For writing to flow smoothly, effective transitions are a must. It does no good for you to have the most well-documented and perfectly researched paper if the reader can’t follow your logic because of ineffective transitions.

Likewise, writing the next great American novel is impossible without the use of effective transitions.

But what exactly is a transition, and how does one create an effective transition? Simply put, a transition is a word, phrase, or sentence that creates a logical connection between two thoughts or ideas. For example:

John sighed as he put away the last of the summer wine.  Jill looked so silly in the photo.

Huh? What’s Jill’s photo got to do with the summer wine? Now try this:

John sighed as he put away the last of the summer wine. He smiled as the faded photograph above the cabinet caught his eye. Jill looked so silly in the photo.

Granted, that’s a simplistic example of an effective transition, but it should help you get a general idea.

In more formal writing, it’s common to use the last sentence of a paragraph or the first sentence of the next paragraph to transition from one concept to another:

Research indicates that sedentary people tend to have more health problems. For example, high blood pressure and obesity are commonly reported among those who make no attempt to exercise.

High blood pressure is, of course, not limited to sedentary persons.

Creating Effective Transitions in Your Writing

Here you have an example of an effective transition: the examples provide a perfect segue into a more extended discussion of each listed example.

How do you know if your transitions are effective?

It’s not as difficult as you’d think. If your advisor or publisher keeps saying that your work is choppy or confusing or lacks organization, there’s an excellent chance your transitions just aren’t working.

The length of your transition will depend on its location. A paragraph might be needed to transition from one section to another in a long paper. A word or two would probably suffice for a transition within a paragraph.

Whichever type of transition you’re using, the following words/phrases are useful clues to the reader that you’re making a transition.

  • Always
  • Also
  • But
  • However
  • Despite
  • Nevertheless
  • Meanwhile
  • Of course
  • Beyond
  • Consequently
  • Hence
  • As well as
  • In conclusion

Of course, many other words can serve to alert the reader of an imminent transition; these are merely a few to help you get the idea.

However, the easiest way to ensure effective transitions is to hire a professional editor. An experienced, professional editor can make sure your work, be it a novel or a dissertation, flows smoothly and logically from one section to the next.

Originally posted 9/13/2011 and happily updated 10/25/2017. Thanks for reading!

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