Writing conclusions

Like introductions, conclusions present their own set of challenges to the writer. Foremost among these is how to gracefully exit the essay without becoming too broad, remaining too narrowly focused, or making connections that you haven’t encouraged in the body of the paper. Requirements for conclusions vary across disciplines, so be sure to check with your instructor about the expectations in your field. Despite this variety of requirements, guides to writing conclusions often focus on two strategies for concluding the essay:

  • Restate in condensed form what you’ve proven through the body of your essay. This has the benefit of leaving the reader with a short “takeaway” version of your argument.
  • Expand slightly beyond the scope of your essay to look at what your argument implies for future exploration. This has the benefit of situating your work in a larger context, emphasizing its relevance to the field and suggesting a next step or set of steps.
  • Note: These are not mutually exclusive, and can be effectively combined in a conclusion.

For other resources on writing conclusions, see the University of Richmond’s Online Writing Center . This page offers several effective strategies, as well as some “don’ts” for writers of conclusions.

From St. Cloud State University, this page looks at and analyzes examples of several successful conclusions:.

An interactive exercise on conclusions aimed at writers of English as a Second Language (ESL) .

For Purdue University’s advice on writing conclusions to research reports visit the Online Writing Lab.


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