Adding Transitions Between Paragraphs In Essays

Contributors:Ryan Weber, Karl Stolley.
Summary:

A discussion of transition strategies and specific transitional devices.

Writing Transitions

Good transitions can connect paragraphs and turn disconnected writing into a unified whole. Instead of treating paragraphs as separate ideas, transitions can help readers understand how paragraphs work together, reference one another, and build to a larger point. The key to producing good transitions is highlighting connections between corresponding paragraphs. By referencing in one paragraph the relevant material from previous paragraphs, writers can develop important points for their readers.

It is a good idea to continue one paragraph where another leaves off. (Instances where this is especially challenging may suggest that the paragraphs don't belong together at all.) Picking up key phrases from the previous paragraph and highlighting them in the next can create an obvious progression for readers. Many times, it only takes a few words to draw these connections. Instead of writing transitions that could connect any paragraph to any other paragraph, write a transition that could only connect one specific paragraph to another specific paragraph.

Example: Overall, Management Systems International has logged increased sales in every sector, leading to a significant rise in third-quarter profits.

Another important thing to note is that the corporation had expanded its international influence.

Revision: Overall, Management Systems International has logged increased sales in every sector, leading to a significant rise in third-quarter profits.

These impressive profits are largely due to the corporation's expanded international influence.

Example: Fearing for the loss of Danish lands, Christian IV signed the Treaty of Lubeck, effectively ending the Danish phase of the 30 Years War.

But then something else significant happened. The Swedish intervention began.

Revision: Fearing for the loss of more Danish lands, Christian IV signed the Treaty of Lubeck, effectively ending the Danish phase of the 30 Years War.

Shortly after Danish forces withdrew, the Swedish intervention began.

Example: Amy Tan became a famous author after her novel, The Joy Luck Club, skyrocketed up the bestseller list.

There are other things to note about Tan as well. Amy Tan also participates in the satirical garage band the Rock Bottom Remainders with Stephen King and Dave Barry.

Revision: Amy Tan became a famous author after her novel, The Joy Luck Club, skyrocketed up the bestseller list.

Though her fiction is well known, her work with the satirical garage band the Rock Bottom Remainders receives far less publicity.

Contributors:Ryan Weber, Karl Stolley.
Summary:

A discussion of transition strategies and specific transitional devices.

Transitional Devices

Transitional devices are like bridges between parts of your paper. They are cues that help the reader to interpret ideas a paper develops. Transitional devices are words or phrases that help carry a thought from one sentence to another, from one idea to another, or from one paragraph to another. And finally, transitional devices link sentences and paragraphs together smoothly so that there are no abrupt jumps or breaks between ideas.

There are several types of transitional devices, and each category leads readers to make certain connections or assumptions. Some lead readers forward and imply the building of an idea or thought, while others make readers compare ideas or draw conclusions from the preceding thoughts.

Here is a list of some common transitional devices that can be used to cue readers in a given way.

To Add:

and, again, and then, besides, equally important, finally, further, furthermore, nor, too, next, lastly, what's more, moreover, in addition, first (second, etc.)

To Compare:

whereas, but, yet, on the other hand, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, by comparison, where, compared to, up against, balanced against, vis a vis, but, although, conversely, meanwhile, after all, in contrast, although this may be true

To Prove:

because, for, since, for the same reason, obviously, evidently, furthermore, moreover, besides, indeed, in fact, in addition, in any case, that is

To Show Exception:

yet, still, however, nevertheless, in spite of, despite, of course, once in a while, sometimes

To Show Time:

immediately, thereafter, soon, after a few hours, finally, then, later, previously, formerly, first (second, etc.), next, and then

To Repeat:

in brief, as I have said, as I have noted, as has been noted

To Emphasize:

definitely, extremely, obviously, in fact, indeed, in any case, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, always, forever, perennially, eternally, never, emphatically, unquestionably, without a doubt, certainly, undeniably, without reservation

To Show Sequence:

first, second, third, and so forth. A, B, C, and so forth. next, then, following this, at this time, now, at this point, after, afterward, subsequently, finally, consequently, previously, before this, simultaneously, concurrently, thus, therefore, hence, next, and then, soon

To Give an Example:

for example, for instance, in this case, in another case, on this occasion, in this situation, take the case of, to demonstrate, to illustrate, as an illustration, to illustrate

To Summarize or Conclude:

in brief, on the whole, summing up, to conclude, in conclusion, as I have shown, as I have said, hence, therefore, accordingly, thus, as a result, consequently

How to Use Paragraph Transitions

A Guide to Transitional Words and Expressions


When writing a paragraph or essay, just as proper grammar and spelling are important, paragraph transitions are also important.


Transitional words and phrases connect sentences and paragraphs to each other. Paragraph transitions suggest a particular relationship between one idea and the next. Within a paragraph, transitions provide coherence: a sense that the paragraph contains one main argument or idea. Between paragraphs, paragraph transitions help with the flow of writing from beginning to end, as well as the sense of the coherence of the whole essay. Transitional words and phrases often occur at the beginning of a sentence and, for more formal writing, transitional expressions are set off with a comma. Some transition words (for example, "too" or "as well") more often occur at the end or even in the middle of a sentence, however.

 

To help you practice transitional words, here is a transition word list that shows the relationship the transitional words or phrases indicate. As a transition word exercise, revise a paragraph adding the appropriate transition word or phrase.


Relationship

English Transition Words and Phrases

Adding information also, and, as well, besides, equally important, finally, furthermore, in addition, moreover, then, too
Comparing ideas in like manner, in the same way, likewise, similarly
Conceding a point agreed, certainly, granted, obviously, of course, to be sure
Contrasting ideas at the same time, but, conversely, even so, even though, however, in contrast, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the one hand, on the other hand, still, yet
Providing an example as an illustration, as can be seen by, for example, for instance, in other words, namely, specifically, to illustrate
Relating time and order of ideas afterward, before, currently, eventually, finally, first, (second, third, fourth, fifth?), immediately, in the future, in the past, later, less important, meanwhile, most important, next, often, sometimes, soon, subsequently, then, today, when
Resulting from the previous idea accordingly, as a result, consequently, so, thereby, therefore, thus
Showing relative location adjacent, at the side, between, here, in the back, in the background, in the distance, in the foreground, in the front, nearby, there, to the side
Summarizing ideas finally, hence, in brief, in conclusion, in short, in summary, that is, that is to say, to sum up

 

In summary, use a variety of good transition words within your paragraphs to create coherent paragraphs. Use good paragraph transition words in essays to help your ideas flow throughout the essay, as well. In these ways, transition words serve as a sort of writing glue. Yet, don't use the same transition repeatedly, unless you are doing so for a specific effect. Remember, you can always check grammar, spelling, and writing style with WhiteSmoke's free online grammar checker.

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