APUSH Review: The Introductory Paragraph and Thesis Statement

Learn tips for creating an introductory paragraph and thesis statement.

Purdue OWL: Creating a Thesis Statement

Edit your introduction and thesis as you write. Because ideas develop, change, and grow as you work with them, keep returning to your introductory paragraph and thesis. Edit them as you write your essay. By the end of your paper, be certain that the content of your introduction and thesis statement matches the overall message of your essay.

Paragraphs are the fundamental building blocks of any essay. They help organize the content of the paper and allow the writer to...

Thesis Statements - The Writing Center

Linking sentences relate back to the paper's main argument by showing how the idea of that paragraph matches the overall goal of the paper.

Between all paragraphs of the essay, there needs to be one of the following: A transition word Phrase

A well-organized paragraph supports or develops a single controlling idea, which is expressed in a sentence called the topic sentence. A topic sentence has several important functions: it substantiates or supports an essay’s thesis statement; it unifies the content of a paragraph and directs the order of the sentences; and it advises the reader of the subject to be discussed and how the paragraph will discuss it. Readers generally look to the first few sentences in a paragraph to determine the subject and perspective of the paragraph. That’s why it’s often best to put the topic sentence at the very beginning of the paragraph. In some cases, however, it’s more effective to place another sentence before the topic sentence—for example, a sentence linking the current paragraph to the previous one, or one providing background information.

Just as the ideas within the paragraph should come in a logical sequence, so should the paragraphs themselves.


Most paragraphs in an essay have a three-part structure—introduction, body, and conclusion. You can see this structure in paragraphs whether they are narrating, describing, comparing, contrasting, or analyzing information. Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in communicating your meaning to your reader.The following paragraph illustrates this pattern of organization. In this paragraph the topic sentence and concluding sentence (CAPITALIZED) both help the reader keep the paragraph’s main point in mind.Conclusion: the final section; summarizes the connections between the information discussed in the body of the paragraph and the paragraph’s controlling idea.The first paragraph of the body shouldcontain the strongest argument, most significant example,cleverest illustration, or an obvious beginning point. The firstsentence of this paragraph should include the "reverse hook" whichties in with the transitional hook at the end of the introductoryparagraph. The topic for this paragraph should be in the first orsecond sentence. This topic should relate to the thesis statementin the introductory paragraph. The last sentence in thisparagraph should include a transitional hook to tie into thesecond paragraph of the body. See, first, for different ways of getting your reader involved in your essay. The introductory paragraph should also include the thesis statement, a kind of mini-outline for the paper: it tells the reader what the essay is about. The last sentence of this paragraph must also contain a transitional "hook" which moves the reader to the first paragraph of the body of the paper.The third paragraph of the body shouldcontain the weakest argument, weakest example, weakestillustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph inthe body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include thereverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the endof the second paragraph. The topic for this paragraph should bein the first or second sentence. This topic should relate to thethesis statement in the introductory paragraph. The last sentencein this paragraph should include a transitional concluding hookthat signals the reader that this is the final major point beingmade in this paper. This hook also leads into the last, orconcluding, paragraph.Repeat key words or phrases. Particularly in paragraphs in which you define or identify an important idea or theory, be consistent in how you refer to it. This consistency and repetition will bind the paragraph together and help your reader understand your definition or description.Crafting a good introduction and thesis statement is often the hardest part of writing an essay. However, it can also be the most rewarding experience. The beginning of your paper is your chance to capture the audience's attention through the creativity of your first paragraph and the originality of your thesis statement. Once you understand the purpose and content for both the introduction paragraph and the thesis statement, you can easily write this portion of your paper and begin your essay on the right foot.The next stage in a 5 paragraph essay outline is organizing the essay in the manner the writer desires it to turn out. A writer could accomplish this using a basic 5 paragraph essay outline form which consists of the topic, the initial paragraph involving the thesis sentence that makes clear to the reader the general theme of the essay, the body that contains the other 3 paragraphs discussing single ideas using supporting details, and lastly the concluding paragraph. A write can also utilize a graphic organizer. It’s in the style of a spider web, having the topic at the middle and the supporting ideas along the peripheral circles.Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students define paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, a paragraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as “a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit” (Lunsford and Connors 116). Length and appearance do not determine whether a section in a paper is a paragraph. For instance, in some styles of writing, particularly journalistic styles, a paragraph can be just one sentence long. Ultimately, a paragraph is a sentence or group of sentences that support one main idea. In this handout, we will refer to this as the “controlling idea,” because it controls what happens in the rest of the paragraph.