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Write Logical and Effective Conclusions
Recall Your Thesis And Introduction
Offer Advice or Call For Action
Look to The Future
Respond to a Question in Your Introduction
Close With a Statement Readers Will Remember

Most successful essaysbegin with an interesting introduction—a paragraph or series of paragraphs that states the essay's thesis and entices readers to go on. Most effective essays also end with a conclusion that brings the discussion to a logical end. Good conclusions leave readers satisfied that the essay has accomplished what it set out to do.


Spend as much effort on your conclusions as you do on other parts of your paper. Leave readers something to remember! The length of a conclusion depends on the paper's thesis and purpose. In some cases, a single sentence is sufficient; in others, an extended and more formal conclusion is needed. Here are five methods you might try:

Five Methods For Writing Effective Conclusions

  1. Recall your thesis and introduction.
  2. Offer advice or make a call to action.
  3. Look to the future.
  4. Respond to a question in your introduction.
  5. Close with a statement readers will remember.

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Notice how Jessie Sullivan's conclusion recalls the thesis of "If at First You Do Not See…," which you read in her introduction, below:

When friends visit me in my apartment for the first time, they frequently ask in awe and bewilderment, "How can you live in such a bad place?" I always give them the same reply: "It isn't where you live, but how you live and what you live for."


A conclusion that both offers advice and calls for action appears in Elena Santayana's "Everybody's Problem," the introduction of which appears below:

If you have alcoholic friends, relatives, or co-workers, the worst thing you can do is to look the other way. Try persuading them to seek counseling. Describe the extent to which their illness is hurting their families, co-workers, and neighbors. Explain that their alcoholism endangers the entire community. Above all, don't pretend not to notice. Alcoholism is everybody's problem.


If you believe the future can bring significant changes or new developments in regard to a topic you have discussed in your essay, you might end by discussing those changes. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead takes this approach in "Dan Quayle Was Right," an essay whose introduction appears above:

People learn; societies can change; particularly when it becomes apparent that certain behaviors damage the social ecology, threaten the public order, and impose new burdens on core institutions. Whether Americans will act to overcome the legacy offamily disruptions is a crucial but as yet unanswered question.


After asking a question in your introduction, you can fill your essay with information that discusses the question or prepares the reader for an answer in your conclusion, or both. In the introduction to "Old, Ailing, Abandoned," which you read earlier, the writer raises serious questions about caring for the elderly. Here is the conclusion to that essay:

Communities, stretched though they may be, need to remember these forgotten elderly living in our midst. What if every church in the region agreed to regularly visit residents at just one [nursing] home? How about local governments, or advocate agencies, linking the owners of small facilities more closely with existing services, such as rehab grants that could improve conditions?

One simple question need guide us: How would we want our parents treated?


Deciding whether a statement or quotation will stick in readers' memories isn't easy. Just trust your instincts. If a particular remark made a strong impression on you, it might have the same effect on others. Here's how Claudia Wallis closes "How to Live to Be 120," an article whose introduction appears above:

As for Jeanne Calment, she seems to embody the calm resilience associated with long life. "I took pleasure when I could," she said...."I acted clearly and morally and without regret. I am very lucky."

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