Writing the conclusion

In this post, we will explore what you need to consider, include and avoid when writing an effective conclusion.

A person’s arm can be seen with a pen in hand, writing on a piece of paper, with a cup of tea and notebook in front on the table.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Contents:

  1. The purpose of the conclusion
  2. Writing techniques for your conclusion
  3. What to include
  4. What not to include
  5. An Example Conclusion
  6. Breakdown of the example conclusion
  7. Further support

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The purpose of the conclusion

Your conclusion should signal to your reader that the end of the essay has been reached. It should provide a thoughtful end to your work and not merely summarise the points made throughout your essay. Your conclusion is an opportunity to have your final say on the topic where you can look beyond the scope of your essay.

For example, you can do this by acknowledging the limitations of your research, suggesting further research or making future predictions about the topic.

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Writing techniques for your conclusion

Here are several techniques you may wish to try to add style to your conclusion and achieve the right tone.

Mirror your introduction

Remember the themes and language you used in your introduction. For example, you could use revisit scenarios, concepts or images.

Change of tone

Use a change of tone to signify an end to your essay. Whilst your introduction is assertive and your main body provides justification to the assertions made in the introduction, the conclusion is your opportunity to be reflective, suggestive and perhaps offer your final, more personal viewpoint.

Asking ‘So what?’

To help you articulate your thoughts in your conclusion, imagine someone is asking you ‘So what?’ or ‘Why should anybody care?’ and answer those questions.

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What to include

Your conclusion should include several of the following elements:

  • The answer to the assignment question — mention the title or question and answer it fully. Rather than give a full summary of the main body of the text, you should clearly summarise your main argument and state how your writing answers the original question you were asked.
  • A brief summary of the paper’s main points.
  • A proposed course of action or a solution to an issue.
  • Suggestions for further research.
  • Acknowledgements of the limitations of your essay or research — when writing an essay, you have a finite word count, so there may be areas you could have explored further, or perhaps there are limitations to the existing research on your topic.
  • A ‘closing thought’, for example, a quote, prediction, warning or question.

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What not to include

However, your conclusion should avoid including any of the following elements:

  • Any new material or arguments: if you have a new thought or idea when writing your conclusion, go back and explore this fully in the main body of your essay.
  • Contradictions : do not include anything which contradicts your argument or final opinion.
  • Lengthy summaries: your conclusion should not be a long summary of the all points made in the main body of your essay. Whilst you should include a brief summary of your main points, your conclusion should not repeat what you have already covered.

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An example conclusion

Here is an example of a conclusion. This is not intended as a perfect example but does demonstrate many examples of the elements discussed above. Read the piece as a whole initially. We will then discuss individual elements of the post to try and determine what this piece of writing is trying to achieve:

“What influence has Manchester had on popular culture?”

It is undeniable that the city of Manchester’s influence on the development of popular culture is somewhat inversely proportional to the size of the city and its population. Is it as simple as just saying the city “does things differently” (Wilson, 1977) and leaving it there? While this may be too simplistic, our analysis of Manchester’s contributions to music and television have clearly demonstrated a recurring pattern. This is the consistent use of localised thought patterns, experiences and places which created a distinctive look, sound and feel to the popular culture. This sense of “newness” or “otherness” created a sense of momentum which in turn leads to cultural phenomenons such as the “Madchester” scene, whose influence becomes long lasting and historically significant.

Addressing the core of exactly what it is that has made Manchester, and Mancunian swagger, so attractive to those outside the city is a whole other question, and one which lies beyond the scope of this essay.

The greatest irony, of course, is that an explosion of popular cultural success stories based on geographical factors can ultimately be self-defeating and unsustainable. As popularity rises and developers and big businesses inevitably move in, the uniqueness and local character which prove so attractive in the first place can become heavily diluted. The most famous example of this in Manchester is the legendary Hacienda nightclub, which now exists only as a memory, having been converted into residential apartments. These may allow more people to live in and experience the city, but ultimately detract from what may have attracted them to live there in the first place! While this is not necessarily a terminal development, it is likely that the next popular cultural explosion that originates from Manchester will look very different from those which preceded it.

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Breakdown of the example

In the first part of the conclusion, the writer provides a clear answer to the question they were set, “What influence has Manchester had on popular culture?”

It is undeniable that the city of Manchester’s influence on the development of popular culture is somewhat inversely proportional to the size of the city and its population.

The writer then goes on to provide a brief summary of the paper’s main points, without being repetitive of the main body of the essay.

The writer has also included a course of action or solution to the issue by suggesting that “newness” or “otherness” can create a sense of momentum which leads to significant cultural phenomenon.

Is it as simple as just saying the city “does things differently” (Wilson, 1977) and leaving it there? While this may be too simplistic, our analysis of Manchester’s contributions to music and television have clearly demonstrated a recurring pattern. This is the consistent use of localised thought patterns, experiences and places which created a distinctive look, sound and feel to the popular culture. This sense of “newness” or “otherness” created a sense of momentum which in turn leads to cultural phenomenons such as the “Madchester” scene, whose influence becomes long lasting and historically significant.

The next section acknowledges the limitations of this particular essay and suggests an area for further research: the appeal of Manchester to those outside of the city.

Addressing the core of exactly what it is that has made Manchester, and Mancunian swagger, so attractive to those outside the city is a whole other question, and one which lies beyond the scope of this essay.

Finally, the writer finishes on a closing thought. The writer points out the very irony embedded in the topic of the essay and ends the essay with a prediction that the next popular cultural explosion will look completely different to those before it.

The greatest irony of course is that an explosion of popular cultural success stories based on geographical factors can ultimately be self-defeating and unsustainable. As popularity rises and developers and big businesses inevitably move in, the uniqueness and local character which prove so attractive in the first place can become heavily diluted. The most famous example of this in Manchester is the legendary Hacienda nightclub, which now exists only as a memory, having been converted into residential apartments. These may allow more people to live in and experience the city, but ultimately detract from what may have attracted them to live there in the first place! While this is not necessarily a terminal development it is likely that the next popular cultural explosion that originates from Manchester will look very different from those which preceded it.

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Further support

Further reading:

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