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- How to conclude an essay | Interactive example
How to Conclude an Essay | Interactive Example
Published on January 24, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on December 6, 2021.
The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay . A strong conclusion aims to:
- Tie together the essay’s main points
- Show why your argument matters
- Leave the reader with a strong impression
Your conclusion should give a sense of closure and completion to your argument, but also show what new questions or possibilities it has opened up.
This conclusion is taken from our annotated essay example , which discusses the history of the Braille system. Hover over each part to see why it’s effective.
Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.
Table of contents
Step 1: return to your thesis, step 2: review your main points, step 3: show why it matters, what shouldn’t go in the conclusion, more examples of essay conclusions, frequently asked questions about writing an essay conclusion.
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.
Next, remind the reader of the main points that you used to support your argument.
Avoid simply summarizing each paragraph or repeating each point in order; try to bring your points together in a way that makes the connections between them clear. The conclusion is your final chance to show how all the paragraphs of your essay add up to a coherent whole.
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To wrap up your conclusion, zoom out to a broader view of the topic and consider the implications of your argument. For example:
- Does it contribute a new understanding of your topic?
- Does it raise new questions for future study?
- Does it lead to practical suggestions or predictions?
- Can it be applied to different contexts?
- Can it be connected to a broader debate or theme?
Whatever your essay is about, the conclusion should aim to emphasize the significance of your argument, whether that’s within your academic subject or in the wider world.
Try to end with a strong, decisive sentence, leaving the reader with a lingering sense of interest in your topic.
The easiest way to improve your conclusion is to eliminate these common mistakes.
Don’t include new evidence
Any evidence or analysis that is essential to supporting your thesis statement should appear in the main body of the essay.
The conclusion might include minor pieces of new information—for example, a sentence or two discussing broader implications, or a quotation that nicely summarizes your central point. But it shouldn’t introduce any major new sources or ideas that need further explanation to understand.
Don’t use “concluding phrases”
Avoid using obvious stock phrases to tell the reader what you’re doing:
- “In conclusion…”
- “To sum up…”
These phrases aren’t forbidden, but they can make your writing sound weak. By returning to your main argument, it will quickly become clear that you are concluding the essay—you shouldn’t have to spell it out.
Don’t undermine your argument
Avoid using apologetic phrases that sound uncertain or confused:
- “This is just one approach among many.”
- “There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.”
- “There is no clear answer to this problem.”
Even if your essay has explored different points of view, your own position should be clear. There may be many possible approaches to the topic, but you want to leave the reader convinced that yours is the best one!
- Literary analysis
This conclusion is taken from an argumentative essay about the internet’s impact on education. It acknowledges the opposing arguments while taking a clear, decisive position.
The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.
This conclusion is taken from a short expository essay that explains the invention of the printing press and its effects on European society. It focuses on giving a clear, concise overview of what was covered in the essay.
The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.
This conclusion is taken from a literary analysis essay about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . It summarizes what the essay’s analysis achieved and emphasizes its originality.
By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.
Your essay’s conclusion should contain:
- A rephrased version of your overall thesis
- A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
- An indication of why your argument matters
The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.
For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.
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- Ending the Essay: Conclusions
So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.
The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.
To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
- Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
- Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.
To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:
- Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection, Dubliners , with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
- Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like 60 Minutes .
- Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise of dehumanization "; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
- Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel Ambiguous Adventure , by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.
Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:
- Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."
Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
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A Guide to Writing a Cause and Effect Essay
In your academic career, you’ll write a lot of essays. You’ll write some to inform your readers about a topic and others to analyze an idea. Some will argue for or against a specific position, while others will persuade the reader to take action. Authors use various strategies to achieve each of these goals, and one of the strategies they use to inform readers is the cause and effect essay .
As its name implies, a cause and effect essay explains how certain causes result in specific effects. Knowing how to write an effective cause and effect essay is an important skill for students in just about every academic field to develop. Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly
What is a cause and effect essay?
A cause and effect essay is a type of expository essay that explores its topic by discussing the issue’s causes and consequences. For example, a cause and effect essay about deforestation’s role in climate change might discuss a few of deforestation’s specific causes, like a demand for wood and the clearing of land for grazing pastures, and then explain how these causes create effects that contribute to climate change.
As with other types of expository essays, the purpose of a cause and effect essay is to educate the reader. As an expository essay writer, think of yourself as the informed explainer who gives their readers the information they need to think critically about a topic and reach their own conclusions. Your goal isn’t to persuade, argue, or entertain your readers—although there are instances when authors of argumentative and persuasive essays use cause and effect rhetoric in their writing. It’s also possible to write a creative essay using the cause and effect format. However, within the realm of academic essay writing , a cause and effect essay is an expository piece of writing.
Cause and effect essays are similar to other kinds of expository essays in that they present facts in a clear, logical format. They employ an objective, analytical tone and stay away from flowery and inciting language. This is how they differ from argumentative, persuasive, and descriptive essays. You might use the passive voice more frequently in cause and effect essays than in other kinds of essays, especially in cause and effect essays you write for your science courses.
