Creating Coherence (or Flow)
Good paragraphs make clear connections between sentences and ideas, both within and between paragraphs. Internally, paragraphs should move smoothly from one idea to the next; the reader should be able to see how each sentence relates to the controlling idea.The paragraph must have internal cohesian and advance the main idea. Do not simply expect the reader to see connections: you may find, when your essay is returned, that you have been misinterpreted.
Transitional words and phrases are essential tools for connecting ideas. They can join ideas together in a sentence, sentences together in a paragraph, and paragraphs together in an essay. Transitions are words such as “subsequently” and “conversely,” or phrases such as “as a result” and “in conclusion.” They link ideas and signal the logical connection between ideas.
Common Transitional Words and Phrases
- Adding Ideas: again, also, and, and then, as well as, besides, equally important, finally, first (second, third, etc.), for one thing, further, furthermore, in addition, in the first place, last, likewise, more, moreover, next, nor, similarly, too
- Emphasizing Ideas: above all, after all, equally important, especially, indeed, in fact, in particular, it is true, most important, of course, truly
- Illustrating Ideas: an illustration of, for example, for instance, in other words, in particular, namely, specifically, such as, that is, thus, to illustrate
- Comparing Ideas: in the same way, likewise, similarly
- Contrasting Ideas: and yet, but, but at the same time, conversely, despite, differently, even so, for all that, however, in contrast, in spite of, nevertheless, notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the other hand, or, otherwise, rather, regardless, still, though, unfortunately, yet
- Showing Cause and Effect: accordingly, as a result, consequently, for that reason, for this purpose, hence, otherwise, so, then, therefore, thereupon, thus, to this end, with this object
- Placing Ideas in Time: again, already, always, at first, at least, at length, at once, at that time, at the same time, briefly, during this time, earlier, eventually, finally, first (second, third, fourth, etc.), formerly, gradually, immediately, in future, in the meantime, in the past, last, lately, later, meanwhile, next, never, now, once, presently, promptly, recently, shortly, simultaneously, so far, sometimes, soon, subsequently, suddenly, then, thereafter, until now
- Summarizing Ideas: all in all, altogether, as has been noted, finally, in brief, in conclusion, in other words, in short, in simpler terms, in summary, on the whole, that is, to put it differently, to summarize
Transitions also make connections between paragraphs; it is important to make sure that each paragraph connects to the one preceding it. Use the following transitional strategies to ensure that connections are clear for the reader.
Strategy One: Connect the preceding paragraph with the new one by reminding the reader of your thesis as you begin the paragraph.
Example: Clearly, then, our obstetrical procedures have not kept pace with our knowledge of infant psychology. Especially serious has been the early separation of the newborn from its mother.
Strategy Two: Use a transitional word or phrase. (See the previous explanation and the list of transitions above)
Example: Conversely, some non-traditional birthing centres have attempted to create areas where mothers, fathers, and babies can sleep together during their first days together.
Strategy Three: Use a key word from the preceding paragraph.
Example: Our increased attention to psychological tendencies such as bonding [discussed in previous paragraph] should lead to new hospital procedures.
Strategy Four: Begin the paragraph with a sentence that glances backward to the last paragraph and forward to the new one.
Example: If the last decade has witnessed many changes in theory [subject of preceding paragraph], practice has not kept pace.
Transitional paragraphs are used after major sections of essays to pause, regroup, and show where you are in your argument. In them, you can sum up the major points and evidence considered in the previous section of the essay, and relate the previous section to the thesis of the paper. After reviewing what you have covered,you may then go on to explain how it connects to what will follow. Will the next section offer a similar or a contrasting point? Where you will go next in your argument?
For context, please review the thesis of the essay:
Although Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are alike in many ways, they differ primarily because of two characters—Malvolio and Bottom—whose differences make Twelfth Night less a purely comic play than A Midsummer’s Night Dream; Twelfth Night thwarts illusion, and acquires wistfulness, whereas A Midsummer Night’s Dream does not.
This transitional paragraph refers to important essay themes and shows the relationship between the section that has just been developed and the section that follows it:
Clearly, illusion, romance, and mistaken identity are found within both Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Indeed, the settings and story lines seem almost interchangeable (topic of previous section). The important difference between the two plays lies in Shakespeare’s treatment of Malvolio and Bottom (topic of next section).