How to Introduce a Topic Clearly With a Summary Preview Video

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  • 0:01 Introduction
  • 0:44 Story
  • 1:57 Summary Preview
  • 3:09 Example
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathy Wilson

Cathy Wilson has taught college literature and composition, junior-high and high-school English, and secondary art. She has a master's degree in American Literature.

Here's a simple, surefire way to write an introduction for your paper, including a summary preview (or what some teachers call a thesis statement). This works for almost all papers, including definition, classification, comparison/contrast or cause/effect papers. Try this simple approach to set up your paper easily.


How do you get to know someone new? Sometimes you just need an introduction! It's the same thing when you write a paper, because no matter what kind of paper you need to write, you're going to need an introduction. When you write a paper, your introduction is like getting to know someone for the first time. It is your way of saying hello to your reader. It gives some attention-catching background for the information that's coming ahead, and it provides a summary preview, or thesis statement, which will show the organization of what you're going to write.


One of the best ways to start just about any paper is to use a story. Be sure to choose a story that has something to do with the paper you're writing. When you're doing your research, keep your eyes open for interesting stories you might be able to use.

As an example, let's say you were assigned a classification paper, and you chose the subject of baseball. You've already figured out the subject is too big to write about, so you decide to limit the topic. You decide that you will explain the base positions and classify the tasks for each baseman.

What kind of story could you use to introduce this topic? You might start with a quick story about the famous Lou Gehrig. Even though he was an amazing hitter and first baseman, his career was cut short because of a serious disease, ALS. Starting your paper with a story like this will grab your readers' attention and help them stay with you.

Summary Preview

Now that you have told your story, what's next? This is a good time to write a sentence or two about the background of your topic - things that you think might be important for your reader to know. Then you will write your organizing statement about your topic. Some teachers call this a summary preview, while others may call it a thesis statement. They both mean the same thing; it's a statement that tells what you are going to write about. In the case of baseball, you might explain that while there are many positions you can play in baseball, in this paper, you will be writing about the positions of the basemen.

Here is how a summary preview or thesis statement for this topic might read: 'While there are many positions you can play in the game of baseball, in this paper, I will explain how to play first base, second base, third base and home base.' Now you can easily see how this paper could develop. You will write a paragraph or so about each baseman: first, second, third and home.

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