How to write a conclusion
How to End an Essay
The final paragraph of an essay is what ties the piece together into a single, cohesive whole. Coming up with a good ending can be tricky, but understanding what elements it should and shouldn’t have will help you craft a stellar conclusion worthy of nothing less than an A+.
Brainstorming Your Conclusion
Consider the “So what?” question. A helpful way to generate your conclusion can be to imagine that your reader has just asked you “So what?” about your argument. Why does what you’ve written matter? What can you say in your conclusion to help convince your readers that they should care about your ideas and argument?
- Asking yourself the “so what?” question as you write your essay can also help you dig below the surface of your ideas.
List the main ideas in your essay.Having a sense of what your argument’s main ideas were will help you know what you need to include in the conclusion. You don’t have to cram every point and subpoint into the conclusion: just hit the important things.
- Knowing your essay’s focus will also help you avoid introducing any new information or topics in your conclusion.
Look for any themes you introduced in the first paragraph.You can get a nice sense of closure by returning to the theme you opened with.See if you can take that theme a step further when you bring it back in the conclusion.
- For example, if you began your essay with the idea of humanity’s sense of smallness in the face of space’s vast expanses, you could return to that idea in the conclusion. However, you might expand this theme to include the idea that as human knowledge grows, space is actually becoming smaller.
Consider whether you can link your argument to a different context.One helpful way to conclude an essay is to extend your discussion’s relevance to a broader “big picture” context. This helps your reader understand how they could apply the arguments you made to another topic, giving your essay a bigger sense of purpose.
- For example, you could extend an essay on “Orange is the New Black” to the American culture of imprisonment in general.
Writing the Conclusion
Start with a small transition (optional).This can be a cue to your reader that you're ending your essay, and that they need to pay attention. Though a lot of essays begin their last paragraph with a transition, you don't need to if you feel like it's clear enough that you are ending your essay. The transition can be very simple.
- You should probably stay away from overused phrases such as “In conclusion,” “To summarize,” or “In closing.” Because they are used so often, they come across as cliched and stiff.
Briefly summarize some of the main points.Try taking the first sentences of each body paragraph (your topic sentences) and rewriting their main points in two or three sentences. This will reinforce your essay's argument, reminding the reader what you were talking about, or arguing for.
- Avoid summarizing your points exactly as you wrote them. Your readers have already read your essay. They don’t have to be reminded of every single point you just made.
Keep it short and sweet.There’s no hard and fast rule for how long your conclusion should be, but for many high school and college essays, a good rule of thumb is that your conclusion should be anywhere from 5 to 7 sentences long. Any less, and you probably haven't summarized your points enough; any more, and you're probably rambling on a bit too much.
Be sure to work your thesis statement into the conclusion in one way or another.You should reference it as you end your essay, even if it's only in passing. Remember, your thesis is the main point of your essay, something you're arguing for. If someone who reads your conclusion still doesn't know what your thesis is, you haven't done a good-enough job of telling them.
- Find a way to rework your thesis in an interesting way, using different language. Restating your thesis using the same words strikes the reader as lazy and doesn’t offer new insight into your argument.
Write authoritatively on your subject.Sounding authoritative means using the right words (as opposed to just any old words), relying on solid evidence from other sources, and believing in your own ability to write.Don’t apologize for your ideas or use heavily qualifying language.
- For example, instead of saying "That's why I think that Abraham Lincoln was the best American President in the 19th century," say "That's why Abraham Lincoln was the best American President in the 19th century." The reader already knows that if you write about Lincoln being the best President, you also believe it. Saying "I think" sounds like you're hedging and makes you sound less authoritative.
- Another example: Don't apologize for your views. They're your ideas, so take ownership of them. Never say something like "I may not be an expert" or "At least this is my opinion,"as this weakens your reliability.
End with a flourish.Your last sentence should be elegant, to the point, and provocative. This is easier said than done. But it all starts with illustrating the point of your essay. Ask yourselfWhat is my essay about, and what am I saying?and then move on from there.
- End with a little bit of irony. Be playful with your last sentence and pose an ironic by-product of what you're talking about. Then, the end of your essay becomes especially provocative.
- Make an appeal to emotions. Much of the time, essays are very rational, forgetting about emotions. That's why appealing to people's emotions can be a really powerful way to conclude an essay. Done in the right way, this will help the article have heart. Just make sure that your conclusion is in keeping with the tone of the rest of your essay.
- Include a call to action (use sparingly). If your essay is truly about getting people to change, then including a call to action is a useful tool to rouse your base. But use it sparingly: In the wrong context (an expository essay, or an argumentative essay) it can be overkill.
Avoiding Common Pitfalls
Avoidjustrestating your thesis.A common problem with many conclusions is that they simply restate the thesis and summarize what’s already been said. This doesn’t give your readers a compelling reason to read the conclusion -- they already know what it’s going to say.
