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One of the most common questions we receive at the Writing Center is “what am I supposed to do in my conclusion?” This is a difficult question to answer because there’s no one right answer to what belongs in a conclusion. How you conclude your paper will depend on where you started—and where you traveled. It will also depend on the conventions and expectations of the discipline in which you are writing. For example, while the conclusion to a STEM paper could focus on questions for further study, the conclusion of a literature paper could include a quotation from your central text that can now be understood differently in light of what has been discussed in the paper. You should consult your instructor about expectations for conclusions in a particular discipline.

With that in mind, here are some general guidelines you might find helpful to use as you think about your conclusion.  

Begin with the “what”  

In a short paper—even a research paper—you don’t need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary. Or it may come in the form of a sentence that brings your readers back to your thesis or main idea and reminds your readers where you began and how far you have traveled.

So, for example, in a paper about the relationship between ADHD and rejection sensitivity, Vanessa Roser begins by introducing readers to the fact that researchers have studied the relationship between the two conditions and then provides her explanation of that relationship. Here’s her thesis: “While socialization may indeed be an important factor in RS, I argue that individuals with ADHD may also possess a neurological predisposition to RS that is exacerbated by the differing executive and emotional regulation characteristic of ADHD.”

In her final paragraph, Roser reminds us of where she started by echoing her thesis: “This literature demonstrates that, as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Highlight the “so what”  

At the beginning of your paper, you explain to your readers what’s at stake—why they should care about the argument you’re making. In your conclusion, you can bring readers back to those stakes by reminding them why your argument is important in the first place. You can also draft a few sentences that put those stakes into a new or broader context.

In the conclusion to her paper about ADHD and RS, Roser echoes the stakes she established in her introduction—that research into connections between ADHD and RS has led to contradictory results, raising questions about the “behavioral mediation hypothesis.”

She writes, “as with many other conditions, ADHD and RS share a delicately intertwined pattern of neurological similarities that is rooted in the innate biology of an individual’s mind, a connection that cannot be explained in full by the behavioral mediation hypothesis.”  

Leave your readers with the “now what”  

After the “what” and the “so what,” you should leave your reader with some final thoughts. If you have written a strong introduction, your readers will know why you have been arguing what you have been arguing—and why they should care. And if you’ve made a good case for your thesis, then your readers should be in a position to see things in a new way, understand new questions, or be ready for something that they weren’t ready for before they read your paper.

In her conclusion, Roser offers two “now what” statements. First, she explains that it is important to recognize that the flawed behavioral mediation hypothesis “seems to place a degree of fault on the individual. It implies that individuals with ADHD must have elicited such frequent or intense rejection by virtue of their inadequate social skills, erasing the possibility that they may simply possess a natural sensitivity to emotion.” She then highlights the broader implications for treatment of people with ADHD, noting that recognizing the actual connection between rejection sensitivity and ADHD “has profound implications for understanding how individuals with ADHD might best be treated in educational settings, by counselors, family, peers, or even society as a whole.”

To find your own “now what” for your essay’s conclusion, try asking yourself these questions:

  • What can my readers now understand, see in a new light, or grapple with that they would not have understood in the same way before reading my paper? Are we a step closer to understanding a larger phenomenon or to understanding why what was at stake is so important?  
  • What questions can I now raise that would not have made sense at the beginning of my paper? Questions for further research? Other ways that this topic could be approached?  
  • Are there other applications for my research? Could my questions be asked about different data in a different context? Could I use my methods to answer a different question?  
  • What action should be taken in light of this argument? What action do I predict will be taken or could lead to a solution?  
  • What larger context might my argument be a part of?  

What to avoid in your conclusion  

  • a complete restatement of all that you have said in your paper.  
  • a substantial counterargument that you do not have space to refute; you should introduce counterarguments before your conclusion.  
  • an apology for what you have not said. If you need to explain the scope of your paper, you should do this sooner—but don’t apologize for what you have not discussed in your paper.  
  • fake transitions like “in conclusion” that are followed by sentences that aren’t actually conclusions. (“In conclusion, I have now demonstrated that my thesis is correct.”)
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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


What this handout is about.

This handout will explain the functions of conclusions, offer strategies for writing effective ones, help you evaluate conclusions you’ve drafted, and suggest approaches to avoid.

About conclusions

Introductions and conclusions can be difficult to write, but they’re worth investing time in. They can have a significant influence on a reader’s experience of your paper.

Just as your introduction acts as a bridge that transports your readers from their own lives into the “place” of your analysis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. Such a conclusion will help them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down.

Your conclusion is your chance to have the last word on the subject. The conclusion allows you to have the final say on the issues you have raised in your paper, to synthesize your thoughts, to demonstrate the importance of your ideas, and to propel your reader to a new view of the subject. It is also your opportunity to make a good final impression and to end on a positive note.

Your conclusion can go beyond the confines of the assignment. The conclusion pushes beyond the boundaries of the prompt and allows you to consider broader issues, make new connections, and elaborate on the significance of your findings.

Your conclusion should make your readers glad they read your paper. Your conclusion gives your reader something to take away that will help them see things differently or appreciate your topic in personally relevant ways. It can suggest broader implications that will not only interest your reader, but also enrich your reader’s life in some way. It is your gift to the reader.

Strategies for writing an effective conclusion

One or more of the following strategies may help you write an effective conclusion:

  • Play the “So What” Game. If you’re stuck and feel like your conclusion isn’t saying anything new or interesting, ask a friend to read it with you. Whenever you make a statement from your conclusion, ask the friend to say, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?” Then ponder that question and answer it. Here’s how it might go: You: Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass. Friend: So what? You: Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen. Friend: Why should anybody care? You: That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally. You can also use this strategy on your own, asking yourself “So What?” as you develop your ideas or your draft.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction. This strategy brings the reader full circle. For example, if you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding. You may also refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction.
  • Synthesize, don’t summarize. Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in your paper. Instead, show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together. Pull it all together.
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for your paper.
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study. This can redirect your reader’s thought process and help her to apply your info and ideas to her own life or to see the broader implications.
  • Point to broader implications. For example, if your paper examines the Greensboro sit-ins or another event in the Civil Rights Movement, you could point out its impact on the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. A paper about the style of writer Virginia Woolf could point to her influence on other writers or on later feminists.

Strategies to avoid

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as “in conclusion,” “in summary,” or “in closing.” Although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as wooden and trite in writing.
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion.
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion.
  • Ending with a rephrased thesis statement without any substantive changes.
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of an analytical paper.
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper.

Four kinds of ineffective conclusions

  • The “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It” Conclusion. This conclusion just restates the thesis and is usually painfully short. It does not push the ideas forward. People write this kind of conclusion when they can’t think of anything else to say. Example: In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
  • The “Sherlock Holmes” Conclusion. Sometimes writers will state the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion. You might be tempted to use this strategy if you don’t want to give everything away too early in your paper. You may think it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in the dark until the end and then “wow” him with your main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. The reader, however, does not expect a mystery, but an analytical discussion of your topic in an academic style, with the main argument (thesis) stated up front. Example: (After a paper that lists numerous incidents from the book but never says what these incidents reveal about Douglass and his views on education): So, as the evidence above demonstrates, Douglass saw education as a way to undermine the slaveholders’ power and also an important step toward freedom.
  • The “America the Beautiful”/”I Am Woman”/”We Shall Overcome” Conclusion. This kind of conclusion usually draws on emotion to make its appeal, but while this emotion and even sentimentality may be very heartfelt, it is usually out of character with the rest of an analytical paper. A more sophisticated commentary, rather than emotional praise, would be a more fitting tribute to the topic. Example: Because of the efforts of fine Americans like Frederick Douglass, countless others have seen the shining beacon of light that is education. His example was a torch that lit the way for others. Frederick Douglass was truly an American hero.
  • The “Grab Bag” Conclusion. This kind of conclusion includes extra information that the writer found or thought of but couldn’t integrate into the main paper. You may find it hard to leave out details that you discovered after hours of research and thought, but adding random facts and bits of evidence at the end of an otherwise-well-organized essay can just create confusion. Example: In addition to being an educational pioneer, Frederick Douglass provides an interesting case study for masculinity in the American South. He also offers historians an interesting glimpse into slave resistance when he confronts Covey, the overseer. His relationships with female relatives reveal the importance of family in the slave community.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Douglass, Frederick. 1995. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. New York: Dover.

Hamilton College. n.d. “Conclusions.” Writing Center. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://www.hamilton.edu//academics/centers/writing/writing-resources/conclusions .

Holewa, Randa. 2004. “Strategies for Writing a Conclusion.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated February 19, 2004. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write a Conclusion for an Essay

Kelly Konya

You’ve done it. You’ve refined your introduction and your thesis. You’ve spent time researching and proving all of your supporting arguments. You’re slowly approaching the finish line of your essay and suddenly freeze up because—that’s right—it’s time to write the conclusion.

