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Concluding Your Essay

There seems to be an ongoing debate among those who have to write essays, papers, etc. as to whether the introduction or the conclusion is more difficult to write and write well. However, since we've already talked about introductions, today we're going to talk about conclusions briefly.

A few things to keep in mind:

Your essay is not an epic.
Most schools require reasonably short essays (although you may not feel that way if you've been agonizing over it for a while). If you've only written 300-500 words, chances are the average reader is going to remember what you said a few hundred words ago. Therefore you should NOT summarize your essay in the conclusion.

Give the reader a sense of closure without summarizing every point again. While you want closure, you should not try to squeeze every detail into your conclusion. For example, if you were telling a story about a challenge in your life and how you resolved that challenge, you don't necessarily want to tell the reader what happened to every other person in your story and what the implications were five years later. It's far better to emphasize the one point the story was meant to demonstrate and stop there.

Expand the significance of your essay.
While you obviously do not have a great deal of space to work with, it is important to try to expand on something you said in your essay - to say it in a fresh way. For example, you could redefine one of the terms from your body paragraphs, finish a story you started in the introduction, or relate your essay to a wider context.

However, you should be wary of adding new information. The conclusion is not typically long enough to allow for totally new information and you risk a 'tacked on' feeling if you don't have space to explain an idea you introduce.

Your goal should be to end your essay on a positive note while saying something significant in a new way. If you're just regurgitating information you already communicated, there is really no point to even writing a conclusion because readers just read the essay for themselves. Depending on the essay, a discussion of your plans for the future might be a very good note to end on.

Make it flow.
Do not use stock phrases such as "in conclusion," "to conclude," "to summarize," etc. These are not appropriate for this type of essay. Rather, make your writing flow. Link your conclusion back to your introduction. Have it be the culmination of the story that you have been telling your reader all throughout the essay.

 


Once you've finished your conclusion and your essay, set it aside for a day or two. Read our article on editing and then take a fresh look at your essay and begin to edit and refine it.