- Instead, try to take your reader to the “next level” in your conclusion, or provide some further sophistication to your original ideas.
Resist the urge to quote.There is usually no need to clog up the ending of your essay with quotes and analysis — that should have been what you were doing in your main paragraphs. The conclusion is the place where you tie everything together for your readers, not where you introduce new information.
Don't use fluffy language.Don't use too many high-flying, two-dollar words in your conclusion. You want it to be readable and relatable, not rigid and boring. It’s much better to have clear, concise language than a meandering sentence stuffed with overlong words.
- Also don't use "Firstly," "Secondly," "Thirdly," etc. to make/finish your points. Make it clear what you're saying and how many points you're making.
Keep new material out of the conclusion.Now is not the time to introduce new ideas or content. That takes the focus off your original argument and could confuse readers. Don’t jumble things up — relay simply where your essay has led and state what you have come to think after conducting the necessary analysis.
Don't focus on a minor point or issue in the essay.The conclusion is not the time to nitpick with a small theme in your essay. In fact, it's the time to step back and focus on the big picture. Make sure your essay focuses on the heart of the essay, not one strand of hair.These words are not advanced ways to start a transition.
QuestionHow do I end a paragraph in an essay?wikiHow Staff EditorStaff AnswerIf your teacher wants a specific essay structure, you will probably want to end your paragraphs with a sentence that summarizes the main point, or in the intro, your thesis statement. If you have more freedom you might focus on leading naturally into the ideas of the next paragraph or you may end the paragraph when you feel you have made your point. You can also think of paragraphs like a slight pause in a conversation between topics. Read your paper aloud and make the paragraph breaks when it feels like a good place to pause (this will be easier for native English speakers). If you find all this confusing, your best bet is to just summarize the paragraph.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a "catchy" closing sentence for an argumentative essay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAn argumentative essay means a written debate. You are going to debate your points on a specific statement. Go for double sided statements. For example, "Homework is helpful, but under some circumstances, it poses a hazard." Such statements prove that you believe you are correct, but acknowledge that other opinions exist. This is a perfect way to end an argumentative essay.Thanks!
QuestionBut what if I have already stated the main points in the first sentence of the conclusion?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerElaborate on them by giving an example for each point, one sentence each. Read other conclusions to essays to help you to get a better feel for them rather than over-focusing on construction perfection -- learning by seeing other conclusions often works best.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best way to begin the conclusion of an essay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOne great way to start the conclusion of an essay is to restate your thesis, but it depends on the content of the essay and what you want your reader to take away from the essay.Thanks!
QuestionCan I conclude with something that is different from what I wrote in the essay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe conclusion is a reverse process of the introduction. Start with the thesis statement (write it in a different way), then summarize your points. Remember you can only write what supports your body paragraphs, not what's in the body paragraphs themselves.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the basic template for a conclusion?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFirst, start with a small transition, then briefly summarize some of the main points, after that be sure to work your thesis statement into the conclusion in one way or another. Finally, end with a flourish. Your last sentence should be elegant, to the point and proactive.Thanks!
QuestionHow should I write a conclusion for an informative paragraph? (It's about a planet)wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could simply say what the reader (or you) learned about the planet from your essay. You provided information throughout your essay and the conclusion wraps it up.Thanks!
QuestionHow should I end a history essay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis will largely depend on the level of history that you are working on and the type of essay you are writing. However, a good conclusion will generally involve a restatement of the thesis that you began your essay with and will leave the reader with a few final thoughts related to the essay's subject.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I end an argumentative essay? Do I have to focus on something special?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFollow the guidelines in the article. Briefly summarize the main ideas/arguments you discussed in your essay. Acknowledge that there are some good arguments for the opposite position, but that the arguments for your position are more numerous or more compelling. If you want, highlight one point you find especially important. You can end by connecting everything to a broader context, e.g., "Doing X will help ensure we have a world where Y" or something along those lines.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I conclude an essay on another person?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTalk about the impact he/she has made on the world, and how it affects/affected other people's lives.Thanks!
Should I end a conclusion with a rhetorical question?
How do I write the conclusion of a research paper?
How do I leave the readers of my essay thinking, "wow, I never thought of it like that"?
What is a good way to finish off a persuasive essay?
How do I write the final sentence of a research paper?
When you’re ready to end your essay, write a final paragraph that summarizes the main points of your body paragraphs and ties them back to your thesis statement. Keep this paragraph between 5 and 7 sentences long, and end it with an ironic statement, emotional comment, or call to action that illustrates the main theme of the essay. The final paragraph should pack a punch, so avoid bogging it down with new ideas or content.
Sample Essay Conclusions
- Always be sure to review your essay after it is complete. Check if you have the proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Always make sure you try to keep relevant information in the conclusion. Also try to tie back into your thesis statement in order to show the reader that you know how your reason fits into the topic of the essay.
- It always helps if you have someone else older than you to give you their advice or input on your paragraph. Maybe they can help you out there.
Sources and Citations
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