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In the conclusions chapter of my book (technical, non fiction writing) I want to go over the main ideas I addressed throughout the entire book, as a reminder for the reader and really drive in some of the concepts. One approach would be a bulleted list, but I don't really like it since I don't have any other list in the entire book as I managed to avoid them by choosing a different wording. However, in the last chapter I find it difficult to have the ideas expressed as a narrative because they are not related to one topic/chapter, but all of the topics/chapters.

I've worked a draft of the final chapter, but many of the paragraphs start with "I mentioned about...", "I said...", "I stated that...", etc. I find this very repetitive and annoying. But I don't know how to tie in one paragraph after another when the ideas are separate items.

Are there any techniques for writing a list of conclusion items as paragraphs, without repeating wording like those above?

  • How many chapters are there? Really depends on that and how communicative you've been with the reader throughout the book. For example, if you maintained a casual, user-friendly approach, you could use phrases like, "If you were paying attention, maybe you picked up that..." or "If you didn't forget all which you read," etc. A more formal tone could make use of a paradigm, like a journey. Just a thought. – Thenard Rinmann May 28 at 13:47
  • @ThenardRinmann: 15 chapters, with about 3-4 main ideas per chapter. I merged certain paragraphs together and present it like a journey, as you mentioned, but I still have some paragraphs (8 of them) that change the topic and break the flow. These I start with things like "I also mentioned..." because I don't know how else to tie them together with the rest. I used a rather serious tone throughout the book so I can't go all friendly with the reader in the last chapter :) – Marge May 28 at 16:49
  • Pick a subset of the chapters and paraphrase their titles in one or two sentences. You don't need to restate the topic of every chapter for the summary to be relevant. They also don't need to be tied together in a summary; they simply to be referenced. The reader will already have read them (or should have). From those simple sentences, you can expand out into more detail as appropriate. You can even summarize only the first and last chapter—and then summarize how you got from the start to the finish, without mentioning the intervening chapters specifically. (Or any combination thereof.) – Jason Bassford May 28 at 20:19
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Users/readers almost never read books or chapters from beginning to end. Place summaries and checklists immediately after the information they represent. This helps your readers retain information and take action. Use the same terminology as the original information, but be more concise. If your book still needs one, you can create a summary of summaries at the end.

Unless your book is a first-person narrative, you don't need to talk about yourself. You can drop all of the first-person past-tense phrases like "I mentioned about...", "I said...", and "I stated that..." Simply restate the information in the present tense.

Here's one example of the "Take Action" sections Antonio Cangiano puts at the end of each chapter in his excellent book, Technical Blogging, Second Edition:


Take Action

If you haven’t already, complete the actions suggested within this chapter.

To recap:

  1. Define your blog’s main topic.
  2. If it’s a niche blog, brainstorm ten articles for your niche—just the titles.
  3. If it’s a general blog, list the main categories that compose your blog.
  4. Answer this question: what’s your reason for starting this blog?
  5. Write the “elevator pitch” for your blog.
  6. Set verifiable goals for both the short term (1–3 months) and the long term (1–3 years).
  7. Come up with a compelling name for your blog.
  8. Unless it’s a company blog, find and register a matching domain name.

Useful Links

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  • I'm very happy you found this useful. Please let me know if you have any related questions or suggestions for improving the answer. – rolfedh Jun 15 at 13:00

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