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How to Grab the Reader’s Attention when Writing Your Term Paper

The introduction of the essay should cover several informative goals: present your thesis clearly, summarize the points which will support it, present an overview of the topic. However, an essay is not simply data—it’s a form of expression. And another, very important, goal of the essay introduction is to hook the reader.

The Hook

The hook should relate to your thesis, but it’s not the thesis itself. Instead, it’s a juicy bit of attention grabbing material that should pique your reader’s interest.

Hook Your Reader’s Attention by:

  • Sharing an interesting anecdote related to the topic
  • Sharing a controversial or provocative quotation
  • Presenting an apparent paradox
  • Presenting an oddity or intriguing, little known fact

Don’t Beat Around the Bush

Of course, you’ll also need to share your thesis. While assigned writing has a tendency to inspire students to be verbose, now is not the time to lead with several lengthy, vague sentences. Instead, present your thesis quickly and concisely. You’ll have the rest of the essay to make qualifying and explanatory remarks, but if you’re going to get your reader interested, you need to jump right in. Naturally, the topic itself needs to be introduced first, but steer clear of beginning with statements which are too broad or too general. If your thesis relates to the portrayal of female characters in Steinbeck’s writing, you need not give a biography of John Steinbeck in the first five sentences. Instead, begin with an introduction of the major female characters you’ll be examining. If there are pertinent points from Steinbeck’s life which support your thesis, summarize them later in the introduction or wait until the body of the essay.

Make Your Thesis a Strong Statement

Be confident when stating your thesis initially. Don’t insert “I think,” or “I believe,” “I will argue,” or other bulky leading statements. These weaken the impact of your thesis. No matter how controversial it is, put it out there in its full, unapologetic form. Remember, you have much more to write, and you can clarify, qualify, and explain to your heart’s content in the rest of the essay. Add a few of the highlights of your argument, then wrap up the introduction. Your introduction should be a powerful, concise, high-impact lead in to the rest of your paper, captivating and intriguing the reader, and leaving them eager to hear the rest of what you have to say.


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