How to write a conclusion

Before we dive into the details, here’s a basic outline of how to write a conclusion:

  • Restate your thesis: remind readers of your main point
  • Reiterate your supporting points: remind readers of your evidence or arguments
  • Wrap everything up by tying it all together
  • Write a clincher: with the last sentence, leave your reader with something to think about

For many, the conclusion is the most dreaded part of essay writing . Condensing all the points you’ve analyzed in a tidy little package is certainly easier said than done. How can you make a good final impression while emphasizing the significance of your findings? 

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Learning how to write a conclusion for an essay doesn’t need to feel like climbing Everest. It is wholly possible to tie everything together while considering the broader issues and implications of your argument. You just need the right strategy.

What do you want to leave your readers with? Perhaps you want to end with a quotation that adds texture to your discussion. Or, perhaps you want to set your argument into a different, perhaps larger context. 

An effective conclusion paragraph should ultimately suggest to your reader that you’ve accomplished what you set out to prove.

5 key details for writing a conclusion

1 restate your thesis.

As you set out to write your conclusion and end your essay on an insightful note, you’ll want to start by restating your thesis. Since the thesis is the central idea of your entire essay, it’s wise to remind the reader of the purpose of your paper. 

Once you’ve restated your thesis (in a way that’s paraphrased , of course, and offers a fresh understanding), the next step is to reiterate your supporting points.

2 Reiterate supporting points

Extract all of the “main points” from each of your supporting paragraphs or individual arguments in the essay . Then, find a way to wrap up these points in a way that demonstrates the importance of the ideas. 

Depending on the length of your essay, knowing how to write a good conclusion is somewhat intuitive—you don’t want to simply summarize what you wrote. Rather, the conclusion should convey a sense of closure alongside the larger meaning and lingering possibilities of the topic. 

3 Ask yourself: “So what?” 

At some point in your life, a teacher has probably told you that the end of an essay should answer the question “So what?” or “Why does it matter?” This advice holds true. It’s helpful to ask yourself this question at the start of drafting your thesis and come back to it throughout, as it can keep you in tune with the essay’s purpose. Then, at your conclusion, you won’t be left searching for something to say.

4 Add perspective 

If you’ve come across a fantastic quote in your research that didn’t quite make it into the essay, the conclusion is a great spot for it. Including a quote from one of your primary or secondary sources can frame your thesis or final thoughts in a different light. This can add specificity and texture to your overall argument. 

For example, if you’ve written an essay about J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, you can think about using a quote from the book itself or from a critic or scholar who complicates your main point. If your thesis is about Salinger’s desire to preserve childhood innocence, ending with a biographer’s statement about Salinger’s attitude toward his own youth might be illuminating for readers. If you decide to amplify your conclusion paragraph in this way, make sure the secondary material adds (and not detracts) from the points you already made. After all, you want to have the last word!

5 Consider the clincher

At the very end of the essay comes your closing sentence or clincher. As you think about how to write a good conclusion, the clincher must be top of mind. What can you say to propel the reader to a new view on the subject? This final sentence needs to help readers feel a sense of closure. It should also end on a positive note, so your audience feels glad they read your paper and that they learned something worthwhile. 

What your conclusion should not include

There are a few things that you should definitely strive to avoid when writing your conclusion paragraph. These elements will only cheapen your overall argument and belabor the obvious.

Here are several conclusion mishaps to consider:

  • Avoid phrases like “in summary,” “in conclusion,” or “to sum up.” Readers know they’re at the end of the essay and don’t need a signpost. 
  • Don’t simply summarize what’s come before. For a short essay, you certainly don’t need to reiterate all of your supporting arguments. Readers will know if you just copied and pasted from elsewhere.
  • Avoid introducing brand new ideas or evidence. This will only confuse readers and sap force from your arguments. If there’s a really profound point that you’ve reached in your conclusion and want to include, try moving it to one of your supporting paragraphs. 

Whereas your introduction acts as a bridge that transfers your readers from their own lives into the “space” of your argument or analysis, your conclusion should help readers transition back to their daily lives. 

By following this useful roadmap, you can feel confident that you know how to write a good conclusion that leaves readers with a solution, a call to action, or a powerful insight for further study.

how to conclude literature essay

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“Pay adequate attention to the conclusion.” Kathleen McMillan & Jonathan Weyers,  How to Write Essays & Assignments

Conclusions are often overlooked, cursory and written last minute. If this sounds familiar then it's time to change and give your conclusions some much needed attention. Your conclusion is the whole point of your essay. All the other parts of the essay should have been leading your reader on an inevitable journey towards your conclusion. So make it count and finish your essay in style.

Know where you are going

Too many students focus their essays on content rather than argument. This means they pay too much attention to the main body without considering where it is leading. It can be a good idea to write a draft conclusion before  you write your main body. It is a lot easier to plan a journey when you know your destination! 

It should only be a draft however, as quite often the writing process itself can help you develop your argument and you may feel your conclusion needs adapting accordingly.

What it should include

A great conclusion should include:

link icon

A clear link back to the question . This is usually the first thing you do in a conclusion and it shows that you have (hopefully) answered it.

icon - lightbulb in a point marker

A sentence or two that summarise(s) your main argument but in a bit more detail than you gave in your introduction.

idea with points leading to it

A series of supporting sentences that basically reiterate the main point of each of your paragraphs but show how they relate to each other and lead you to the position you have taken. Constantly ask yourself "So what?" "Why should anyone care?" and answer these questions for each of the points you make in your conclusion.

icon - exclamation mark

A final sentence that states why your ideas are important to the wider subject area . Where the introduction goes from general to specific, the conclusion needs to go from specific back out to general.

What it should not  include

Try to avoid including the following in your conclusion. Remember your conclusion should be entirely predictable. The reader wants no surprises.

icon - lightbulb crossed out

Any new ideas . If an idea is worth including, put it in the main body. You do not need to include citations in your conclusion if you have already used them earlier and are just reiterating your point.

sad face

A change of style i.e. being more emotional or sentimental than the rest of the essay. Keep it straightforward, explanatory and clear.

rubbish bin

Overused phrases like: “in conclusion”; “in summary”; “as shown in this essay”. Consign these to the rubbish bin!

Here are some alternatives, there are many more:

  • The x main points presented here emphasise the importance of...
  • The [insert something relevant] outlined above indicate that ...
  • By showing the connections between x, y and z, it has been argued here that ...

Maximise marks

Remember, your conclusion is the last thing your reader (marker!) will read. Spending a little care on it will leave her/him absolutely sure that you have answered the question and you will definitely receive a higher mark than if your conclusion was a quickly written afterthought.

Your conclusion should be around 10% of your word count. There is never a situation where sacrificing words in your conclusion will benefit your essay.

The 5Cs conclusion method: (spot the typo on this video)

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  • How to structure an essay: Templates and tips

How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

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Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

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The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

  • Thesis statement
  • Discussion of event/period
  • Consequences
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement
  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
  • Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
  • Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
  • High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
  • Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
  • Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Implications of the new technology for book production
  • Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
  • Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
  • Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
  • Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
  • Summarize the history described
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period

Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.


In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

  • Synthesis of arguments
  • Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
  • Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
  • Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
  • Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
  • Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
  • Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
  • Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
  • Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
  • Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
  • Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
  • Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
  • Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

  • Point 1 (compare)
  • Point 2 (compare)
  • Point 3 (compare)
  • Point 4 (compare)
  • Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
  • Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
  • Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
  • Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
  • Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
  • Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
  • Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
  • Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

  • Introduce the problem
  • Provide background
  • Describe your approach to solving it
  • Define the problem precisely
  • Describe why it’s important
  • Indicate previous approaches to the problem
  • Present your new approach, and why it’s better
  • Apply the new method or theory to the problem
  • Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
  • Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
  • Describe the implications
  • Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
  • Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
  • Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
  • Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
  • Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
  • Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
  • Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
  • This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
  • This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
  • It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
  • Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it

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Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .


Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/essay-structure/

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How to Conclude an Essay (with Examples)

Last Updated: April 3, 2023 Fact Checked

Writing a Strong Conclusion

What to avoid, brainstorming tricks.

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams and by wikiHow staff writer, Aly Rusciano . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 3,194,298 times.

So, you’ve written an outstanding essay and couldn’t be more proud. But now you have to write the final paragraph. The conclusion simply summarizes what you’ve already written, right? Well, not exactly. Your essay’s conclusion should be a bit more finessed than that. Luckily, you’ve come to the perfect place to learn how to write a conclusion. We’ve put together this guide to fill you in on everything you should and shouldn’t do when ending an essay. Follow our advice, and you’ll have a stellar conclusion worthy of an A+ in no time.

Things You Should Know

  • Rephrase your thesis to include in your final paragraph to bring the essay full circle.
  • End your essay with a call to action, warning, or image to make your argument meaningful.
  • Keep your conclusion concise and to the point, so you don’t lose a reader’s attention.
  • Do your best to avoid adding new information to your conclusion and only emphasize points you’ve already made in your essay.

Step 1 Start with a small transition.

