Writing Transitions

Writing Transitions

Nov 17, 2012
Transitions are one of the trickiest aspects of writing. They're what tie together all the different parts of your paper, and good transitions will help make your paper logical and easy to read. On the other hand, a paper with bad transitions will be choppy and hard to follow. So next time you sit down to write, consider these helpful transition writing tips.

What is a transition?

Transitions are like road maps for readers - they tell the reader something about where he's been and also about where he's headed. Without these signs the reader will get lost and likely find your paper confusing. To avoid this problem, every time you move between paragraphs you need to include wording that will tell the readers how each of the paragraphs fit together to make a whole. Good transitions will tie together the ideas in succeeding paragraphs so that the reader can move seamlessly from one paragraph to the next.

How to write transitions

The first step in writing a good transition is to ask yourself how the paragraphs fit together. Are you presenting an opposing point of view? Adding evidence to an already established argument? Moving on to another topic? Once you understand what you're trying to accomplish, you can use transitional words like the ones below to easily move the reader between paragraphs.
Another good guideline for writing transitions is to take ideas, or even particular wording, from the previous paragraph and repeat it in the opening sentence of the next paragraph. It will help carry the reader smoothly into the next section and will also help reinforce your ideas.

Transition words

To compare

on the other hand; however; conversely; unlike; meanwhile; in contrast; in comparison; nevertheless; although; similarly; likewise
...Because of these measures, Franklin Roosevelt's administration will always be linked in the minds of many Americans with his social welfare policies.
Unlike Roosevelt, President Ronald Regan is often associated with lower taxes and other austerity measures...
...Hamlet is a play that relies on the trick of a play-within-a-play to force the characters feelings to the surface.
A Midsummer Night's Dream likewise uses the play-within-a-play to evoke reactions from its love-struck heroes...

To show time or sequence

first; second; next; last; previously; after; following this; at the same time; simultaneously; thereafter; later; finally
...The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case during their 2002 session.
At the same time, a similar case was making its way through the United Nation's International Court of Justice...
...The patients who participated in the doctor-supervised diet plan lost an average of 8 lbs. over the course of a year.
Following this loss, patients were monitored as they attempted to continue the weight loss program on their own...
...New regulations for CO2 emissions were set to go into effect in 2015.
After this legislation was signed, stock prices for oil and gas companies took a major hit....

To show consequence

hence; therefore; as a consequence; because of; as a result; because; for this reason; indeed; despite
...Despite the protestations of Elizabeth, Charlotte agrees to marry Mr. Collins to alleviate the burden on her family.
Because of Charlotte's decision, Elizabeth later meets, and quickly offends, the pompous Lady Catherine, who presides over Mr. Collins' parish...
...Sherman's March to the Sea left large swaths of the south devastated and without access to crops, livestock, or other necessary goods.
As a consequence of Sherman's zeal, many southerners carried ill-will towards the North long after the Civil War was over...
...Marlow is warned from the moment he sets foot in Africa that his journey to find Kurtz is likely to end in violence and savagery.
Despite these warnings, Marlow has no choice but to press on into the jungle...

To add another example

again; in addition; furthermore; for example; for instance; to demonstrate; moreover; equally important; another
...The heartbreaking and unexpected death of the main character is one of the reasons Bridge to Terabithia is so vividly remembered by readers even decades later.
In addition to Leslie's death, the imaginative kingdom of Terabithia is another reasons many readers carry a fondness for the book well into adulthood...
...Several studies have confirmed the strong effect that sleep deprivation can have on problem-solving skills.
Another example of the dangers of sleep deprivation can be seen in studies measuring the impact of sleep on the reflexes of long-haul truck drivers...

To emphasize or repeat

obviously; certainly; without a doubt; surprisingly; in fact; naturally; undeniably; as was noted earlier
...While the battle was one of the bloodiest in U.S. history, the war was far from over.
Without a doubt troops from the South were eager to seek revenge for their loss, but the battle had left them sorely in need of supplies and reinforcements...
...An internal investigation showed that the orders had come from the very top of the corporate hierarchy.
Obviously, the fact that the company knew of the campaign was likely to strongly effect their reputation and sales...

To conclude

in conclusion; to sum up; on the whole; in brief; as has been shown; to conclude
...While the tests were far from conclusive, the weak correlation is enough to warrant further research.
In conclusion, while little is known about the effects of anti-depressants on pregnant women, the issue is certainly pressing enough to merit extensive testing...
...It is due to her own hubris and greed that Lady Macbeth meets her violent end.
As has been shown, none of the characters from Shakespeare's Macbeth are clear-cut villains...

Quick tips for writing transitions

  • Mix it up. Don't use the same transitions at the beginning of each paragraph-it will make your paper boring and it looks unprofessional.
  • Similarly, don't use sequential words like first, second, third, etc. to start each paragraph. It will make your work read more like a numbered list than a well-thought out piece of writing.
  • Don't force your transitions. If you're having trouble finding the relationship between two paragraphs, it might mean that they don't fit together well and should be moved or deleted.
  • Get the punctuation right. Many transitional words and phrases require a comma when used at the start of a sentence.
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