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What's a good word for describing the last section of a document, similar to "introduction" (which, of course, refers to the beginning)?

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The word you're looking for is conclusion.

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what if it's not really a "conclusion" in the sense that it's derived from the rest of the text, but rather just some piece of text that's attached to the document? (not an "attachment" though, because it's an actual part of the document) – cambraca May 31 '12 at 4:42
Hm, like a bibliography? You could call it addendum. – user11550 May 31 '12 at 4:49
Back matter! – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 31 '12 at 14:46
@cambraca If that is the case, then are you sure your introduction is not actually a preface, foreword, or prologue? – choster May 31 '12 at 14:56
Front matter! Or preface! – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 31 '12 at 15:08

An alternative to conclusion could be a summary, if it comes to wrap up the piece.

If it contains ancillary information, It could also be a postscript or an appendix.

For a piece of fiction, I would call it an epilogue.

Could you be more specific about what is in this section? It's entirely possible that there isn't an all-encompassing word for it, but once we know what you have in your hands, we could find the right term.

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Epilogue is a nice choice...Bravo!! 1up for that. :) – Fr0zenFyr May 31 '12 at 5:47
It can also have a Point, if it's concise, strong and... "pointy". – SF. May 31 '12 at 9:20
Take for instance the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it has an introduction, a main body (the articles), and a small paragraph at the end (which in the version I'm linking is shown as "Article 30". Pretend it's just a paragraph.) – cambraca May 31 '12 at 14:16
And there can be an afterword, equivalent to a foreword but occurring after the body. And then there's colophon, but that's a bit differerent. – Gaston Ümlaut May 31 '12 at 22:50

Frankly I think "conclusion" is usually the best word, even if it really isn't a conclusion in the sense of being the logical result of a long argument or series of events. If you said, "And in the conclusion of the book, we learn that everything that came before was irrelevant," I doubt anyone would protest, "But then it's not really a 'conclusion', is it?" unless they really wanted to be argumentative.

Other possible words are:

denoument: A "wrapping up" section of a story, following the real climax and conclusion. Like, if you have a crime story, you might think of the chapter where the detective solves the crime and the villain is caught as the "conclusion". If there's then a final chapter about how the victim tries to put his life back together, or where the detective and the heroine have a romantic encounter, or whatever, that is often called a "denoument".

postlude: Indicates something at the end with no particular "role". It's ofen used for a denoument, but not necessarily.

appendix: Material that follows the main narrative. "Appendix" is often used for reference material, like a list of the main people in history book, or detailed calculations or statistics in a technical book.

end, or ending: Simple and general.

I guess you could make a technical case that an "introduction" is usually considered to be something separate from the main text. Often an introduction is written by someone other than the primary author. So in that sense the analogue would be something at the end that is also not part of the main text, which brings us back to "appendix" and "addendum".

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Conclusion fits perfectly to your question. From comments I understand that that is not what you are looking for, so, the word blurb may be considered if it may fit, which is a snippet from the actual work generally on the back cover of a novel to introduce you to the plot and characters (for promotional purposes).

  1. A blurb is the book description you find on the back of a book or online to describe a book's contents.
  2. A short excerpt from a larger item. Usually used in conjunction with a link to the full story.

Other reference: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blurb?s=t

Why do you need to attach a snippet from your actual text at the end of the document anyway? Is it a novel?

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Blurb would be more like a summary or abstract. Plus isn't it a bit colloquial? – LordScree May 31 '12 at 11:10

You could try coda, though it only works in certain contexts.

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I myself would go with "conclusion", but if you don't care for that, consider "outtro": http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=outtro

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