” of your essay!

For now, use the Intro Builder Tool to write out various introductions using different opening statements and different tones. Choose the best one when you are ready to write your final draft!


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