  • “All in all”
  • “Ultimately”
  • “Furthermore”
  • “As a consequence”
  • “As a result”

Step 2 Briefly summarize your essay’s main points.

  • Make sure to write your main points in a new and unique way to avoid repetition.

Step 3 Rework your thesis statement into the conclusion.

  • Let’s say this is your original thesis statement: “Allowing students to visit the library during lunch improves campus life and supports academic achievement.”
  • Restating your thesis for your conclusion could look like this: “Evidence shows students who have access to their school’s library during lunch check out more books and are more likely to complete their homework.”
  • The restated thesis has the same sentiment as the original while also summarizing other points of the essay.

Step 4 End with something meaningful.

  • “When you use plastic water bottles, you pollute the ocean. Switch to using a glass or metal water bottle instead. The planet and sea turtles will thank you.”
  • “The average person spends roughly 7 hours on their phone a day, so there’s no wonder cybersickness is plaguing all generations.”
  • “Imagine walking on the beach, except the soft sand is made up of cigarette butts. They burn your feet but keep washing in with the tide. If we don’t clean up the ocean, this will be our reality.”
  • “ Lost is not only a show that changed the course of television, but it’s also a reflection of humanity as a whole.”
  • “If action isn’t taken to end climate change today, the global temperature will dangerously rise from 4.5 to 8 °F (−15.3 to −13.3 °C) by 2100.”

Step 5 Keep it short and sweet.

  • Focus on your essay's most prevalent or important parts. What key points do you want readers to take away or remember about your essay?

Step 1 Popular concluding statements

  • For instance, instead of writing, “That’s why I think that Abraham Lincoln was the best American President,” write, “That’s why Abraham Lincoln was the best American President.”
  • There’s no room for ifs, ands, or buts—your opinion matters and doesn’t need to be apologized for!

Step 6 Quotations

  • For instance, words like “firstly,” “secondly,” and “thirdly” may be great transition statements for body paragraphs but are unnecessary in a conclusion.

Step 1 Ask yourself, “So what?”

  • For instance, say you began your essay with the idea that humanity’s small sense of sense stems from space’s vast size. Try returning to this idea in the conclusion by emphasizing that as human knowledge grows, space becomes smaller.

Step 4 Think about your essay’s argument in a broader “big picture” context.

  • For example, you could extend an essay on the television show Orange is the New Black by bringing up the culture of imprisonment in America.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Always review your essay after writing it for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and don’t be afraid to revise. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1
  • Ask a friend, family member, or teacher for help if you’re stuck. Sometimes a second opinion is all you need. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1

how to conclude literature essay

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Put a Quote in an Essay

  • ↑ https://www.uts.edu.au/current-students/support/helps/self-help-resources/grammar/transition-signals
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/argument_papers/conclusions.html
  • ↑ http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/conclude.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/ending-essay-conclusions
  • ↑ https://www.pittsfordschools.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=542&dataid=4677&FileName=conclusions1.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.cuyamaca.edu/student-support/tutoring-center/files/student-resources/how-to-write-a-good-conclusion.pdf
  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185935

About This Article

Jake Adams

To end an essay, start your conclusion with a phrase that makes it clear your essay is coming to a close, like "In summary," or "All things considered." Then, use a few sentences to briefly summarize the main points of your essay by rephrasing the topic sentences of your body paragraphs. Finally, end your conclusion with a call to action that encourages your readers to do something or learn more about your topic. In general, try to keep your conclusion between 5 and 7 sentences long. For more tips from our English co-author, like how to avoid common pitfalls when writing an essay conclusion, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Literacy Ideas

How to write a Conclusion

How to write a conclusion

What is a Conclusion?

Visual Writing Prompts

Before we learn how to write a conclusion, we need to determine what a conclusion is.

A conclusion is the final sentences or paragraph in a piece of writing that signifies the end of a text, event or process.

We can find conclusions everywhere, from narratives, letters and reports to persuasive essays and speeches.

Conclusions perform many functions, which we will examine throughout this article. Fundamentally, they wrap everything up and finish a piece of writing or a presentation.

Unfortunately, conclusions are often the most challenging section of a paper to write. They are the final words of the writer on the topic and, as a result, play a crucial part in the lasting impression the writing leaves on the reader.

For this reason, our students must take time to understand clearly the functions of a conclusion and how they work. Time spent mastering the art of conclusion writing will be time well spent.


how to write a conclusion | conclusion writing unit 1 | How to write a Conclusion | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to write  POWERFUL   CONCLUSIONS  that put a bow on a great piece of writing. All too often, students struggle to conclude their writing. Stumbling, repeating themselves, or missing the opportunity to make a lasting impression.

This  COMPLETE UNIT OF WORK  will take your students from zero to hero over  FIVE STRATEGIC LESSONS  covered.

What is the Purpose of a Concluding Paragraph

how to write a conclusion | conclusion definition | How to write a Conclusion | literacyideas.com

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all formula we can teach our students that they can use to write any conclusion. Conclusions perform several functions, varying widely from paper to paper. Some of these functions include:

  • Restates a paper’s thesis and explains why it’s important
  • Synthesizes the essay’s arguments
  • It opens up new questions
  • Addresses limitations
  • Makes a call to action.

Not all conclusions will perform each of these functions. How our students approach writing their conclusions will depend on several factors, including:

  • The conventions of the writing genre
  • The intended audience and their motivations
  • The formality or informality of the paper
  • The tone of the writing.

 Now, let’s look at each of the functions of a conclusion one by one, along with a practice activity for each to give our students some hands-on practice.

1. A Concluding Paragraph Restates the Thesis and Explains Why

One of the most common errors in writing a conclusion is to use it to simply restate the thesis. Though this is widely taught, it isn’t enough.

The student should also explain why the argument made in their thesis is important. This involves considering the more widespread impact of the thesis and its supporting arguments.

  The conclusion should inform the reader why the thesis matters by answering questions similar to the following:

  • What are the wider societal implications of the thesis?
  • Does the thesis challenge a widely accepted idea or belief?
  • Does the thesis have significance for how things could be done in the future?

To write a conclusion in this vein, it is helpful for students to compose similar type questions relevant to their thesis, which they can then set out to answer.

These questions will vary widely according to the subject being written about and the genre being written in. Still, regardless, the conclusion should highlight the thesis’s significance to the wider world. This will bring context to the writing as a whole.

Example: In conclusion, this paper has argued that increasing access to education is essential for reducing poverty and promoting economic development. We have presented evidence from various studies showing the positive correlation between education and income and the role of education in fostering other developmental goals, such as improved health and reduced inequality. Restating the thesis, we can say that access to education is a fundamental human right and should be prioritized as a key development strategy to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth. The evidence presented in this paper supports this argument, making a case for the importance of increasing access to education for the well-being of individuals and societies.


This is another very common function performed by the conclusion. While each body paragraph in the paper may correspond to a single specific argument in support of the central thesis, in the conclusion, the various strands of supporting arguments are woven into a coherent whole.

The conclusion is not the place to introduce new arguments or to simply list the arguments made in the body paragraphs. Instead, it provides a final opportunity for your students to drive home their main arguments one last time and make connections between them to reveal a coherent whole.

Often, a conclusion will combine functions of functions 1 and 2 by restating the thesis, synthesizing the arguments, and explaining the wider significance of the thesis.

When considering how to write a conclusion for an argumentative essay, remember to synthesize it.

Example: In conclusion, this paper has presented a thorough examination of the current state of renewable energy sources and their potential to combat climate change. Through an analysis of the economic and technical feasibility of various renewable energy options, we have shown that renewable energy is a viable and necessary solution to reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, we have highlighted the importance of government policies and investment in research and development to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. Overall, this paper argues that renewable energy is a crucial step in the fight against climate change and must be prioritized to secure a sustainable future.


We often think of conclusions as drawing things to a close. But there’s another way of looking at things. Often, through the process of making various arguments in a piece of writing, new questions will emerge naturally.

This method is commonly encountered when exploring how to write a conclusion for a thesis.

This often occurs when the central thesis is set in a broader context. We can think of the progression of an essay as moving from a thesis statement through evermore specific arguments that support that initial thesis statement.

To open up new questions in the conclusion, the student should move from the specific to the more general, generating further possible lines of inquiry on the topic as they go. The effect of this type of conclusion is to spark the reader’s curiosity and further interest in the subject.

Example: In conclusion, our research has provided an in-depth examination of the effects of climate change on biodiversity. Our findings indicate that climate change is having a significant impact on the distribution and abundance of species. However, our research has also revealed that there are still many unanswered questions about the mechanisms driving these changes. For example, more research is needed to understand the role of different species interactions and the effects of climate change on specific ecosystem functions. We hope our research will serve as a foundation for further studies and inspire other researchers to continue investigating the complex relationship between climate change and biodiversity.


This method is often used in academic or scientific writing when considering how to write a conclusion for a report. In it, the student writer directly explores the weaknesses of their arguments.

