In this resource page, you will learn about the two major parts (and purposes) of the concluding paragraph:
- To revisit the main ideas of the essay
- To provide the reader with closure
Revisit the Main Ideas of the Essay
No conclusion could ever serve its purpose without being somehow connected to (and drawing conclusions from) the main ideas discussed in the paper. It’s always a good idea to revisit some of the main points discussed—perhaps especially the thesis statement.
Be careful though. One thing you don’t want to do is restate the thesis statement, topic sentences, or supporting details word-for-word. Your readers already got that information from the introductory and body paragraphs. Simply restating it again would add little value to the essay while adding a lot of extra thoughts that have already been shared.
What your readers do want and need, however, is to be reminded of where they have been (the topics that were covered) with the added benefit of context—a sense of how what they have read applies to them and/or should change their outlook on that given topic.
Let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate. For added context, first, take a moment to review the sample body paragraph from last week’s Writing Lessons:
Ponder and Record
With the context of the above sample body paragraph, look over the following two concluding paragraph examples, and consider these questions:
- Which example best fits the criteria of revisiting themes and ideas without simply restating them?
- Which example feels more like a word-for-word restatement of the thesis and supporting ideas?
- Which example provides some added context? What is the added context?
As you can see, many experts in the field of psychology, especially Dr. John M. Grohol, believe that “Much like a judge overseeing a trial, [we] must remove [ourselves] from the emotionality of the episode of irrational thinking in order to examine the evidence more objectively.” Doing so will allow us to identify the foundation of our distorted thoughts so we can eventually overcome them like I think I will with my thinking error of giving up.
All of the expert testimonies I have examined have shown me that there is great value and strength in everyone, no matter their thinking error, taking a step back to examine not only what the thinking error is, but what conditions typically surround it and perhaps even cause it.
The final thing your concluding paragraph should do is provide your reader with some closure. This is not necessarily closure in the sense that everything is answered or explained. Rather it is closure in the sense that your reader senses that the discussion that has been happening throughout the essay is complete.
There are many ways you can do this, but two of the most effective ways are to do the following:
1. Link the concluding paragraph to the introductory paragraph.
This was already somewhat discussed in the section above. You definitely don’t want to restate your thesis statement word-for-word. However, you can give your reader a feeling of returning back to where you started when you repeat a word or phrase you used in the introductory paragraph.
For example, in the Introductory Paragraph lessons, one of the hook examples included a personal experience related to the topic or thesis statement:
A way you could tie this introductory paragraph to the conclusion would be to add a couple sentences like this to the concluding paragraph:
Notice the reference to the experience in Mr. Scott’s physical education class was shared in the introductory paragraph hook? Notice the way it is given additional context by its being tied to what has been learned about overcoming thinking errors?
Ponder and Record
What part of your introductory paragraph hook could you potentially revisit in your concluding paragraph?
So, what does a concluding paragraph look like when it combines revisiting main ideas and providing closure. Here is one example:
2. Give the reader something to think about.
The topics people write about are rarely unconnected to larger issues. One way you could conclude your essay is by leaving your reader with a larger question to consider—something he or she could ponder for a bit after reading your essay. That question doesn’t have to be directly tied to an introductory paragraph hook, but many times, it’s a good place to return to (as the last example shows).To give context to this example, let’s first return to another example hook from the Introductory Paragraph lessons.
A way you could use this example in your concluding paragraph to provide closure and give your reader something to think about is this:
Notice how this conclusion hearkens back to questions asked in the introduction while also giving the reader some additional questions to ponder? Though a small addition, it nonetheless does the important job of leaving the reader with something new to think about while still providing closure.
Ponder and Record
What question or thought to ponder could you leave your reader with in your own concluding paragraph?
So, what does a concluding paragraph look like when it combines revisiting main ideas and providing closure. Here is another example:
Need More Help?
- Study other Writing Lessons in the Resource Center.
- Visit the Online Tutoring Resources in the Resource Center.
- Contact your Instructor.
- If you still need help, Schedule a Tutor.