So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.
The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.
To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
- Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
- Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.
To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners, with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
- Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes.
- Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise ofdehumanization"; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
- Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure, by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.
Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:
- Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."
Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
Like all the other transition words and phrases that are used to combine and connect ideas in writing, conclusion transition words show logical relationships between ideas and sentences. More specifically, these transitional words convey a conclusion, a summary, or a restatement of ideas. They often denote a final statement of an idea. Like an adhesive, they hold and bind ideas and sentences together to help an essay flow smoothly and aid readers to progress logically from one part of your essay to the next.
These transition words are generally used between the introductory paragraph and the first paragraph of the body and between the last body paragraph and the conclusion. They help the writer show the logical relationships between different sections of the essay and provide the readers a better perspective of the writer’s thoughts.
With the addition of just a few of these transition words in a passage, the organization and understandability of the whole essay is greatly enhanced. They strengthen the flow of ideas from one sentence to the other, from one paragraph to the next, and from one section of the essay to the other.
Below is a list of the most commonly used conclusion transition words:
|generally speaking||in the final analysis||all things considered|
|given these points||in summary||as shown above|
|as has been noted||ordinarily||for the most part|
|as can be seen||in fact||in the long run|
|in conclusion||in short||in a word|
|in essence||overall||after all|
|to summarize||by and large||on the whole|
|all in all||altogether||in any event|
|in either case||in brief||usually|
|on balance||to sum up||indeed|
|eventually||specifically||as a final point|
Used anywhere in an essay, these words or phrases allow the writer to establish clear connections between ideas and provides the readers with something they can relate to and feel a strong connection with. It is important however for the writer to be more specific rather than being general in his choice of transition words to use in his essay. This will create the impression among your readers that you have truly chosen your words wisely and made extra effort to make it enjoyable and pleasurable to journey through the essay.
Conclusion transitional words bridge the gap between the different ideas in your essay. They make your ideas stick together and remain coherent making it a wholesome experience to read through it rather than struggle to get a clear insight on what the author wish to convey. The use of these transition words allow you to achieve coherence as they help bind ideas and sentences together and aid readers to progress logically from one part of your essay to the next.
Dr. Michael Babcock is a Professor of Humanities at the Liberty University, Virginia. He wrote “The Stories of Attila the Hun’s Death: Narrative, Myth, and Meaning” (2001) and was a guest speaker at academic conferences on language origins and the philosophy of consciousness topics. Since 2008, he delivers help with academic papers on behalf of Professional Custom Essay Writing Service at freshessays.com.