It’s perhaps the bravest type of conclusion there is! Students need to be careful not to destroy their own thesis in the process. A sentence mentioning the limitation, quickly followed by a sentence or two addressing the problem, should be enough.

When done well, this strategy strengthens the impact of a paper by dealing head-on with potential criticisms and making strong counter-arguments in the process.

Example: In conclusion, our research provides valuable insights into the relationship between environmental factors and academic performance. However, it is important to note that our study has limitations. Firstly, the sample size was relatively small, and our results may not be generalizable to a larger population. Additionally, our study only considered one specific type of environmental factor and did not take into account other factors that may impact academic performance. Despite these limitations, our research provides a starting point for future studies in this area.


how to write a conclusion | Calltoaction | How to write a Conclusion | literacyideas.com

In a call-to-action type conclusion, the writer compels the reader to take a desired action or perform a particular task. This type of conclusion aims to persuade the reader or listener to do something.

Call-to-action conclusions work in various genres, including presentations, speeches, advertisements, and persuasive essays .

There are various techniques students can use to inspire action in their conclusions, such as appeals to emotions, the use of strong imperatives, or appeals to the reader’s or the listener’s self-interest.

Example: In conclusion, our research highlights the importance of access to clean drinking water in developing countries. Our findings show that a lack of access to clean water can lead to serious health issues and negatively impact the economy. However, it is not enough to simply acknowledge this problem – action must be taken. We call on governments, non-profit organizations, and individuals to take action by investing in infrastructure and providing education on sanitation and hygiene. Together, we can work towards providing access to clean water for all, and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for people living in developing countries.

Tips for Writing a Strong Conclusion

As young writers, crafting a solid conclusion for your essay is essential to communicate your ideas effectively. A well-written conclusion can help to summarize your main points, provide closure to your argument, and leave a lasting impression on your reader. Here are ten tips for writing a strong conclusion to an essay for high school students:

  • Restate the main idea of your essay. A good conclusion should summarize the main points of your essay and reiterate the main idea or thesis statement.
  • Provide closure to your argument. Your conclusion should provide a sense of closure to your argument and tie up any loose ends.
  • Emphasize the importance of your topic. Your conclusion should also emphasize the importance of the topic you have discussed and why it matters to your reader.
  • Offer a call to action. Encourage your reader to take action or think more deeply about the issues you have discussed in your essay.
  • Avoid introducing new information. Your conclusion should be a summary of your main points, not a place to introduce new information or ideas.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid using complex phrases or convoluted language in your conclusion.
  • Use a strong concluding sentence. Your last sentence should be a powerful statement that leaves a lasting impression on your reader.
  • Avoid summarizing every point. You don’t have to summarize every point you made in the essay; pick the main and most important ones.
  • Reflect on your essay’s meaning. Take a step back and reflect on the overall meaning of your essay and the message you want to convey to your reader.
  • Revise and proofread . Revise and proofread your conclusion carefully to ensure it is clear, concise, and error-free.

By following these tips, you can write a strong conclusion that effectively communicates your ideas and leaves a lasting impression on your reader.

What shouldn’t a conclusion do?

So far, we’ve discussed some conclusion writing strategies by discussing things a good conclusion should do. Now, it’s time to look at some things a conclusion shouldn’t do.

The following list contains some of the most common mistakes students must avoid making in their conclusions. This list can help students troubleshoot their conclusions when they get stuck or run into problems.

1. Uses a Vague Thesis Statement

If the student struggles to make a powerful impact in their conclusion, it may be because their thesis statement is too vague.

If this is the case, they messed up long ago.

The first time the reader sees the thesis statement should be in the introduction. Because all arguments stem from that statement, a comprehensive rewrite of the entire paper will most likely be needed.

2. Opens with a Clichéd Phrase

When students begin to learn to write conclusions, they often learn some stock phrases to help kickstart their writing. Phrases such as ‘in conclusion’ or ‘to conclude’ can be useful as prompts to get students quickly into the meat of their writing. However, overuse of such stock phrases can leave the writing feeling mechanical.

Ultimately, we want more for our students. If one of the purposes of a conclusion is to make a powerful impact on the reader, we must encourage our students to be creative and bold in their writing.

3. Doubts the Thesis

In the first part of this article, we briefly discussed the idea of addressing the limitations of the thesis and supporting arguments. This can be an effective strategy for students, but it can also be risky. The student needs to ensure they don’t undermine their stance.

When students use this strategy, ensure they understand that addressing limitations is not the same thing as apologizing for the position held. A good conclusion is impossible without the writer actually concluding something; conclusions should end with a strong statement.

4. Contains Irrelevancies

Students must ensure that every piece of information in their essay or article is relevant to the topic and thesis.

One of the most common mistakes students make is failing to ‘kill their babies’. That is, they go off on a tangent in their writing but are reluctant to remove the offending sentences in the editing process.

Often this happens because the student doesn’t want to throw out something they spent time writing, even if it’s utterly irrelevant to the topic they’re writing about.

At other times, students fail to be merciless in their editing because they’re waffling to reach an assigned word count.

In this case, it’s important to remind students that to the seasoned eye of a teacher or examiner, any puff and padding in their writing is obvious.

5. Fails to Address the Why?

As an article or a paper draws to a close, it’s essential that the reader feels the time they spent reading was time well invested. To achieve this, the student must answer the why? question satisfactorily. Students should make sure their readers leave their writing feeling like they have learned something of value, are inspired to take action or have new questions to research and answer.

Drawing the Curtains on Our Work on Conclusions

We’ve covered a lot of ground in our article on conclusions. We’ve looked at strategies and techniques our students can use to hone their conclusion-writing skills.

how to write a conclusion | how to write conclusion | How to write a Conclusion | literacyideas.com

Now, it’s up to us as teachers to create opportunities for our students to perfect their understanding and ability to use these strategies and techniques in their writing.

While the ideas above will go a long way to ensuring your students are capable of composing well-written conclusions, with time and practice, they’ll develop their own style and approach to the conclusion conundrum – and surely there can be no more fitting conclusion than that!

Conclusion Writing Teaching Strategies and Activities

how to write a conclusion | TEACHING IDEA | How to write a Conclusion | literacyideas.com

Practice Activity: Connect to the Wider World : To practice this, provide the students with a copy of a well-written essay suited to their level but with the concluding paragraph snipped out. Challenge the students to first identify the thesis statement, it should be in the essay’s introduction, and then to write a conclusion that connects that thesis to the wider world by explaining why it matters.

Practice Activity: Write the Conclusion First : Sometimes, it’s helpful for students to think of the conclusion as the destination their writing is headed for. The next time your students have completed an outline for an essay , instruct them to write the conclusion first. In it, they should explore the reasons for their thesis and its wider significance and synthesize their arguments. This gives the students a clear focus for the preceding introduction and body paragraphs and gives their writing a clear direction to work towards.

Practice Activity: Shift Perspective : For many students, writing this style of conclusion will require a shift in their understanding of the purpose of a conclusion. One good way to begin to shift that perspective is to encourage students to rewrite conclusions they’ve written previously in old essays. For example, they might shift the focus of a conclusion from a local significance to global significance or from historical significance to contemporary significance.

Practice Activity: Poke the Weak Points

Students take a conclusion they have written already, such as one written for a previous activity. Then, set the students the task of rewriting the conclusion to address any limitations of the supporting arguments. To do this, students need to ask themselves:

  • What aspects of my arguments are open to contradiction?
  • How can I address those contradictions?

Practice Activity: Blog It! : Blogs often use calls to action in the conclusions of their informational articles. Set your students the task of identifying several blogs on subjects that interest them. Students may benefit from doing this activity in groups.

Once they’ve identified some suitable websites, instruct the students to look at the conclusion of some of the articles.

  • Can they identify any calls to action there?
  • How do the writers introduce their calls to action?
  • What techniques does the writer use to motivate the reader?

Challenge students to identify as many different motivational techniques and strategies as possible and then make a list that they can then share with the class.

When students have become good at identifying calls to action and the various motivational techniques and strategies, they can then write a blog article on a subject that interests them, making sure to include a call to action in their conclusion.


how to write a conclusion | opinion writing unit 1 | How to write a Conclusion | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to produce writing that  PERSUADES  and  INFLUENCES  thinking with this  HUGE  writing guide bundle covering: ⭐ Persuasive Texts / Essays ⭐ Expository Essays⭐ Argumentative Essays⭐ Discussions.

A complete 140 PAGE unit of work on persuasive texts for teachers and students. No preparation is required.


