Writing a Conclusion
It’s important to write a good introduction. It’s important to keep things organized in the main body of your writing. And it’s important to write a good conclusion. In a nonfiction piece, the purpose of a conclusion is to tie things up, summarize what has been said, and reinforce the main idea. In a creative writing piece, it also helps tie things up and might also leave the reader thinking or wondering.
A good way to get started writing conclusions is to give yourself a starting point. You can begin with any of the following: to sum up, in conclusion, in summary. Make sure these sound appropriate and fit well with what you’ve written. As you grow as a writer, you might want to leave these behind and try other strategies.
Use what you’ve written to help you write your conclusion. You can often rephrase what you included in your introductory paragraph. If you began with, "The colors of autumn make it my favorite season," then you can include a similar sentence in your conclusion. For example, "It is the orange, red, and brown of the leaves that make me love the fall."
You can also end with a question. This may or may not be effective, depending on the content and style of your writing. For a story about a boy who gets a new puppy, you might end with, "Can you imagine all the wonderful things to come?" For a piece on the importance of brushing your teeth, you might make the reader think with something like, "You don’t want all of that on your teeth all night long, do you?"
However you choose to write your conclusion, be sure that it fits well with your piece. It should flow naturally and remind the reader of the wonderful things you’ve written.
Time4Writing provides practice in this area. View our coursework available in Middle School Advanced Essay or browse other related courses.
What is a conclusion?
- A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
- It "wraps up" your essay
- It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
- It shows how you have proved your thesis
- It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic
- A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
- Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
- The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general
- So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:
Body of Essay
Rephrased thesis statement
What to include
- Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
- Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
- This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
- Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
- Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
- Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
- Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
- If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
- Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
- Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
- Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your "clincher"
- Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
- Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
- End on a positive note
- Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper
Strategies for an effective conclusion
- Play the "So What" Game.
- When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, "So what?" or "Why should anybody care?"
- Ponder that question and answer it
- Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
- So what?
- Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
- Why should anybody care?
- That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
- Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
- This brings the reader full circle
- If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
- Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
- Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
- Pull it all together
- Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
- Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
- Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
- Point to broader implications
- A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists
Concluding strategies that do not work
- Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
- These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
- "in conclusion"
- "in summary"
- "in closing"
- "as shown in the essay"
- Stating the thesis for the very first time
- Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
- Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
- Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper
- "That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It"
- Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
- Does not push ideas forward
- Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
- In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
- "Sherlock Holmes"
- State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
- Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then "wow" them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
- Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
- "America the Beautiful"
- Draws on emotion to make its appeal
- Out of character with the rest of the paper
- "Grab Bag"
- Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
- Creates confusion for the reader
- Topic sentence
- Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
- Supporting sentences
- Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
- Explain how ideas fit together
- Closing sentence
- Final words
- Connects back to the introduction
- Provides a sense of closure
Conclusion paragraphs can be tricky to write, but a clear conclusion can sum up your main points and leave your reader with a clear sense of what to take away from your overall essay. Creating a strong essay means making sure that you have a clear introduction, several body paragraphs, and an equally strong conclusion. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to write a conclusion paragraph, and then check out our library of conclusion worksheets to get plenty of practice in how to write a strong conclusion.
How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph
Choose Smooth Conclusion Transition Words
Your conclusion paragraph should begin with a smooth transition from the body of your essay. The first sentence of your paragraph should include clear transition words to signal to your reader that you are beginning to wrap up your essay. Different transition words can have different effects, so be sure to choose a transition word or phrase that clearly communicates that you are closing your essay. Some common examples of conclusion transition words and phrases include words / phrases like “in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “in summary”, “all things considered”, “ultimately”, “to sum up”, “in essence” and “in short”. Learn more about the different types of transition words.
Restate Main Points
Once you have signaled that you are drawing your essay to a close, you can then restate the main points of your essay. Depending on the length of your essay, this may be done in a single sentence, or it may require a few sentences. Be concise and clear; you should be able to summarize each main point in a simple phrase that avoids restating each detail and piece of evidence related to the point. Simply list off the points as a reminder to your audience about what they’ve just read.
Restate Your Argument
Finally, if you’re writing an argumentative essay, you’ll want to clearly restate your main argument in order to leave readers with one final appeal. If you have provided enough evidence along the way, this restatement should make readers feel as if you’ve persuaded them fully.
Call to Action
For some expository and argumentative essays, it’s appropriate to end with a call to action as your last sentence. For example, if you’re writing an informative essay about the sea creatures that live in the very deepest parts of the ocean, you may close with a sentence like this: “It’s clear that today’s scientists should continue to observe and document these mysterious creatures, so we may all learn more about life at the bottom of the ocean.” A call to action like this can make your reader feel inspired and informed after reading your essay.
What to Avoid with Conclusion Transitions
When writing a strong conclusion paragraph, you want to keep it simple. Use a clear transition word or phrase, restate your main points and argument, and possibly finish with a call to action. Be sure to avoid the following missteps:
- New Information. Your conclusion is not the place to introduce anything new. Simply restate and summarize the main points clearly.
- Personal Opinion. Unless you are writing an opinion piece that includes several “I” statements throughout, avoid ending your essay with a sudden “I think…” or “I feel…” If you haven’t been including your personal opinion throughout the essay, then you shouldn’t insert your opinion into the conclusion.
- Lots of Details. When you restate your main points, don’t worry about restating all the small details that make up your description or evidence. The place for details is in your body paragraphs. The conclusion is simply for summary and a possible call for action or next steps.
Check out our printable conclusion paragraph worksheets too!