Student Writing Guide: Transitions

Student Writing Guide: Transitions
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Transitions are aimed to connect ideas in your piece of writing, making it more logical, holistic, and easy to read. Сollege-writers decided to help you learn the use of transitions and provide you with common useful expressions.

The Importance of Transitions and Their Function

No matter whether you practice professional writing or academic writing, you have to deliver information concisely and clearly. Quite often, you also have to persuade your readers that your point is right. Transitions allow you to do it more effectively, providing a logical connection between different sections of your paper, paragraphs, and sentences. Transitions help your readers process the information and indicate where they need to reflect on what you’ve said, organizing the information and reacting to your claims.

Transactions also suggest relationships between various ideas, telling your readers where you’re going to provide a new example, exception, etc. Therefore, transitions not only serve as a glue that makes your essay logical but also helps your readers piece together your arguments and better understand what exactly you want to say. Some people think of transitions as of decorations that make your text sound better, but in fact, these words have real meanings and are valuable for readers.

When You Need to Improve Your Transitions

How can students understand if they have to work on transitions more? Here are some common signs:

  • Your readers tell you that it was difficult for them to follow your flow of thought.
  • Your professor has given comments like “abrupt,” “choppy,” “signposts needed,” “jumpy,” etc.
  • You wrote different parts of your paper separately and then put them together.
  • You write exactly how you think, quickly moving from one idea to another.
  • You deal with a group paper where you have to connect pieces written by different people.


The effectiveness of your transitions and the overall clarity of your paper to a large extent depends on how you organize your paper. Thus, we suggest that you check the overall organization of your piece before you start working on transitions. Briefly summarize the meaning of every paragraph to better understand the connection between different ideas and to see in what order you should organize them.

If you’ve tried this exercise but still cannot link your thoughts together effectively, the chances are you have problems with organization, not transitions. To make your paper properly organized, ask our professional academic assistants for help. You can also look for more information on the “reverse outlining” method that we described in the previous paragraph.

How Do Transitions Work?

The organization of your piece of writing consists of two main elements: the relationships between different parts of your paper and the order in which you present these parts. Transitions won’t help you create a good organization but they can make it more understandable and clear.

To organize your argument effectively, you should present a certain viewpoint and provide your audience with a critical response to this point. For example, explain why do you think that this opinion is correct, and then address the opposite point in the next paragraph. In this case, two paragraphs will contradict each other. Thus, you can use such transitions as “on the other hand,” “despite these arguments,” etc.

Transitions can help you support the underlying logic of your piece of writing, providing your readers with the crucial information that explains the connection between your claims and ideas. Transitions can make your argument more persuasive, coherent, and unified.

Types of Transitions

Obviously, transitions are a useful tool that helps you improve the overall quality of your writing. Now let’s consider the types of transitions and how you can use them in practice.

There are many kinds of transitions, as well as many circumstances in which one or another transition can be used most successfully. First, transitions may be phrases, single words, sentences, or even paragraphs. No matter how long your transitions are, they always perform the same functions: They summarize your content to prepare your readers for the next paragraph, sentence, or phrase. When your readers anticipate certain information, they can comprehend it better.

1. Transitions between paragraphs. When your paragraphs are properly arranged so that they follow each other logically, transitions indicate the relationship between two paragraphs, summarizing the previous paragraph, and giving a hint about the content of the next paragraph. Transitions between paragraphs can be short (one or two words long), or you can use whole phrases and sentences, as well. You may include transitions at the end of the previous paragraph or at the beginning of the next one.

2. Transitions between sections. If you’re working on a longer paper, you may need to make transitions between big sections, summarizing the important information and explaining its relevance in the context of the next section.

3. Transitions within paragraphs. This type of transitions works in the same way as transitions between paragraphs or sections, summarizing what you’ve already said, and giving a clue on what you’re going to say. We suggest making transitions within paragraphs as short as possible.

Useful Expressions

The effectiveness of your transitions depends on your ability to choose the right words and phrases that correspond to the necessary type of logical relationship. We created a table of common expressions where you can find words and phrases that will make a good transition depending on a situation you’re dealing with. If you get stuck and don’t know how to write a transition, check this table. Choose the necessary type of logical connection in the left column, and you’ll see various words and phrases that will help you express this type of relationship.

Don’t forget that all of these expressions have different meanings so you should choose your expression based on the context.

Contrast/Exception: in spite of, but, on the one hand … on the other hand, however, nevertheless, notwithstanding, nonetheless, in contrast, still, on the contrary, yet

Similarity: also, just as … so too, in the same way,  similarly, likewise

Time: at last, after, before, afterward, currently, during, immediately, earlier, later, now, meanwhile, recently, subsequently, simultaneously, then

Order/Sequence: next, finally, then, first, second, third

Emphasis: indeed, even, of course, in fact, truly

Example: for instance, namely, for example, to illustrate, specifically

Cause and Effect: thus, accordingly, hence, consequently, therefore, so

Position/Place: below, above, beyond, in front, adjacent, here, nearby, in back, there

Summary: in the same way, also, likewise, just as … so too, similarly

Additional Information: also, again, additionally, and, besides, as well, equally important, furthermore, further, moreover, in addition, then

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