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What this handout is about
In this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, transitions glue our ideas and our essays together. This handout will introduce you to some useful transitional expressions and help you employ them effectively.
The function and importance of transitions
In both academic writing and professional writing, your goal is to convey information clearly and concisely, if not to convert the reader to your way of thinking. Transitions help you to achieve these goals by establishing logical connections between sentences, paragraphs, and sections of your papers. In other words, transitions tell readers what to do with the information you present to them. Whether single words, quick phrases, or full sentences, they function as signs that tell readers how to think about, organize, and react to old and new ideas as they read through what you have written.
Transitions signal relationships between ideas—relationships such as: “Another example coming up—stay alert!” or “Here’s an exception to my previous statement” or “Although this idea appears to be true, here’s the real story.” Basically, transitions provide the reader with directions for how to piece together your ideas into a logically coherent argument. Transitions are not just verbal decorations that embellish your paper by making it sound or read better. They are words with particular meanings that tell the reader to think and react in a particular way to your ideas. In providing the reader with these important cues, transitions help readers understand the logic of how your ideas fit together.
Signs that you might need to work on your transitions
How can you tell whether you need to work on your transitions? Here are some possible clues:
Your readers (instructors, friends, or classmates) tell you that they had trouble following your organization or train of thought.
You tend to write the way you think—and your brain often jumps from one idea to another pretty quickly.
You wrote your paper in several discrete “chunks” and then pasted them together.
You are working on a group paper; the draft you are working on was created by pasting pieces of several people’s writing together.
Since the clarity and effectiveness of your transitions will depend greatly on how well you have organized your paper, you may want to evaluate your paper’s organization before you work on transitions. In the margins of your draft, summarize in a word or short phrase what each paragraph is about or how it fits into your analysis as a whole. This exercise should help you to see the order of and connection between your ideas more clearly.
If after doing this exercise you find that you still have difficulty linking your ideas together in a coherent fashion, your problem may not be with transitions but with organization. For help in this area (and a more thorough explanation of the “reverse outlining” technique described in the previous paragraph), please see the Writing Center’s handout on organization.
How transitions work
The organization of your written work includes two elements: (1) the order in which you have chosen to present the different parts of your discussion or argument, and (2) the relationships you construct between these parts. Transitions cannot substitute for good organization, but they can make your organization clearer and easier to follow. Take a look at the following example:
El Pais, a Latin American country, has a new democratic government after having been a dictatorship for many years. Assume that you want to argue that El Pais is not as democratic as the conventional view would have us believe.
One way to effectively organize your argument would be to present the conventional view and then to provide the reader with your critical response to this view. So, in Paragraph A you would enumerate all the reasons that someone might consider El Pais highly democratic, while in Paragraph B you would refute these points. The transition that would establish the logical connection between these two key elements of your argument would indicate to the reader that the information in paragraph B contradicts the information in paragraph A. As a result, you might organize your argument, including the transition that links paragraph A with paragraph B, in the following manner:
Paragraph A: points that support the view that El Pais’s new government is very democratic.
Transition: Despite the previous arguments, there are many reasons to think that El Pais’s new government is not as democratic as typically believed.
Paragraph B: points that contradict the view that El Pais’s new government is very democratic.
In this case, the transition words “Despite the previous arguments,” suggest that the reader should not believe paragraph A and instead should consider the writer’s reasons for viewing El Pais’s democracy as suspect.
As the example suggests, transitions can help reinforce the underlying logic of your paper’s organization by providing the reader with essential information regarding the relationship between your ideas. In this way, transitions act as the glue that binds the components of your argument or discussion into a unified, coherent, and persuasive whole.
Types of transitions
Now that you have a general idea of how to go about developing effective transitions in your writing, let us briefly discuss the types of transitions your writing will use.
The types of transitions available to you are as diverse as the circumstances in which you need to use them. A transition can be a single word, a phrase, a sentence, or an entire paragraph. In each case, it functions the same way: First, the transition either directly summarizes the content of a preceding sentence, paragraph, or section or implies such a summary (by reminding the reader of what has come before). Then, it helps the reader anticipate or comprehend the new information that you wish to present.
Transitions between sections: Particularly in longer works, it may be necessary to include transitional paragraphs that summarize for the reader the information just covered and specify the relevance of this information to the discussion in the following section.
Transitions within paragraphs: As with transitions between sections and paragraphs, transitions within paragraphs act as cues by helping readers to anticipate what is coming before they read it. Within paragraphs, transitions tend to be single words or short phrases.
Effectively constructing each transition often depends upon your ability to identify words or phrases that will indicate for the reader the kind of logical relationships you want to convey. The table below should make it easier for you to find these words or phrases. Whenever you have trouble finding a word, phrase, or sentence to serve as an effective transition, refer to the information in the table for assistance. Look in the left column of the table for the kind of logical relationship you are trying to express. Then look in the right column of the table for examples of words or phrases that express this logical relationship.
Keep in mind that each of these words or phrases may have a slightly different meaning. Consult a dictionary or writer’s handbook if you are unsure of the exact meaning of a word or phrase.
