What is a Conclusion Paragraph?
A conclusion paragraph is the last paragraph in an essay or a longer report. It is the last bit of your paper that the reader will see, so it is important for your conclusion paragraph to sum up your paper and leave the reader feeling as if the information you have written is important and meaningful. One way to think of a conclusion paragraph is as the second “bookend" to your paper – with the introduction paragraph being the first one. That means that if the introduction begins with a quotation or anecdote, your conclusion should refer back to it. If your introduction begins with a provocative question, your conclusion should make sure that it has been addressed.
A conclusion paragraph includes two main parts: a summary of the main idea of the paper, and an answer to the “So what?" question. These parts will be addressed in the following two sections, along with tips on writing that will really impress your teacher.
Summarizing the Main Idea
Towards the beginning of your conclusion paragraph, it is important to summarize the main idea or ideas in your paper. Most importantly, your conclusion paragraph should include a summary statement, which is essentially a restatement of your thesis. In addition, you should quickly run through the most important ideas in your paper. Remember, you only have part of a paragraph to summarize your entire paper, so you may devote only a single phrase to an entire section of your report. For example, if your report is about the similarity in characters, theme, and setting of two novels, your summary might include only these three words – or may give a short phrase to remind readers what you wrote about each aspect of the two books.
The most important question that your conclusion paragraph must ask is “So what?" What’s the purpose of writing this paper? Why should the reader care about what you’ve written? Obviously, different papers will answer this question in different ways. Here are some variations on this question that you might want to answer in your own conclusion paragraph:
- How has the information in this paper affected the present or future? (This is an especially good question for history papers, or those that address environmental issues.)
- What should the reader go out and do based on this paper? (This “call for action" conclusion is most helpful in persuasive essays or problem/solution papers.)
- Which question should the information in this paper help readers ponder or answer? (In this case, you would include a thought-provoking question for readers to consider, based on what you’ve already written.)
- Why is it important for readers to know this information? (This question might include the subquestion, “How can readers apply this information to their own lives?")
These tips should help you piece together how you want your report to end. Remember – your conclusion paragraph is one of the most important parts of your paper, and it can encourage your reader to feel that your whole report has been worth the read.