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Georgetown University Qatar Writing Center

Introductions and Conclusions

Your introduction provides a road map for your paper. It identifies the topic, provides context and states your thesis. It should also make the reader want to read your paper.

Quick Tips for Writing an Introduction - from the University of Toronto Writing Center

Strategies for Writing and Revising Introductions - from the Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A hook is the first one to two sentences of your essay, which serves to grab a reader's attention and inspires them to keep reading. There are a number of ways to hook your readers:

Open with a Quote

If you are writing about a particular story, film, author, poem or book, a literary quote may work well. It makes your introduction more interactive and appealing to your reader. For other disciplines, the use of quotes can also be quite effective.

Example: "When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, eveything around us becomes better too" (Coehlo, 1988, p. 150).  Agree or not, but these words from the The Alchemist determine ...

Open with a Story (Anecdote)

A good way to start a paper is by sharing a story; it should be a story that is dramatic or attention grabbing and is related to your essay topic.

Example: The young man with the hammer hoisted himself onto the top of the wall. All around him on the wall and on the ground, people chanted and cheered. The young man knelt down and began to chip away at the cold, gray concrete. Little by little, the wall began to crumble. As I watched in amazement, it was hard to comprehend the fact that I was watching the Berlin Wall coming down.

Open with a Question

Make sure that the questions you ask provoke more than just a simple "yes" or "no" answer. The question should be challenging and thought provoking.

Example: Given all the freedoms that were denied to enslaved individuals in the American South, why does Fredrick Douglass focus his attentions so squarely on education and literacy?

Open with a Definition 

If you open with a definition, try to make it interesting, and make sure it is something that you are going to describe and discuss in your essay's body.

Example: Democracy is a word that originated from the late 6th century BV and is derived from the Greek demokratia where demos mean the people, and kratia means power or rule. Democracy, thus, invokes the principles of social equality.

Open with a Scene

Describe some incident, or mention particular features of a person or character to let readers visualize the scene.

Example: The day of his birth began with Hurricane Charlie pounding at this door in Charleston.

Open with a Statistic or Fact

Statistics or facts can grab the attention of the reader.

Example: In one four-year period in California (1995-1998), 15,363 people were injured and 5,954 were killed by drunk drivers. Each year, the same kinds of figures come in from all the states in the U.S.

Adapted from:

Brandon, L. (2007). Paragraphs and Essays. Wodsworth: Boston.
Butte College. (2014). Writing Introductions and Conclusions. Retrieved from Butte College.
Gallaudet University. (2014). Guide to Writing Introductions and Conclusions. Retrieved from Gallaudet University.


Sample #1

In the years leading up to the American civil war, tensions between the North and South, focused primarily on the issue of slavery, intensified. Many northerners sought a morally sound, unified labor system. Southerners, however, denounced free labor and advocated the expansion of the slave system. The ramifications of changes were unknown and threatening to both sides. The slave vs. free labor debate was particularly heated prior to the presidential election of 1860 when Abraham Lincoln and George Fitzhugh were among the most outspoken leaders. Lincoln maintained that free labor offered more protection to workers while Fitzhugh asserted that free labor was, in fact, more abusive and a greater threat to the well-being of workers.   

GUQ Student Writing, 2008

Sample #2

Since the middle of the twentieth century, women in many countries have been seeking greater independence and opportunity. No longer content with their traditional roles as housewives and mothers, women have joined together to create what is known as the women's liberation movement. The impetus behind this movement varies from culture to culture, country to country, and individual to individual. In the United States, some of the major developments that led to the liberation of women were the creation of effective birth-control methods, the invention of labor-saving devises for the home, and the advent of World War II.

Adapted from Oshima, A. & Hogue, A. (1999). Writing Academic English (3rd ed.). White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley  Longman, pp. 111 - 113.     






Conclusions leave a lasting impression on the reader; they should wrap up the paper in a memorable way. Conclusions are more than just a summary of your argument. They should justify your argument and bring it to a logical end. These links should help you to write a good conclusion:

Quick Tips for Writing a Conclusion - from Purdue Online Writing Lab

Strategies for Writing the Conclusion - from the Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sample #1

The physical disabilities of the girl serve as symbolic functions that affect how the reader interprets her relationship with the magistrate. These injuries lend themselves to symbolism because they are reflections of the weaknesses in all people - the insecurities, the compassion, and the love for one another that many manifest itself in various forms. Coatzee applies this symbolism to the complex relationships between two very different characters. The effect is a complicated and often contradictory representation of love and the emotions closely related to it.

Nesbitt-Johnson Writing Center. (2014). Conclusions. Retrieved from Hamilton University.

Sample #2

It is a natural, human inclination to wonder if God exists. Aquinas, like many other philosophers, attempted to prove God's existence through logical reasoning. His arguments, however, seem to be based on the presumption that there is in fact a God. He went on from this supposition to question human concepts, such as the wa that we determine what is good, true, and noble. If no obvious, tangible cause for a concept or behavior could be found, he concluded that God must be the cause and then claimed proof of God's existence. Aquinas was clearly biased in his study of God; he seemed to have a firm belief that God exists before he began the process of logical reasoning. This fault would be a problem for anyone trying to prove God's existence through concrete lofgic. There is something uncertain and enigmatic about the concepts of God and religious belief that logic will never be able to penetrate.

Nesbitt-Johnson Writing Center. (2014). Conclusions. Retrieved from Hamilton University.