The Geometry of Conclusions: Use Triangles to Shape the Best Conclusion

So, you wrote the paper. Great job! You should be proud of yourself. You’ve put a lot of time and effort in to make a great argument, but now, you need to seal the deal with a great conclusion.

Where do you begin?

The Best Advice?

The best advice I was ever given was to write in triangles and building blocks. Your introduction is an upside down triangle. You start with something broad and catchy, and conclude with your thesis statement. Throughout your body paragraphs, you’re assembling building blocks or piecing together the pieces of a puzzle to build your argument. Ideally, each body paragraph has a meaningful topic sentence that introduces the ideas of your next paragraph while simultaneously connecting them to your previous paragraph.

Drafting the Best Form

As a preface, remember that a conclusion takes a few drafts, just like all good research papers. The goal of a conclusion is to reiterate your thesis, summarize the points you made to prove your argument and then remind the reader why your work matters and will have a future impact. The first draft of your conclusion involves pulling ideas from other places in your paper. Doing this will give you a solid framework that you can use to craft a comprehensive conclusion. Then, you’ll edit your conclusion to say the same things in a new way.

Three Sides to Creating a Conclusion

As a model, you’re writing in the shape of a triangle. It’s the exact opposite of your introduction. First, start with your thesis statement. For your first draft, you can copy and paste it from your introduction. Next, you’ll take the topic sentences from your body paragraphs, and reiterate the ideas in your conclusion. You’re summarizing your argument again to remind the reader of what they’ve seen so far. Finally, you’ll end your conclusion with something meaningful about why your work matters and any implications it may have moving forward.

Shaping Up: Final Edits

At this point, you may have copied and pasted from other parts of your paper to write the first draft of your conclusion, but you never want to copy/paste and walk away. This could constitute academic plagiarism and have consequences as serious as expulsion! At this point, you’ll reword your thesis and your topic sentences. You’ll keep the same ideas, but use different words. The goal is to reiterate your thesis, the thoughts that support your thesis to summarize the point you’re trying and how you made the point. Finally, make sure you end strong! Whether it’s about the lasting impact of your work or a fun pun related to your project, make sure you leave the reader something to remember your work by.

Don’t let your conclusion scare you! It’s a great opportunity to show what you know, and finish the home run you’re making. You’ve already done the majority of the research and the writing, so just remind the reader of your great academic work one more time.

What’s the worst conclusion you’ve read in a fiction book?

Rachel Winter is a Ph.D. Student at University of California Santa Barbara studying the contemporary art history of the Middle East. She holds a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies: Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Iowa, and a B.A. in Art History with Honors from the University of Iowa.

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