In previous English classes, you may have learned the basic transitional words or phrases in Table A.1. These can be effective when writing simple information in a structure where you simply add one idea after another, or want to show the order of events.
last but not least,
|first of all
However, more complex college-level and technical writing requires more sophisticated transitions. It requires you to connect ideas in ways that show the logic of why one idea comes after another in a complex argument or analysis. For example, you might be comparing/contrasting ideas, or showing a cause and effect relationship, providing detailed examples to illustrate an idea, or presenting a conclusion to an argument. When expressing these complex ideas, the simple transitions you’ve learned earlier will not always be effective – indeed, they may even confuse the reader.
Consider the transitions in Table A.2, and how they are categorized. While this is not an exhaustive list, it will give you a sense of the many transitional words and phrases that you can choose from and demonstrate the need to choose the one that most effectively conveys your meaning.
|Addition||Comparison||Contrast||Cause and Effect|
as well as
|along the same lines
in the same way
on the other hand
as a result
it follows, then
|as a result
it follows, then
|as an illustration
a case in point
to be sure
although it is true that…
that is to say
in other words
to put it another way
to put it bluntly
to put it succinctly
Transitional words and phrases show the connection between ideas and how one idea relates to and builds upon another. They help create coherence. When transitions are missing or inappropriate, the reader has a hard time following the logic and development of ideas. The most effective transitions are sometimes invisible; they rely on the vocabulary and logic of your sentence to allow the reader to “connect the dots” and see the logical flow of your discussion.
For a discussion on the use of transitions in technical writing, see Marcia Riefer Johnston’s Word Wise: Our Transitions, Ourselves
- Repeat a word or phrase from the previous sentence (or use a synonym, related word, or antonym) to show that the same idea is still being discussed, but is being developed further.
- Use the pronoun “this + noun” to show continued discussion of the idea.
- Use one of the above transitional words or phrases to show HOW you are developing your idea (are you showing contrast? Are you using an example to develop your idea? Are you showing a cause and effect relationship? Are you concluding? Are you conceding a point?).
A vegan can be defined as someone who does not eat meat, fish, or other animal products, such as eggs or cheese; ________, he or she eats vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds. __________ this diet consists of non-meat food sources, a vegan typically consumes less fat and cholesterol than an individual who consumes meat. __________, raising animals for food uses valuable land, water, and energy. __________, adopting a vegetarian diet helps conserve the valuable resources that our future depends on.
- For example
__________ many educators and parents have praised the Harry Potter series, some Christian parents have called for a ban on the books in their schools and libraries. Some churches have even gone as far as burning the books, citing biblical injunctions against witchcraft, __________ those in Exodus and Leviticus. __________, some Christians believe the books are compatible with Christianity, __________, that they embody basic Christian beliefs.
- In addition
- Such as
Johnston, M.R. (n.d.). Word wise: Our transitions, ourselves. TechWhirl. https://techwhirl.com/word-wise-transitions/