Write with Might #9: Conclusions


With the end of the Autumn quarter quickly approaching, let us consider endings. This week's tip focuses on how to write successful conclusions.


Many writers agree that the conclusion, although extremely important, can be the most difficult part of writing a piece. It is no surprise, then, that conclusions come in varying levels of effectiveness. Acceptable conclusions restate what the writer has previously articulated, but excellent conclusions do much more. To bolster your motivation for writing excellent conclusions, please consider the fact that writing is a powerful tool for social work advocacy. The following information is adapted from the Purdue OWL website and the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center website, with citations following.


To create an excellent conclusion, please consider the following strategies:


1. Remember the basics


While you prepare to take your conclusion to the next level, it can be helpful to keep in mind what conclusions do in their most basic form. A conclusion can:

Restate your specific topic, including your thesis.


Refresh the reader on the context and purpose of your topic-in other words, why is your thesis important and relevant?

Provide a succinct overview of opposing views you have already addressed, plus why your view is particularly convincing/interesting/accurate.


Return the topic you present to the larger discourse in which it lives. Clue the reader into the big picture. Suggest action or further research.


2. Ask yourself, "So what?" and "Why should anybody care?"

Instead of only restating your topic and thesis, take a step further and point your reader to broader implications. Guide the reader to the much larger discourse to which your thesis belongs. You can add significance to your paper if you identify that the content you present is integrally connected to other topics. An understanding of the larger discourse, then, first requires the consideration of your important claims.


3. Think: synthesis over summary

Resist the temptation to cram in too many new points. If you are struggling with this, strongly consider revisiting and revising your outline if more information is needed. Instead of rehashing every single example you used to support your central claim, show the reader how all of your separate points fit together. Try to think in terms of themes and patterns.


4. Be clear, not boring

Offer a succinct, overarching message. Strike a balance between being concise and putting your reader to

sleep. For example, try using action verbs and varied sentence structure so that you are not simply repeating your introduction paragraph. In general, challenge yourself to stray from writing "in conclusion" or "in summary."


5. Ask yourself, "Why did I really write this paper?"

Sure, you may have written a piece because it is a requirement for a course or for a degree or for a paycheck. However, if you listen closely you may come across a quiet, yet profound new answer to this question. You may find that when you seriously consider this question, the "I had to" becomes "I wanted to." The key then is to articulate to your reader why you wanted to write the paper. Who will benefit from your words? What do you hope to contribute or model through your statements? What is your intention for releasing this piece to the world? What is your end goal? When writers get clarity on where their passions lie, the quality of their writing can soar.


Brizee, A. (2010, April, 17). Conclusions. Retrieved from: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/724/04/


The University of North Carolina Writing Center. (n.d.). Conclusions. Retrieved from: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/conclusions/


Thank you for tuning in for another weekly Write with Might Tip. Let's remember that words have incredible strength and the conclusion is the writer's final chance to impact the reader.