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Academic Writing

Conclusions: Making Meaning

Conclusions: Making Meaning Out of Your Essay


When writing conclusions, the tendency is to restate the main points of the essay.  To some extent, this is good; we do want to remind the reader of what we've just discussed.  However, like the rest of the essay, the conclusion is all about balance: in this case, balancing the summary of the essay with the essay's significance on a broader level. Simply restating the entire essay in the conclusion can be monotonous. 


The conclusion is better served by exploring what these main points that you've just argued for and briefly summarized can mean.  Sure, it’s nice to know what a text argues, but what does this argument say about how we are expected to read the text? What expectations does the text hold for how we will we view it, or for the text’s significance?


 A proper conclusion to the essay should address the question of "so what?" in your essay: so what that your reader has just spent X number of pages reading about hunger in southeast Ohio. Why is this issue important to know more about? As the writer, why do you believe that it is important? For example, you might look at what the attention (or lack of attention) paid to the issue says about current American attitudes towards hunger in that region, and hunger in general. Or, what you hope readers have learned about the issue, and what they might be able to do about it. 

Overall, a conclusion is not just a restatement of your ideas; it's a chance for you to reflect on the significance of your essay within the conversation on the topic that, by writing this essay, you have joined.

Associate Professor-Librarian

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Melissa A. Hofmann
Moore Library 331