Online Writing Lab

Conclusions

While conclusions are often considered an afterthought, a good conclusion is necessary for a good paper.   This is the last part of the paper that will be read, and a good conclusion leaves the reader thinking about the essay and the important points that are presented.  On the other hand, a poor conclusion detracts from the essay, no matter how strong the rest of the paper is. 

All good conclusions bring an essay to a satisfactory end by wrapping up the important information that is presented throughout the essay.   A conclusion should always restate the thesis and/or the main points from the paper.  This is your last chance to remind the reader of the importance of what you have been writing about and why it is important and is the last chance to leave the reader with something interesting to consider after the reader is finished reading it. 

A conclusion does not have to be long, but it does need to accomplish the goals discussed above.  Use the following as a checklist for the conclusion:

  • Does it flow from the last body paragraph?  (Like other paragraphs in the essay, the conclusion should transition from what was written above it.  However, avoid overused expressions like “in conclusion” or “in summary,” which signal to the reader that the conclusion is simply tacked on to the end.)
  • Does it restate the thesis of the essay?
  • Does it remind the reader of other important details and/or points made during the essay?
  • Does it reconnect to the intro and/or any specific examples or narratives used in the essay?  (The more effective the hook or attention grabber at the beginning of the essay is, the more reason to return to it in the conclusion to bring the essay “full circle” and show how the essay solves the example, narrative, statistic, quote, etc. from the introduction.)
  • Does it have a call to action or describe the benefits of implementing what is argued for in the essay? (This is particularly important in an argumentative or expository essay.)

A good conclusion is neither too long nor too short.  It is long enough to bring the paper to a satisfactory end, but is short enough to keep the reader interested and not make it seem as if the paper is dragging on.  Generally, the length of the conclusion should match the length of the essay.  A shorter conclusion is appropriate for a shorter essay, and a longer essay often needs to have a longer conclusion.