A typical introductory paragraph includes the main idea, the sections that follow in the essay and the thesis statement, although the exact content depends on the essay’s genre, states James Donelan, an English lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The introductory paragraph should begin in a way that surprises the reader, move to an explanation of the essay’s purpose and, finally, make a precise argument, suggests the University of Maryland’s Writing Center.
The introductory paragraph is the general beginning of a paper that tells readers what the paper is about, why they are reading it and what the author of the paper wants them to do, explains the Online Writing
Lab at Purdue University. The introductory paragraph's first sentence should be a general statement that helps readers orient themselves to the essay's subject matter, advises The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
An evocative or even controversial statement might also be appropriate for the first sentence of an introductory paragraph. However, the first sentence must also give readers useful information in a compelling but professional way. Overall, the introductory paragraph must make a good first impression to keep readers interested in the body of the paper.