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how to write a conclusion | how to start an essay 1 | How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads | literacyideas.com

How to Start an Essay with Strong Hooks and Leads

how to write a conclusion | 7 top 5 essay writing tips | Top 5 Essay Writing Tips | literacyideas.com

Top 5 Essay Writing Tips

how to write a conclusion | how to write a 5 paragraph essay | How to write a perfect 5 Paragraph Essay | literacyideas.com

How to write a perfect 5 Paragraph Essay

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The Writing Process

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

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5 Examples of Concluding Words for Essays

5 Examples of Concluding Words for Essays

4-minute read

  • 19th September 2022

If you’re a student writing an essay or research paper, it’s important to make sure your points flow together well. You’ll want to use connecting words (known formally as transition signals) to do this. Transition signals like thus , also , and furthermore link different ideas, and when you get to the end of your work, you need to use these to mark your conclusion. Read on to learn more about transition signals and how to use them to conclude your essays.

Transition Signals

Transition signals link sentences together cohesively, enabling easy reading and comprehension. They are usually placed at the beginning of a sentence and separated from the remaining words with a comma. There are several types of transition signals, including those to:

●  show the order of a sequence of events (e.g., first, then, next)

●  introduce an example (e.g., specifically, for instance)

●  indicate a contrasting idea (e.g., but, however, although)

●  present an additional idea (e.g., also, in addition, plus)

●  indicate time (e.g., beforehand, meanwhile, later)

●  compare (e.g., likewise, similarly)

●  show cause and effect (e.g., thus, as a result)

●  mark the conclusion – which we’ll focus on in this guide.

When you reach the end of an essay, you should start the concluding paragraph with a transition signal that acts as a bridge to the summary of your key points. Check out some concluding transition signals below and learn how you can use them in your writing.

To Conclude…

This is a particularly versatile closing statement that can be used for almost any kind of essay, including both formal and informal academic writing. It signals to the reader that you will briefly restate the main idea. As an alternative, you can begin the summary with “to close” or “in conclusion.” In an argumentative piece, you can use this phrase to indicate a call to action or opinion:

To conclude, Abraham Lincoln was the best president because he abolished slavery.

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As Has Been Demonstrated…

To describe how the evidence presented in your essay supports your argument or main idea, begin the concluding paragraph with “as has been demonstrated.” This phrase is best used for research papers or articles with heavy empirical or statistical evidence.

As has been demonstrated by the study presented above, human activities are negatively altering the climate system.

The Above Points Illustrate…

As another transitional phrase for formal or academic work, “the above points illustrate” indicates that you are reiterating your argument and that the conclusion will include an assessment of the evidence you’ve presented.

The above points illustrate that children prefer chocolate over broccoli.

In a Nutshell…

A simple and informal metaphor to begin a conclusion, “in a nutshell” prepares the reader for a summary of your paper. It can work in narratives and speeches but should be avoided in formal situations.

In a nutshell, the Beatles had an impact on musicians for generations to come.

Overall, It Can Be Said…

To recap an idea at the end of a critical or descriptive essay, you can use this phrase at the beginning of the concluding paragraph. “Overall” means “taking everything into account,” and it sums up your essay in a formal way. You can use “overall” on its own as a transition signal, or you can use it as part of a phrase.

Overall, it can be said that art has had a positive impact on humanity.

Proofreading and Editing

Transition signals are crucial to crafting a well-written and cohesive essay. For your next writing assignment, make sure you include plenty of transition signals, and check out this post for more tips on how to improve your writing. And before you turn in your paper, don’t forget to have someone proofread your work. Our expert editors will make sure your essay includes all the transition signals necessary for your writing to flow seamlessly. Send in a free 500-word sample today!

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Apr 5, 2023

How to Conclude an Essay (With Examples)

Don't let a weak conclusion ruin your hard work. Learn how to end your essay with impact. Get inspired to craft a satisfying conclusion for your essay with these examples and tips!

Writing an essay is a complex and challenging task that requires careful planning and execution. While the introduction and body of an essay are essential in conveying information, the conclusion is equally vital in leaving a lasting impression on the reader. The conclusion is the final opportunity for the writer to make a persuasive argument and leave the reader with a sense of closure. 

A well-crafted conclusion should summarize the essay's main points, restate the thesis in a fresh way, and leave the reader with a thought-provoking message. In this essay, we will explore different strategies and examples of writing an effective conclusion that leaves a lasting impact on the reader.

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5 Effective Strategies for Crafting an Impactful Conclusion

The conclusion of an essay is a crucial element that can make or break the reader's overall impression of the piece. A poorly written conclusion can leave the reader feeling satisfied and interested, while a well-crafted conclusion can leave a lasting impact and reinforce the central message of the essay. 

In this article, we will explore five practical strategies for crafting a memorable conclusion that will leave a positive impression on the reader. Whether you are writing a persuasive essay or a personal reflection, these strategies will help you create a clear, concise, and compelling conclusion.

Summarizing the Main Points

Summarizing the main points is one of the most effective strategies for crafting a memorable conclusion to an essay. By summarizing the key takeaways from the essay, the writer reinforces the main message and helps the reader to understand better the significance of the information presented.

To effectively summarize the main points, it is essential to identify the key ideas and information that were presented in the essay. This can be done by reviewing the body paragraphs and identifying the main arguments or points made. Once these critical ideas have been identified, the writer can then craft a concise and clear summary of the main points.

Restating the Thesis in a Fresh Way

Restating the thesis in a fresh way is another effective strategy for crafting a memorable conclusion to an essay. The thesis statement is the main point or argument of the essay, and restating it in a fresh way can help to reinforce the main message and leave a lasting impact on the reader.

To effectively restate the thesis in a fresh way, the writer should consider using different words or phrasing to express the same idea. This can help to avoid repetition and keep the reader engaged. The writer may also consider using a different structure or approach to the thesis statement, such as turning it into a question or using a metaphor to convey the main message.

One approach to restating the thesis in a fresh way is to use a parallel structure. This involves using the same grammatical structure for each point in the thesis statement. For example, if the thesis statement is "Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate, learn, and work," the writer could restate it as "Communication, learning, and work have all been revolutionized by technology."

Leaving the Reader with a Thought-Provoking Message

Leaving the reader with a thought-provoking message is a powerful way to conclude an essay. By providing the reader with a new perspective or challenging them to think more deeply about the topic, the writer can leave a lasting impact and inspire further reflection.

To leave the reader with a thought-provoking message, the writer should consider incorporating a quote, statistic, or anecdote that highlights the importance of the topic and encourages the reader to consider their own beliefs and values. The writer may also consider asking a rhetorical question or offering a call to action that encourages the reader to take action or make a change.

One approach to leaving the reader with a thought-provoking message is to use a quote from a notable figure or expert in the field. This can help to lend credibility to the argument and inspire the reader to think more deeply about the topic. For example, if the essay is about climate change, the writer could end with a quote from a scientist or environmental activist that emphasizes the urgency of the issue.

Using Call-to-Action to Encourage Further Reflection

Using a call-to-action to encourage further reflection is a powerful way to conclude an essay. A call-to-action encourages the reader to take a specific action or change their behaviour based on the information presented in the essay. This can help to create a sense of urgency and inspire the reader to take concrete steps towards addressing the issue.

To use a call-to-action effectively, the writer should consider the intended audience and tailor the message accordingly. The call-to-action should be specific, actionable, and relevant to the topic of the essay. It should also be presented in a way that is persuasive and compelling.

Avoiding Common Mistakes in Concluding an Essay

Concluding an essay is an essential part of the writing process, as it gives the writer an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the reader. However, there are several common mistakes that writers make when crafting their conclusions, which can detract from the overall impact of the essay.

One common mistake is simply summarizing the main points of the essay without adding anything new. While it is important to review the key ideas presented in the essay, a conclusion should offer something more, such as a thought-provoking message or a call-to-action.

Another mistake is introducing new ideas or information that was not previously discussed in the essay. The conclusion should be a logical extension of the ideas presented in the essay, rather than an opportunity to introduce new topics.

Using clichéd phrases or overly formal language can also be a mistake when concluding an essay. The conclusion should be written in a clear and concise style that is consistent with the tone of the essay.

Failing to address any potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints is another common mistake in concluding an essay. By acknowledging alternative perspectives, the writer can strengthen their own argument and demonstrate their understanding of the topic.

In conclusion, crafting a memorable and effective conclusion for an essay is essential for leaving a lasting impression on the reader. By summarizing the main points, restating the thesis in a fresh way, leaving the reader with a thought-provoking message, using call-to-action, and avoiding common mistakes, a writer can ensure that their conclusion is impactful and adds value to their essay. 

Crafting a Compelling Conclusion: Examples and Techniques

Crafting a compelling conclusion for an essay is a crucial element of effective writing. A well-written conclusion can leave a lasting impression on the reader and make the overall essay more memorable. However, many writers struggle to create a conclusion that is both powerful and concise. 

In this article, we will explore some examples and techniques for crafting a compelling conclusion. We will discuss how to summarize the main points, restate the thesis in a fresh way, leave the reader with a thought-provoking message, use call-to-action to encourage further reflection and avoid common mistakes. By following these techniques, writers can create a conclusion that enhances the overall impact of their essay and leaves a positive impression on their readers.

