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Refine Your Final Word With 10 Alternatives To “In Conclusion”

Wrapping up a presentation or a paper can be deceptively difficult. It seems like it should be easy—after all, your goal is to summarize the ideas you’ve already presented and possibly make a call to action. You don’t have to find new information; you just have to share what you already know.

Here’s where it gets tricky, though. Oftentimes, it turns out that the hardest part about writing a good conclusion is avoiding repetition.

That’s where we can help, at least a little bit. When it comes to using a transition word or phrase to kick off your conclusion, the phrase in conclusion is frequently overused. It’s easy to understand why—it is straightforward. But there are far more interesting and attention-grabbing words and phrases you can use in your papers and speeches to signal that you have reached the end.

in summary

See definition

One of the simplest synonyms of in conclusion is in summary. This transition phrase signals that you are going to briefly state the main idea or conclusion of your research. Like in conclusion, it is formal enough to be used both when writing an academic paper or when giving a presentation.

 

  • In summary, despite multiple experimental designs, the research remains inconclusive.
  • In summary, there is currently unprecedented interest in our new products.

A less-formal version of in summary is to sum up. While this phrase expresses the same idea, it's more commonly found in oral presentations rather than written papers in this use.

 

  • To sum up, we have only begun to discover the possible applications of this finding.

let's review or to review

See definition

Often, a conclusion doesn't simply review the main idea or argument of a presentation. In some cases, a conclusion includes a more complete assessment of the evidence presented. For example, in some cases you might choose to briefly review the chain of logic of an argument to demonstrate how you reached your conclusion. In these instances, the expressions let's review or to review are good signposts.

The transition phrases let's review and to review are most often used in spoken presentations, not in written papers. Unlike the other examples we have looked at, let's review is a complete sentence on its own.

 

  • Let's review. First, he tricked the guard. Then, he escaped out the front door.
  • To review: we developed a special kind of soil, and then we planted the seeds in it.

in closing

See definition

A classy alternative to in conclusion, both in papers and presentations, is in closing. It is a somewhat formal expression, without being flowery. This transition phrase is especially useful for the last or penultimate sentence of a conclusion. It is a good way to signal that you are nearly at the bitter end of your essay or speech. A particularly common way to use in closing is to signal in an argumentative piece that you are about to give your call to action (what you want your audience to do).

 

  • In closing, we should all do more to help save the rainforest.
  • In closing, I urge all parties to consider alternative solutions such as the ones I have presented.

in a nutshell

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The expression in a nutshell is a cute and informal metaphor used to indicate that you are about to give a short summary. (Imagine you're taking all of the information and shrinking it down so it can fit in a nutshell.) It's appropriate to use in a nutshell both in writing and in speeches, but it should be avoided in contexts where you're expected to use a serious, formal register.

 

  • In a nutshell, the life of this artist was one of great triumph and great sadness.
  • In a nutshell, the company spent too much money and failed to turn a profit.

The expression in a nutshell can also be used to signal you've reached the end of a summarized story or argument that you are relating orally, as in "That's the whole story, in a nutshell."

[To make a] long story short

Another informal expression that signals you're about to give a short summary is to make a long story short, sometimes abbreviated to simply long story short. The implication of this expression is that a lengthy saga has been cut down to just the most important facts. (Not uncommonly, long story short is used ironically to indicate that a story has, in fact, been far too long and detailed.)

Because it is so casual, long story short is most often found in presentations rather than written papers. Either the full expression or the shortened version are appropriate, as long as there isn't an expectation that you be formal with your language.

 

  • Long story short, the explorers were never able to find the Northwest Passage.
  • To make a long story short, our assessments have found that there is a large crack in the foundation.

ultimately

See definition

If using a transitional expression doesn't appeal to you, and you would rather stick to a straightforward transition word, you have quite a few options. We are going to cover a couple of the transition words you may choose to use to signal you are wrapping up, either when giving a presentation or writing a paper.

The first term we are going to look at is ultimately. Ultimately is an adverb that means "in the end; at last; finally." Typically, you will want to use it in the first or last sentence of your conclusion. Like in closing, it is particularly effective at signaling a call to action.

 

  • Ultimately, each and every single person has a responsibility to care about this issue.
  • Ultimately, the army beat a hasty retreat and the war was over.

lastly

See definition

Another transition word that is good for conclusions is lastly, an adverb meaning "in conclusion; in the last place; finally." Lastly can be used in informational or argumentative essays or speeches. It is a way to signal that you are about to provide the last point in your summary or argument. The word lastly is most often used in the first or last sentence of a conclusion.

 

  • Lastly, I would like to thank the members of the committee and all of you for being such a gracious audience.
  • Lastly, it must be noted that the institution has not been able to address these many complaints adequately.

overall

See definition

The word overall is particularly good for summing up an idea or argument as part of your conclusion. Meaning "covering or including everything," overall is a bit like a formal synonym for "in a nutshell."

Unlike the other examples we have looked at in this slideshow, it is not unusual for overall to be found at the end of a sentence, rather than only at the beginning.

 

  • Overall, we were very pleased with the results of our experiment.
  • The findings of our study indicate that there is a lot of dissatisfaction with internet providers overall.

asking questions

Using traditional language like the options we have outlined so far is not your only choice when it comes to crafting a strong conclusion. If you are writing an argumentative essay or speech, you might also choose to end with one or a short series of open-ended or leading questions. These function as a creative call to action and leave the audience thinking about the arguments you have made.

In many cases, these questions begin with a WH-word, such as who or what. The specifics will vary spending on the argument being made, but here are a few general examples:

 

  • When it comes to keeping our oceans clean, shouldn't we be doing more?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for these terrible mistakes?

on a final note

Before we wrap up, we want to leave you with one last alternative for in conclusion. The expression on a final note signals that you are about to give your final point or argument. On a final note is formal enough to be used both in writing and in speeches. In fact, it can be used in a speech as a natural way to transition to your final thank yous.

 

  • On a final note, thank you for your time and attention.
  • On a final note, you can find more synonyms for in conclusion here.

The next time you are working on a conclusion and find yourself stuck for inspiration, try out some of these expressions. After all, there is always more than one way to write an ending.

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No matter how you wrap up your project, keep in mind there are some rules you don't always have to follow! Let's look at them here.

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