Step 8: Conclusion
Your essay conclusion is the end of your paper and ties all of the information together to recap everything. It should be roughly 20% of your total paper (just like the introduction) and not introduce any new information such as quotes or facts. Having a strong conclusion is important because it ties in all of the things you talked about into a coherent fashion and then merely reiterates your findings. Ultius is here to help with our wide range of essay writing services and professional writers that can the stress off the writing process.
How to Structure an Essay Conclusion
Like the introduction, an essay conclusion should follow a specific format that is logical and easy for the reader to follow. Here is the best way to approach it:
1. Restate thesis in 1-2 sentences: Restate your main thesis in a few sentences to remind the reader of your original argument
2. Recap main points: In 1-2 sentences for each main example you gave, sum up the main point.
3. Reiterate your analysis: Restate your analysis of the topic in a few sentences. For longer essays, this analysis portion should be another paragraph.
Lastly, please make sure to not include any new information in the conclusion. This is your final word and you don't want another author to have the last say when it's your argument!
What is an Essay Conclusion?
Conclusions can often be the most difficult part of writing a paper, but fear not, help is here! One of the first things that must be understood when writing a conclusion is to accept the notion that there is no perfect formula for wrapping up a paper. When we write, we want our text to be unique and stand out to show that our ideas are profound and do matter. This is where battling with tropes, clichés, and overused phrases become difficult to deal with yet necessary, and must be balanced and individualized to fit your writing style and support the aim of your paper.
Tip: Relax! The paper is already completed, so take your time and drive the paper home with a solid conclusion.
One of the first steps to take when writing your conclusion is to relax. You have already completed the most important and tedious parts of your paper, and now it’s time to tie everything together. All the information that you need has been gathered and analyzed, so now you’re in the clear, mostly. Conclusions are more for structural purposes rather than information exchange. If the introduction is seen as a pathway that takes the reader into the world of your own thoughts and ideas, the conclusion can be seen as the gateway leading back to reality. It’s your opportunity to briefly synthesize your thesis and main points, display the profound sentiments that you raised, and have the last say on the subject that will leave your reader satisfied.
Though no formulaic concluding process is perfect, there are certain processes that should be avoided in most situations.
Three Key Principles of Essay Conclusions
- Do not introduce new information
- Do not be redundant
- Do not use generic filler text
It is wise to not introduce a new topic near the end of your paper. You have taken the reader on a journey to explore a topic in depth. Introducing a new topic near the end may make the reader feel as if they were ripped off, or that certain parts of the paper were left out. Compare this with trial versions of or incomplete software product. You just downloaded a non-deluxe version of an album. You take a listen to the great music and are happy with your purchase so far. You get to the end of the album and notice extra songs at the end. You turn one on and start jamming, when suddenly the music cuts off after only a half of a minute, and the next song starts to play. Turns out it was only a thirty second preview of the song, and you have to upgrade to get the complete soundtrack. Frustrating, right? Don’t let your paper seem as though there is much more that you never got to expand on. Either find a way to include this material in your thesis and body paragraphs, or simply wait to put this information in an upgraded or updated form of the paper. Save it for later!
Redundancy is a common error than writers make when approaching their concluding paragraphs. I’m sure you’ve heard from a teacher or two that the conclusion should include a restatement of the thesis and present your argument in a condensed form for the reader to gnaw on as they reach the end of your text. While this can be an effective form of writing, the phrase is often misconstrued and interpreted too literally. Restating your thesis does not mean copying and pasting what you have previously written, or even changing a word or two around to make it seem a little different. Though a research paper and a creative work differ vastly in fundamental ways, there are still certain structural elements that both share, especially conclusions.
List of Common Redundant Phrases
- Advance notice
- Close proximity
- Free gift
- Very unique
- New innovation
- Positive Improvement
- Each and every
- Final completion
- Refer back
- Past history
- Until such time as
If we are watching a movie, do we expect the end to just be a recap of what you have just watched in exactly the same way that is began? No, that would be a horrible way to end a movie, and it would be torn apart by critics online and labeled a disastrous mess. The same applies for critical research. Tying your conclusion to your thesis is a way to come full circle with your argument. To accomplish this successfully, a reiteration of the themes used throughout the paper is necessary, but they should be presented with a more synthetic approach. Offer a unique perspective to dealing with the material presented is the main point of the paper. Your conclusion should be a reframing, not just a rephrasing.
Tip: "In conclusion; Finally; My point is; to sum up" are phrases to be avoided in the vast majority of cases, as they are useless filler text.
