Writing Introductions and Conclusions
Earlier, you learned about the importance of guiding your reader through by using transitional words and expressions. This principle applies at all levels of an essay – you must signal to your reader what your argument will be, how it will be organized, and how your conclusions follow from the evidence you presented. In this unit, you will learn how to write effective introductions and conclusions to frame your essay for your readers. This article gives a brief overview of writing introductions and conclusions.
The important thing to remember is that English readers need to be told the purpose of the writing as soon as they begin to read. In some languages, it is considered better writing to begin a paper with general ideas and lead the reader step by step to the main idea, which appears at the end. In other languages, it is considered good writing only to suggest the main ideas, never stating them explicitly but depending on the reader to guess or infer them. However, English academic writing is different since its writers have to follow these two customs: 1) state the main ideas clearly and explicitly and 2) state the main ideas at the beginning of the piece they are writing.
Your introductory paragraph is an important part of your essay because it can capture your reader's interest and make them want to keep reading your essay. Almost all introductions perform these functions:
- hooking the readers and convincing them to take the time to read your essay
- giving whatever background information may be necessary to understand the essay
- starting the information or argument the reader will find in the essay (in research papers it will sometimes tell how the subject will be discussed)
- provides the significance of your topic to the reader
- gives a thesis statement
The final part of the typical English essay is the conclusion. In an essay exam or other situations, the conclusion may be missing. Usually, however, an essay without a conclusion sounds incomplete and strange. A good conclusion will leave the reader feeling that the writer has discussed all the important points on the topic laid out in the thesis statement. The conclusion often begins either with a comment referring to the last point made or with a transitional expression (such as in short, in conclusion, or in sum, etc., these are transitional expressions) announcing the conclusion. A conclusion may:
- quickly summarize the main ideas or main points made in the discussion of the essay
- interpret the discussion or explain why the discussion is important and what it suggests
- link the main idea of the text to the future or to some broader issues not specifically covered in the essay
- ask a provocative question.
- give an opinion or suggestion about the thesis statement
- use a quotation.
- evoke a vivid image.
- call for some sort of action.
- end with a warning.
- universalize (compare to other situations).
- suggest results or consequences.
Here are some examples of techniques used to write a memorable conclusion from an essay about increasing costs of college in the US:
Make a prediction: We have seen how the costs of attending college have been rising while, at the same time, sources of financial aid for students have been disappearing. If this trend continues, fewer and fewer families will be able to send their children through four years of college.
Suggest results or consequences: To sum up, the costs of attending college are up and financial aid for students is down. Fewer and fewer future members of the workforce are able to educate themselves beyond high school. As a result, the nation will waste the intelligence, imagination, and energy of a large segment of the present college-age generation.
Suggest a solution, make a recommendation, or call for action: It is clear that the U.S. system of higher education is in trouble. For many students, four years of college is no longer possible because of increasing costs and decreasing financial aid. To reverse this trend, we must demand that the government increase its financial support of colleges and universities and restore financial aid programs. Our future depends upon it.
Source: Humboldt State University, https://humboldtcollege.wikispaces.com/Writing+Introductions+and+Conclusions
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