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How to Start a Conclusion

Last Updated: June 8, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. This article has been viewed 161,779 times.

A persuasive essay, literary analysis, or research paper should include a thoughtful introduction and conclusion. The conclusion, when written correctly, gives the reader a summary and insights into the reasons for the subject's importance. You may also need to deliver a speech or presentation which needs a good conclusion. Many of the same principles apply, but you should tailor your conclusion carefully.

Things You Should Know

  • For an essay, start with a transition sentence that references the original question, avoiding phrases like "in conclusion."
  • Go beyond a simple summary, exploring how every point in your essay connects and the significance of your essay question.
  • In a presentation, indicate that you’re finishing up and return to the initial question, giving a summary with enthusiasm and conviction.

Writing Template and Sample Conclusion

how to start a conclusion in an essay

Writing a Conclusion for an Essay or Paper

Step 1 Start with a transition sentence.

  • To help you achieve this fluency, you should start with a sentence that links the conclusion to the main body of the text. [1] X Research source
  • This might be a statement that reflects the content of your essay but connects your essay to the wider points that your conclusion will then go on to briefly discuss.
  • The sentence "A sense of the impermanence of human achievement permeates this poem", indicates a transition to the conclusion by articulating the key argument in one sentence.

Step 2 Avoid saying

  • For example, what if the essay question asks you "to what extent did the Battle of Monte Casino change the course of the Second World War"?
  • Here, you could begin with a sentence such as "The Battle of Monte Casino was a crucial moment that reflected the shifting dynamic of WWII, but did not in itself turn the tide of the war".

Step 4 Go beyond summing up.

  • A short summary can be useful in a longer essay, but do not simply restate what you have said in the same terms. [5] X Research source
  • Rather, indicate your key points while situating them within a larger context, which displays a deeper understanding and potentially opens up new lines of inquiry.

Step 5 Suggest some broader implications.

  • In your conclusion structure, this discussion of the broader implications should follow the transition sentences and the explanation of how the different elements of your argument fit together. [6] X Research source
  • This could include universalizing the topic of essay, making a connection to a contemporary issue, or providing a call to action.

Concluding a Presentation or Speech

Step 1 Indicate that you are concluding.

  • Phrases such as "in conclusion", and "to summarise", which you wouldn't use in a written essay, can be useful for a spoken presentation.
  • Indicating that you are about to conclude will encourage your listeners to focus on what you are about to say. [7] X Research source

Step 2 Return to your initial question.

  • For example, you could ask yourself the main question at the start of the conclusion. "So, how do I suggest we improve our sales in the Mid-West?" before going on provide a summary of your key points.

Step 3 Provide a clear summary.

  • Generally, listening to a presentation will be more passive than reading an essay, so it is more beneficial to summarise your key points in the conclusion of a spoken presentation.
  • The last things your audience hear will most likely be what they take away with them, so be sure all your key points are covered in the conclusion.

Step 4 Show enthusiasm and conviction.

  • You might also include a short anecdote that supports your argument and acts as a call to action to the other people in the room.
  • A strong ending can make a personal connection with the audience, by demonstrating how you can resolve a problem for the audience member. [9] X Research source

Step 5 Finish strongly.

  • Using an action verb in your final sentence can highlight exactly how you want your audience to respond.
  • For example, when John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do or your country," he was encouraging action from the audience. [10] X Research source
  • Finishing this way both demonstrates your personal conviction and indicates that you think your ideas should be followed up.

Expert Q&A

Diane Stubbs

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Write a Reflection Paper

  • ↑ http://www.writing.ucsb.edu/faculty/donelan/concl.html
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions
  • ↑ http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html
  • ↑ http://www.businessinsider.com/worst-ways-to-end-a-presentation-2014-7
  • ↑ http://www.ethos3.com/2014/12/the-best-way-to-end-a-professional-presentation/

About This Article

Diane Stubbs

To start a conclusion for an essay, begin with a reference to the original question. If, for example, the essay question asks “How did the Battle of Monte Casino change the course of WWII?”, start with “The Battle of Monte Casino was a crucial moment that reflected the shifting dynamic of WWII.” Additionally, start your conclusion in a natural way, without obvious transitions like "In conclusion." For example, begin with "A sense of the impermanence of human achievement..." instead of, "In conclusion, a sense of the impermanence.." For more advice from our English reviewer, including how to write a conclusion for a presentation or speech, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to start a conclusion in an essay

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  • Conclusions

One of the most common questions we receive at the Writing Center is “what am I supposed to do in my conclusion?” This is a difficult question to answer because there’s no one right answer to what belongs in a conclusion. How you conclude your paper will depend on where you started—and where you traveled. It will also depend on the conventions and expectations of the discipline in which you are writing. For example, while the conclusion to a STEM paper could focus on questions for further study, the conclusion of a literature paper could include a quotation from your central text that can now be understood differently in light of what has been discussed in the paper. You should consult your instructor about expectations for conclusions in a particular discipline.

With that in mind, here are some general guidelines you might find helpful to use as you think about your conclusion.  

