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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?

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Dec 7 '11 at 14:10

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

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
up vote 2 down vote accepted

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.

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

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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. – Darren Burgess 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. – Darren Burgess 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.

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

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.

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It is a good idea to begin an essay paper with some interesting quotes or sentences. You have to make your starting sentence attracting to grab the readers mind towards your essay paper.

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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. – Monica Cellio Oct 27 '13 at 19:24

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