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write a conclusion for an essay

How to Write a Good Conclusion for an Essay: Fundamental Principles and Helpful Tips

April 2022

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Article by Elizabeth Bankston

Article by Elizabeth Bankston

Elizabeth Bankston is our staff blog contributor and the mastermind behind our content marketing efforts. Having spent 6 years at the University of Richmond, she now puts to practice her leadership skills and humanities knowledge to show students how to study more effectively and successfully.

A conclusion is one of the most often overlooked parts of an essay. It may seem unnecessary and repetitive since it usually echoes the introduction. This is one of the biggest mistakes inexperienced essay writers can make.

Instead, a conclusion is a vital part of any paper. So much is at stake here! It is your last chance to persuade your audience, demonstrate the importance of your ideas, and leave a lasting impression. Not having a strong conclusion is a disservice to your audience and your ideas.

If the introduction can be described as a passage taking your readers into the realm of your analysis and ideas, the conclusion is another passage – back to the real world. 

In this post, we will examine the main principles of finishing your paper in a way that gives your readers a sense of closure and, at the same time, fosters further discussion. You can successfully implement these principles to write a conclusion sentence for a short 300-word essay or a proper conclusion for an extensive research paper.

General Tips on How to Write a Conclusion for an Essay Example

Let’s first look at general guidelines for concluding your writing. This is how to write a great conclusion for an essay regardless of the particular type.

Call back to the thesis statement

Being the crux of your paper that you spend several paragraphs (or pages) defending, your thesis is worth restating again. However, don’t just repeat it. Return to it in a way that demonstrates clearly: it has been developed and proven.

Summarize your main arguments

Again, be careful not to repeat your main points automatically. Synthesize them. Pull them together in one final decisive sing-off that leaves no doubts whatsoever. Show your readers that in the light of these powerful arguments, they have no choice but to agree with you.

Don’t add new information

Everything new should appear in the body of your paper. A conclusion should summarize and reiterate. Don’t add new evidence or put forward new arguments here. The only exception might be a thought-provoking quote from one of your primary or secondary sources – especially if it succinctly conveys your point or puts your thesis in a broader perspective.

Avoid “concluding” expressions

Phrases like “to sum up,” “in conclusion,” and “to summarize” may seem fitting in a speech to signal that you are nearing the end. However, in the written text, they are redundant. They may even weaken your writing, making it sound wooden. Your readers see well enough that your paper is running towards its closure. 

Don’t undermine your argument

The conclusion is the place to cement your position and sway your reader’s opinion. Do not weaken it by apologizing, admitting that your approach might not be the only one, and saying that there are many points of view on the subject. If you want to acknowledge pluralism of thought, you better do it at the beginning of your essay. The conclusion should be devoted to your perspective and its merits.

Push beyond the confines of your prompt

Remember what I told you about conclusion being the door back to the real world? The conclusion is the place to put your ideas in a broader context. Tell your readers why the results of your analysis are important. What are the larger implications of it for the academic field? How can it change your readers’ perspective and maybe enrich their lives? Leave your readers with the sense that the time spent with your essay was worthwhile – enlightening, improving, and thought-provoking.

How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph for an Essay Depending on its Type

Now, let’s look in detail at different types of essays and distinct features of conclusions best fitting each one. Although all of the above principles still apply, there are some nuances.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Informative Essay

As much as you would like to add more data in any part of your informative essay, new stuff in a conclusion is a faux pas. Avoid a “grab bag” ending where you put random tidbits that don’t quite fit anywhere else but are too dear to your researcher’s heart to be left out. The best way to conclude an informative essay is to highlight why this information is essential and how it can be helpful for your readers.

How to Write a Good Conclusion for an Argumentative Essay

In some guides on how to write a conclusion paragraph for an argumentative essay, you may find the advice to use an emotional appeal. For example, a rhetorical question or a personal anecdote. However, such strategies are better suited for a persuasive essay. In an objective and logical argumentative essay, excessive sentimentality may seem off and out of character. It may weaken your message instead of reinforcing it. A better way to conclude an argumentative essay is to synthesize your main points and reiterate your central thesis as a proven fact.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Analysis Essay

The winning strategy for an analysis essay conclusion is putting your findings into a broader context. Why was your analysis important? What gaps in scientific knowledge has it filled? How do these findings change the view of the subject? How can they be practically applied? And so on. A good strategy for writing such a conclusion is to ask yourself, “So what?” after laying out your findings.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Analytical Essay about Literature

This one deserves a separate entry since the practical applicability of literary analysis can be hard to define. Such assignments always seem to be an exercise in “art for the art’s sake,” so to speak. However, your interpretation of a literary work still may have significance for the reader. Tie the themes explored in the analyzed piece with the problems your peers might be struggling with today, with the challenges humanity faces. What answers can your analysis give? Also, if you bring a new perspective on a work of art, highlight why studying this perspective is important.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Opinion Essay

Sometimes students struggle writing a conclusion for an opinion essay. They have already stated their position, argued it vehemently, and provided evidence. When it comes to writing a closing paragraph, they have nothing left to say, so they just repeat their thesis. Such a conclusion is usually short, shallow, and underwhelming, often accompanied by expressions like “as I stated before,” “as I already mentioned,” “such as my opinion,” etc. Whereas a good conclusion for an opinion essay should push your ideas forward. Here, an emotional appeal is quite fitting.

How to Write a Conclusion for an Expository Essay

An expository essay requires you to explore an idea, a concept, an event, etc., in detail and set forth an argument about it. However, don’t save this argument for the last moment. Too often, students keep their readers in the dark until the end, only to reveal the key statement in the conclusion for dramatic effect. However, unlike a mystery novel, the thesis should always be stated upfront in an academic paper. The conclusion is the place to wrap it up and send your audience off with a clear message – not to wow them with an unexpected twist.

As you can see, different types of essays require different strategies to make your writing more impactful and memorable. Don’t forget that the main point of the conclusion is to leave your readers with a clear takeaway – not to bore them for one paragraph longer. When you see those concluding sentences as a communication opportunity rather than a formality, writing them becomes easy and enjoyable!

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