Begin with the “what”  

In a short paper—even a research paper—you don’t need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary. Or it may come in the form of a sentence that brings your readers back to your thesis or main idea and reminds your readers where you began and how far you have traveled.

So, for example, in a paper about the relationship between ADHD and rejection sensitivity, Vanessa Roser begins by introducing readers to the fact that researchers have studied the relationship between the two conditions and then provides her explanation of that relationship. Here’s her thesis: “While socialization may indeed be an important factor in RS, I argue that individuals with ADHD may also possess a neurological predisposition to RS that is exacerbated by the differing executive and emotional regulation characteristic of ADHD.”

In her final paragraph, Roser reminds us of where she started by echoing her thesis: “This literature demonstrates that, as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Highlight the “so what”  

At the beginning of your paper, you explain to your readers what’s at stake—why they should care about the argument you’re making. In your conclusion, you can bring readers back to those stakes by reminding them why your argument is important in the first place. You can also draft a few sentences that put those stakes into a new or broader context.

In the conclusion to her paper about ADHD and RS, Roser echoes the stakes she established in her introduction—that research into connections between ADHD and RS has led to contradictory results, raising questions about the “behavioral mediation hypothesis.”

She writes, “as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Leave your readers with the “now what”  

After the “what” and the “so what,” you should leave your reader with some final thoughts. If you have written a strong introduction, your readers will know why you have been arguing what you have been arguing—and why they should care. And if you’ve made a good case for your thesis, then your readers should be in a position to see things in a new way, understand new questions, or be ready for something that they weren’t ready for before they read your paper.

In her conclusion, Roser offers two “now what” statements. First, she explains that it is important to recognize that the flawed behavioral mediation hypothesis “seems to place a degree of fault on the individual. It implies that individuals with ADHD must have elicited such frequent or intense rejection by virtue of their inadequate social skills, erasing the possibility that they may simply possess a natural sensitivity to emotion.” She then highlights the broader implications for treatment of people with ADHD, noting that recognizing the actual connection between rejection sensitivity and ADHD “has profound implications for understanding how individuals with ADHD might best be treated in educational settings, by counselors, family, peers, or even society as a whole.”

To find your own “now what” for your essay’s conclusion, try asking yourself these questions:

  • What can my readers now understand, see in a new light, or grapple with that they would not have understood in the same way before reading my paper? Are we a step closer to understanding a larger phenomenon or to understanding why what was at stake is so important?  
  • What questions can I now raise that would not have made sense at the beginning of my paper? Questions for further research? Other ways that this topic could be approached?  
  • Are there other applications for my research? Could my questions be asked about different data in a different context? Could I use my methods to answer a different question?  
  • What action should be taken in light of this argument? What action do I predict will be taken or could lead to a solution?  
  • What larger context might my argument be a part of?  

What to avoid in your conclusion  

  • a complete restatement of all that you have said in your paper.  
  • a substantial counterargument that you do not have space to refute; you should introduce counterarguments before your conclusion.  
  • an apology for what you have not said. If you need to explain the scope of your paper, you should do this sooner—but don’t apologize for what you have not discussed in your paper.  
  • fake transitions like “in conclusion” that are followed by sentences that aren’t actually conclusions. (“In conclusion, I have now demonstrated that my thesis is correct.”)
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“Pay adequate attention to the conclusion.” Kathleen McMillan & Jonathan Weyers,  How to Write Essays & Assignments

Conclusions are often overlooked, cursory and written last minute. If this sounds familiar then it's time to change and give your conclusions some much needed attention. Your conclusion is the whole point of your essay. All the other parts of the essay should have been leading your reader on an inevitable journey towards your conclusion. So make it count and finish your essay in style.

Know where you are going

Too many students focus their essays on content rather than argument. This means they pay too much attention to the main body without considering where it is leading. It can be a good idea to write a draft conclusion before  you write your main body. It is a lot easier to plan a journey when you know your destination! 

It should only be a draft however, as quite often the writing process itself can help you develop your argument and you may feel your conclusion needs adapting accordingly.

What it should include

A great conclusion should include:

link icon

A clear link back to the question . This is usually the first thing you do in a conclusion and it shows that you have (hopefully) answered it.

icon - lightbulb in a point marker

A sentence or two that summarise(s) your main argument but in a bit more detail than you gave in your introduction.

idea with points leading to it

A series of supporting sentences that basically reiterate the main point of each of your paragraphs but show how they relate to each other and lead you to the position you have taken. Constantly ask yourself "So what?" "Why should anyone care?" and answer these questions for each of the points you make in your conclusion.

icon - exclamation mark

A final sentence that states why your ideas are important to the wider subject area . Where the introduction goes from general to specific, the conclusion needs to go from specific back out to general.

What it should not  include

Try to avoid including the following in your conclusion. Remember your conclusion should be entirely predictable. The reader wants no surprises.

icon - lightbulb crossed out

Any new ideas . If an idea is worth including, put it in the main body. You do not need to include citations in your conclusion if you have already used them earlier and are just reiterating your point.

sad face

A change of style i.e. being more emotional or sentimental than the rest of the essay. Keep it straightforward, explanatory and clear.

rubbish bin

Overused phrases like: “in conclusion”; “in summary”; “as shown in this essay”. Consign these to the rubbish bin!

