Introductions & Conclusions
(Portions based on UNC's Writing Center Handout
available at:
As the Writing Center handout suggests:

"Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers. You can let them know what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion. It should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. It will also, ideally, give the reader a sense of the kinds of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs and pages that will follow. After reading your  introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read  the main body of your paper."

Begins broad and slowly "funnels" to the thesis. 

The 1st sentence should "hook" the reader.  Spark interest. (The WAC suggests: an intriguing example; a provocative quotation; a puzzling scenario; a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote; a thought provoking question.) 

Make a good first impression. 

Establish your ideas and approach.  End with a complex and confident, argumentative thesis statement. 

Follow other tips in the box to the left.

The Writing Center handout urges you to AVOID 

The Place Holder Introduction.  Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don't really say much.  

The Restated Question Introduction. The professor or teaching assistant wrote your questions and will be reading ten to seventy essays in response to them--they do not need to read a whole paragraph that simply restates the  thesis. 

The Webster's Dictionary Introduction.   

The Dawn of Man Introduction. This kind of introduction generally makes broad sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time.  

The Book Report Introduction. This introduction is what you had to do for your fifth-grade book reports. 

The Writing Center handout states:
Your conclusion is your chance to have the last word on the subject. The conclusion allows you to have the final word on the issues you have raised in your paper, to summarize your thoughts, to demonstrate the importance of your ideas, and to propel your reader to a new view of the subject.  
Your conclusion can go beyond the confines of the assignment. The conclusion pushes beyond the boundaries of the question and allows you to consider broader issues, make new connections, and elaborate on the significance of your findings. Essentially, your conclusion can help answer the question, "So what?"   

Your conclusion gives your reader something to take away that will help them see things differently or appreciate your topic in personally relevant ways

The Writing Center handout states: Play the "So What" Game. If you're stuck and feel like your conclusion isn't saying anything new or interesting, ask a friend to read it with you. Whenever you make a   statement from your conclusion, ask the friend to say, "So what?" or "Why should  anybody care?"  

 Begin the conclusion with a restatement of the thesis  (in different words, of course.  But, you can begin by copy-pasting it there). 

Try to relate it to something larger issue (social, political, historical)  that you may not have mentioned yet. 

 Return to the strategy that you used in the introduction.   (The WAC suggests: an intriguing example; a provocative quotation; a puzzling scenario; a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote; a thought provoking question.)

The Writing Center handout urges you to 

 The "That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It" conclusion.  It does  not push the ideas forward in any way.  

The "Sherlock Holmes" conclusion.   Sometimes, instead of repeating the thesis in the conclusion, writers will state  the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion. . . . The reader, however, does not expect to read a mystery. Instead, he or she expects an analytical discussion of your topic in an academic style. As a result, your reader will expect to see . . . a section that summarizes and explains the significance of that argument.  

The "America the Beautiful" / "I Am Woman" / "We Shall Overcome" This kind of conclusion usually draws on emotion to make its appeal. . . While this sentimentality may be very heartfelt, it is usually out of character with the rest of an analytical paper. A more fitting tribute to the individual, theme, historical event, or other topic would certainly be a more sophisticated commentary than just emotional praise.  

The Grab Bag conclusion In this kind of conclusion, the writer throws extra stuff that he or she found or thought of, but couldn't integrate into the main paper.