The introduction of your essay to a large extent determines its success. The introduction is the first thing that your readers see, and it should motivate your audience to read the whole essay. Given the importance of the introduction, there’s no surprise that many students consider this section of the essay especially difficult to write. The introduction should begin with an attention-grabbing hook. Depending on the type of essay and your objectives, you may start the introduction with an anecdote, interesting fact, a story from your life, etc.
One of the most common types of hooks is a quote, as it is one of the most effective ways to grab reader's attention right away. Although quotes are overused by students as hooks in essays, a properly selected relevant quote can help you grab your readers’ attention and establish a context for the introduction. If you want to use quotes in your essay effectively, you should avoid some common mistakes and know how to weave the quote into the rest of the essay introduction. In this article, we will consider some tips that will help you start your essay with a quote.
How to Choose the Right Quote
When choosing a quote for your introduction, the main thing is not to prioritize the author’s authority over the meaning of the quote. There’s no need to include a quote from a famous person if it isn’t directly related to the content of your essay. You don’t want to feature popular quotes that could be used by thousands of other students, and you must make sure that the content of the quote perfectly resonates with the unique subject of your essay and your thesis statement.
You should also make sure that your readers will understand the quote. Start with a quote that isn't too complex. You may briefly explain its context and background so that your readers can understand what the author meant and in what circumstances these words were written or said. Choosing the right quote for your essay may take some time. The good news is that there are many books with collections of quotes categorized by topics or authors. You may also highlight passages that can be used as quotes when reading your sources.
Tips on Starting an Essay With a Quote
- Avoid clichés
You may feel tempted to use a quote that you’ve read and heard many times. If a quote is very popular and overused, it may still be relevant, but the best solution is to avoid such quotes because they will just bore your readers. Clichés will make your readers think that you were just too lazy to find anything they’ve never heard before. Make sure that the chosen quote actually contributes to the meaning of your essay and look up its context so that you can be sure that it fits the context of your essay.
- Introduce the quote properly
A quote won’t make your introduction better if it’s unrelated to the rest of the introduction and isn’t supported by some brief elaboration. Introduce your quote to connect it to the rest of the content. For example, you can include a preview of the quote, paraphrasing it or providing your personal opinion on it, and then provide the quote itself. You may also use a quote as a predicate, with the author being the subject of the sentence. However, if a quote is self-explanatory, you may also start the essay with the quote and then attribute it to the source.
- Attribute the quote properly
First, you must make sure that the person you quote actually said the quote. Not all sources are trustworthy, and if you see a quote on the internet, you should double-check its authenticity. There are many websites, including Brainyquote and Pinterest, where you can find many quotes that are attributed to the wrong people or simply fake. Always use reliable academic sources so that your reputation and credibility won’t be damaged if someone spots a mistake.
- Avoid long quotes
You may encounter long quotes that can perfectly illustrate your point while also containing some unnecessary or irrelevant information. In this case, the worst solution would be to provide the quote in its entirety and then explain what exactly you wanted to say by including it. Instead, you can use ellipses (…) and include only the necessary part. Keep in mind that you should only use such an approach if you’re 100% sure that the chosen quote is used in the right context. Don’t use ellipses to change the meaning of quotes so that they will fit your agenda.
- Pay attention to punctuation
All direct quotes should be written within quotation marks. Otherwise, quotes might be considered plagiarism. When you paraphrase somebody, you shouldn’t include quotation marks but you still must attribute the content to the original source. A full stop, exclamation mark, or question mark at the end of the sentence should be placed inside the quotation marks. Capitalize a quote only if you write it at the beginning of a sentence.
Should You Begin an Essay With a Quote?
Using quotes at the beginning of your essay has certain advantages and disadvantages.
- Quotes can help you set the right tone of your paper, getting an emotional response from your readers and motivating them to read more.
- Quotes are great attention-grabbers. A controversial, humorous, or shocking quote from a well-known personality can help you immediately capture your audience’s attention, which is a reason why quotes are often used as hooks.
- Quotes also enable you to increase your credibility by using the authority of the original source. If you show that well-known experts support your opinion, it will be difficult for readers to argue against it.
- Using quotes in the introduction of your paper is one of the most common approaches so it won’t make your essay more original.
- Finding a perfectly relevant quote that matches the context of your essay writing may take a lot of time.
- If you decide to include a strong quote at the very beginning of your paper, you should make sure that it won’t be the most interesting and intense part of your essay.
Quotes are often used at the beginning of an essay to create a strong hook and establish the right context or tone. A good quote can be very beneficial for your introduction but you should know how to use quotes properly. We hope that our tips will help you avoid common mistakes and use quotes to your advantage.