I am writing an essay on project management within IT and in my introduction I will give a brief description of project management, to being my essay I was looking at using one of these:

  1. Project management is 'A unique set of co-ordinated activities, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by an individual or organisation to meet specific objectives within a defined schedule of cost and performance parameters'
  2. Almost by definition, innovation relies on project management (Wheatley 2004)

Would either (#1 vs #2) of these quotes be an appropriate way to start an essay?

  • I would shy away from starting off your essay with someone else's thought. Try to think of an engaging first sentence that makes the reader think you have something interesting to say.
    – onomatomaniak
    Dec 7 '11 at 11:56
  • as a young writer i find it more easy to begin an essay with a quote !!!!!!! mainly as some may contradict it is relatively hard but if you know what you are doing and follow the structure it is relatively easy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    – user8579
    Apr 29 '14 at 21:03

There are pros and cons to starting off with something attributed to someone else.

It can lead the audience to expect something derivative so you really have to work to demonstrate why your ideas are either supported by the quote or can refute it - depending on your aims.

You may also use quotes to carefully point out the main idea of essay/report for the reader or to make a good statement right from the beginning to make your essay interesting and relevant.

I could not provide you with some examples but feel free to google it. and also check out some essay writing tips like this or this


The opening words of an essay should immediately enmesh the reader in your wiles. Purpose-written paragraphs have broader latitude to do so than have found quotations. To start with a quote is not wrong, but you may do better, as onomatomaniak suggested, to "think of an engaging first sentence that makes the reader think you have something interesting to say."

Aside from limiting range of expression, starting with a quote requires attribution (crediting the source of the quote) which may cause the reader to look aside, to a footnote or a bibliography, during that important first moment with your essay.

I'm sure great essays can be started with quotations, because there are so many great quotes to be found, and I hope someone will present examples. But you often have more freedom of expression and can get to the point more quickly without one.


Yes, I suppose, especially, the second quote. By the way, you did not attribute the first quote to anyone.

  • Thanks. I do have the citation for the first quote i just missed it during copying and pasting. I was leaning towards the second, to be honest just wasn't sure it was considered ok to begin with a quote. Dec 7 '11 at 11:42
  • However, let's not take my answer alone. I suggest we wait for any better ideas further down.
    – Kris
    Dec 7 '11 at 11:47
  • +1 for suggesting i wait for more answers instead of just accepting your own. Dec 7 '11 at 11:49

I kind of like the idea of starting with #2, but italicized and as its own paragraph — almost like an epigram leading off your essay. In fact, if you can get two or three of these short pithy quotes and set up each on its own line, before you begin your intro, that would be a rather intriguing start.

  • Thanks for the input, i was leaning towards starting with #2 also but your suggestion sounds a lot better. Dec 7 '11 at 13:42

It is a good idea to begin an essay with some interesting quotes or sentences. You have to make your starting sentence attractive to grab the reader's attention.

  • Hi and welcome to Writers.SE. I edited your answer to remove the part about general writing help as it doesn't seem to address this question and also seems to promote the site you mentioned. (Linking to commercial services is fine if relevant and if you disclose affiliations.) This answer would be stronger if you could edit in something to support what you say about this being better. For example, do quotes grab the reader's attention, or do people skip past them? How do you know? Thanks. Oct 27 '13 at 19:24

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