The beginning of an essay is an important initial step in the process of essay writing since the writer’s objective is to convince readers of an idea based on some kind of evidence. To engage your readers, your essay’s beginning ought to achieve certain things. It is supposed to:

  • Introduce the essay
  • Focus it
  • Orient readers

How to Start an Essay

Introduce the Essay

Your readers get to know what the essay is all about through the topic. It’s one of the main components on ‘how to start an essay.’ The topic, however, does not just exist on its own. Part of letting your readers know what the essay is all about aims at establishing the context of your essay, that is, the frame within which you’ll approach your topic. For example, if the essay is about the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of speech, your essay’s content might be about a certain theory about the speech right, raised by the text or even a question or even historical information about the drafting of the amendment.

The point here is that you’re limiting your topic when you ascertain your essay’s context. You’ll be framing an approach to the topic that eliminates other approaches. Therefore, when you establish your context, you’ll be narrowing your topic and thus taking a huge step toward focusing your essay.

Focus Your Essay

In addition to introducing the topic, your beginning should also let the readers know what the main issue is. Which problem or question will you be thinking about? You can present a question that will lead to your idea (your idea will then be your question’s answer). Moreover, you can also come up with a thesis statement or do both; you can pose a question and then propose the answer that the essay is going to argue. Below is an example from an essay on Memorial Hall:

Additional analysis of Memorial Hall and of other sources that depict the process of building it, insinuate that the past may not be the main theme of the hall but only a medium. Which message then does this building communicate, and why are the fallen soldiers important to the alumni who built it? Probably part of the answer is that the Hall is some kind of an educational tool; an effort by the Harvard community of the 1870s to influence the future through shaping our memories of their times. The commemoration of those students and those who died fighting for the Union during the Civil War is one feature of this alumni message to the future. However, it might not be the main theme.”


Orient Readers

Orienting readers here implies the provision of information and explanations where necessary for your readers to understand. Orienting is important in the beginning and also throughout the essay. This is because readers who do not possess the information they require to follow your discussion will get lost and stop reading your essay. Providing the required information to orient your readers can be as simple as answering questions such as what, who, when, and where.

In addition, it might imply providing a summary of the content that you will be analyzing. In case the source text is brief, you can go ahead and quote it. On the other hand, if the text is recognized, your summary won’t have to exceed a phrase or two. For example;

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s’ calamity of star-crossed lovers shattered by the dispute between their two families, the lesser characters…

In addition, consider summarizing your source more fully so that your readers can keep track of your analysis.

Length and Order of the Beginning

When it comes to matters concerning how to start an essay, one questions that might come to mind is how long should the beginning be?

The beginning’s length ought to be proportional to the complexity and length of the entire essay. For example, if you are writing a ten-page essay, you might use a couple of pages for the beginning. Another question can be “does the beginning have to be addressed in a certain order?” The answer is no. However, the order must be logical. For example, typically, the statement or question which focuses the essay comes at the end of the beginning, whereby it acts as the jumping-off point for the main body of your essay. The topic and context are more often than not connected; however, the context may be determined before a particular topic is introduced. The order in which you write the beginning is flexible, and your purpose should determine it.

Opening Strategies on How to Start an Essay

Another question that you might ask yourself is, “what constitutes a good opening?” You can begin with particular information and facts, an anecdote, or even a question. Whichever opening you select, it must be related to your focus.

You need to steer clear of the following two types of openings:

  • Funnel opening, which begin with something broad or general then goes down to a particular topic (just like a funnel). For example, if your essay is an argument on non-legalization of marijuana, do not begin by generalizing about drug use; begin with that particular topic.
  • The history of the world opening – It’s an opening whose objective is to ascertain a context for your essay by getting a long running start. For example, with an opening like “Ever since the beginning of civilized life, societies have had difficulties in reconciling the need for change with the need for order,” what is really being talked about here?


How to Start an Essay Examples

Now that we’ve gone through some tips for starting your essay, some example will drive the point home. Here are some how start an essay examples:

How to Start an Expository Essay

An expository essay is a type of essay that is used to explain a topic straightforwardly and logically.