Summarizing the Main Points: A Brief Recap

Summarizing the main points of an essay is a crucial element of crafting a compelling conclusion. It allows the reader to reflect on the key ideas presented in the essay and reinforces the main argument. In this section, we will explore some tips and techniques for summarizing the main points effectively.

One effective strategy for summarizing the main points is to use transitional phrases that signal the end of one idea and the beginning of another. These phrases can include "in conclusion," "to sum up," or "to wrap things up." Using these transitional phrases can help the reader understand that the conclusion is coming and prepare them to reflect on the main points of the essay.

Restating the Thesis in a Fresh Way: Adding New Insights

Restating the thesis in a fresh way is a powerful technique that can elevate the impact of an essay's conclusion. It allows the writer to add new insights to the thesis statement, demonstrating a deeper understanding of the topic and providing a fresh perspective for the reader. In this section, we will explore some strategies for restating the thesis in a fresh way.

One effective way to restate the thesis is to use a different angle or approach. This means taking the core message of the thesis and presenting it in a new way. For example, if the thesis is "technology is changing the way we work," a new angle could be " the rise of technology is creating new opportunities for the modern workforce. " This restatement provides a fresh perspective that adds new insights to the thesis statement.

Leaving the Reader with a Thought-Provoking Message: Encouraging Reflection

The conclusion of an essay should leave a lasting impression on the reader. One way to achieve this is by leaving the reader with a thought-provoking message that encourages reflection. In this section, we will explore some strategies for leaving the reader with a thought-provoking message.

One effective way to leave the reader with a thought-provoking message is to ask a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a question that doesn't require an answer but is meant to stimulate thinking. For example, if the essay is about the impact of social media on mental health , a rhetorical question could be "What would our lives be like without social media?" This question encourages the reader to reflect on the role of social media in their own lives and consider the impact it has on their mental health.

In addition to using rhetorical questions and powerful statements, it is important to connect the message back to the reader's own life. This can be achieved by asking the reader to reflect on their own experiences or encouraging them to take action based on the essay's message. For example, if the essay is about the impact of climate change, the conclusion could encourage the reader to reduce their carbon footprint or get involved in local environmental initiatives.

Using Call-to-Action to Encourage Further Engagement: Inspiring Action

The call-to-action (CTA) is a powerful tool for concluding an essay. It prompts the reader to take a specific action, whether it's to learn more, donate to a cause, or simply think about a topic in a new way. When used effectively, a call-to-action can leave a lasting impression on the reader and inspire them to take action.

One effective way to use a CTA is to tie it to the thesis or main argument of the essay. By doing so, the CTA feels like a natural extension of the essay's content, rather than a jarring or unrelated request. For example, if the essay is about the importance of reducing plastic waste, the CTA could be a suggestion to switch to reusable grocery bags or to sign a petition advocating for plastic bag bans.

In conclusion, crafting a compelling conclusion is an essential aspect of writing an impactful essay. Summarizing the main points, restating the thesis in a fresh way, leaving the reader with a thought-provoking message, and using a call-to-action are all effective techniques to make your conclusion memorable and leave a lasting impression on the reader. By following these strategies, you can ensure that your essay concludes in a strong and memorable way, effectively communicating your message and engaging your audience. 

Avoiding Common Pitfalls: Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Conclusion

When it comes to writing a conclusion, many people tend to rush through it, treating it as an afterthought rather than an integral part of their writing. However, a well-written conclusion can be the difference between a good piece of writing and a great one. 

In this article, we will discuss some common pitfalls to avoid when crafting your conclusion. By being mindful of these mistakes, you can ensure that your conclusion leaves a lasting impression on your readers and effectively summarizes your ideas. So, let's dive in and learn how to write a conclusion that truly shines.

Don't introduce new information

When it comes to crafting a conclusion, one of the most common mistakes is introducing new information. Your conclusion should serve as a summary of the ideas and arguments you have presented throughout your essay or article, not as an opportunity to introduce new concepts or evidence. 

Introducing new information in your conclusion can be confusing for readers, as it disrupts the flow of your writing and may raise questions that you do not have time to answer. Consider the following points to help you avoid introducing new information in your conclusion:

Stick to your thesis: Your thesis statement should provide the focus for your essay or article. Make sure your conclusion reiterates your thesis and provides a sense of closure to your argument.

Recapitulate your main points: Identify the key arguments or points you have made in your essay or article, and provide a brief summary of each one. This will help to reinforce the main ideas of your writing and provide a sense of coherence to your conclusion.

Avoid new evidence or arguments: Resist the urge to introduce new evidence or arguments in your conclusion. Instead, focus on synthesizing the evidence and arguments you have already presented, and highlight their significance for your readers.

Use clear and concise language: Your conclusion should be easy to understand and should use clear and concise language. Avoid using technical jargon or complex sentences, and instead, focus on communicating your ideas in a straightforward and accessible manner.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your conclusion effectively summarizes your ideas and arguments, without introducing new information. Your readers will appreciate the clarity and coherence of your writing, and you will be able to end your essay or article on a strong and impactful note.

Avoid summarizing your entire essay

While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the common pitfalls to avoid in writing a conclusion is summarizing your entire essay. Your conclusion should not be a repetition of everything you have already stated in your essay or article. Instead, it should provide a concise overview of your main points and their significance. Summarizing your entire essay in your conclusion can be repetitive and can make your writing feel redundant.

To avoid summarizing your entire essay, focus on synthesizing your main points into a few key takeaways. Consider the following points to help you avoid summarizing your entire essay in your conclusion:

Identify your most important points: Take a moment to reflect on the main arguments and ideas you have presented in your essay or article. Identify the most important points that you want your readers to remember.

Provide a brief summary: Once you have identified your most important points, provide a brief summary of each one. Make sure to highlight their significance and how they support your overall argument.

End with a strong, memorable statement

The conclusion of your essay or article is your final opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your readers. To achieve this, you should aim to end with a strong and memorable statement that summarizes your key ideas and leaves your readers with something to ponder. A strong conclusion can help to reinforce your main argument and make your writing more impactful and memorable.

To end your writing with a strong, memorable statement, consider the following points:

Reiterate your thesis statement: Your thesis statement is the foundation of your argument. Restating it in your conclusion can help to reinforce your main point and provide a sense of closure to your readers.

Use vivid language: To make your conclusion more impactful, use vivid and descriptive language that engages your readers' senses and emotions. This can help to create a lasting impression and leave your readers with a sense of resonance.

Provide a call to action: If your writing relates to a particular issue or problem, consider providing a call to action that encourages your readers to take action or make a change. This can help to create a sense of urgency and motivate your readers to get involved.

End with a question: Ending your writing with a thought-provoking question can leave your readers with something to ponder and encourage them to engage more deeply with your ideas. Make sure the question is relevant and directly relates to the main themes of your writing.

Use a quote: A powerful quote that relates to your topic can help to reinforce your main argument and make your writing more memorable. Choose a quote that is relevant and resonates with your readers.

Consider the tone and purpose of your writing

When writing a conclusion, it's important to consider the tone and purpose of your writing. The tone of your conclusion should match the overall tone of your writing and the purpose of your conclusion should align with the goals you set out to achieve in your writing. Failure to consider these factors can lead to a weak or ineffective conclusion that doesn't leave a lasting impression on your readers.

To ensure that the tone and purpose of your conclusion are aligned with the rest of your writing, consider the following points:

Determine the purpose of your writing: Before you begin writing your conclusion, identify the purpose of your writing. Are you trying to persuade your readers, inform them about a particular topic, or entertain them with a story? Understanding the purpose of your writing will help you craft a conclusion that reinforces your overall message.

Avoid introducing new information: Your conclusion should not introduce new information or ideas. Instead, it should summarize the main points you have already made and provide a sense of closure for your readers.

In conclusion, crafting a strong conclusion is essential for making your writing more impactful and memorable. By avoiding common pitfalls such as introducing new information or summarizing your entire essay, and instead focusing on a strong, memorable statement that matches the tone and purpose of your writing, you can leave a lasting impression on your readers. 

In summary, writing a compelling conclusion is a crucial part of any successful essay. By incorporating the strategies and examples provided in this article, you can learn how to effectively summarize your main points, leave a lasting impression on your readers, and drive your message home. Whether you're writing an academic paper, a blog post, or a personal essay, a strong conclusion can make all the difference in leaving a positive and memorable impact on your audience. So, take these tips for conclusion essay examples to heart, and start crafting conclusions that truly resonate with your readers today. 

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How to Write a Conclusion for a Literary Criticism

John jeremy dean, 25 jun 2018.

How to Write a Conclusion for a Literary Criticism

If you are an avid reader, it is likely you've found yourself critiquing a book author in your mind or out loud in a book club setting. While you may love reading books, taking the process to the next level by critiquing and discussing is a way to expand your own imagination and empathy through a literary criticism. A good conclusion gives your literary criticism a sense of closure without boring your reader with a rehash of things you have already written. Restating the thesis and identifying different perspectives are some of the ways to focus and strengthen a literary criticism. By using the concluding strategies below, you can wrap up your literary analysis in a way that is meaningful for both author and reader.

