When contemplating how to write a conclusion, just remember: your introduction and conclusion are the appetizer and the dessert of your essay. Conclusions should round off the topic and leave a strong impression in the readers’ minds. After all, this is your final moment to drive home your theme.
Yet, it’s easy to develop writer's block when it’s time to craft a winning conclusion. You may be tired of writing. You may be ready to move on to another assignment. But, now’s not the time to give up.
The good news is, conclusions are semi-formulaic. Here are the three key elements to that formula.
What’s the central idea to your thesis? That’s a safe place to begin your conclusion. After all, you’ve directed every other section of your essay to support your thesis. To kick off your concluding paragraph, feel free to reiterate your main idea.
Try to make it fresh, though. You don’t want to restate it verbatim. Rather, loosen it up a little as you prepare to remind readers why they’d be well-served to adopt your stance on the subject or follow your recommendation.
Three is a good benchmark for your overall summary. You don’t need to restate every argument you made, just the three you believe are the most striking. As with your main idea, don’t be bland. Avoid simply repeating three points. Instead, show your readers how those points made your argument stronger.
Pull them together into one special force, adding weight to your main idea. Sometimes one idea won’t hit home. But, when three compelling arguments join together, it’s hard not to give some sort of credence to your argument.
Leave the reader satisifed but also wanting more. For your closing line end on an interesting, thought-provoking idea. Pose a rhetorical question. State a striking quote from your research. Sometimes, good quotations act as illustrations, saying what we want to say with a little more glamour or panache.
Another way to add some “food for thought” to your conclusion is to tie your main idea to a broader scenario. Perhaps your paper examined Virginia Woolf’s mark on literature. As you bring your three points home, consider the broader implications to her legacy, not only for literature but for feminists yet to come.
The closing line in your concluding paragraph is one that requires extra TLC. It’s, literally, your last chance to make it stick. One thing you should never do in your conclusion is introduce new information. This will only confuse the reader and take away from the important features of a conclusion: the restatement of your main idea, your summary of three main points, and an epic closing line.
With these three elements in mind (a restatement of the theme, three key points, and a compelling closing line), let’s take a look at an example of a good conclusion. Then, we’ll pinpoint each of the three elements.
When you adopt a dog, you’re not saving his or her life. You’re saving your own. With an ability to lower stress levels, increase cardiovascular activity, and improve your overall mood, who’s getting the better end of the deal? The more you can support your local shelter, the more they’ll be able to give back to the local community. After all, “When you adopt a shelter pet, you save two lives – the one you adopt and the one that takes its place.” Together, we can save our finest friends, one adoption at a time.
In this conclusion, the writer restated the thesis: adopting a dog can save your life.
The paragraph progressed into three main points: dogs lower stress levels, increase cardiovascular activity, and improve peoples’ moods.
Finally, the writer broadened the argument beyond the readers’ immediate world. The case was made that one pet adoption actually saves two lives, not to mention the dog owners themselves.
Whatever you do, don’t allow your conclusion to be an afterthought. Let it be the big brother who has his little sister’s back. It’s defending all those pages you just wrote in five powerful sentences. Remind the reader why it matters. And then leave them nodding in agreement. That’s the goal, anyway. You can’t win everyone over, but you can certainly make readers pause and think. If you’ve managed that much, then you’ve done well.
Now you’re familiar with the formula for writing a striking conclusion, you can read through some further examples in our article Conclusion Examples to give you inspiration for formulating your own.