What Is The Background Information In An Essay

Encyclopedias are important sources to consider when initially researching a topic. General encyclopedias provide basic information on a wide range of subjects in an easily readable and understandable format. 

Using an encyclopedia is an effective way to quickly get a broad overview of a subject. Some encyclopedias will provide more in-depth information than others, however any general encyclopedia is a good source to consult for background information of your chosen subject area. Most encyclopedias provide the following:

  • Main concepts
  • Titles of important books written about topic
  • Names of authors who have written about topic
  • Keywords and subject terms related to topic
  • Lists of related articles or additional resources

Gale Virtual Reference Library is an online encyclopedia that has a vast online library giving instant access to the most authoritative and up-to-date scholarship across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. It is one of the largest academic reference collections online.

Essay Structure: Providing Background Information


When you are writing an essay, providing background information is very important for a number of reasons. The most obvious being that it improves the flow of your writing, it creates interest in what you have written and it helps the reader understand the points you are making.

But background information is not all the same. Some parts of it differ from other parts. You need to know this. The best approach is to make a list of the points you wish to include as part of your background information. From this list, write it again in order of priority. Another good way to define the different points of background information is to list them as either a general or specific. Some writers even divide their background information points by saying they are either interesting or helpful.

Why would you use background information?


  • it reinforces the main point of your essay
  • it helps define a point you are making
  • it provides an historical context
  • it allows you to surprise or shock the reader
  • it gives a hint of what is to come later
  • it allows you to present statistics

Background information is often introduced in the introduction of an essay. You want to capture the reader's interest right from the beginning. You want to establish the theme or topic of your essay. You want to set up the argument or introduce the plan you make in your essay. All of these things can be done in the introduction by providing background information.

It's important to understand that there are different types of background information and that they are used in different ways and in different parts of your essays. Not all types of background information are necessarily good for every essay. Not all background information needs to appear in the introduction.

The important point is to gather as much background information as possible and then only use what will actually help your essay and in the best place possible.

Knowing how to find background information is likewise important. Knowledge is power and the greater your ability to research a topic, the better your background information supply and the better your writing content and thus the higher the grade of your essay.

Simply knowing about background information is not enough. It is a powerful tool in creating essays and making the best use of background information will seriously improve your essay writing.

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