Explore this article

  • Restate the Thesis
  • Summarize Main Points
  • Explain the Importance
  • Give Your Reader a Mission
  • Identify Different Perspectives

1 Restate the Thesis

Restating the thesis may seem redundant but doing so is actually important to the process of expressing your main idea. The trick is to do it in such a way that you add a new layer of depth to it. Make your thesis restatement more of a final judgment of what you think about the matter; make it emphatic. Restating the thesis too close to the wording of the original thesis statement is a technique to avoid when writing literary criticisms.

2 Summarize Main Points

You should also go back and summarize the main points of the analysis. Just like with the thesis, you want to avoid redundancy. Rather than simply restating your points, you want to combine them to show how they work together to make your point. Show the big picture to your argument that is made of all the little parts you explained in the body of the paper.

3 Explain the Importance

In the conclusion, you must inform your reader why your view on this work is relevant. They must be left with the feeling that your analysis is meaningful and important. You can do this by including a connection to the literary work's time period or modern life. You might explain what the thesis means to you personally and how it will inform your future choices. Give your analysis a meaning that is universal and useful to the reader.

4 Give Your Reader a Mission

Now that you have analyzed the literary text, you need to ask yourself if there is something your readers can do with what they have learned. Is there a logical action you can associate with your analysis? Is there a question they must ask themselves? Is there another line of reasoning they should explore? Once you figure out the action you need to illicit from your reader, express it in the conclusion.

5 Identify Different Perspectives

Because literary analysis is subjective, you may find yourself arguing a point that other analysts may not agree with. If this is the case, you might want to qualify your perspective in the conclusion by including a statement about other known opinions and why your argument disproves the other. This will show that you have done your background research and have an answer for the critics of your own work.

  • 1 Bucks County Community College: How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
  • 2 University of Washington: Writing Critical Analysis Papers

About the Author

Based in central Florida, J. Jeremy Dean has written for 16 years and has written news and entertainment articles for "The Daily Commercial" in Leesburg, Fla. In 2002, he won the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors award for criticism. Dean holds a professional writing bachelor's degree from Glenville State College and a master's of education degree from National Louis University.

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The Loss of Things I Took for Granted

Ten years into my college teaching career, students stopped being able to read effectively..

Recent years have seen successive waves of book bans in Republican-controlled states, aimed at pulling any text with “woke” themes from classrooms and library shelves. Though the results sometimes seem farcical, as with the banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus due to its inclusion of “cuss words” and explicit rodent nudity, the book-banning agenda is no laughing matter. Motivated by bigotry, it has already done demonstrable harm and promises to do more. But at the same time, the appropriate response is, in principle, simple. Named individuals have advanced explicit policies with clear goals and outcomes, and we can replace those individuals with people who want to reverse those policies. That is already beginning to happen in many places, and I hope those successes will continue until every banned book is restored.

If and when that happens, however, we will not be able to declare victory quite yet. Defeating the open conspiracy to deprive students of physical access to books will do little to counteract the more diffuse confluence of forces that are depriving students of the skills needed to meaningfully engage with those books in the first place. As a college educator, I am confronted daily with the results of that conspiracy-without-conspirators. I have been teaching in small liberal arts colleges for over 15 years now, and in the past five years, it’s as though someone flipped a switch. For most of my career, I assigned around 30 pages of reading per class meeting as a baseline expectation—sometimes scaling up for purely expository readings or pulling back for more difficult texts. (No human being can read 30 pages of Hegel in one sitting, for example.) Now students are intimidated by anything over 10 pages and seem to walk away from readings of as little as 20 pages with no real understanding. Even smart and motivated students struggle to do more with written texts than extract decontextualized take-aways. Considerable class time is taken up simply establishing what happened in a story or the basic steps of an argument—skills I used to be able to take for granted.

Since this development very directly affects my ability to do my job as I understand it, I talk about it a lot. And when I talk about it with nonacademics, certain predictable responses inevitably arise, all questioning the reality of the trend I describe. Hasn’t every generation felt that the younger cohort is going to hell in a handbasket? Haven’t professors always complained that educators at earlier levels are not adequately equipping their students? And haven’t students from time immemorial skipped the readings?

The response of my fellow academics, however, reassures me that I’m not simply indulging in intergenerational grousing. Anecdotally, I have literally never met a professor who did not share my experience. Professors are also discussing the issue in academic trade publications , from a variety of perspectives. What we almost all seem to agree on is that we are facing new obstacles in structuring and delivering our courses, requiring us to ratchet down expectations in the face of a ratcheting down of preparation. Yes, there were always students who skipped the readings, but we are in new territory when even highly motivated honors students struggle to grasp the basic argument of a 20-page article. Yes, professors never feel satisfied that high school teachers have done enough, but not every generation of professors has had to deal with the fallout of No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Finally, yes, every generation thinks the younger generation is failing to make the grade— except for the current cohort of professors, who are by and large more invested in their students’ success and mental health and more responsive to student needs than any group of educators in human history. We are not complaining about our students. We are complaining about what has been taken from them.

If we ask what has caused this change, there are some obvious culprits. The first is the same thing that has taken away almost everyone’s ability to focus—the ubiquitous smartphone. Even as a career academic who studies the Quran in Arabic for fun, I have noticed my reading endurance flagging. I once found myself boasting at a faculty meeting that I had read through my entire hourlong train ride without looking at my phone. My colleagues agreed this was a major feat, one they had not achieved recently. Even if I rarely attain that high level of focus, though, I am able to “turn it on” when demanded, for instance to plow through a big novel during a holiday break. That’s because I was able to develop and practice those skills of extended concentration and attentive reading before the intervention of the smartphone. For children who were raised with smartphones, by contrast, that foundation is missing. It is probably no coincidence that the iPhone itself, originally released in 2007, is approaching college age, meaning that professors are increasingly dealing with students who would have become addicted to the dopamine hit of the omnipresent screen long before they were introduced to the more subtle pleasures of the page.

The second go-to explanation is the massive disruption of school closures during COVID-19. There is still some debate about the necessity of those measures, but what is not up for debate any longer is the very real learning loss that students suffered at every level. The impact will inevitably continue to be felt for the next decade or more, until the last cohort affected by the mass “pivot to online” finally graduates. I doubt that the pandemic closures were the decisive factor in themselves, however. Not only did the marked decline in reading resilience start before the pandemic, but the students I am seeing would have already been in high school during the school closures. Hence they would be better equipped to get something out of the online format and, more importantly, their basic reading competence would have already been established.

Less discussed than these broader cultural trends over which educators have little control are the major changes in reading pedagogy that have occurred in recent decades—some motivated by the ever-increasing demand to “teach to the test” and some by fads coming out of schools of education. In the latter category is the widely discussed decline in phonics education in favor of the “balanced literacy” approach advocated by education expert Lucy Calkins (who has more recently come to accept the need for more phonics instruction). I started to see the results of this ill-advised change several years ago, when students abruptly stopped attempting to sound out unfamiliar words and instead paused until they recognized the whole word as a unit. (In a recent class session, a smart, capable student was caught short by the word circumstances when reading a text out loud.) The result of this vibes-based literacy is that students never attain genuine fluency in reading. Even aside from the impact of smartphones, their experience of reading is constantly interrupted by their intentionally cultivated inability to process unfamiliar words.

For all the flaws of the balanced literacy method, it was presumably implemented by people who thought it would help. It is hard to see a similar motivation in the growing trend toward assigning students only the kind of short passages that can be included in a standardized test. Due in part to changes driven by the infamous Common Core standards , teachers now have to fight to assign their students longer readings, much less entire books, because those activities won’t feed directly into students getting higher test scores, which leads to schools getting more funding. The emphasis on standardized tests was always a distraction at best, but we have reached the point where it is actively cannibalizing students’ educational experience—an outcome no one intended or planned, and for which there is no possible justification.

We can’t go back in time and do the pandemic differently at this point, nor is there any realistic path to putting the smartphone genie back in the bottle. (Though I will note that we as a society do at least attempt to keep other addictive products out of the hands of children.) But I have to think that we can, at the very least, stop actively preventing young people from developing the ability to follow extended narratives and arguments in the classroom. Regardless of their profession or ultimate educational level, they will need those skills. The world is a complicated place. People—their histories and identities, their institutions and work processes, their fears and desires—are simply too complex to be captured in a worksheet with a paragraph and some reading comprehension questions. Large-scale prose writing is the best medium we have for capturing that complexity, and the education system should not be in the business of keeping students from learning how to engage effectively with it.

This is a matter not of snobbery, but of basic justice. I recognize that not everyone centers their lives on books as much as a humanities professor does. I think they’re missing out, but they’re adults and they can choose how to spend their time. What’s happening with the current generation is not that they are simply choosing TikTok over Jane Austen. They are being deprived of the ability to choose—for no real reason or benefit. We can and must stop perpetrating this crime on our young people.

