How to write a Conclusion

"So much is at stake in writing a conclusion," says the Harvard College Writing Center. "The end of an essay should... convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off."

Yikes. That's quite a lot to distill into the end of an essay! The University of North Carolina Writing Center agrees that "conclusions can be the most difficult parts of papers to write."

"While the body is often easier to write, it needs a frame around it," the UNC Writing Center says. "Your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. Such a conclusion will help them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down."

So what?

To test whether your conclusion achieves these goals, the experts at UNC recommend playing the "so what" game.

After reading statements in your conclusion, ask the question, "So what?” Or "Who should anyone care?" The answers to these questions will help you form even stronger statements.

The End

Your conclusion shouldn't just be a restatement of your thesis. At the same time, it shouldn't introduce a completely new idea.

"Synthesize, don’t summarize," says the UNC Writing Center. "Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in your paper. Instead, show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together. Pull it all together."


Harvard College Writing Center: Ending the Essay

Play the "So What" Game with the UNC Writing Center

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