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Writing Introductions and Conclusions in your Essay

Every essay or article that you write has to start somewhere which is why introductions and conclusions are essential for creating a high-quality work. Unfortunately, the importance of these two segments is usually overlooked. How many times have you composed your introduction thinking “I have to write at least something to reach the main part”? And how many times were you supposed to write an essay conclusion and didn’t know what to include so you entered some random sentence with new information to count as the final segment?

If you recognized your own writing habits in previous sentences, don’t despair. Although introductions and conclusions seem quite simple (they’re short anyway), they can be tricky to write. In some cases, I spend more time on trying to compose adequate introduction or choosing an essay topic than writing the main part. Starting your work is the hardest part and I know how frustrating it can be. To avoid this frustration and to make sure you write your work stress-free, I will provide some useful tips for writing introductions and conclusions.

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If you recognized your own writing habits in previous sentences, don’t despair. Although introductions and conclusions seem quite simple (they’re short anyway), they can be tricky to write. In some cases, I spend more time on trying to compose adequate introduction than writing the main part. Starting your work is the hardest part and I know how frustrating it can be. To avoid this frustration and to make sure you write your work stress-free, I will provide some useful tips for writing introductions and conclusions.

Why are introductions and conclusions important?

As I’ve already mentioned, introduction and conclusion are essential for well-written essay or any other type of work. Why? It’s because also your introduction should be written to impress a reader. If the first impression is bad, the chances are low the body or main part will impress readers. On the other hand, conclusions are final thoughts and they pose as your chance to reinforce your argument. Poor conclusions can weaken the entire work.

Good introduction should have the following characteristics:

  • Prepares readers for information that will be discussed throughout the essay or article

  • Poses as the hook which intrigues readers and makes them want to read the rest of the work

  • Uses examples of “real life” situations

  • Relates to readers.

Characteristics of good conclusion include:

  • Summarizes the argument

  • Reiterates your thesis

  • Makes readers “think”

  • Retains the tone and approach you used throughout the article or essay.

Writing introduction

Ideally, introductions shouldn’t be too long. When writing a shorter paper, introduction’s length should be one paragraph. When paper is longer, then you’d need about 2 or 3 paragraphs to create adequate introduction to the matter you’re going to discuss.

Introductions usually start with contextual information and brief background thus providing a focus for your paper. To make it easier for you, the introductory paragraph should include the following:

  • Hook – illustration, description, dialogue or narration that attracts the reader to the topic you discuss. It should be precise and interesting.

  • Transition – a sentence whose primary purpose is to connect the cook and thesis.

  • Thesis – sentence (sometimes two) which briefly summarizes main point or subject you will discuss in the body part. Thesis should respond to the question from the title of your work and is indicated with phrases such as “The primary purpose of this work”, “This paper will argue that” etc.

  • Overview of how you will support your argument – is used in essays primarily while articles don’t need this part. In this section you provide different ways you will support your argument. For example, “In order to explore these issues, this paper will”…

Introductions are quite versatile and you can write them in different ways. Below, you can see a few examples.

Thesis statement opening (generic introduction)

This is the most common type of introduction and it represents a mini-summary of your paper.

Example: “Education is an effort of seniors to transfer the knowledge to the younger population. It can be said, education is an institution which plays a pivotal role in integrating an individual into the society. Therefore, every child should have the same chance to advance and learn more. However, the reality is much different. Not all children have the same opportunity to achieve great things. The primary purpose of this essay is to discuss the unfair treatment of underprivileged children and why the entire society should focus on creating more opportunities for them regarding the education.”

Opening with an anecdote or a story

Starting your work with short story or anecdote is a great way of catching reader’s attention. It gives your paper a more personal feel and makes your reader feel more comfortable.

Example: “Early in the evening of august 14, 1945 in the living room of her yellow clapboard house in Grandview, Missouri a small spry woman of 93 talking to a gust excused herself to take a long distance call in another room. “Hello, hello," the gust heard her begin. “Yes, I’m all right. Yes. I’ve been listening to the radio [...] I heard the Englishman speck [...] I’m glad they accepted the surrender terms. Now you come to see me if you can. All right good – bye."

Example: Existentialism is a philosophical movement which puts emphasis on individual existence, freedom, and choice. The works inspired by this movement are focused on characters who fight versus society i.e. people who find it difficult to be themselves in society that despises everything that’s different or extraordinary. Numerous painters, philosophers, and writers have flourished under the idea of existentialism and they depict the struggle of a one man, individual, in fight versus flawed society, but nobody did it better than Franz Kafka. This essay will focus on Kafka’s life that shaped his greatest, existentialist, works.”

Opening with a quote

Using quote to open introduction makes the introductory paragraph more interactive and appealing to the reader.

Example: “John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." I see academics as a similar two-way interaction: in the classroom, I will do much more than take up valuable space. Because of the broad range of experiences I have had, my knowledge of many subjects is thorough. These experiences will help me perform well in any class, as I have learned how to use my time efficiently.”

