Writing the Conclusion or Ending to an Essay

There is a lot at stake when it comes to writing an essay’s conclusion. After all, this is the writer’s last chance to persuade their readers to agree with their viewpoint and to demonstrate they are a good thinker and writer. Indeed, the impression given in the conclusion is the one that will remain with readers long after they have finished reading your essay.

Therefore, the ending of an essay should give a feeling of closure and completeness. In addition, it should leave lingering feelings of what might be in terms of the topic i.e. its implications and its wider meaning. Hence, this last paragraph should bring the essay’s discussion to a close without shutting it down completely.

Some Tips to Use Writing a Conclusion

The following are a few tips you could use to create a feeling of closure:

  • End by connecting the final paragraph back to the opening one, e.g., by repeating one or two words or phrases you used at the start.
  • Try to ensure your last sentence is mainly made up of words of one syllable. Simplicity (in the language sense) is a great way of creating feelings of unpretentious drama.
  • Try to ensure the structure of your final sentence is parallel or compound. Sentences like these can create a feeling of order or balance, which is often a perfect way of ending a long and/or complicated discussion.

You could use the following tips to close your discussion without shutting it off completely:

  • End with a reference or quotation. These can be taken from any type of source i.e. from the primary or secondary variety. For example, a quotation from a poem or book you have been writing about can lend specificity and texture to an essay’s discussion. The words of a critic or scholar can help complicate or confirm a last point. If, for instance, you were writing an essay about James Joyce’s collection of short stories - Dubliners - and the writer’s notion of home, you could make reference to Joyce’s own complex feelings towards his own hometown of Dublin. Alternatively, you could end with a biographical-type statement about the attitude of Joyce towards the city of Dublin as a way of shedding light on the attitudes of his characters towards the city. However, be especially careful when using secondary source material since you should have the final word.
  • End by placing your essay’s discussion in a different context, a bigger one perhaps. You might, for instance, end an essay on the muckraking tactics of 19th century journalists by comparing these to modern journalistic methods.
  • End by redefining a key term used throughout your essay or in your argument(s). For instance, if your essay is on Marxism, you may want to dwell on the term or concept of dehumanization and how this was demonstrated (or not) in Marx’s work.
  • End by recapping on the implications of the analysis, discussion, or argument(s) in your essay. Is there anything in particular your argument involves, implies or suggests? If, for instance, your essay concerns the idea of incorporating the type of modern materialism common in the west into a more spiritual country in the east, you might want to raise a final point as to why this is or is not possible or desirable.

How Not to Conclude Your Essay

  • Do not just sum-up the content of your essay. A short summary of the main argument(s) can be useful where an essay is over ten pages long, but the main points do not need to be restated in shorter essays.
  • Do not use such phrases as “to conclude,” “in final conclusion,” “to summarize” or “in summary.” Phrases like these are acceptable and often encouraged when presenting material orally. However, readers can easily tell when an essay or any written piece is reaching its end. You may irk readers by stating the obvious.
  • Do not attempt to apologize. If you have thoroughly researched your subject, it is likely you know a lot more about it than is possible to cover in an essay of five, ten, or twenty pages. Consequently, you may be having doubts about what you have written by the time you near the end. Do not let such doubts take over. Do not undermine your own authority with such phrases as “this approach is just one way to address this subject, but there may be better ways.”