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With ‘Spider-Man,’ how do you top a winner? Try doing the opposite

Two men in long-sleeved black T-shirts pose for a portrait, one leaning on a table, the other leaning on the first.

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All we had to do was write a better movie than the one that just won an Oscar.

How do you follow up a film that’s best known for its wild originality?

We had the first line in the script, at least.

Let’s do things differently this time.

And … that’s all we had.

For “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ,” despite the pressure to follow the formula that worked before, we knew if we coasted with a rehash of the same themes, dynamics, ideas and visuals as its predecessor, it would be a disappointment. This would have to be an entirely different kind of film. Cinematic in ways we couldn’t imagine yet. The drama more complex and sophisticated, the characters more mature.

Miles Morales as Spider-Man (Shameik Moore) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation's SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

The web in ‘Across the Spider-Verse’ connects what’s new with what’s essential

The makers of the animated sequel knew it had to be different from its predecessor, while holding onto what’s the same in all the best Spider-Man movies: The vulnerable hero’s personal struggles.

Dec. 15, 2023

And when you’re the guys that made “The Lego Movie” and the “Jump Street” films, “maturity” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Thank God for our fellow writer Dave Callaham, who has facial hair and tattoos. He’s super mature.

The first “Spider-Verse” film started with a question: What does it take for a young person to thrive? The film had groundbreaking imagery, but it won the audience over on the strength of Miles Morales, an Afro-Puerto Rican teen, and his warm and affirming relationship with his parents. We wanted the new film to start with a new question: After you give that kid all the love you know how to give, what do you do when they want to leave home?

We had a friend who kept her apartment outrageously messy. One day her horrified mother came to visit, pointed to a photograph of our friend as a little girl and said, “This girl deserves to live in a clean room.”

That was the inspiration for a speech that Rio Morales gives her son that became the backbone of the movie.

For years I’ve been raising this little boy.… Wherever you go out there, you gotta promise to take care of that little boy for me … and don’t let anybody in those big fancy places he’s going to go to tell him he doesn’t belong there.

Animated shot of Gwen Stacy in white super suit, hanging upside down as Miles Morales hangs nearby in black suit.

An animated film is written by many people. The directors and story artists and actors and editors and designers and lighting artists and animators are ultimately storytellers. The conversation in every production room wasn’t about the gorgeous exhilaration of cinematic expression, but about the grounding of that expression in story and character. How is Gwen feeling here? Could the world look how she feels?

That’s how a story that travels infinite aesthetic dimensions becomes a film about bridging the infinite intimate spaces between people who love each other.

We were so worried the audience wouldn’t have any patience for all these quiet scenes of people talking about their feelings and demand we get back to the people swinging around chasing one another. But every time we showed them the movie, they surprised us. The small stuff is what thrilled them the most.

We threw as many obstructions at ourselves as we could. What if the entire first reel focused on Gwen? What if the film was structured not as a hero’s journey, but as a tragedy? What if instead of finding his place in the world, Miles loses the whole time? What masochistic fools we were!

Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy.

But this time, we were amazing enemies. Because we were forced into moves we never would have tried otherwise. We made space for characterful scenes between parents and kids, found unlikely allies for Miles like Daniel Kaluuya’s Spider-Punk, exposed the redundancy of the term “naan bread.” All the while Miles’ character got only stronger and stronger, until instead of accepting the way everyone tells him his story is supposed to go, he declares:

Nah, I’m gonna do my my own thing.

When he finally returns home, he tells his mother how he’s grown:

I know how strong I am now.

The kid who felt pressure to follow what came before, like us, found his strength in doing the opposite.

In Hayao Miyazaki's animated "The Boy and the Heron." the titular boy sits beside a strange bird-man: the titular heron.

Animation shifting away from the clean lines of CG in favor of messier, retro styles

Part of the hope in shaking up what’s expected from the clean, modern lines of today’s CG-rendered animation is that it will inspire the next generation of animators to feel free to use their own style.

Nov. 15, 2023

The last line we wrote was the last line in the film:

I always wanted to be in a band

I just never found the right one

So I started my own.

A writer’s job isn’t to follow the canon. That can get you killed. Our job is to make something new.

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Guest Essay

Math Is the Answer to More Than One Question

A drawing that includes a man with a cane, a few plants, and the equation 3 + 8 = 11.

By Alec Wilkinson

Mr. Wilkinson is the author of “ A Divine Language : Learning Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age.”

I am surprised at this late stage, in my 70s, to be thinking about God. In my defense, I might say that I did not arrive at these thoughts by reflecting on my own inevitable end or from a religion or a Scripture or the example of a holy figure. I arrived by means of mathematics, specifically simple mathematics — algebra, geometry and calculus, the kind of mathematics that adolescents do.

Several years ago, I decided that I needed to know something of mathematics, a subject that had roughed me up cruelly as a boy. I believed that not knowing mathematics had limited my ability to think and solve problems and to see the world in complex ways, and I thought that if I understood even a little of it, I would be smarter. My acquaintance with mathematics is still slight. I am only a mathematical tourist, but my experience has led me to believe that mathematics is rife with intimations of a divine presence.

This is no observation of my own. Mathematicians have been finding suggestions of divinity in mathematics at least since Pythagoras, in the sixth century B.C. For many mathematicians, there is no question that God is somehow involved. Newton, for example, believed that mathematics exemplified thoughts in the mind of God.

A couple of simple mysteries, available to anyone, help explain why this might be so. The first is the question of whether mathematics is created or discovered. Some mathematicians believe that mathematics is a system invented by human beings and that it is shaped as it is by the tendencies of human beings toward particular types of thinking. This is a minority view. The majority believe that mathematics exists as if independently of human thought and that the discoveries that mathematicians make are a mapping of an independent and timeless territory, a sort of parallel world where nothing is good or evil but everything is true.

There is also the observation by the Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands that mathematics is not complete, and because of its nature may never be. Mathematics, which attempts to define infinity, may itself be infinite.

For theologians in antiquity, infinity was a property of God. Being finite, humans were believed to be incapable of conceiving of infinity on their own. God gave us the ability, they thought, as a means of understanding his nature. Theologians were even a little touchy about his sole possession of it. In “Leaders of the Reformation,” published in London in 1859, John Tulloch quotes Martin Luther, sounding a little piqued in a dispute at a conference in 1529, saying: “I will have nothing to do with your mathematics! God is above mathematics!”

Toward the end of the 19th century, the mathematician Georg Cantor, the creator of set theory, discovered that infinity is not a static description. Some infinities, he said, are larger than others. For each infinity there is a larger one, an infinity to which something has been added. There are in fact a multitude of infinities, and infinities themselves can be added to one another.

Eventually, one arrives at the infinity that contains all other infinities. What surpasses all, Cantor wrote to a friend, was “the Absolute, incomprehensible to the human understanding. This is the Actus Purissimus, which by many is called God.”

When I was a small child, I did not think about God so much as I felt him or her or them, however you care to frame it. Not infrequently, and especially when I was in the woods, I had a sense of there being an accompanying presence, of there being, that is, something immaterial behind everything. I know now but I didn’t then that this feeling is sufficiently common that it has a name: immanence. I never talked about it with anyone; I simply assumed that everyone felt the way that I did.

Immanence is a second cousin once removed to pantheism, of course, the notion that God is in everything, and closer to the Greeks than to Christian monotheism. Perhaps not surprisingly, I was separated from this notion in Sunday school. There I was taught that God inhabited a book and the form of a singular man. It isn’t so much that I resisted these premises as that they didn’t stir anything within me. I didn’t connect them to the feelings that I had had alone in the woods. I gave up.

I am grateful to have a sense of mystery returned to me by mathematics. I am pleased to have been given, from an unexpected source, a reason both humbling and human to feel that there is more to life than I might believe there to be. And even if created by men and women, mathematics, as I read somewhere, is the longest continuous human thought, a circumstance that is itself worth regarding with awe.

Alec Wilkinson is the author of “ A Divine Language : Learning Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age,” which has recently been released in paperback.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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  1. Best Tips and Help on How to Write a Conclusion for Your Essay

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    Step 1: Return to your thesis To begin your conclusion, signal that the essay is coming to an end by returning to your overall argument. Don't just repeat your thesis statement —instead, try to rephrase your argument in a way that shows how it has been developed since the introduction. Example: Returning to the thesis

  2. How to Write a Conclusion to a Literary Essay: 13 Steps

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    Begin with the "what" In a short paper—even a research paper—you don't need to provide an exhaustive summary as part of your conclusion. But you do need to make some kind of transition between your final body paragraph and your concluding paragraph. This may come in the form of a few sentences of summary.

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  7. Conclusions

    A change of style i.e. being more emotional or sentimental than the rest of the essay. Keep it straightforward, explanatory and clear. Overused phrases like: "in conclusion"; "in summary"; "as shown in this essay". Consign these to the rubbish bin! Here are some alternatives, there are many more: The x main points presented here ...

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