I know: writing a conclusion is harder than it sounds. When you’ve worked hard on a long paper, it’s tempting to send it off without really considering the importance of those parting thoughts. But without a cohesive conclusion, you’ve short-changed yourself.
A conclusion helps you focus on what the paper is ultimately about. When I’ve written I good one, I often end up going back and changing my introductory paragraph in a way that better prepares the reader to accept the premise and want to know more — like an appetizer at the beginning of a meal. Alternately, the conclusion should leave the reader satisfied. If your paper is a well-seasoned entree, your conclusion is dessert.
Here’s how I like to approach writing one: When you reach the end of your paper, pause and take a deep breath. Then, briefly look back over at what you’ve written. Often, you can transition into the conclusion by tying it back to the introductory paragraph, and then synthesizing everything you’ve said in the body.
The final sentence or two should bring it all home. I like to think of this as the big picture moment. How does this particular piece of writing relate to the broader worldview? Don’t go off in an entirely different direction; show your reader that what they read was meaningful. The reader should have the feeling they can apply what they’ve read to their own world in some way.
Peer Writing Consultant
Antioch University’s Virtual Writing Center