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What Is a Conclusion?


The conclusion of an essay should be the last paragraph. While a conclusion is often shorter than other paragraphs in the essay, it is very vital to the essay's success. It restates the essay's main points and tells the reader what to think or understand about the ideas presented in the essay. Understanding a conclusion's purpose, significance and features is essential to writing an effective conclusion.

Function

A conclusion recaps an essay's main points. The conclusion should not repeat the ideas of the essay word-for-word; it should leave the reader with a parting word or something to think about or consider. The conclusion should be the last paragraph of an essay and should primarily drive the main points home.

Significance

A conclusion is very important to the structure of an essay. Without it, the essay would just stop, like a bad film that just ends. The ideas in an essay need to be wrapped up in some way so as to not leave the reader hanging. A conclusion provides much-needed closure to an essay. Most important, the conclusion should ensure that the reader gets the essay's main point and takes away the intended message.

Features

A well-written conclusion should do several things for the essay. It should sum up an essay's main points and restate the essay's central argument, or thesis statement, in such a conclusive way as to illustrate to the reader that the essay has supported this argument. The conclusion should also offer advice to the reader or suggest that the reader take some kind of action based on the ideas in the essay. Or the conclusion should suggest other topics on the subject for further study.

Misconceptions

Many who are new to writing essays think that a conclusion is similar to the ending of a story, which could possibly have a twist or introduce a long-lost character, for example, but this is not the case. An essay's conclusion must be focused, decisive and not make excuses or apologies for the ideas presented in the essay. The conclusion is essentially the end of the essay, so it should not raise new ideas that have not been discussed previously in the essay. It should also not contradict or change the tone of the way in which ideas were presented in the essay.

Types

While all conclusions should sum up the essay's main points and restate the central argument of the essay, there are several ways of doing this. One effective way of writing a conclusion is to draw from the introduction. Reiterate an example or detail from the introduction to conclude the essay--this will give the essay a circular feeling. Other ways of concluding essays are to include a quotation from an expert or an anecdote that in some way sums up the essay's ideas.

About the Author

Erica Sweeney is a freelance writer and editor based in Little Rock, Ark. She has a master's in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her work has been published at SaidIt.org, Arkansas Times, Aging Arkansas and Arkansas Business.