West Seattle High School

West Seattle
High School
Social Studies Department

Inroductory and Concluding Pargraphs

Introductory and Concluding Paragraphs

1. Introductory paragraph: An introductory paragraph introduces the topic of the essay and includes the following:

  1. It should engage the reader.
  1. Explain why the reader should care about the topic and continue reading.
  1. For Social Studies essays, an interesting historical quote or a surprising fact can be very effective in your introduction, if you connect to the thesis/claim.
  1. i.For a Social Studies essay, you will want to avoid personal questions and anecdotal information though, like “Have you ever…”

Ex: Machiavelli, an Italian political advisor of the Renaissance, once said, as a leader, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

  1. It should set the context.
  1. What is the time frame or time period for which you are writing?   
  2. What region of the world are you writing about? 
  3. What were the issues at that time?   
  4. What was happening that relates to your topic?

Ex: During the Renaissance, which started in the mid-15th century, Europeans became more fascinated with secular ideas such as art, philosophy, and the natural word.  Even though religion continued to guide people’s lives, their interests broadened.  At times, religious ideas and scientific ideas came into conflict.  Furthermore, people’s preconceived ideas of the world were changing as explorers were learning more about the world.  This led to many conflicts that would play out in the next 200 years.

  1. It should introduce your claim or thesis.
  1. At the end of the introductory paragraph, you will state your thesis.  
  1. i.Sometimes your teacher will accept a basic thesis. 
  2. ii.Other times, he/she may want an extended thesis where you introduce your subtopics.  

Ex. The most important effects of the Renaissance were religious divisions in Christianity and revolutionary changes to scientific thought.   

2. The body paragraph: There should be at least two paragraphs in the body of the essay.

  1. Each body paragraph supports a component of the thesis.

Ex. Topic Sentence Paragraph 1: The Renaissance led to religious divisions in Christianity.  These divisions were important because they led to wars which changed both governments and social structures of societies.

Ex. Topic Sentence Paragraph 2: Furthermore, the Renaissance resulted in revolutionary changes to scientific thought.  These changes led to a better understanding of the physics of the universe and the structure of the human body.

  1. See “How to Make a Paragraph” for more information.

3. A concluding paragraph

  1. The conclusion summarizes the main points/arguments and sometimes provides a call to action.
  1. Restate your thesis and why it is important.

Ex. The Renaissance had many significant effects, but the most important changes were to Christianity and scientific thought.  These ultimately paved the way for changes in the structures of governments, social hierarchy and the way humans understood themselves and their universe.

  1. Summarize your subpoints.

Ex. The Protestant Revolution resulted in changes to Germany’s principalities, which had once been ruled by the Rome, but now were controlled by the local princes.

  1. Address the opposing viewpoint.

Ex. While religion and science were important effects of the Renaissance, the contributions to art were also critical.  Art was transformed from being focused on religious issues to expanding to issues such as the daily life of the common

people, the natural world, and the beauty of the human form.

  1. Remind your reader why he/she should agree with your position.

Ex. However, the long lasting effects of the Renaissance were more impactful in religion and science.  Those changes have made a permanent mark on the laws of physics, the way state-building occured, the personal relationship that modern Christians have with their God.

  1. Include a call for action or make connection to today.  Assuming you have convinced the reader, what should they now do?

                       Ex. See underlined sentence above for connection to today.