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English 105

Conclusions

Writing a good conclusion is important for at least two reasons. First, it is the last, and perhaps most important, impression your reader will have of your paper. The conclusion represents the reader's final thoughts on your paper’s clarity, style, and overall feeling or tone. There’s nothing worse than reading through a stellar paper to find that the conclusion is lackluster. Second, the conclusion provides the opportunity for you to remind the reader about what you have just argued and some of the implications or applications of that argument.

Strategies for an effective conclusion:

  • Summarize your main idea. Review the main points and restate your thesis with new words, but keep it brief.
  • Pose a question for future study or inquiry. If you sense a gap in the literature or in your argument, suggest that the readers look into this area in the future.
  • Offer advice or propose a solution. If your essay was addressing a particular issue or problem, offer a course of action to resolve it that is consistent with your argument.
  • Make it memorable. To frame your essay, include a detail, example, or image from the introduction to bring readers full circle.
  • Use a quotation or anecdote. Try a witty or ironic comment.
  • Remember to ask yourself, “So what?” If you feel like something is missing from your conclusion, you might need to ask yourself why anyone might care about your paper. Give them a reason to think your paper is saying something interesting.

Conclusions to avoid:

  • The “Here’s something that didn’t fit in the body” conclusion. Do not introduce any new ideas in the conclusion.
  • The “I’m sorry” conclusion. Do not apologize for the inadequacy of your argument or complain about your task or lack of time to complete it.
  • The “Just kidding” conclusion. Do not contradict your previous arguments in the conclusion.
  • The “Life is beautiful” conclusion. Do not use platitudes such as “America is the land of opportunity.”

Adapted from Loyola Marymount University Library's Writing Guide

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