How to structure a cause and effect essay
Structurally, a cause and effect essay is similar to other types of essays. It starts with an introduction paragraph where you hook your reader, state your thesis, and give a quick preview of the points you’ll make to support your thesis.
Following the introduction, each point supporting your thesis has its own section. Each section can be as short as one paragraph or contain a few paragraphs, depending on how much information you need to convey and whether your essay must adhere to a word count or page limit. There are a few different ways to organize your essay’s body paragraphs. You can discuss each cause, section by section, and then discuss each effect afterward (if there is only one effect, include just a single section about it). Alternatively, you can discuss each cause and effect pair individually, giving each pair its own section.
The best structure for your essay depends on a few factors:
- How many causes you’re including
- How many effects you’re including
- The essay length requirement, if applicable
- How closely related the causes and effects are to each other
For example, if your essay is about a single effect with multiple causes, it might be most logical to discuss all the causes first and then write a section on their shared effect. Or if the causes and effects are more isolated from each other and you need room to explain how they fit into the bigger picture, the logical choice might be to give each cause and effect pair its own section and then tie them together in your essay’s conclusion.
As with other kinds of academic writing, the most logical structure is typically the best approach. If you aren’t sure how to structure your essay, ask your instructor for guidance.
After writing the body paragraphs, write your essay’s conclusion . This final section summarizes the points you made in the body, underscores your thesis, and brings your essay’s position to a logical conclusion.
How to write a cause and effect essay
To write a cause and effect essay, follow the same writing process that you follow when you’re doing other kinds of writing. Start with brainstorming your topic and jotting down any insights you have, questions you want to answer, associations you plan to make between topics, and facts you intend to reference.
After brainstorming , take your notes and create an organized outline . Remember, your essay outline is a guideline for you to follow as you write, not a final script your essay has to follow. List each section as a header in your outline and below it write down the bullet points you plan to cover within that section. Outlining makes it easy to visualize how your final essay will look and to determine where each body paragraph logically fits into the structure.
Once your outline is finished, it’s time to write! But before you dive into your first draft, nail down your thesis statement , if you haven’t already. This is a concise and informative statement that tells the reader exactly what your essay is about. It goes in your introduction paragraph, and each body paragraph that follows should support this statement.
With your thesis statement prepared, write your body paragraphs using your notes from your brainstorming session. Remember what kind of essay you’re writing and frame its body paragraphs accordingly—if a supporting paragraph doesn’t clearly show how its subject is a cause leading to a specific effect, reframe it to fit this format. Remember, you’re only on the first draft, and there will be time to revise it later.
Once you’re finished writing, give your essay time to cool off. Ideally, take about twenty-four hours before you edit it. When you go back and edit, pay close attention to how you’ve presented each cause and effect. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the relationship between each cause and associated effect clear?
- Are the causes and effects presented in a logical, coherent manner?
- Does this essay make my position clear?
- Does the essay leave the reader room to draw their own conclusion, or does it attempt to persuade or convince them of my position?
With the answers to these questions in mind, revise your essay to ensure that the content is presented in the clearest, most logical way possible. At this stage, also make sure your essay’s tone is appropriate and that there are not any glaring spelling or grammatical errors. You’ll check for these again when you proofread; the editing stage is primarily for revising your essay’s content.
With a clean, revised second draft in hand, give it another proofread for grammatical mistakes. Grammarly can help you with this. Once it’s cleaned up, you’re ready to submit your work.
Example outline of a cause and effect essay
As we mentioned above, there are a few different ways to structure a cause and effect essay. Here is one:
This format isn’t ideal for every essay, though. In some cases, a format like this makes the content clearer:
When you’re revising your essay, feel free to play around with the format and see which makes more sense for the information you’re writing about. You’ll likely use each of these formats in different essays depending on their specific content.
Cause and effect essay FAQs
A cause and effect essay is an expository essay that explains the relationships between specific conditions and their consequences, often within the context of a big-picture issue. These conditions are known as “causes,” and their consequences are known as “effects.”
What is the purpose of a cause and effect essay?
The purpose of a cause and effect essay is to educate the reader about how specific conditions are linked to certain repercussions.
How do you structure a cause and effect essay?
There are a few different ways to structure a cause and effect essay. Here are two of the most common:
Cause and Effect Essay Outline: Types, Examples and Writing Tips
20 June, 2020
9 minutes read
Author: Tomas White
This is a complete guide on writing cause and effect essays. Find a link to our essay sample at the end. Let's get started!
What is a Cause and Effect Essay?
A cause and effect essay is the type of paper that the author is using to analyze the causes and effects of a particular action or event. A curriculum usually includes this type of exercise to test your ability to understand the logic of certain events or actions.
If you can see the logic behind cause and effect in the world around you, you will encounter fewer problems when writing. If not, writing this kind of paper will give you the chance to improve your skillset and your brain’s ability to reason.
