Online Writing Lab

Roane State Community College

Introductions and Conclusions

Sometimes when we write an essay we forget that we're speaking to someone (a reader).  We also forget that the beginning of our essay is technically the first impression that we make on the reader, while the conclusion is our last chance to get the reader's attention.  Rather than focusing on writing an essay that is simply "correct" (in terms of grammar, following your assignment requirements, etc.) good writers also consider whether or not they've left a lasting impression on their reader. 

Think about it: the movies you've seen and the books you've read, the ones that really stand out in your mind, probably had an intriguing opening and a compelling ending.  Your essay topic may not be as exciting as your favorite movie, but that doesn't mean you can't make sure that your ideas stand out in the reader's mind.   

The Hook

If you're not sure how to begin and end your essay, consider using what's often called the "hook" technique.  The idea behind this method is that if you hook your audience (get their attention) in the beginning of the essay, they'll want to continue reading so that they can find out how everything will turn out in the end. 

For example, to use the hook technique you might begin by saying:  Students are often surprised to know that many of their instructors were not high-ranking students in their own graduating classes.  In fact, one of the most well-respected Composition instructors here at Madeup University flunked Freshman English not once, but twice!

Then, you might conclude your essay by saying:  Any student at Madeup University will tell you that the teachers who once   struggled in their subject area are the most helpful.  Remember that Composition teacher who flunked Freshman English twice?  That was Mrs. Somebody--a popular Composition teacher and well-liked tutor in the Writing Center on campus.  The best guides are those who've experienced the struggle themselves; these teachers truly help students climb toward academic success.

Remember, it is not enough to hook your audience in the beginning. You also have lead them on a journey that comes back around in your conclusion. There is no such thing as “next season” in papers- so NO CLIFF HANGERS!

Making the RIGHT Impression

Simply put, your introduction and conclusion are the first a last chance you have to grab your reader. They are crucial in the development of trust, likability and agreement.

Below are some helpful hints to get you on your way towards becoming an impression master!

Introduction and Conclusion Checklists

A good introduction should…

A good conclusion should…

Describe what you plan to write about

Remind the reader of the main ideas that were discussed in the essay

Give the reader some idea of how you plan to discuss or approach your topic

Tie up any loose ends by resolving any unresolved questions, statements, or ideas

Give background information on your topic (when appropriate)

Discuss what can be done about your topic in the future (when appropriate)

Include a clear, concise thesis statement

Offer suggestions on ways that the reader can get involved with your topic/cause (when appropriate)

Establish a connection between the writer and the audience

Try, one last time, to convince the reader to agree with you (when appropriate)