Opening with statistics

Statistics make an effective introduction, particularly if you are writing an essay or article that contains technical and precise matter i.e. not focused on philosophical approach. 

Example: “American Sign Language (ASL) is commonly said to be the fourth most-used language in the United States. The claim has been around since 1970s. According to the national statistics, 28 million Americans have some degree of heating loss, while 2 million account for people who are classified as deaf. About 13 million people have some level of proficiency in sign language. Knowing ASL basics is highly important. Is there anything we can do to raise the awareness of importance of ASL? Do we need to learn the basics in schools and universities? The primary aim of this essay is to answer these questions.”

Opening with a question

Opening with a question is, by far, the easiest introduction opening you can make. Why? It’s because reader already has his/her own questions and will be interested to keep reading the paper to find out answers.

Example: “Celebrities – do we really need them? What has happened with our society? Why are people with no talent famous and well-known for no particular qualities while individuals who make significant contributions to society are left behind? Is it our fault? Is celebrity phenomenon every going to end and is there anything we can do to inspire younger generations to look up to educated, smart, and intelligent individuals? This paper will discuss the trend of celebrities and why society really is to blame for their ever-increasing popularity.”

Tips for introduction:

  • Don’t be afraid of being creative, show how you understand the topic

  • Feel free to repeat the same phrase from the title in your introduction

  • State what issues you will cover

  • Don’t avoid from inserting a few personal thoughts, but make sure you don’t overdo it

  • Don’t command readers by saying “This paper will discuss (topic) and why you must…”

  • Don’t give answers without restating question.

Writing conclusion

Conclusion has the purpose to bring together the different sections of your essay. Arguments you have made in your introduction and body part should be fully developed by the time you reach your conclusion. Length of conclusion should be approximately same as length of introduction (one paragraph for shorter works, two or three paragraphs for longer papers). The conclusion should inform the reader about:

  • The significance of your findings, discussion, or analysis

  • The importance of work hard to make significant changes in society

  • The way your topic links to a wider context.

Like introduction, you can conclude your work in different ways. Examples are listed below.

Summary conclusion

Conclusion is, generally, a re-statement of your thesis and is similar to the thesis statement opening introduction.

Example: “Education system has to be moderated constantly. Without innovations and reformation, this system is unable to flourish. The evidence that supports that claim can be found in every country and, unfortunately, underprivileged children are the ones that suffer the most. Without financial support, they are unable to fulfill their potential which is why a great percentage of these children end up in crime. Reformations in education system could help these children finish school, enroll into college and achieve great things.”

Logical conclusion

This type of conclusion is the best for argumentative or opinion papers which present two different sides of one issue.

Example: “As you had the opportunity to see throughout the paper, benefits of cannabis are numerous. The plant has been used for centuries in medical practices of great civilizations and scientists confirmed its powerful effects in treating various diseases and ailments. With that being said, there is also a problem of misuse this plant in recreational purposes which is why many countries are reluctant to legalize it. Another concern is the fact that many cannabis-infused oils don’t have the necessary quality due to improper management. Governments need to define their laws regarding cannabis and make certain adjustments to make it accessible to people in need while keeping it away from individuals who use it recreationally.”

Conclusion with real or rhetorical question

This method is similar to logical conclusions i.e. it’s used in same types of paper. The only difference is, you don’t give logical answer but you leave the question that will make readers think and answer it themselves.

Example: “… Would legalization of cannabis increase the number of people who use it recreational use? Would you use cannabis oil and other treatments to treat disease?”

Conclusion with an opinion or a speculation

Using opinions and speculations is beneficial when you are unable to come up with an answer or decision regarding certain topic on your own. When published to some website, this type of conclusion aims to open discussion about some particular subject.

Example: “Throughout my extensive research I wasn’t able to find an adequate reason to why people without moral values, education, talents, and basic manners are celebrated, while society ignores the ones who do make various contributions. It seems like this trend doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Since I couldn’t find the answer myself, I hope that you will have more luck than I did.”

Conclusion with a recommendation

It’s, also, useful for writer of some work to suggest that reader should do something to support some cause or to take action to improve not only their position in the society, but to motivate other people to do the same.

Example: “American Sign Language is one of the fastest growing languages in the United States. Knowing basics of this language can help people feel accepted in the school, university, workplace, or society in general. You should always make people feel the way you’d like to feel in their situations and learning language they use to communicate is a good way to start. If you have time, sign up for ASL class and motivate others to do the same. Your colleague at school or work will appreciate it.”

NOTE: make sure you don’t introduce new information when writing a conclusion or to start a new argument. Conclusion should only sum up arguments you have made so far.

Although introductions and conclusions are overlooked, they are essential for high-quality articles, essays, or other types of works. All you have to do is to present or conclude the argument in a short, precise, and interesting manner. Tips from this article can help you with that. 

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