How to Write a Conclusion to an Essay or Paper
There are times when writers neglect the conclusion or ending to their written work. Rather than thinking of it as necessary, they often consider it a mere formality. The truth is that a good conclusion is just as important as a well-written introductory paragraph since it must bring together all main points and leave your readers eager to know more about your topic. The primary purpose of a concluding paragraph is to demonstrate the key points, important data, and interesting theories covered in the body paragraphs of a paper. Therefore, it is important to pay careful attention to a concluding paragraph.
The Steps Involved in Writing a Conclusion
- Read back over your written work carefully. Examine the central thesis statement and the main points presented in the body paragraphs.
- Rewrite and reiterate your thesis statement and all key points without altering the meaning. This will prevent the concluding paragraph looking like a direct repetition of previous text.
- Find ways to reinforce upon readers that the information in this last paragraph is significant. Try to do this in one or two short sentences.
- Write your conclusion bearing in mind that it should be clear and relatively short. The final sentence in this paragraph is just as important as the thesis in the opening paragraph.
- Make sure your thesis statement and key points are covered in the concluding paragraph, and that this section properly demonstrates how important the material in your paper is. Lastly, add a nice finish, and edit and proofread as necessary.
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Important Points for Consideration
- Broadly speaking, an effective closing paragraph should address the “what does it matter” question. It should show readers why and how all the analyzed material is relevant to their everyday lives. Essentially, a concluding paragraph is a reversal of the introductory paragraph insofar as it takes your readers out of your paper and back to real life.
- In most classical five-paragraph essays, the conclusion is normally comprised of a single paragraph. However, in longer essays and other types of papers (e.g., the 2,500-word and over variety), it is not unreasonable to have two paragraphs in a conclusion to properly sum-up all the material.
- There are a number of ways to end a concluding paragraph. You could call readers to action as a way of showing how they can now take the information presented in your paper forward. You could make a personal appeal to them by posing one or more questions of the rhetorical variety or seek their opinion in respect of the topic. Alternatively, you could try and find a way to develop a thought-provoking ending. It is your choice.
- A concluding paragraph is your last say on the subject matter so there should be a sense of closure.
What You Should and Should Not Do
What You Should Do
- A conclusion should move from specific detail to how information can be applied in practice. Hence, you may want to let readers know how this can be achieved.
- The thesis statement should be referred to in the concluding paragraph in order to merge it with key points from the main body paragraphs. This will make it easier for readers to connect everything.
- Be confident in the way you write. Let your readers see you have confidence in your opinions. Otherwise, they may not be entirely convinced by your text.
- Include a quote from a well-known person to reinforce the validity of your subject or topic. This is a good way of adding authority and credibility to a concluding paragraph.
- Keep your conclusion concise. One paragraph is ideal unless your essay is an extended one of, say, 3,500 words or more.
What You Should Not Do
- Do not introduce new ideas or information in your last paragraph.
- A mere reiteration of the thesis and main points from the body paragraphs is sufficient. These should be rewritten to combine and synthesize all main points and to show they are logically linked rather than randomly selected.
- Transitional words and phrases should be used, but in a way that is natural. The transition to your concluding paragraph should not be conspicuous because this will make the end of your paper seem smoother and more professional.
- Avoid words that suggest you are uncertain about your closing opinion e.g. do not use such words as “possibly,” “perhaps,” “unless I am mistaken,” and so on.
- Do not hurry to complete your paper in as quick a time as possible. Consider what you are going to write carefully. Last impressions are usually as important as first ones.
- It is a mistake to repeat a thesis statement without changing it.
- Vagueness and not summarizing all main points is another common mistake.
- Do not forget to synthesize the main points from the body paragraphs rather than just repeating them.
- Avoid clichés when choosing transitional words and/or phrases.