Online Writing Lab

Transitions

One of the best ways to improve any essay is by incorporating transitions.  Effective transitions are what enable the main idea(s) and important points in an essay to flow together.  In a sense, it is transitions that make a paper become an actual essay as opposed to just a random assortment of various facts.  Without them, an essay will often seem to be lacking in unity. 

How do you know that you need better and/or more transitions?    If your paper seems choppy, lacking in flow, or generally unorganized, these are all signs that your paper is lacking transitions.  Also, the longer an essay is and the more points that are presented, the greater the need for transitions to connect all of the important ideas. 

  • Transitions should occur at a variety of places in an essay.  They should be present between sentences in a body paragraph and between the body paragraphs themselves. 
  • Transitions between sentences are often only one word (however, therefore, etc.) or a brief series of words.  These allow the reader to move from one sentence to the next and show how all sentences are related together. 
  • Transitions between paragraphs are slightly more complex as they move the reader from one main idea to the next.  These become particularly important in longer essays where more information is presented.   

The following examples provide a paragraph without transitions, followed by a revised paragraph that contains them:

  • Example #1:  Students who write academic essays need to provide effective transitions.  Transitions allow writers to connect the main ideas that are present in an essay.  Using conjunctive adverbs and other introductory elements allow a writer to connect one sentence to the next.  The use of these words will make the writing more fluent and less choppy.  Many students fail to use effective transitions, and the essay comes across as disconnected.  Writers should always be aware of the need to connect both sentences and paragraphs together.

Notice how the paragraph above contains valuable information about the use of transitions, but the sentences seem disconnected.  It reads as if there are several ideas that are simply thrown together.  Now read the paragraph below and see how using a few minor transitions allows the sentences and the information in them to be more connected (the transitions that have been added are in bold):

  • Revised Example #1:  Students who write academic essays need to provide effective transitions.  It is the use of these transitions that allow writers to connect the main ideas that are present in an essay.  For example, by using conjunctive adverbs and other introductory elements, a writer can easily connect one sentence to the next.  Moreover, the use of these words will make the writing more fluent and less choppy.  Unfortunately, students often fail to use effective transitions, and, as a result, the essay comes across as disconnected.  To avoid this, writers should always be aware of the need to connect both sentences and paragraphs together, and they should strive to find creative ways to do so. 

The following is a categorized list of transitional words that can be used, depending on the type of transition that is needed:

To Add: additionally, in addition, again, besides, moreover, what’s more, equally important (also important), finally, further, furthermore, first (second, third, etc.) next, lastly

To Repeat: as mentioned, as has been noted, in brief

To Show Exception: however, nevertheless, in spite of, yet, still, despite, of course, once in a while, sometimes, unfortunately

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

To Emphasize: indeed, certainly, in any case, without a doubt, obviously, definitely, extremely, in fact, absolutely, positively, naturally, surprisingly, emphatically, unquestionably , undeniably, without reservation, always, never

To Prove: furthermore, moreover, in example, in fact, indeed, because, for, since, for the same reason, for this reason, obviously, evidently, besides, in addition, in any case

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

To Show Sequence: as a result, subsequently, consequently, concurrently, following this, now, at this point, afterward, simultaneously, thus, hence, therefore, first (second, third, etc.)

To Show Time:  immediately, thereafter, then, soon after, next, and then, finally, later, previously, formerly, first (second, third, etc.)

To Summarize or Conclude: In conclusion, as demonstrated, to conclude, summing up, in brief, as a result, therefore, accordingly, consequently, hence, on the whole