How to Write a Conclusion: A Sentence-by-Sentence Guide
While most students understand how to write a solid introduction, and know how to add body paragraphs with supporting arguments, they struggle to start a conclusion. A first glance, it can seem like a conclusion is just a copy of the introduction, and isn’t really useful when building an essay. But a concluding paragraph is much more than that.
Read on for the answers to all your conclusion writing questions, ones like:
- What is the purpose of a conclusion paragraph?
- How do you transition into a concluding paragraph?
- What should and should not be in a conclusion?
- How do you summarize your supporting details?
- How do you write a really good conclusion?
What is a conclusion in essay writing?
Writing a conclusion is really the opposite of writing an introduction. Where introductions draw readers in and focus on a main idea, conclusions tell the reader that your essay is ending.
All conclusion paragraphs should include:
- your thesis statement, reworded in a new way, to remind readers about the main idea or purpose of your essay
- a summary of your supporting details
- an explanation about why your supporting details prove the main idea or argument you presented in your essay
- some final thoughts to tell your audience why your essay matters
Conclusions should not include:
- any new idea, evidence, or supporting details
- a word-for-word summary of everything you just wrote
- irrelevant quotes, questions, or statements used as closing thoughts
Related: You can’t write about a story or article without using context clues. Click here if you are asking: “What are context clues?”
How to Start a Conclusion: Moving to the Conclusion from Your Last Body Paragraph
In a conclusion paragraph, you remind readers of your main idea by rewriting your thesis statement in a similar way. This is the conclusion statement of your essay, and many students use this statement as the first sentence of their conclusion.
But first, you have to smoothly transition, or move into, your conclusion paragraph from your last body paragraph.
How to Transition to the Conclusion Paragraph
In a very basic sense, a transition is the movement from one paragraph to another. But really, transitions are how you guide the reader from one idea to another. Transitions build relationships between one idea and the next one.
In an essay, the transition from your last body paragraph to your conclusion is basically you telling your reader: “These were all the points I made to support my main idea. Up next, I’m going to summarize what my main idea was and why all these points prove my idea.”
When first learning how to write an essay, many students learn about transition words. Examples of these words include: in conclusion, therefore, finally, lastly, and clearly. These are words used to smoothly move from your last body paragraph to the first sentence of your conclusion. Using these words is optional, but not necessary.
When students become more familiar with writing essays, though, they are discouraged from using these kinds of words as a way to transition. They are not necessary for advanced readers to know you are ending your essay, so advanced writers don’t need to use them. You can use ideas and phrases like these to guide your readers to your conclusion in a logical way.
Start a Conclusion: Restate Your Thesis Statement in a New Way
When you rewrite your thesis, you should:
- not use the exact same words you used for your thesis
- try to offer some new understanding that is a result of providing supporting details in the body paragraphs of your essay
- try not to make your restatement a run-on sentence
Thesis/conclusion statement examples for you to get a better idea of how to reword your thesis:
From Thrive in Grade Five:
Prompt: Write an essay that names your hero and why he/she is your hero.
Thesis statement: My great-grandfather, Jay, is my hero because he was brave, hard-working, and kind to his children.
Restated thesis in conclusion: My great-grandfather, my hero, was an amazing man because he was courageous and fearless, a good worker, and treated his children with kindness.
From Ms. Liew’s Class:
Prompt: What can we do to help stop climate change?
Thesis statement: If we are going to bring an end to climate change, we need to continuously adjust our habits so that we are using less energy and creating less waste.
Restated thesis in conclusion: If we all make an effort to continuously re-evaluate our habits, we can live greener and greener lifestyles that will reduce our demands on the environment and help stop climate change.
How to Summarize Your Supporting Details
In your conclusion paragraph, you summarize the details/arguments you wrote in your body paragraphs and relate them back to your thesis. You are supposed to connect the dots for your audience.
The main point of each body paragraph should be put into one or two sentences of your conclusion. Then you state why these points prove your thesis.
What should you write for your closing thoughts?
Your last sentence or two will hopefully convince your readers that your essay is important, that you accomplished what you set out to do, and (possibly) give readers an idea of what they should do next.
If you are writing a persuasive essay, your final thoughts can be some next step or action for your readers to take.
For example, if you are writing to convince your school to get rid of plastic straws, you can suggest that meal staff stop ordering straws. You could also suggest to your classmates that they should not use straws in the lunchroom anymore. Your “next steps” should be specifically made for your audience.
If you are writing an informational essay, your final thoughts could be about why this information matters. It could also be some interesting thought about your essay subject.
For example, if you are writing an essay to compare and contrast two characters, your final thoughts could be about why this comparison matters, or whether those characters are a reflection of someone or something in the real world.
Related: When you compare and contrast characters, you need to know more about character traits. Read about character traits here.
If you are writing about your opinion, or writing a narrative essay, your final thoughts could be about how your opinion or story connects to the rest of the world. You can also leave a powerful statement, quote, or question for your reader to take away from your essay.
For example, if you are writing about why you do or don’t think your school should have uniforms, you can talk about how uniforms make you feel, what uniforms mean for the rest of the world, or a quote that relates to your opinion.
How do you write a conclusion that’s really powerful ?
There are many things that can improve your writing in general: concise sentences, lots of different wordings, using both short and long sentences, and writing with flow. But when it comes to writing a really good conclusion, your main job is to get your readers to care about the purpose of your essay.
A good conclusion answers the question: “So what?”
Your essay isn’t really impactful if your readers go through your entire essay and then say: “So what? Why does this matter?”
A lot of the time, you won’t get to pick exactly what you’re writing about. But you will be given a prompt or idea to write about. If you write an essay that doesn’t answer the prompt, then readers will be confused. If you write a really boring essay that people can tell you have no interest in, they won’t be interested either. (It can be hard to write about subjects or books you don’t quite love. But think about the prompt for a little while. There’s probably a way to come up with something interesting to talk about.)
A good conclusion sounds natural.
If you are trying to persuade your audience to view something the way you do, or motivate them to do something, then your conclusion should have feelings in it. It should sound appealing to your peers, and not robotic.
Try to avoid really long, hard to read sentences. Also avoid words or jargon that you would never really use, and take out words that don’t really add anything to your conclusion. Try to put some strong feelings in your essay conclusions (if appropriate.)
While writing a conclusion seems like a lot, it’s really not so bad. You’ve already done all the work of deciding what you were going to write about, putting that into a thesis statement, and doing all of the research to come up with your supporting details. All that’s left is to connect them all in your conclusion.