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First and last impressions are important in any part of life, especially in writing. This is why the introduction and conclusion of any paper - whether it be a simple essay or a long research paper - are essential. Introductions and conclusions are just as important as the body of your paper. The introduction is what makes the reader want to continue reading your paper. The conclusion is what makes your paper stick in the reader's mind.
Your introductory paragraph should include:
1) Hook: Description, illustration, narration or dialogue that pulls the reader into your paper topic. This should be interesting and specific.
2) Transition: Sentence that connects the hook with the thesis.
3) Thesis: Sentence (or two) that summarizes the overall main point of the paper. The thesis should answer the prompt question.
The examples below show are several ways to write a good introduction or opening to your paper. One example shows you how to paraphrase in your introduction. This will help you to understand the idea of writing sequences with that use a hook, transition and thesis statement.
» Thesis Statement Opening
This is the traditional style of opening a paper. This is a "mini-summary" of your paper.
Hook: a specific example or story that interests the reader and introduces the topic.
Transition: connects the hook to the thesis statement
Thesis: summarizes the overall claim of the paper
» Opening with a Story (Anecdote)
A good way of catching your reader's attention is by sharing a story that sets up your paper. Sharing a story gives a paper a more personal feel and helps make your reader comfortable.
This example was borrowed from Jack Gannon's The Week the World Heard Gallaudet (1989):
Astrid Goodstein, a Gallaudet faculty member, entered the beauty salon for her regular appointment proudly wearing her DPN button. ("I was married to that button that week!" she later confided.) When Sandy, her regular hairdresser, saw the button, he spoke and gestured, "Never! Never! Never!" Offended, Astrid turned around and headed for the door, but stopped short of leaving. She decided to keep her appointment, confessing later that at that moment her sense of principles had lost out to her vanity. Later she realized that her hairdresser had thought she was pushing for a deaf U.S. President.
» Specific Detail Opening
Giving specific details about your subject appeals to your reader's curiosity and helps establish a visual picture of what your paper is about.
» Open with a Quotation
Another method of writing an introduction is to open with a quotation. This method makes your introduction more interactive and more appealing to your reader.
» Open with an Interesting Statistic
Statistics that grab the reader help to make an effective introduction.
» Question Openings
Possibly the easiest opening is one that presents one or more questions to be answered in the paper. This is effective because questions are usually what the reader has in mind when he or she sees your topic.
Source: *Writing an Introduction for a More Formal Essay. (2012). Retrieved April 25, 2012, from http://flightline.highline.edu/wswyt/Writing91/handouts/hook_trans_thesis.htm
The conclusion to any paper is the final impression that can be made. It is the last opportunity to get your point across to the reader and leave the reader feeling as if he or she learned something. Leaving a paper "dangling" without a proper conclusion can seriously devalue what was said in the body itself. Here are a few effective ways to conclude or close your paper.
» Summary Closing
Many times conclusions are simple re-statements of the thesis. Many times these conclusions are much like their introductions (see Thesis Statement Opening).
» Close with a Logical Conclusion
This is a good closing for argumentative or opinion papers that present two or more sides of an issue. The conclusion drawn as a result of the research is presented here in the final paragraphs.
» Real or Rhetorical Question Closings
This method of concluding a paper is one step short of giving a logical conclusion. Rather than handing the conclusion over, you can leave the reader with a question that causes him or her to draw his own conclusions.
» Close with a Speculation or Opinion
This is a good style for instances when the writer was unable to come up with an answer or a clear decision about whatever it was he or she was researching.
» Close with a Recommendation
A good conclusion is when the writer suggests that the reader do something in the way of support for a cause or a plea for them to take action.
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