Here are some alternatives, there are many more:

  • The x main points presented here emphasise the importance of...
  • The [insert something relevant] outlined above indicate that ...
  • By showing the connections between x, y and z, it has been argued here that ...

Maximise marks

Remember, your conclusion is the last thing your reader (marker!) will read. Spending a little care on it will leave her/him absolutely sure that you have answered the question and you will definitely receive a higher mark than if your conclusion was a quickly written afterthought.

Your conclusion should be around 10% of your word count. There is never a situation where sacrificing words in your conclusion will benefit your essay.

The 5Cs conclusion method: (spot the typo on this video)

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This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your purpose and audience.

Conclusions wrap up what you have been discussing in your paper. After moving from general to specific information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin pulling back into more general information that restates the main points of your argument. Conclusions may also call for action or overview future possible research. The following outline may help you conclude your paper:

In a general way,

  • Restate your topic and why it is important,
  • Restate your thesis/claim,
  • Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position,
  • Call for action or overview future research possibilities.

Remember that once you accomplish these tasks, unless otherwise directed by your instructor, you are finished. Done. Complete. Don't try to bring in new points or end with a whiz bang(!) conclusion or try to solve world hunger in the final sentence of your conclusion. Simplicity is best for a clear, convincing message.

The preacher's maxim is one of the most effective formulas to follow for argument papers:

Tell what you're going to tell them (introduction).

Tell them (body).

Tell them what you told them (conclusion).

University of Newcastle

How to write an essay: Conclusion

  • What's in this guide
  • Introduction
  • Essay structure
  • Additional resources

The last section of an academic essay is the conclusion . The conclusion should reaffirm your answer to the question, and briefly summarise key arguments.  It does not include any new points or new information. A conclusion has three sections. First, repeat the thesis statement. It won’t use the exact same words as in your introduction, but it will repeat the point: your overall answer to the question. Then set out your general conclusions , and a short explanation of why they are important.

Finally, draw together the question , the evidence in the essay body, and the conclusion. This way the reader knows that you have understood and answered the question. This part needs to be clear and concise.

Conclusion example

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How to write a conclusion to an essay

Which do you think count more: first impressions or last impressions?

A conclusion is the last impression that a reader will have of your essay: make it count!

Introduction to writing a conclusion

A conclusion is the final idea left with the reader at the end of an essay. Without it, an essay would be unfinished and unfocused.

A conclusion should link back to the essay question and briefly restate your main points drawing all your thoughts and ideas together so that they make sense and create a strong final impression.

A conclusion often includes a final thought or reflection to highlight the significance of the topic close topic The main focus of the essay. . It is usually a short paragraph.

Video about how to reflect on your main points in a conclusion

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Learn how to reflect on your main points in a conclusion to an essay

Reflecting on the argument

Before you write your conclusion, it is a good idea for you to look again at your ideas in the essay. It can be particularly useful to re-read your introduction and think about what you have realised and explored as you wrote the essay. Your conclusion can then sum up what you have understood more deeply about the literature text and the essay topic.

If you think of your essay as a type of argument, persuading the reader to a particular point of view, then the conclusion can be a powerful way of bringing together the most important aspects of your argument.

A group of students showing various emotions including happiness, confusion, worry and concentration. Caption reads 'test yourself'.

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COMMENTS

  1. 3 Ways to Start a Conclusion

    Writing a Conclusion for an Essay or Paper 1. Start with a transition sentence. If you are writing a conclusion to an essay or paper for school or college, it's... 2. Avoid saying "in conclusion". If you are concluding an essay or research paper, you should try to avoid using phrases... 3. Consider ...

  2. Conclusions

    Begin with the “what” In a short paper—even a research paper—you don’t need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary.

  3. Conclusions

    A great conclusion should include: A clear link back to the question. This is usually the first thing you do in a conclusion and it shows that you have (hopefully) answered it. A sentence or two that summarise (s) your main argument but in a bit more detail than you gave in your introduction.

  4. Conclusions

    The following outline may help you conclude your paper: In a general way, Restate your topic and why it is important, Restate your thesis/claim, Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position, Call for action or overview future research possibilities.

  5. How to write an essay: Conclusion

    Conclusion Conclusion The last section of an academic essay is the conclusion. The conclusion should reaffirm your answer to the question, and briefly summarise key arguments. It does not include any new points or new information. A conclusion has three sections. First, repeat the thesis statement.

  6. How to write an essay conclusion

    A conclusion should link back to the essay question and briefly restate your main points drawing all your thoughts and ideas together so that they make sense and create a strong final...

  7. How to Write a Conclusion for an Essay

    An effective conclusion paragraph is vital to writing a successful college essay. A strong conclusion restates the thesis, offers new insight, and forms a personal connection. Be sure the conclusion doesn't introduce new arguments or analyze points you didn't discuss.