Introductions and Conclusions


I.  Introductions

A.  An introduction is the most important paragraph of the paper, so make a strong first impression by presenting your reader with a direct, energetic, concise paragraph.

1.  Your introduction should grab attention and present the point that the paper will develop.

2.  Both elements of the introduction must work together.

B.  Some guidelines for introductions:

1.  Don’t state the obvious.

a.  Never say “My paper” or “This paper.”

b.  Never say “I am going to . . .”

2.  Don’t make sweeping generalizations.

a.  “Everyone loves someone sometime.”

b.  “Since the beginning of time, people have been eating meat.”

3.  Use a powerful quotation that addresses your topic.

4.  Open with a story, joke, or anecdote.

5.  Use an interesting comparison.

a.  “Marriage is like learning to eat pickled herring.”

b.  “Living in Minnesota is like living in my nephew’s television.”

6.  Use a strong statistic rather than one that mildly represents a point.

a.   “One out of every three high school graduates can read no better than a third grader.”

b.  “Over 50% of the population of Malawi is HIV positive.”

7.  Startle the readers with the scary or shocking.

a.  “The air you breathe is filled with cyanide.”

b.  “Doctors remove a football size tumor from a man’s face.”

8.  Question a universally accepted truth.

a.  “Drinking milk does not necessarily lead to good health.”

b.  “Adults should take a nap in the middle of the afternoon.”

C.  Above all, remember that the attention-getter must provide a lead-in to the thesis.


II.  Conclusions

A.  An effective conclusion is essential to the success of your paper.

1.  Most readers will remember the last paragraph over any other part of your document.

2.  Like an attorney’s closing appeal to the jury, a conclusion is your last chance to convince the reader of your argument or reemphasize your main point.

3.  In other words, it should leave the reader with a clear understanding of what you have been trying to show in the paper.

4.  It should represent the paper’s content without repetition.

B.  Try these tactics to writing a good conclusion.

1.  Take a break—if you have worn out your creativity, the conclusion could likely be bland and boring.

2.  When you come back, reword your thesis and jot down the main points of your paper.

3.  Ask yourself what new information or ideas your paper has taught your readers.

C.  Elements of a good conclusion.

1.  It should restate, but not repeat, the thesis.

2.  It should briefly sum up, but not repeat, the main points.

3.  It should end with a sense that the essay is done.

4.  It should provide an emotional closure to the paper.

D.  Avoid these problems:

1.  Do not introduce completely new ideas in the conclusion unless they can be made a part of the overall summary statement.

a. If the new idea requires involved discussion, do not use it as the last paragraph.

b. If the idea is short and can be handled in one sentence, it can be included in the conclusion.

2.  Do not preach or scold readers in the conclusion.

3.  Do not state the obvious.

a.  Do not use the words “In conclusion.”

b.  Do not use the words “My paper has just shown you” or something similar.

4.  Do not get preachy or demanding of the readers.

5.  If restating the thesis is difficult, perhaps the paper has wandered away from the thesis.

E.  A good conclusion will leave readers satisfied with the paper.

1.  Readers need to feel good that they have read the paper.

2.  A good conclusion will be logical and unified.

3.  A good conclusion tells readers that the paper has been worth reading.

III.  Evaluate these introductions and conclusions:



1.  Topic:  Violence in American society


            “They will oblige on roof tops or in cellars, on park benches or in the grass.  They stand in halls and in doorways or disappear briefly into dark corners.  They behave like prostitutes, but most of them are not.  They have such a low opinion of themselves, they don’t even change” (Huff 170).  Acts like this are what women in gangs are being subjected to every day by male gang members.  Gangs are leading women down the wrong path, to the wrong men, and into nothing but trouble.  With American society growing closer and closer toward equality, a big group of women are being left behind in society.  Women in gangs are being beaten and used by dominating men in their own gangs.

2.  Topic:  Trip to London

            Here’s the scene:  a hotel on the west side of London at 3:40 pm, Friday, on the day before leaving for home in the United States.  The characters are two:  a 46-year-old, old-maid English teacher and her 16-year-old nephew.  The plot is one of the most frightening imaginable:  he loses his passport and the U. S. Embassy, in the middle of London, closes at 4:00 pm.  Without a passport, he doesn’t go home.

3.  Topic:  paper on The Scarlet Letter

            There are lots of characters in The Scarlet Letter, but I liked Pearl best.  This paper will try to explain what she’s like and why Hester loved her.

4.  Topic:  Analysis of 1990s

            Just imagine you are driving US Highway 2 headed for Grand Forks, North Dakota to do some shopping.  You decided to reach over and turn on the radio and listen to the latest news.  The news comes on and it reveals violence, hate, and devastation.  This is just what you would have experienced by the news cast on in the 1990’s.  Instead of the 1990’s bringing just a new age of modern technology and advancement, it was ravaged with destruction , disasters, and many lost hopes and dreams.

1.  Thesis:  The belief in the existence of ghosts is different for every person because of the differences in beliefs.  Paper written on the supernatural in modern society


            Many people of various different backgrounds, colors and religions believe in the existence of a ghost.  The evidence of the existence of ghosts is out there; where you are superstitious or not, you will believe if you take a look at the evidence.

2.  Thesis:  Fuel economy is one of the dramatic future changes in the future of automobiles.  Paper written on the future of technology

            In ten years what will the world be like?  Will we be floating around in space like the Jetsons, or all living underground?  In ten years, people’s automobiles could be running on two different fuels, one for acceleration and one for maintaining speed (Olesen 10).  It might be propane, electricity, ethanol, or natural gas depending on where a person lives.  In addition to maintaining the vehicles of today, America needs to accept that the cars of tomorrow are what the society will need.  In reality we all have to let technology develop in order to make it a better, safer, more reliable world.

3.  Thesis:  The evil of racism in Mississippi still claims lives.  Paper based on a book by Albert French

            “’Dear God, have mercy in this night, give eyes to the dark, let it see its evil ways, let it see how it has gone astray” (French 214).  Some may think that the darkness that once pervaded Mississippi and the rest of the country is history, but reality does not concur.  Recent events, such as the L. A. riots and the rise of the white supremacist movements, say that we have yet to give eyes to the dark ignorance that exists in the country.  Lasting changes have yet to be made in Mississippi and in the rest of the United States.  Such changes could only occur when the last racist generation that has been brought up on the old myths has died.  For real changes to take place, people must stop taking refuge in delusions and start seeing the world and all its human inhabitants for what they really are:  a version of ourselves.

4.  Thesis:  Juvenile violence is increasing because of their family structure.  Paper on juvenile violence

            The child may feel like their parents don’t love them because they aren’t together anymore and feel that it is because of him or her that they aren’t together.  Divorce is hard on everybody, but especially the children and all children react to it differently.  In some cases, it is better for the child’s welfare and they know that and are healthier with just one of their parents.  Yet in other cases, there are the children who don’t understand why mom and daddy aren’t together anymore.  Children may commit murder because they feel lonely and unwanted and the only way to get the attention that they want to receive from people is by killing somebody and getting into trouble because of it.  There are many families that are torn apart because of the horrible no-fault law that is in affect nowadays.  Sixty percent of five hundred youths who have committed serious offenses came from broke homes (Shulman 394).


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