Are You Using Transitions?

Transitions are words or phrases that help make connections between sentences and paragraphs. In many cases sentences and paragraphs can stand on their own, but to help the reader flow through the material without stumbling, transitions are usually needed.

By linking sentences and paragraphs together smoothly, the reader is not distracted by jumps or breaks in ideas or scenes. Sometimes the writer is just too close to the material to see that these cues are missing.

Repeating keywords can help. Pick up a keyword from the previous sentence or paragraph. Doing this can help to sew sentences or paragraphs together.

Another way of doing this without being too wordy is to use short phrases that recall the previous sentence:

  • “This is why we must…”
  • “Because of this…”
  • “This is a problem because…”

You can also choose to use specific transitional words or phrases:

  • Addition Transitions (adding to a point): along with, also, as well as, but also, furthermore, in addition to, moreover, not only, on top of this
  • Comparison Transitions (similar things): comparatively, identical, likewise, similarly
  • Concluding Transitions (to end a section): finally, for these reasons, in conclusion, in short, on the whole, therefore, thus, to sum up
  • Contrast Transitions (to highlight opposition): although, but, conversely, despite this, however, in contrast, nonetheless, on the other hand, still, whereas, yet
  • Example Transitions (when giving evidence): for example, for instance, in fact, to illustrate, specifically, that is
  • Place Marker Transitions (to move the reader from point to point): above, adjacent to, below, beyond, finally, lastly, next, second
  • Time Transitions: after, afterwards, before, during, formerly, meanwhile, now, prior, soon, subsequently, then

More importantly, transitions should be invisible, just like punctuation. They should not draw attention to themselves; instead they should draw the reader along with the story/article/etc…

Transitions should flow naturally and connect each sentence or paragraph effectively so as to present your writing as a complete whole.

© Kristy Taylor 2008

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