Academic writing tutorial: providing background information

Have you ever jumped into the middle of a conversation and had no idea what someone was talking about? Imagine the reader of your essay feeling the same way. In order to write a good composition, you need to provide some kind of background information in your essay so that your reader is able to follow along, maintain interest, and be able to understand the context of your thesis.


It is difficult to pick up a great novel and start from the middle. The beginning is the best place to provide some background information on your topic, especially in the first couple of sentences in your introduction. It gives the reader an idea of what to expect from your paper, and gives them an opportunity to learn a little bit about your subject matter before they just jump right in.

Establishing Interest

Background information can also be interesting information. When you provide background information within the body of your composition, you may be providing some points of interest that your reader may not otherwise gather. Try to limit background information to a paragraph or two, and be careful not to get distracted and ramble. Keep your information pertinent and in the body paragraph that it belongs.

Providing a Context

If you are making a case or argument in your academic writing, you will need to provide some kind of context for your reader. Otherwise, your point will not be as relevant and your audience may not see the validity of your thesis. By providing some background information, your audience will understand when and why the issue is valid, previous arguments or leaders, and how the thesis has transformed overtime.

Spending time on the background information really makes a difference in your essay and does not require much more research from what you are already doing. Most of the evidence that you will be utilizing in your composition will have some background information associated to it, as you will see when you are pulling your material together. Your readers will need to have some kind of context to understand your thesis, and by providing the simple answers of who, what, where, when, why and how, your readers will have a better understanding on how your point is relevant to them or society in general. If you are creating a brand new thesis, providing information on some basic definitions or key concepts will be of use as well.

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