How do I write a catchy hook for my essay?

Don’t you just hate it when you have no idea what a hook sentence is and where and how to write one?

Well, we’ve all been there. Just like a fisherman who has to have the hook before catching the fish.

Your essay must have a hook before you can give the important details.  Want the readers to keep reading and reading?

Then find a way to grab their attention.

What is a hook really?

Definition: A hook is part of the introduction. In fact, it is the first or the second sentence of the introduction in an essay.  However, depending on the type of document you are writing such as a book, the attention grabber could be one paragraph or a couple of sentences.

“An essay without a hook is like a fisherman without the bait. He can catch no fish.”

Why do you need a hook?

You need a hook to make the readers lose track of time and do nothing else but read your essay. Why then write if you cannot grab the attention of your readers? You have no readers if you can’t get them to start reading.

Sadly, the audience doesn’t care about your essay or what you have to do to make them listen. But we care and it is your responsibility to care too.

Mind you, a hook is not only good for college papers but it is also important in journalism, in composing music and in writing books.

If you need help with creating an essay with a hook click here, otherwise continue reading.

How to write a hook sentence

Before writing the hook, you must:

Step 1# Know your audience

Whether you like it or not, you’re always writing to an audience. The audience may be a generalized group of people or a specific person. The hook of your essay changes with the audience.

Imagine you’re writing an admission essay. Your hook will be different from what you would use in a research essay.

When writing your essay, your TA or instructor is normally the only audience.  However, it would be a good idea to not assume that your TA is the only audience. In fact, assuming that the instructor is the only audience is giving them the power to choose what is right and wrong in the essay.

Step 2# Know the type of essay you’re writing

Now that you know your audience, you need to understand the type of essay you’re writing. How can you even write an essay without understanding it?  There are different types of papers such as descriptive, narrative, personal, application and compare and contrast essays.

Step 3# Use active voice

Mastering the use of active voice over passive voice in essay writing is the Holy Grail to catch hooks.  Using the active voice helps to make the sentences clear and easy to understand.

Step 4# Use the outline

Since the outline is quite important when writing the essay and so is it when writing the hook in your paper.  You have to create an attention grabber that is relevant to your outline.


Your hook must not only fit into your tone and style of writing, but it must also follow the outline.

Step 5# Do not talk about secondary content

A reader wants to know the most important content first. Just like a journalist, let the hook be the lead to your essay.  For your information, readers get bored quickly.  If you cannot give the important details fast, the reader will not wait long enough to read your entire essay.

In short, when writing the hook, you have to know what to include and exclude.

Anticipate the reader.

What makes a great hook?

The attention grabber can make or break your essay.  In any form of writing, a great hook leaves the reader asking the 5 W questions:

A good hook answers the 5 w

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Why?
  • Where?
  • When?

While this may seem like the obvious questions, it is often a good idea to use emotions. This all comes down to understanding your audience and knowing what makes them tick.

You can either use negative or positive emotions.

Word of advice: depending on the type of hook and essay you are writing, use the negative emotional words more than the positive words.

In fact, a study conducted by Schrauf, an associate professor of applied statistics at the Penn state noted that half of the vocabularies used by people to show their emotions are negative.

Negative emotional words include disgust, hate, and worried among others. A simple Google search will give you more emotional words to use in your essay’s hook.

5 types of catchy hooks for writing essays

You can grab the attention of your readers in different ways.

To cut the chase, let’s begin:

1. Quotes as an attention grabber

I have heard people asking “Can a hook be a quote?”. Yes, a quote can be used as an attention grabber.

It’s always good to explore important ideas through the words of another author. Isn’t it?  However, if you are going to use a quote, make sure you get it right.  When choosing the quote, avoid clichés or quoting something that is not related to your essay.

For your information, a quotation that is not relevant to your essay will distract the reader. Similarly,  double check the name of the author and use the quotations marks in the right way.

Example of  quote hooks in writing:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” (Nelson Mandela).

“Whatever you are, be a good one” (Abraham Lincoln).

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Teresa.

2. Statistics hook

Statistics hook in your essay

Giving the truth is always a good way to grab the reader’s attention in your essay.  Numbers are power and they help to strengthen any piece of information.  However, as much as statistics seem interesting to use, they can create more problems than they solve.

Sadly, the average reader does not know how to evaluate statistics. So, it is your responsibility as the writer to use a good explanation and avoid ambiguous words.

Do not use statistics from unreliable sources or without a good background in data research.  Make sure to match your statistics with your explanation.  However, the good thing about facts is that they not only catch the reader’s attention, but they also teach and create suspense.

Examples of  statistic hook you can use in an informative essay:

“According to statistics, more than 80% of graduate students are unemployed.”

“Only 7 out of 10 out employees know how to research in the construction industry” Stated the CEO.

3. Suspense and Mystery hooks

Learning how to write a killer attention grabber is a matter of practice.  Have you ever wondered what makes people watch a good movie from the first second to the last? Suspense

You want the reader to want to know what happens next.

Example of suspense hook:

George Orwell in the novel 1984: “The clock struck thirteen O’clock.”

This faint and unfamiliar narration of events makes the readers interested in what happened next.

To create mystery, the writer must not only give important information, but they must also leave out some information in an interesting and creative way.  By leaving some information, you leave the reader to ask important 5 W questions.

4. Rhetorical question as the lead

Using questions as the lead in your essay is common but important.  However, by asking these questions, you should not expect an answer from the reader. Rather, you should grab their attention to continue reading the paper.

Word of advice: Do not overuse questions as they make the reader bored.

Example of a question hook:

What must you do to improve your writing?

Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to write your essay?

How does it feel when you don’t know where to go?

5. Story and anecdotal hooks

Story and anecdotal hooks

Stories are probably the best way to grab the attention of your reader.  Surprisingly, when used well, stories or anecdotes could make the reader forget about their surroundings and keep reading the essay.

However, in academic writing, it is always a good idea to choose the right story.  A story may be personal or imaginative.  Using a story that is not related to your paper will only make your essay boring.

Make sure not to use the first person when giving anecdotes in a formal academic essay.

While stories may be humorous, this does not give you permission to make your entire paper funny.

Example of story hook:

Wishing to persuade her daughter’s progress on activism, a mother took the little girl to a meeting of the famous human right activist Martin Ennals. After sitting down, the mother saw a friend in the audience and walked to greet her.  Taking the opportunity to explore her environment, the girl took the stand and said, “We need peace.”

Clear statements hooks

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to go straight to the point.  You can use your thesis statement and then use the rest of the essay to support your views.

Remember when we said you need to know your audience? It all comes down to choosing the right hook. Some readers hate wasting time and getting to the point is the secret to hooking them.


“To make the world a better place, people need to focus on climate change. “

Read hooks from other authors

A good writer does not create their own rules.  In that case, you need to be a good student to the best authors.  Different authors have different ways of grabbing their reader’s attention. Depending on the essay you are writing, you will know the needed type of hook.

You might also consider reading your favorite novels and note down the questions the novel makes you ask.

To Wrap up

Whatever you have to do to make the reader attached to your essay, do it.  Follow the tips discussed in this article and you are well on your way to an A.

College writing may be boring but writing an essay is not going away anytime soon.  These tips could be applied in your essay hook to make you stand out.

Was this article helpful? What tactics do you use in you creating your hook? Leave and share with a comment below.

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