Thanks to Preeti Kulkarni for contributing to this article.


In the previous op-ed articles, we talked about the importance of writing in academic style, the structure of a body paragraph, the importance of research, and some tips on creating a distinctive voice. Now that you have most of the tools you need to write a compelling and show-stopping op-ed, we are going to give you some tips on how to end your op-ed on a special note. The “So What?” paragraph, which is the topic of this article, will help create the grand finale for your piece.

The “So What” Paragraph

As discussed in the article “Structure of an Op-Ed,” the conclusion or “So What?” paragraph is an essential part of an op-ed. This paragraph synthesizes all of the arguments made in the op-ed and connects them back to the thesis statement at the very beginning of the piece. According to the Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, the conclusion can serve as a bridge back to the readers’ daily lives and persuade them why your op-ed matters. The beginning and conclusion are the two most important parts of the “So What?” paragraph, and should connect to the thesis and emphasize the importance of what you have said in the op-ed. Your readers should remember your op-ed as enriching. 

In terms of structure, the “So What?” paragraph is the opposite of the introduction or lede. The introduction starts broadly and ends on a specific claim. The “So What?” begins on a particular claim and ends on a broader topic. Like every other paragraph, the “So What?” paragraph needs a topic sentence. This topic sentence should be similar to the thesis statement, but it cannot be the same sentence. Instead, it should restate the thesis statement in a fresh way. 

As mentioned earlier, the “So What?” paragraph synthesizes all of the points in the op-ed. The supporting sentences after the topic sentence are used to synthesize these points and tie them together. 

Finally, we have the closing sentence of the paragraph. Here, you say your final words on the subject, connect back to the introduction once again, and, most importantly, provide a sense of closure for your readers. The concluding sentence and the concluding paragraph are usually not the places for new ideas because those additions can get very confusing. However, it is vital to make sure that this paragraph is not redundant. The majority of this paragraph says what you have already said before, with maybe a couple of sentences that present something related but not stated previously. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Conclusion Writing

  1. DO: Ask yourself why your point of view matters. When writing a conclusion, tying your whole op-ed back to a central point is crucial. Some examples of a broad central topic are ideologies, societal issues, or morals. 
  2. DO: Connect back to your introduction by synthesizing. Make connections to your whole piece without repeating the same things over and over again. You can do this by adding nuances or routes that are different but that don’t stray from your main idea. Another way to do this is by asking closing questions to get the reader thinking even after they have finished your piece.
  3. DON’T: Use unnecessary phrases like “finally,” “in summation,” or “in conclusion.” These phrases are helpful when speaking; although writing is supposed to feel like the writer is talking to the audience, this wording is lazy for your ending. 
  4. DON’T: Make your conclusion overly emotional. While playing on emotions can be very effective, making your conclusion too sappy can turn off your readers and draw attention away from the main point. Since op-eds are more seriously written, a stern and insightful conclusion is a better choice. 

There it is! Your concluding paragraph—and your op-ed—is complete. If you want to know the best way to pitch your op-ed, read on.

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