When you want to start an expository essay, you need to stick to the following basic steps:

  • Choose a topic – Ensure that the topic is narrow enough to make it manageable within the space of your essay.
  • Compose a thesis statement – Make sure this thesis statement articulates a controlling idea that isn’t too broad or too specific to be developed efficiently.
  • Choose a method of development – Before you start an expository essay, go through all the methods before you settle on the ideal one that will best serve you.
  • Organize your essay – Start by listing the main divisions that the body paragraphs will discuss. Then fill in the main supports that everybody paragraph will have.
  • Compose topic sentences for the paragraphs – Come up with a topic sentence for each body paragraph that correlates to the thesis statement.
  • Compose the body paragraphs.
  • Come up with a paragraph of introduction – An introductory paragraph ought to state the thesis of your essay, introduce the divisions in the body paragraphs, and also capture the attention of your readers.
  • Come up with a paragraph of conclusion – You need to restate the thesis and divisions of your essay and bring it to a suitable conclusion.

How to Start an Argumentative Essay

  • Go through all the reading material on the subject matter.
  • Divide the major points into those for your issue and those against.
  • Come up with a theses statement pinpointing the issue and your stand.
  • Come up with an outline that contains the main ideas that support your position and one or even two opposing arguments. Select a logical system of organization.
  • List secondary supports for each main point and also include evidence, examples and even reference material.
  • Start writing your draft – Compose the body based on your outline and utilizing your main supports as topic sentences. Moreover, utilize transitions between and within the body paragraphs.
  • Compose the introduction – Incorporate some background information so that you set the stage for your argument. Mention that there’s an opposing view and the major points you plan to dispute.
  • Come up with a conclusion – Ensure that you restate the main idea, present one or two arguments that will summarize your primary points. Moreover, provide a warning of the consequences of not adhering to your ideas, or a statement of how people will benefit from following your ideas.
  • Check your draft for the following –
      • Have you marked the place where you move from the opposing to the supporting points using words such as ‘however?’
      • Do your paragraphs present arguments that back your major points as facts? Do you have convincing supports?
      • Does your introduction attract the reader to your argument? Does your conclusion leave your readers feeling the logic of your position?

Examples of argumentative essay topics include:

  • Doing away with the death penalty in the US won’t make any sense.
  • Using animals for lab experiments is immoral.
  • Parents ought to restrict internet access to allow their children to concentrate on their education.

How to Start an Essay with a Quote

Can one start an essay with a quote? The answer is simply yes. It’s one of the most common ways of beginning an essay. Choose the appropriate quote that fits your purpose and utilize it properly. Tips on how to start an essay with a quote include:

  • Elucidate how the quote relates to your point.
  • Choose a quote that your readers can comprehend and relate to.
  • Ensure that the quote relates to your paper’s tone.
  • Don’t utilize the frequently used clichés and quotes that are known to everyone since your readers will get bored.
  • When introducing a quote, ensure that the source is acknowledged.

How to Start an Analysis Essay

The main aim of this essay is to teach people how to examine a film or book, interpret it, and come up with an argument based on the material presented in the book/film. When you want to start an analysis essay, consider the following:

  • Cite the title of the book/film
  • Include background information and come up with the thesis in the introduction.
  • Indicate the major ideas.
  • Use direct quotation of keywords.
  • Don’t summarize the plot.

How to Start an Informative Essay

An informative essay can:

  • Examine a cause-effect relationship
  • Present the latest research on a particular topic
  • Enlighten readers about a problem they aren’t aware of.

When you want to start an informative essay, consider the following steps:

  • Select the topic
  • Come up with an outline to organize your facts. Outline all the questions you have on the topic.
  • Gather the necessary information from various sources.
  • Research your topic and analyze the facts.
  • Come up with an introduction.
  • Come up with the body.
  • Finally write the conclusion.

An informative essay is supposed to be impartial and objective. Examples of informative topics include:

  • The significance of daily exercises
  • The origin of the universe
  • Marijuana legalization


After having completed your draft, examined the evidence, or even altered the idea you began with, try as much as possible to go back to your beginning to ensure that it still offers a vivid focus for your essay. After that, go ahead and clarify the focus as required.