“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this article, the Handmade Writing team will find out how to create an outline for your cause and effect essay – the key to successful essay writing.
Types of the Cause and Effect Essay
Before writing this kind of essay, you need to draft the structure. A good structure will result in a good paper, so it’s important to have a plan before you start. But remember , there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: just about every type of structure has already been formulated by someone.
If you are still unsure about the definition of an essay, you can take a look at our guide: What is an Essay?
Generally speaking, there are three types of cause and effect essays. We usually differentiate them by the number of and relationships between the different causes and the effects. Let’s take a quick look at these three different cases:
1. Many causes, one effect
This kind of essay illustrates how different causes can lead to one effect. The idea here is to try and examine a variety of causes, preferably ones that come from different fields, and prove how they contributed to a particular effect. If you are writing about World War I, for example, mention the political, cultural, and historical factors that led to the great war.
By examining a range of fundamental causes, you will be able to demonstrate your knowledge about the topic.
Here is how to structure this type of essay:
- Cause #3 (and so on…)
- The effect of the causes
2. One cause, many effects
This type of cause and effect essay is constructed to show the various effects of a particular event, problem, or decision. Once again, you will have to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge and analytical mastery of the field. There is no need to persuade the reader or present your argument . When writing this kind of essay, in-depth knowledge of the problem or event’s roots will be of great benefit. If you know why it happened, it will be much easier to write about its effects.
Here is the structure for this kind of essay:
- Effect #3 (and so on…)
3. Chain of causes and effects
This is the most challenging type. You need to maintain a chain of logic that demonstrates a sequence of actions and consequences, leading to the end of the chain. Although this is usually the most interesting kind of cause and effect essay, it can also be the most difficult to write.
Here is the outline structure:
- Effect #1 = Cause #2
- Effect #2 = Cause #3
- Effect #3 = Cause #4 (and so on…)
Cause and Effect Essay Outline Example
Let’s take a look at an example. Below, you will find an outline for the topic “The causes of obesity” (Type 1) :
As you can see, we used a blended strategy here. When writing about the ever-increasing consumption of unhealthy food, it is logical to talk about the marketing strategies that encourage people to buy fast food. If you are discussing fitness trainers, it is important to mention that people need to be checked by a doctor more often, etc.
In case you face some issues with writing your Cause and Effect essay, you can always count on our Essay Writers !
How do I start writing once I have drafted the structure?
If you start by structuring each paragraph and collecting suitable examples, the writing process will be much simpler. The final essay might not come up as a classic five paragraph essay – it all depends on the cause-effect chain and the number of statements of your essay.
In the Introduction, try to give the reader a general idea of what the cause and effect essay will contain. For an experienced reader, a thesis statement will be an indication that you know what you are writing about. It is also important to emphasize how and why this problem is relevant to modern life. If you ever need to write about the Caribbean crisis, for instance, state that the effects of the Cold War are still apparent in contemporary global politics.
Related Post: How to write an Essay introduction | How to write a Thesis statement
In the Body, provide plenty of details about what causes led to the effects. Once again, if you have already assembled all the causes and effects with their relevant examples when writing your plan, you shouldn’t have any problems. But, there are some things to which you must pay particular attention. To begin with, try to make each paragraph the same length: it looks better visually. Then, try to avoid weak or unconvincing causes. This is a common mistake, and the reader will quickly realize that you are just trying to write enough characters to reach the required word count.
Moreover, you need to make sure that your causes are actually linked to their effects. This is particularly important when you write a “chained” cause and effect essay (type 3) . You need to be able to demonstrate that each cause was actually relevant to the final result. As I mentioned before, writing the Body without preparing a thorough and logical outline is often an omission.
The Conclusion must be a summary of the thesis statement that you proposed in the Introduction. An effective Conclusion means that you have a well-developed understanding of the subject. Notably, writing the Conclusion can be one of the most challenging parts of this kind of project. You typically write the Conclusion once you have finished the Body, but in practice, you will sometimes find that a well-written conclusion will reveal a few mistakes of logic in the body!
Cause and Effect Essay Sample
Be sure to check the sample essay, completed by our writers. Use it as an example to write your own cause and effect essay. Link: Cause and effect essay sample: Advertising ethic issues .
Tips and Common Mistakes from Our Expert Writers
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The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay. A strong conclusion aims to: Tie together the essay’s main points Show why your argument matters Leave the reader with a strong impression Your conclusion should give a sense of closure and completion to your argument, but also show what new questions or possibilities it has opened up.
Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama. Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.
As with other types of expository essays, the purpose of a cause and effect essay is to educate the reader. As an expository essay writer, think of yourself as the informed explainer who gives their readers the information they need to think critically about a topic and reach their own conclusions.
The effect of the causes Conclusion 2. One cause, many effects This type of cause and effect essay is constructed to show the various effects of a particular event, problem, or decision. Once again, you will have to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge and analytical mastery of the field.