Chapter 11: Editing and Evolving the Thesis and Outline

Transitioning Between Ideas

Just as it is important to introduce and transition into a quote or paraphrase, it is equally important to use transitions to connect ideas from one sentence to another or from one paragraph to another. Ideas in an essay relate to and build upon each other. Ideas in one sentence or paragraph develop and elaborate on the ideas that precede them. It is important to create a logical progression of ideas and arguments for readers and to be clear about how specific paragraphs connect to each other.

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Transitional words or phrases link your ideas together and help you transition from one sentence to another or one paragraph to another and subsequently move from one idea and argument to another smoothly and logically. There are various types of transitions that will signal to your reader the direction of your ideas and paper. For instance, additive transitional words like “and,” “also,” “moreover,” “furthermore,” or “in addition to” all suggest that you are continuing with the same argument. However, words such as “however,” “but,” “yet,” “nevertheless” or “on the contrary” suggest a counter argument or shift in your thinking. To conclude on a point, you might try transitional words like “in conclusion,” “therefore,” “hence,” “consequently,” and so forth. To emphasize a point, words like “in fact,” “indeed,” “to highlight,” or “more importantly or significantly” work well. In short, there are a number of ways to transition from one point to another and it is important that you use effective transitions to help you build and develop your ideas and arguments smoothly and in a way that is easy for your audience to follow.

Such transitional words appear in the above example when we put McCosker and Johns into conversation with Rambukanna. When showing commonality between their ideas, we used transitional expressions such as “like” or “they too,” and  when we showed difference between their arguments and our own, we used words like “yet” or “in contrast”. To draw together their ideas and show how they applied to our argument, we used “in short.”