Transitions in Writing

Transitions help a reader prepare for upcoming information. A transition can be a word, a phrase, a sentence, or even a paragraph that helps the reader segue into new information. Transitions are connecting links that function within paragraphs, between paragraphs, and between whole sections of an essay.

Transitions within paragraphs

Within a single paragraph, transitions, such as single words or short phrases, help the reader anticipate what will come next. The transition may signal an additional or similar piece of information, or it may prepare the reader for a change or exception to previously stated information.

For example:

Mary Cassatt, one of the few female Impressionist painters, lived in France although she was of American descent. Unlike her fellow painters, who chose landscapes as their primary medium, Cassatt's main subjects were her immediate family. In fact, her nieces and nephews were captured in many of her most famous works of art.  

Transitions between paragraphs

Transitions between paragraphs serve as connections between old and new information. A word, a phrase, or a sentence signals to the reader that something different is coming and transitions the reader from old to new information.

For example:

Mary Cassatt, one of the few female Impressionist painters, lived in France although she was of American descent. Unlike her fellow painters, who chose landscapes as their primary medium, Cassatt's main subjects were her immediate family. In fact, her nieces and nephews were captured in many of her most famous works of art.                           

For instance, the painting, Mother with Child, shows Cassatt's sister bathing her child. This painting not only illustrates Cassatt's use of her family as subjects, but also highlights the theme of mother and child. The closeness of the mother with her child remains a constant theme of Cassatt's painting and sketching throughout the Impressionist period.  

Note: The first sentence of the second paragraph draws the reader's attention to a new idea, a specific example in this case. The following sentence repeats a familiar theme (family members) from the first paragraph and then introduces a new idea (mother and child). 

Transitions between sections

Transitions may be needed between major sections of a paper, especially when the paper is lengthy. In this case, an entire paragraph may serve as a transition between two or more major sections of your paper.

For example:

If you were writing a twenty-page research paper on plant regeneration, the first ten pages might deal with general information about plant regeneration and the last ten pages might focus on an in-depth study of a particular experiment. In this case, you should include a paragraph that transitions the reader out of the general information in the first section into the specific experiment in the second section.

Common Transitional Expressions

To show addition

additionally, again, also, and, as well as, further, furthermore, moreover, in addition, besides, equally important

To show similarity

also, in the same way, similarly, likewise

To show exception

but, however, in spite of, on the other hand, nevertheless, notwithstanding, in contrast, on the contrary, still, yet

To indicate sequence

first, second, third. . ., next, then, finally, after, before, currently, during, earlier, immediately, later, meanwhile, now, then, recently, subsequently

To show an example

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

To show cause and effect

accordingly, so, therefore, thus, consequently

To conclude or repeat

finally, in brief, in conclusion, in the end, on the whole, thus, to conclude, to summarize.