Well done! You’ve carefully organized and constructed an article from the introduction to the final point. But now it’s time to wrap up your masterpiece. No matter how tempting it is to introduce a new idea, the conclusion is a paragraph that allows the reader to read in peace, without unanswered questions or ideas that weren’t explained crowding their minds.

Instead of bringing in new points, the conclusion is the perfect place to summarize the message, restate the main points, project the future, or challenge the reader to take action. While many writers use a combination of two or more of the elements listed above, another effective way to end an article is with a punchline.

Punchlines are memorable phrases that leave a strong impression in the reader’s mind. They strengthen the conclusions and illustrate the importance of the article. A punchline is usually short, carries a universal truth, and might have a play on words.

Three basic punchline techniques:

  • End with a question.
    • What kind of message is your life sending the world? –Susan Nikaido, excerpt from the article Integrity Matters.
  • End with a quote.
    • “I will never be released from prison,” he said last week. “I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I can accept that.” –Blaine Harden, excerpt from the article ‘Son of Sam’ Film Revives Painful Memories.
  • End with an illustration.
    • Now when I look in the mirror, I know God the creator is looking at me too and together we both see the same thing. Someone beautiful. –Carey Posey, excerpt from the article Someone Beautiful.

Try it out! Practice writing punchline-conclusions by cutting off the conclusion of a magazine article or an article you wrote. Then write several new conclusions for the article. Try to use a different strategy each time. You could end with a question for one, and then project the future for another. Don’t be afraid to use combinations. Which style of conclusion is most effective for the article?

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