一篇文章通常可分为三个部分，即开头、正文和结尾。这三个部分安排是否得体，直接影响到文章的质量。 文章的开头一般来说应尽量做到开门见山，用简单明白的叙述引出文章的话题，使读者了解文章要谈论什么，一下于引起读者的兴趣。 作文常见的开头形式大致有以下几种：
文章一开头，就交待清楚文章的主题是什么。如“How I Spent My Vacation”(我怎样度假)的开头是：
I Spent my last vacation happily．
Honesty is one of the best virtues．An honest man is always trusted and respected．On the contrary, one who tells lies is regarded as a "liar"，and is looked upon by honest people．
在文章的开头，先把人物、事件和环境交待清楚。例如"A Trip to Jinshan" (去金山旅游)的开头：
The day before yesterday my class went on a bus trip to Jinshan. The bus ride there took three hours. The long trip made us very tired, but the sight of the beautiful sea refreshed us.
用回忆的方法来开头。例如"A Trip to the Taishan Mountain"(泰山游)的开头是：
I remember my first trip to the Taishan Mountain as if it were yesterday.
即对要在文章中叙述的人或事先作一个概括性的介绍。如“The Happiness of Reading Books”(读书的快乐)的开头：
People often say that gold and silver are the most valuable things in the world. But I say that to read books is more valuable than anything else, because books give us knowledge and knowledge gives us power.
It was a rainy and windy morning. The sky was gloomy, the temperature was low, and the street was nearly empty. I was on my way back to school. Suddenly, a speeding car came round the corner.
在文章的一开头就交待写作目的，如通过文章要表扬谁，批评谁，或说明一个什么问题等。如 "Pollution Control" (控制污染)的开头：
In this article I shall draw your attention to the subject of pollution control.