LOGICAL RELATIONSHIP TRANSITIONAL EXPRESSION
Similarity also, in the same way, just as … so too, likewise, similarly
Exception/Contrast but, however, in spite of, on the one hand … on the other hand, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, in contrast, on the contrary, still, yet
Sequence/Order first, second, third, … next, then, finally
Time after, afterward, at last, before, currently, during, earlier, immediately, later, meanwhile, now, recently, simultaneously, subsequently, then
Example for example, for instance, namely, specifically, to illustrate
Emphasis even, indeed, in fact, of course, truly
Place/Position above, adjacent, below, beyond, here, in front, in back, nearby, there
Cause and Effect accordingly, consequently, hence, so, therefore, thus
Additional Support or Evidence additionally, again, also, and, as well, besides, equally important, further, furthermore, in addition, moreover, then
Conclusion/Summary finally, in a word, in brief, briefly, in conclusion, in the end, in the final analysis, on the whole, thus, to conclude, to summarize, in sum, to sum up, in summary
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Paragraph Writing: How To Write A Good Paragraph
When you create an essay outline, you will probably list ideas that need to be included in your essay. If you’re thinking clearly, each of these ideas would have a paragraph to itself. If some of the ideas you jotted down are closely related, they’d probably form part of the same paragraph.
Crafting a Paragraph
In a way, you could see each paragraph as a mini-essay.
You introduce the topic
You provide the contributing information
You draw a conclusion
But how do you know if you have crafted a good paragraph? It will have four characteristics:
You achieve these four characteristics through using the three parts of your paragraph wisely and with forethought.
Your contributing sentences must lead logically to the concluding one. This means you need to present it in some kind of order. Will you choose chronological order, order of importance, or relate each successive sentence to the other using logic? That depends on what you are writing about, but your aim is to make your paragraph easy to follow from point A to point B to point C. Finally, you want to tie all your points together to underline the point you are trying to get across. Order helps to convey the sense of what you are saying. If you confuse your reader, you have not written a clever paragraph.
Order Should Bring Coherence
Have you ever listened to someone talking, and it sounds like they’re just babbling and not making any sense? They are speaking incoherently. When a person speaks coherently, each thought follows neatly from the previous one, and it is easy to understand what they are saying. Although it’s not a must, using transition words helps to show how one thought relates to another. There are many such words and phrases which include:
Another important trick to remember is to keep all your sentences in the same verb tense. It just makes it so much easier for your reader to follow your thoughts.
Your Concluding Sentence
Writing a really good paragraph is something of an art, but like any skill, you can learn it through practice. That’s why teachers will set paragraph writing tasks for their students. But if you love writing, or just want to improve your writing skills, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t set yourself a few tasks. Choose from a list of paragraph writing prompts, or make up a list of your own.
Here are some ideas:
Why I enjoy my hobby so much
My favorite winter activity
Why I admire my best friend
The thing I’m most scared of
What I dreamed last night
Remember, keep it to one paragraph! After you’ve written it, leave it for a while because it’s hard to evaluate your own work right away. Later, go and look at your exercise. Ask yourself:
What is my opening sentence?
Do my other points support it?
Did I reach a conclusion, and does it match the opening sentence and the supporting ones?
Have I presented my information in a logical way? Could I have done it better?
Writing a paragraph isn’t all that difficult, but you can’t just run at it like a bull at a gate. If you think things through, you’ll find yourself naturally falling in with the rules we’ve discussed here. Thoughtful work is usually good work, so engage your grey matter and get writing!
Persuasive Words &Amp; Phrases In Writing
In the instance of
Here’s an example of using persuasive words and phrases to introduce evidence:
Oranges make great juice. For instance, research shows that more Americans drink orange juice with breakfast than any other drink.
Solid persuasive writing gives the reader information that may convince them to agree with you. Offering suggestions is an effective tool in persuasive writing to encourage readers to listen to your argument, such as:
Keeping in mind
To this end, look at this example:
Keeping in mind the evidence gathered by ”so-and-so”, it seems smart to add a daily mug of coffee to your routine to keep your blood pressure at optimal levels.
Cohesive persuasive essays seamlessly transition from one paragraph or idea to the next. The best way to do that is through transition phrases that help you build from one logical point to the next. These transition phrases are perfect for any type of persuasive writing:
Equally as important
Consider this example:
After the birds migrated from Alabama, it was shown that warmer weather attracted the birds to the lake. Likewise, the lake’s optimal microflora balance provided superior nutrition compared to other lakes in the region.
The key to solid persuasive writing is the ability to take evidence that contradicts your argument to bolster your credibility. Furthermore, a smart persuasive essay will use opposing information to lead into evidence that supports the writer’s argument. Here are words and phrases that help you do that:
In spite of
On the other hand
Here’s an example:
Despite the study that showed coffee elevates blood pressure, study 1 and study 2 demonstrated solid conclusions that coffee does in fact reduce stress levels that may impact blood pressure.
Once you get to the end of your argument, you will want to finish strong. The following phrases will help you write a strong conclusion for your argument:
As a result of
Because of this
Here’s an example of a solid concluding remark:
Due to the massive amount of research on orange juice and its benefits, orange juice should be consumed every morning.
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