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These phrases are overused and are scowled upon by composition instructors and readers alike. They do not play a significant role in formulating your thoughts, and should be avoided. This is the only rule that I consider to be absolute in all of writing. When we are first learning how to write, we are taught certain formulas and phrases that will help us structure our thoughts intellectually and provide a basic framework for integrating ourselves into an academic discourse community. We see clichés and tropes all the time; that does not mean we must contribute to the perpetuation of them! There is nothing neither fun nor unique about using hyper-inflated terms or phrases, and they will automatically degrade your sense of Ethos that you worked so hard to establish all throughout your paper. When the reader sees these terms, they automatically connect them to all other papers that have used the same phrasings, and your paper just becomes another memory that will fade away in the sea of mediocre texts that your professor reads on a daily basis.
Changing Tone in Academic Essays
Changing your tone in an academic essay is highly discouraged. This tends to happen near the end of a paper to induce an appeal to Pathos, and create a strong emotional response within the reader. Most writing discourse communities do not want to hear strong sentiments that simply heartfelt statements, but would much rather feel the emotion through your manipulation of rhetoric and diction. Consider a child in a store that wants his parent to buy them a candy bar.
Tip: Remember to not change the tone of the piece, or switch from third-person to first-person perspective.
After they plead their case about how they will be a good child and listen if their parent buys them the candy, they resort to their last tactic of playing on their cuteness in order to gain their desired outcome or response. “Pretty please, with a cherry on top! I’ll love you forever and you’ll be the best parent in the world!” This is what you are doing when you change your tone in the end. These conclusions tend to abandon most logic and instead make profound statements simply out of biased beliefs. They exaggerate the argument presented and assume that the reader agrees with their statements, or perhaps they don’t believe that their arguments were solid, so they resort to using a lexicon similar to hallmark cards. Pull yourself together, grab a tissue to wipe away all your emotional tears, and finish strong! Your reader doesn’t want you to fall apart in the end, but instead end the piece with a powerful paragraph or two!
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
Logical fallacies should be avoided as well. There are plenty of sources for looking up all the different kinds of common fallacies that are presented through arguments. Writers do not often recognize when these fallacies are employed, but to the trained reader they stick out like Waldo after you have already found him on that page. These pitfalls degrade all the work you have put in to persuade your reader in an argumentative essay.
Now it’s time to take a look at elements that are helpful when writing a conclusion. Here are some helpful hints that will help your paper finish strong.
Essay Conclusion Principles
Since there are no stone tablets engraved with the rules for writing a successful paper, you are allowed to break certain norms that you have been taught to avoid. Keep in mind that certain do’s and don’ts that have been iterated to you throughout your writing career have been established for certain reasons.
Tip: Remember to clearly restate your argument in the conclusion.
They have been tested and proven effective in many cases, such as the restatement of the hypothesis/thesis and synthesis of the argument, but they are not the only ways to conclude a paper! This is a chance for you to be creative within critical boundaries. Break rules, but break them with a clear intention and purpose in mind.
Always note what kind of paper you are writing. A liberal arts paper will conclude differently than a more scientifically based paper. Using a quote at the end can be powerful for a paper on aesthetic theory. Simon Critchley, a modern philosopher and theorist, concludes his book The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology with a quote and parable from Kierkegaard. He uses the ideas of others to strengthen his points and put a new perspective on interpreting these texts.
Tip: When using quotes, choose only the most relevant words to actually quote. There is no point quoting excessive filler text.
On a paper explaining methodologies of preparing for surgery on a spinal tumor, using a direct quote may not be the most powerful way to sum up your finding.
Science-based papers will often include short-comings of the research and methodologies of the study performed within the conclusion. This is similar to a call to action; since no experiment could ever be performed perfectly in a vacuumed environment without any room for fault, scientists must be able to explain to other researchers what factors may contribute to different results if the experiment were to be recreated. Control group fluctuations, specific demographics for test subjects, and other variables must be assessed in the conclusion.
Call to action conclusions persuade the reader to take the argument constructed and change their lives in accordance with the new information they have gained. These are only appropriate in certain situations, and if possible, should be avoided unless it is presented in a clever and witty manner. Telling your reader to do something isn’t as effective as letting them formulate their own opinions based on the research and synthesis presented. The parable of the sun shining brightly to have the human take off their raincoat is how you want to approach a conclusion, with sincerity and thoughtfulness, not forceful statements like the wind attempt.
Summing up all of your thoughts is a powerful way to end a paper, but be sure to still get creative! Don’t stick to mainstream habits, stay true to your underground roots of rebellion, but mix it with your refined sense of rigorous and critical analysis! Conclusions are important, so be sure to finish your statements, ideas, and thoughts or it will turn out like