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Structuring an introduction, a paragraph and a conclusion.

HEAT Stage 5: Writing your assignment.


5.2 Structuring and introduction

 

An introduction is like a guidebook to your whole assignment. It gives background information into your topic area and outlines all the ideas you are going to present. Remember that most introductions will be about 10% of the final essay and will include some or all of the following:

  • An introduction to the context or background of the topic (you could include interesting facts or quotations)
  • The reason for writing about this topic
  • Definitions of any complex terminology that will be referred to throughout the assignment (note that definitions are not always necessary)
  • Introduce the main ideas that stem from your topic/title and the order in which you will discuss them?

You may want to use the grid below to help you structure your introduction; you can use the right-hand column to jot down your own ideas.

 

Structuring an introductory paragraph

Introduce the context or background to the topic: Perhaps you could explain the title in your own words or use a quotation from an author who offers a supporting or contradictory statement about your topic area.                                                                     
What is the purpose of writing about this topic? Is there a problem or controversy with the topic?  
Definitions: Are you using any complex terminology or acronyms that need defining? Try to use a working definition from an expert in your subject area rather than referring to a general dictionary definition.  
Introduce the main ideas that stem from your topic: You cannot write about everything; for a 2,000 word assignment, select between 3-5 key ideas and introduce them in the precise order in which they will be discussed.  

 

Structuring a paragraph in the main body of your assignment

 

What is a paragraph?

 

Paragraphs in the main body of your assignment usually contain a number of sentences which develop new ideas or expand upon existing ones. You may also need to construct paragraphs which offer contrasting views on the ideas you have already developed. A succession of well-structured paragraphs can help to create a coherent and logical argument. You need to consider the purpose of each paragraph:

  • Is it developing a new idea?
  • Is it expanding on an idea already mentioned?
  • Is it offering a contrasting view on an idea already mentioned?

You may wish to use the grid below to record your ideas for each of your paragraphs.

 

Structuring a paragraph in the main body of your assignment

An introductory sentence (this is sometimes called a topic sentence): This tells the reader the purpose of your paragraph and introduces the main idea you are developing, expanding upon or contrasting with another.                                                                     
Examples/evidence/quotations: You will usually need to include evidence that develops/contrasts an idea. This informs and strengthens your argument. Try and introduce your evidence clearly and remember to reference the source (either as a citation in the body of your text or as a footnote/endnote).  
Evaluative sentence/s: You may need to offer some explanation on the relevance of your examples/evidence/quotations. Why is this evidence useful? What does the author say that supports the idea you are developing? Does this evidence have any limitations?  
Concluding sentence: This draws together the main idea being made in your paragraph.  

 

Structuring a conclusion

 

Your conclusion is the final paragraph of writing in an assignment. It must summarise (very briefly) every important idea you have discussed in your work as well as draw conclusions based upon the evidence you have presented. You need to make sure that you have directly answered the question. It is always useful to link your conclusions back to the essay title.

 

Tips to remember:

  • Your conclusion will be about 10% of the whole assignment
  • You should not include any new information in your conclusion.

You can use the grid below to help you structure your conclusion. The right-hand column can be used for you to make a note of your own ideas.

 

Structuring a conclusion

Summarise each of your points in the order in which you have presented them..                                                                     
State your main conclusions based upon the evidence you have presented.  
Link your conclusions back to the title – make sure you have directly answered the question and that your reader finishes your essay with a clear sense of your viewpoint on the topic (you must do this without saying 'I').  

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