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6.Introductions

An introduction sets the tone and expectation for what follows, and the reader will use it to decide whether to continue reading.

A person may have come to your article through a:

  1. a.Search engine query.
  2. b.Link from another site.
  3. c.Link from your site.

They will have have an expectation of what your article will offer. If it is from a search engine, they will have a certain amount of doubt, as they will have been given only a few words with which to make a decision. They may have an idea of what their search query meant, but the results may not match up to that, and so they may be taking a gamble on going to your article.

Conversely, if they have come from a link on another site, it would have been within the context of the source article, and so, depending upon how much they trust that site and why they were directed to your article, they will likely be either favourably or disfavourably disposed to it.

Whichever way they got to your article, after using the heading to be sure they have arrived at the right article, they will still be wanting to decide if the article is worth reading. Your introduction needs to convince them of that.

Therefore, make sure your introduction covers at least the:

  1. 1.Principal content of the article.
  2. 2.Benefit to the reader.

In this way, the prospective reader can quickly decide whether to keep reading. Even if they do not, after they have read elsewhere, they may decide that what you indicated may be of interest to them after all. Because you didn't waste their time the first time round, they may be more than happy to come back.

If the reader has decided to stay, they have accepted the concept presented in your introduction, and are thus more open to what you write next. That means that the introduction should not contain information that you want them to retain. It is better left to the next paragraphs where they are more receptive to accepting what you write.

To make that point clear, introductions are more like navigation, as in being a decision point, rather than informational, making their content fairly disposable as far as the reader is concerned.

Also, don't make an introduction any longer than necessary, as the reader may decide to skip reading further if they feel they have to wade through too much text to make a decision. If it seems to be getting too large, make it more concise, drop one of its points, or split it up.

Other elements that should have introductions are:

  1. a.Sections
  2. b.Subsections
  3. c.Lists
  4. d.Figures and images.
  5. e.Tables.

Section and subsections should be treated like a mini-article, in that the introduction should still be indicative of the content, so the reader can decide whether to read it.

Introductions to lists, figures and tables are important, because they help frame how a reader thinks about the information that follows, otherwise they might be distracted by less relevant aspects of it. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but which thousand a reader thinks of may not match up that well with what you had in mind.

These introductions should be direct and specific, like:

  1. a.[List] For your proof of identity, provide any two of:
  2. b.[Figure] Position the watch back, noting the alignment of the notch to the winding knob, as per:
  3. c.[Table] The monthly sales for the last financial year, noting the drop during the floods in March, are:

Note that just the introductions can convey quite a lot of meaning in themselves, and highlight exactly what the reader is to look for in what follows. This is what controlling the narrative means, especially when the reader is presented with complex information of which only a part is directly relevant.

Don't use the redundant word 'following', as the list, figure or table that follows is the obvious target of the introduction. Rephrasing the introduction to be more direct will usually be much 'punchier'.

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TS: art-a 3ID: 2018-05-13-05-00-00Now: 2020-07-16-00-10-02Powered by: Smallsite Design©Patanjali SokarisManage